Tag Archives: raspberry

Orange Raspberry Muffins–And one kooky Children’s Literature Conference!

I get questions all the time from readers about what I do as a children’s literature researcher in an English PhD program, so today I’m taking the opportunity to tell you all a bit more about my lovely, non-blogging job!

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I spent last weekend at my first ever Children’s Literature Association conference in South Carolina. And excuse my language when I say lordie oh lord: after five amazing days with this bunch of nonsensical ninnies and silly scholars, I am unofficially allowing ChLA and all its wonderful members to adopt me. These people are like human versions of these muffins I’m sharing with you today: the funnest, brightest, warmest, most unique bunch of (raga)muffins I’ve ever met!

This conference primarily features scholars, professors, and the occasional grad student. We present our research and findings on various aspects of children’s lit at this four-day conference through a series of panels, talks, and banquets. We are a kooky, Kool-Aid kind of cult, minus the cult and probably minus the Kool-Aid (we prefer tea and fun muffins like these, though I do recall someone making a Kool-Aid reference at one point). I was hugged more times by complete strangers at this conference than I have been by the academics in my English department for my entire three years as a grad student (at one point, the chair of the ChLA award committee turned around, gave me a giant bear hug, and then shouted to the room, “It’s a new one!”) . We basically staked out an entire hotel in Columbia, dominated its conference rooms, and sat back to enjoy a 4-day carnival that involved lots of networking, lots of meeting & greeting, lots of brilliant (or at least interesting) research, and a heck of a lot of food.

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If you know anything about academic institutions, you’ll know that academia can be both an awesomely intelligent field and a frigid rat race. The children’s lit folks are (I am happy to report) only of the first sort–there’s something about being a member of a field that has a long history of marginalization that brings out the team spirit in us.

And let’s face it: a bunch of geeky weirdos who devote their lives to reading Dr. Seuss? If that sounds UN-fun to you, then your fun-o-meters seriously need tweaking. Perhaps the Doc should be a-paying you a visit…

Speaking of the fun doctor, this conference also meant meeting an eclectic group I’ve affectionately dubbed The Boys of Nun-sance (let’s hope they never see this)–a handful of nonsense literature scholars who love Dr. Seuss and all whimsical wit abounding to the upperest heights of Nooper. And yes, this is how they would describe themselves if you ran into them in real life, except they’d probably throw in a few coordinated jigs and hops and head bops for good measure as they said it to you.

(How do I know? They did this to me on the last night of the conference after our big banquet, and we all hopped and jumped around together like a bunch of confused grasshoppers before saying our garbled goodbyes.)

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The other amazing point of the conference was that I finally delivered my first paper at a major conference last week. I was moderately nervous, but after listening to one paper and another and another, I realized that this incredibly bright bunch of scholars act more like Southern mothers (or jovial pops) who just want to invite you in for homemade buttermilk biscuits all the time. 

So at some point during the presentation, as I stood up there speaking to a packed room of nonsensical listeners about Dr. Seuss’s And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (anyone else remember this one?), the thought suddenly hit me like a rogue tetherball: I wasn’t nervous. I was talking about something I loved, and what’s more–people were actually listening to me. I quickly scanned the room as I spoke and found a particularly attentive listener I could look at when I wasn’t sure where to look–he was nodding along, not in a glazed-eyed kind of way, but in genuine agreement at the strongest points of my paper. My voice grew stronger as I plowed through my final arguments about narratorial authority, and before I knew it I was beaming at the room and moseying with a sprightly step back to my seat, where the rest of my panel patted me on the back and the panel chair (who is also a tenured professor at the local university) actually whispered in my ear, “Great paper!” before taking the podium.

The best part, however, is what happened next.

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At one point during Mark’s presentation, he hesitated over the pronunciation of a name from Dr. Seuss’s biography and addressed the crowd: “Perhaps Phil knows?” he said. My head snapped around so fast I almost twisted it Easy-Twist-style clean off my neck. Phil. As in the Phil I’d cited in my own paper as one of the authoritative Seussian scholars? Of course, I’d had an inkling he might come (we were, after all, treading the same terrain), and another great nonsense friend had mentioned he might, but it was still very cool to see that he could blend right in with the crowd,  and amusing to think that I had once again–in my typical oblivious fashion–managed to bumble through an entire paper without realizing that one of my own was sitting in the room listening.

As it turns out, he tossed me my first comment and question of the Q&A: while I don’t consider myself starstruck (the only person who’s ever been able to elicit that effect from me is Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted), I was definitely pleased by his amiable response. He thanked me for my paper, told me he enjoyed it, then recommended I visit the Dr. Seuss archives at UCSD for some really interesting versions of Mulberry Street. He also asked a question that I ended up clarifying, and so he left it at a comment and another thank you before we moved onto the rest of the session.

