When I started my current job reading young adult literature, I knew that there were certain books I needed to read. Top of the list was Ransom Riggs’ modern classic, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Combining old photographs featuring optical illusions or odd distortions with a masterful imagination, Riggs weaves a strange world into the fabric and under the surface of our own.
A salty caramel pie inspired by Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”
Happy Pi day! I think I get wished a happy pie day more than I get wishes a happy valentines day or a happy halloween; occupational hazard. Today’s pie is a sure-to-please salty caramel pie with lots of golden, buttery goodness throughout. It was inspired by Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” and thanks to the students of Fieldston Middle School it definitely didn’t stick around.
A dark chocolate ganache with pomegranate syrup and pomegranate seed garnish, inspired by “On Foot I Wandered Through the Solar Systems” by Edith Södergran.
I recently gave a talk at Fieldston Middle School in the Bronx about books, pie, my day job in publishing, and how rewarding it can be to pursue what you love. To be sure that everyone was on the same page and knew the texts we’d be sampling in pie form, I selected a couple of poems that we could read together. In an effort to diversify and branch out from the typical canon (i.e., read someone other than an old, white, American/British dude), I drew on Haley’s knowledge of obscure international poetry. The poem that she recommended, “On Foot I Wandered Through the Solar Systems,” immediately became one of my favorites for its bold feminine courage and empathy.
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.
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.
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.
Sugar cream custard with chunks of pineapple, inspired by The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
Don’t panic! The key both to pie baking and intergalactic hitchhiking, as it turns out. Irreverent, absurd, entirely improbable, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a pillar of 20th century science fiction distinguished by its tongue in cheek sense of humor.
A creamy mushroom and root vegetable savory pie inspired by The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
I wasn’t a very strong reader as a kid and it was hard for me to find books that I found engaging. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit bridged the gap between the casual reading of popular literature, and a lifetime literary obsession. I discovered a whole genre, a lineage, of fantasy and a way of thinking I had thought particular to me. Disappearing inside this world, which was somehow the joint creation of a man thirty years gone and of my own imagination, was magical.
A variation on hunter or shepherd’s pie; a savory lamb pie inspired by The House on the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, by Matt Bell.
When you crave “green space” in New York City, you head to a park where hundreds of other sweaty (often shirtless) people are fighting for a place to lay their picnic blanket. The operative word for most people is “green;” that desire to get out, get a little sun, and wiggle their toes in cigarette-butt-studded grass. Throw a Frisbee around. For me it is the opposite. When I crave trees and running water, what I really need is the space. I love being alone in the woods with nothing but leaves and rotten logs and spider webs strung between blades of long grass. Give me a lake! God, the things I can do with a lake.
So when I read the title of Matt Bell’s The House on the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods I thought, “that sounds like a house I’d want to live in.” I was grossly, painfully, disturbingly wrong.