JK Rowling Has Disappointed Me

I have made no secret of loving the Harry Potter series, either on this blog or in my everyday life and proudly identify myself as a Ravenclaw. And yet, the author of this most-beloved series has recently come out as anti-trans, testing the love that I have for the author of one of my most beloved childhood series. I recently read Molly Fischer’s article on JK Rowling on Vulture, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts.

To be honest, JK Rowling has been testing my love for a while. I have always been a bit troubled that she wouldn’t just leave her series alone instead of constantly dropping knowledge bombs on readers. Mostly because I’m not sure that giving readers “revelations” is all that necessary or helpful. Instead, those revelations have felt like a desperate bid on Rowling’s part to hang onto her fictional universe and to maintain control over how that universe is interpreted. In my opinion, once you share your fictional world with others, you have ceded that control. They story has been given to us, and now it is apart of us. The magic of Harry Potter doesn’t just come from the words Rowling put on the page, but also from the interactions readers have with this universe and its characters. While Rowling of course maintains copyright over her world, I don’t believe that the reading experience belongs to her, nor should it be dictated by her. Without the readers and their own interpretations, all you have is print on the pages of closed books. The magic comes from the dialogue between hearts and minds of the readers and the words she penned.

This is not to say that Harry Potter is perfect. It’s not. While it has always felt inspiring to me, it doesn’t deal a lot in ambiguities, has major diversity problems, and presents a mostly white, cis view of the world. We can (and should) critique it in many ways. But now I am presented with a separate issue, which is how to reconcile the political views of the author with a magical world that I have loved since I was eight years old.

This is a problem that doesn’t apply solely to JK Rowling. Deciding how/whether to separate the creator from the art they’ve created is a complex problem, applying to a great many children’s book authors, and I don’t pretend to have any answers about it. I understand that many people make decisions about the world that we live in based on fear and trauma. But it’s particularly disappointing to have anti-trans sentiments spew forth from an author whose character’s were supposed to be judged based on their actions rather than their abilities they were born with, and who were seen for their potential. In a children’s author who prizes imagination, the lack of empathy Rowling has shown is disappointing and hurtful. And I understand that it’s okay to disagree with people politically, but I find it harder to disagree productively with someone who sees certain groups of people as less worthy of the love, nurturing, and worth that she instilled into her characters.

Ultimately, I’m not sure where that leaves me. Exhausted? Exasperated? Often when the world makes me feel this way, I return to Harry Potter for comfort. I still think these books have done a lot of good–inspiring fanfiction writers and activists (Harry Potter Alliance) and tolerance. If I believe that the magic of these books are partially created in the minds of the people who read them, I must believe there’s still a lot more good they can do. But maybe it’s the fans and readers we need to turn to for answers rather than the author, who unleashed her books on the world and who now has to understand that the magic belongs to all of us. And I mean all of us.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Movies That Show One Person Really Can Make a Difference


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish.

I don’t talk about politics on this blog for the most part. Mostly because I think it can be very divisive and because there are very few people whose minds are going to change because of it–no matter how well-reasoned the argument.

If you’re reading this and you’re from the United States (or even if you’re not) I would say there’s at least a 50% chance that you, like me, are disappointed with the election results.

People will always be afraid of change, willing to go backwards even if it’s worse–it’s what they’re used to. But I’m not going to talk about Trump’s shortcomings or the influence of sexism in the election because in the words of Macbeth what’s done is done.

Eventually we have to move forward. But that doesn’t mean we stop fighting for what’s right–what we believe in. No matter what your political views are, there’s always work to be done to make to world better, brighter, safer, more accepting, more sustainable. And that work begins with you and me.

So here are ten films (and there are so many more than these) that show one person can make a difference. I’ve chosen films across political lines, across genres, and across time periods just to show that no matter what your goal is, you are powerful enough to achieve it.

