A pork and beet pasty inspired by Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, part one (or pie one) of a two-pie special!
American Gods is probably one of my favorite books of all time, one that needs little to no introduction due to its immense popularity and ravenous cult following. When I met Neil Gaiman on the train about a year ago, I mentioned wanting to do this as a pie one day. If memory serves, he seemed a little bit dubious (and very rightly so) that a single pie would be enough. So I’m making two.
A strawberry rhubarb pie inspired by Alice Hoffman’s The Red Garden and Practical Magic.
I’ve been reading Alice Hoffman’s work since I was a preteen, starting with her YA novel Aquamarine when I was about twelve. From there I’ve grown with her heroines whispering in my ear. Because of her subject matter and the high volume, I think some people write Hoffman’s work off as upmarket women’s fiction. If that’s the case, I would like to see more of that genre with her bravery, literary craft, and flair, please.
A chili con-carne savory pie with cornbread crust inspired by The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
I think everyone read at least one serialized chapter book series as a kid. If you say you’ve never read a Goosebumps, Nancy Drew, Magic Treehouse, or Sweet Valley High book you are just lyin’ like a rug. One of the series I devoured as a kid was the boxcar children. It’s probably not the most well known middle grade series ever, but for some reason I thought it was the shit. So obviously, I decided to go back and read it again. Because rereading stuff you loved as kid as an adult is never disappointing at all.
A heirloom tomato and squash blossom quiche inspired by Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project.
I think the greatest power of a book is the ability to incite empathy in the reader. How amazing to find yourself caring for and sympathizing with someone with a different mind set or background than you, who lived long ago and far away, or, actually, never lived at all. The beauty of Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project is that you find yourself experiencing great empathy for a character who finds emotion illogical and a petty waste of time. That and it has a feel-good sense of acceptance and a great dance scene.
Exactly what it sounds like: peach pie, inspired by “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot
This month (June 8th) saw the 100th anniversary of the publication of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” It is an odd but seminal poem in the American canon that uses the full range of poetic devices to give texture to one man’s struggle with age.
Ginger and honey margarita pie with a saltine crust, inspired by Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
I was irrationally afraid of everything short of my own shadow as a kid. This still holds true in some ways; I prefer subtlety to gore and sensationalism doesn’t play with me. But somewhere along the way I peeked out from between my fingers and realized that I could learn the narrative patterns of grotesque stories. I realized that by arming myself with knowledge things became less scary (like allowing my eyes to adjust to the dark) and I found that familiar problems seem intriguing in the light of the uncanny.
So I consider myself pretty adept at predicting where a story is headed. With that in mind, I want to tell you that Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation is utterly unpredictable and kept me awake at night. Unable to put it down at first, and unable to sleep once I did, it sent ice down my spine on more than one occasion.
A spring quiche with peas, asparagus, parsnips, prosciutto, and goat cheese inspired by “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
It took an engaging, enthusiastic, patient seventh grade English teacher to show me that I could enjoy reading the classics as much as I enjoyed reading for pleasure. Poetry is a great example of this. It felt like all of my peers were so in touch with the imagery and the emotion of the poems we were reading, while I trailed along completely lost. I didn’t understand what was going on – there were flowers, but they weren’t flowers, they were feelings – it couldn’t hold my attention the way that Lord of the Rings did. And then Mr. Laszlo picked up Robert Frost, said “this one is for Hanna” (to the entire class’s confusion), and read “Mending Wall” aloud.
“…Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him…”
My ears perked up. That crafty man had read enough of my bad, 13-year-old epic fantasy to know which poems to show me. He showed me the common ground between the things I wanted to read and the classics, creating a little niche in the canon just for me. These were the things that I needed to read.
(Just wait until I start baking Yeats.)
A raspberry lemonade icebox meringue, inspired by Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Trilogy (or at least the first two books). When I recommended Red Rising to my friends, I said things like, “it is so good, you have to read it!” But when I tell people about the recently-released Golden Son, the second book of Pierce Brown’s action-packed trilogy (Morning Star to come), I simply deadpan: “it’s orgasmic.” Vivid, rich, and with pacing as sharp as a razor’s edge, this is definitely one of those series I will be recommending for years to come.
A cognac crème brûlée tart inspired by Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.
Magical realism is probably my favorite genre; I like how introducing the fantastic into an existing political or social context engages both my imagination and my (somewhat pretentious) analytical sensibilities. I think in spite of unusual occurrences in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, most people would describe it as a satire or political novel before they would call it a fantasy. But I think it is both, and so much more besides!
A vegan and gluten free tart with apples, pears, and cranberries inspired by A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Happy holidays, all! I hope that no matter where you are or what you’re celebrating this season – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Saturnalia – that you are joyous, healthy, and surrounded by loved ones.
If you’re like me, balancing the holidays with work and family and travel can be a little stressful, but it doesn’t have to turn you into a Scrooge. Relax, unwind, and bake away the stress with this easy tart, fit for the whole family. And I mean, everyone.