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I didn’t bother trying to track him down afterwards to thank him: the amusing thing is that even in scholarly communities we have our big-named celebrities, and after seeing a few folks craning this way and that to talk to him, I decided he’d probably had enough attention for a weekend and figured I’d thank him via email or something.

As it turned out, though, we ran into each other at a panel the next day and he actually came over to let me know again that he enjoyed my paper, and in his down-to-earth way told me that I should “definitely do something with it.” We chatted for a while about the SD archives and some mutual acquaintances (in my geeky fashion, I scribbled down a transcript of our conversation as soon as I got back to my hotel room that night), and before I knew it we were exchanging hugs all around–doing some nonsensical jigs–and packing up to leave. And when everyone waved with shouts of, “See you next year!” I felt a little tug that extended from the corner of my lips to my sentimental heartstrings, and I had to grin back and yell, “Next year it is!” (And this was to established professors and fellow serious scholars, mind you. Talk about positively disrupting academic stereotypes!)

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I’ll be counting down the months until then–and though I realize that my experience may not always be as bright-eyed and as wondrous as this first time, I’ve fallen madly and deeply in love. As a children’s lit scholar, I’ve never felt like part of a real, welcoming scholarly community until now. Which is why I’m celebrating with the brightest, best summertime muffins I know.

I made these for a friend’s care package and they are a superb way to kick off the warm weather. If I’d brought them to the 100-degree humidity of Columbia, I’m pretty sure they would have been gobbled up in a gobbling flash. As it happens, though, these were gobbled up anyway–and with a perfectly moist crumb that just beams with the brightness of citrus and the sweet tang of ripe raspberries, I have no doubt they’ll become a go-to favorite in this household.

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So that’s what I’ve been up to for the past month or so: prepping, preparing, worrying, then laughing, beaming, jigging, nonsensing. I am still caught up in the post-conference flurry and getting very little in the way of rest, but I wouldn’t have it any other way–though I’ll be working extra-hard to resume more quality posts (because I realize that the last few sham posts have been pretty shoddy), and you may see some fantastic guest posters helping me out in the coming weeks. Until then!

(And for the record, throwing a bunch of wet raspberries at your camera lens is a bad idea. But I did it, so I had to share it…)

Orange Raspberry Muffins–And one kooky Children’s Literature Conference!

Bright and light, this orange raspberry muffin recipe is for the summer lover in your life! The perfectly moist crumb and no-frills citrus flavor compliments the tanginess of sweet raspberries. Awesome for weekend brunches and care packages! Recipe adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with liners and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and egg. Stir in orange juice until combined.
  3. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest until just incorporated. Fold in raspberries.
  4. Divide batter into 12 liners. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean with moist crumbs clinging to it.
http://www.wallflourgirl.com/2014/06/29/orange-raspberry-muffins-one-kooky-childrens-literature-conference/

With nonsensical love,

Ala

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.” –Dr. Seuss

 

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Filed under Muffins, Uncategorized

Dreamy Raspberry Streusel Magic Bars

What are you making for your mom or the mom-like figure in your life this Sunday?

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I have to admit that I am not making these. Well, maybe I did….but there is no remaining physical evidence to indicate that I did.

That’s right. I ate my mom’s Mother Day baked goods gift.

Oops. Love you, mumsy.

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The frontal lobe of my twisted brain reasons that I am flying my own sweet little self back home for Mother’s Day, and that my mom will therefore have everything she needs (i.e. me). Plus, she won’t miss what she never, er, knew she was missing out on. Right?

Right? Who’s with me?

You’ll understand what I mean shortly. Skedaddle off to the kitchen and make these gooey, crunchy, cinnamony, sweet, and simple bars–I guarantee you, they won’t last you until Sunday. And if they do–well, you’re either a saint, or you’re a mother yourself and have the patience of a saint.

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And if you are a mother, you should totally hoard the entire pan, because–well, it’s your day, and you can. And who ever needed a better excuse than THAT?

Happy (early) Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers who fill up our kitchens with warm aromas and our lives with lots of love!