They’re listed in chronological order of the year of their release:

  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) They don’t call it the greatest year in film for nothing. This movie, starring Jimmy Stewart, is a classic story about the power of special interest groups in Washington and one man’s fight for his state. If you wonder how/why politicians get corrupted, this is a great film to watch. It is an inspiring look at individual choices, the power of honesty, and the importance of a free press.
  • The Princess Bride (1987) Westley, played by Cary Elwes, not only risks everything for love, he becomes everything for love. His transformation from obedient farm boy to the Dread Pirate Roberts would be inspiring simply as a coming of age story. But always, there is Buttercup, there is true love, there is a goal worth becoming great in order to achieve it.
  • Evita (1996) Played by Madonna, Evita is the ultimate underdog story–a Cinderella-like tale without a fairy godmother. Ambitious and determined, Eva Peron forced a whole country to say yes to her, even when her father’s legitimate family said no. Politically, we’re worlds apart, but you can’t help but admire a woman who didn’t stop until she had everything and not even then.
  • A Knight’s Tale (2001) Can a man change his stars? If he’s Heath Ledger yes he bloody well can. When jousting was reserved for noble birth, William Thatcher impersonates a nobleman and shows that fate is in your own hands.
  • Harry Potter Series (2001-2011) One boy against impossible odds. And he wins.
  • Slumdog Millionaire (2008) No one wants to believe that a young man from the gutter could be smart enough to win a trivia game show. But intelligence is about more than formal education–it’s about observation and experience. A great lesson that appearances can be deceiving and that you can rise up against expectations even when everyone wants to keep you in your place.
  • The Dark Knight (2008) Batman is the superhero for the rest of us–the one without actual powers who decides to turn his wealth and privilege to further a goal greater than himself. He also shows the importance of facing fears, discipline, honing instincts, and making sacrifices. You don’t have to have a lot of money (or a great car) to follow his example.
  • The Young Victoria (2009) Well of course someone born with wealth and power can wield it. But nobody expected Victoria to be one of the longest reigning monarchs in England, to expand her territories in monumental ways, to usher in a new century and a new world of industrialization. Did she make mistakes? Of course. Was she the model of imperialism? Yes. But she didn’t let anyone take away her agency or her sovereignty–she fought against having a regency and she didn’t allow love and marriage to take away her crown. In short–she forced people to question their assumptions about her abilities based on her sex. I love Emily Blunt in this film.
  • The Help (2011) Maybe your voice is political but not involved in actual politics. Never underestimate the power of listening, of writing, of documenting the truth and reality as it exists around you. Social change comes with social consciousness. You have to be aware before you can make a difference.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) This could apply to all three films, but I have to admit the first one in this series is my favorite. No one expects a hobbit to be able to accomplish great things, but Bilbo finds courage and a taste for adventure no one would have guessed.


The largest criteria for these films today was my ownership of them, so naturally a lot of movies have been left off this list. Did I miss/list your favorite underdog or power-of-the-indivdual film? Let me know in the comments.

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 of My Audiobook Experiences


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is all about audio, so I thought I’d talk about audiobooks. I don’t tend to listen to a lot of them unless I’m actively doing something like dishes or folding laundry or driving because otherwise my attention starts to wander. But audiobooks when done well with a good voice actor can really transport you–like a movie does but you still get to imagine more. Instead of just listing books that I’ve read audibly, I thought I’d share some recollections of my experiences with audiobooks.

The Best Audiobook Experience Ever

Aka listening to all seven Harry Potter books being read by Jim Dale and Stephen Fry. Those voices! They transport you straight to Hogwarts. I actually want to re-listen to all the books this year. Do you have an opinion on which narrator is the best?

First Audiobook as a Couple 

My now fiancé and I listened to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo during a long car trip to California for my cousin’s wedding about five years ago. It was the first time we’d done that together and we enjoyed getting to read a book simultaneously and discussing it between discs.

They Abridge Audiobooks?

I was obsessed with Meg Cabot as a teenager and adored her historical romances geared towards young adults, Nicola and the Viscount and Victoria and the Rogue. When I first listened to these as a way to get myself to fall asleep, I noticed that the (fairly) short books had actually been abridged and parts of them were missing. I knew the books so well I couldn’t miss these moments, which to be fair were not crucial to the plot (but there wasn’t anything inappropriate about them–maybe they just didn’t want to have to shell out for another CD?).

Wait…What Happened?

My latest audiobook experience was with Chinua Achebe’s No Longer At Ease. While I really enjoyed Things Fall Apart, I struggled to get through this book (and now I have to get through the third one…). I was distracted basically the whole time while listening, and I think I ended up getting the essential plot, but really only about one third of the book I would vouch for understanding.