Ala

Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!Sweet 2 Eat Baking

Dreamy Raspberry Streusel Magic Bars
Adapted from a fantastic original recipe at Mom on Time Out
Ingredients:
  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups sweetened coconut, flaked
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate (for drizzling)
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate (for drizzling)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, white sugar, 3/4 cup melted butter, and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Press lightly and evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  3. Sprinkle coconut over graham cracker crust, then pour sweetened condensed evenly over coconut. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Remove pan from oven and cool completely. While waiting for bars to cool, make streusel topping (recipe to follow).
  5. Spread raspberry preserves over cooled bars. Press prepared streusel lightly into the jam.
  6. Place semisweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir; return to microwave and continue heating at 20-second intervals, stirring between each, until chocolate is completely melted. Do the same for the white chocolate. Drizzle melted chocolates over the bars, then cut and serve!

For streusel topping:

  • 1  cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or nut of your choice (optional–if you omit them, increase oats by 1/2 cup)

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Press lightly onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until light brown. Crumble while still hot; set aside to cool completely.
  3. Press into the tops of your magic bars!

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars

Lemon Raspberry Squares

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If you’re like me and spent your diaper days thinking you would grow up to be a Disney princess/character, you have probably long since experienced that moment when some well-meaning adult sat you down, looked you straight in your beaming bright baby eyes, and said one of the following:

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Speech A: “Kid, let’s face it. Ariel was the daughter who ran away from her tyrannical sea king of a father who forbade his entire kingdom to sleep when she went missing, and then she ended up marrying a guy she “knew” for 48 hours and having a kid who ended up ditching them because all SHE wanted to do was go to the sea. Talk about a dysfunctional family…

Speech B:Belle never worked for that damn loaf of bread she was always singing about. And she was a victim of Stockholm’s syndrome. Does that sound like la vie en rose to you? Because if it does–well, in the words a hallucinogen-induced anthropomorphized talking candlestick…Be my guest.

Speech C:Aladdin–chronic liar. Rapunzel–societal recluse. Simba–unrealistic responsibility-shirker. Peter Pan–one big Freudian slip. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella–desperate damsels in distress fleeing from murderous pursuers and sought by princes with really, REALLY  overactive sets of lips.”

And so on and so forth.

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I WAS NOT INFORMED OF ANY OF THIS.

Okay, maybe a few times. But I wasn’t informed of it in a way that would’ve persuaded me to actually buy it. I mean, so fine–Disney movies admittedly have their share of issues. I mean really, really big and sometimes morally reprehensible issues. And I recognize that. But really, since when is everything perfect in life?

Never, that’s when. As the saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

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Fortunately, I am not a big fan of cake. Of all the delectable, makes-life-worth-living desserts out there, cake simply isn’t at the top of my list. Lemon squares, however, are.

As the good saying goes, “When life throws lemons at you, make lemonade.”

Or the better one, “When life throws lemons at you, make orange juice and watch the world wonder how you did it.”

Or, the best one, “When life throws lemons at you, throw ‘em back and yell really loudly like a feral animal so your enemies will run away screaming in terror.”

Okay, I made that last one up.

But you COULD make these tangy, gooey, sweet and tart lemon squares with a really satisfying strawberry or raspberry jam layer and turn even your worst enemies into BFFL’s.

You’ll want this recipe! Print it now and get those lemons going, folks.

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Or better yet, let the seven little dwarves sitting in your closet do it while you indulge.

Because I know you have ‘em.

Don’t think I don’t. But this job’s mine, folks. And another batch of these gorgeous lemon squares will be too, if you don’t hurry up and make your own. I WILL devour them.

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Which Disney character would you love to be in your life?

Ala


Sweet 2 Eat Baking

Lemon Raspberry Squares
Yield: 1 9×9-inch baking pan
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Zest of 1-2 lemons (approximately 1-2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup raspberry or strawberry jam.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, blend together butter, 1/3 cup white sugar, and 1 1/2 cups flour. Continue mixing until the mixture turns from crumbly to pretty smooth (of a more butter-like consistency). Press evenly and lightly into prepared pan. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and firm.
  3. As the crust is baking, make your lemon filling by whisking together 1 1/4 cups white sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Whisk in eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until smooth.
  4. Spread jam of your choice over the slightly cooled crust, taking care to leave about half an inch around the edges so the jam doesn’t burn. Pour lemon mixture over crust and jam, and return pan to oven. Bake for an additional 25-35 minutes, until filling is mostly set. (The squares will firm up as they cool, and in the fridge as well.) Allow squares to cool completely at room temperature before transferring them in the pan (covered) to the fridge and allowing them to set up for at least a few hours, or preferably overnight.
  5. Cut into squares the next day and serve while singing Disney princess songs and humming to your helper animals!

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars, Fruit Desserts

“Sorry–It’s Still Summer!” Cinnamon Rolls (Raspberry Cheesecake Rolls with Lemon Icing)

With the plethora of pumpkin and autumnal recipes hitting the web these days, I thought we all needed a little reminding that it is not, in fact, autumn everywhere in the world. In some places, it’s legitimately springtime, and in others, it’s legitimately autumn but actually not because it doesn’t feel like autumn. It feels, in fact, like summertime. Still. In October.

So I say…

Why fight it? And if anyone says otherwise, you can just say what I say–

“Sorry–it’s still summer! And summer says I’m making these rolls.”

There are some bloggers who say, “Oh look, the calendar says it’s autumn–I guess it’s time to make autumn recipes! Hooray!” Don’t get me wrong–I love pumpkin and apple and cinnamon and pecan and the list could go on and on of recipes. I love them all; I’ve even posted my own fair share of them recently, like this pumpkin spiced granola or this delicious pumpkin pull-apart bread.

But if summer wants to overstay its equinox and beat me on the brow with high-90′s weather as I trudge to my classroom with enough brick-like books for a mason to build a house with, I say we fight back.

With…cinnamon rolls. Raspberry cheesecake ones, more specifically.

And tangy sweet lemon glaze. Very importanto.

Funflour Fact #6: Speaking of made-up sort-of-sounds-legit words (“importanto” is not, to my knowledge, a real word), did you know that the Spanish word for “pelican” is “pelicano,” and that words with the same etymological origins are called “cognates”?

What’s also very importanto is trying your hand at new things, like this fun challenge Julie is hosting over at Willow Bird Baking!

Flour Power: Feeling up for a challenge? Don’t forget to head on over to Julie’s blog and check out all the entries, and submit one of your own, too!

If you haven’t guessed it already, the theme is…da da da…autumn!

Just kidding. It’s cinnamon rolls. I haven’t reached that blessed pinnacle of ironic wit at which I could make that sort of a joke entry and get away with it yet. Soon. Soon.

Go wild, go crazy, or go summery, if you’re like me and clinging onto those last (blazing) streaks of sunshine.

And once you’re done being a wild child, bake a batch of these–because I guarantee you that they are “berry” blazing summery good!

Happy reading, and happy eatings!

“Sorry, Sir–Still Summer!” Cinnamon Rolls (Raspberry Cheesecake Rolls with Lemon Icing)
Yield: 6 cinnamon rolls
Base recipe adapted from Allrecipes
 
For the dough:
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons  (or half an average packet) dry active yeast
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

How to make the dough:

  1. Heat up milk in saucepan until warm enough that you can comfortably dip your finger in for a few seconds without scalding yourself. Transfer to a large bowl and dissolve white sugar. Stir in yeast and allow to sit in a warm spot for 10 minutes. This is the proofing step–your mixture should foam slightly and give off a “bread-y” smell. (If it doesn’t, your yeast is no longer active, so you might have to toss it out and try again.)
  2. Mix in melted margarine and salt. Add flour gradually and stir in until a dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead by pulling dough away from your body, then folding it back in on itself. Rotate dough a quarter of a turn after each pull. Knead until pressing two fingers gently into dough creates two indentations that hold their shape–then you’ll know that your dough is smooth, elastic, and ready to go!
  3. Place into a well-greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Place in a warm spot and allow dough to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Turn out onto lightly-floured board and punch down dough. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Roll out dough into a 9×13″ rectangle and spread filling evenly over dough (see below). Starting from one of the short ends, roll up dough until it forms a tight spiral. Be careful not to push too hard though, or your filling will spill out! Cut into six even pieces and place them seam-side up in a greased 9″ baking pan. Place in a warm place and allow dough to rise for an additional 30 minutes.
  5. Bake cinnamon rolls in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and immediately pour glaze over hot rolls so that it melts into the dough; allow rolls to cool slightly before spreading on frosting (see below).

For the filling:

  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened (you’ll be using the other 2 oz. for the icing, so keep it handy)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup raspberry preserves, adjusted to taste
  • Splash of vanilla

To make filling: Whip cream cheese in a medium bowl until creamy. Add preserves and vanilla, then stir until mixture is fluffy. Spread onto dough (step 4, above).

For the glaze (to pour over rolls while hot):

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Splash of vanilla extract

To make glaze: Combine all ingredients and stir until it forms a thinnish glaze. (Feel free to add more lemon juice or powdered sugar as necessary to adjust the consistency.) Pour over cinnamon rolls immediately after they come out of the oven to allow glaze to soak into dough.

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Splash of vanilla extract

To make frosting: Whip cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix until your frosting is fluffy; add more sugar or lemon juice as necessary to reach desired consistency. Spread over warm rolls immediately before serving.

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Fruit Desserts