The Man at the Library

Lately I’ve been volunteering for my local Friends of the Library’s Mini Monday Book Sale (it’s great because the books are so cheap and when I’m not ringing people up I get to sit and read my book), and I’ve enjoyed meeting new people and talking to them about books. One gentleman bought some gardening books and then told me that his daughter had told him about audiobooks. Not just that the library had a great selection them or that he could access them digitally from the library catalogue, but that they existed! He seemed so jazzed by the idea that it made my day. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a particular book to recommend to him, but I loved how pumped he was by the idea that he could read on his commute.


So those are five of my most memorable experiences with audiobooks. Do you have any experiences to share? Let me know in the comments.




10 of Hermione Granger’s Favorite TV Shows


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Hermione Granger admittedly does not watch a lot of television–she’s too busy running the Ministry of Magic to have time for that kind of muggle pursuit. However, everyone needs a way to unwind and Hermione’s guilty pleasure involves accessing her secret DVR account at her parents’ house whenever she goes to visit.

What makes a TV show worthy of her interest? Well, it’s got to contain something fantastical and the characters have to have an emotional range larger than a teaspoon.

Here are some of her favorites, in no particular order:

  • Firefly–She watched this show when it first aired with Ron. He likes the idea of space ships. They were both heartbroken when the show was cancelled. Ron wanted to go down to the studio and force them to reconsider, but Hermione said they had to let the muggles make their own mistakes.
  • Game of Thrones–Hermione appreciates the attention to detail, epic scope, and references to English history. Ron likes Daenerys and her dragons. But it’s become something of a group activity with Harry and Ginny coming over to watch on the weekend as well. Harry’s favorite character is Jon Snow, while Ginny loves Tyrion and has a secret desire to throttle and/or hex Littlefinger.
  • Downton Abbey–Her mother introduced her to this show and they used to watch it together. When her father and Ron would come into the room to find both of them in tears they were baffled and no amount of explanation about the complicated relationships made either of them understand.
  • Sherlock–Sherlock’s deductive powers never cease to amaze her. And she has a secret crush on Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Outlander–The book series is on her list, but the time traveling heroine (with the hunky Scotsman love interest) appeals to Hermione.
  • The Office, UK Version–Working in an office is still working in an office, even if there’s magic involved. Hermione didn’t watch this show religiously, but if she’s flipping through the channels and an episode is on, she’ll usually stop.
  • Masters of Sex–Working tirelessly to further knowledge always appeals to Hermione, plus it’s got just the right amount of steaminess.
  • Gilmore Girls–Hermione has a secret ambition to meet Lorelai Gilmore. She thinks that a dinner with her would be one of the most entertaining conversations of her life.
  • Parks and Recreation–A mid-level bureaucrat who gets things done only by dint of her intelligence and enthusiasm–this show and Hermione are a match made in heaven. Ron has had to reassure her several times that she’s never been as bad as Leslie.
  • North & South–She caught the first episode by chance and was hooked by all the historical drama.


So there you have Hermione’s guilty pleasures. Are any of her favorite shows one of your favorites too? Did I miss a show you think she or another Harry Potter character would love? Let me know in the comments.


Top Ten Tuesday: If I Had a Fully Loaded Gift Card…


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by the Broke and the Bookish.

Normally I try to avoid ‘what if’ scenarios because they usually mean I am spending way too much time dwelling on things that probably won’t happen (and the less time we can all spend worrying the better). But even though it does not do to dwell on dreams, dreaming about books is pretty much the best thing you can do. Besides reading them.

So here are 10 books that would be in my hands (or on their way) if some fairy person handed me a gift card and told me that I should add to my library.

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling (I don’t think this needs any explanation)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition by JK Rowling (One of my friends in book club has this book and I am so jealous)
  • Middlemarch by George Eliot (I read this last year for my challenge, and I want to add it to my library)

Honestly, as much as I’d love to buy all the books for myself, I know if someone really handed me a card like that, I’d buy books for my friends and family as well.

  • For P–my fiancé is sometimes very difficult to find books for. But when it comes out, the 6th Song of Ice and Fire book would be exactly what he’d want. He really enjoys epic fantasy with interesting characters (and dragons don’t hurt).
  • For A–my best friend hasn’t read J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, and I think it would be the best gift for her as she loves all the film adaptations and all things Disney in general.
  • For C–my mom is easier to find books for. She loves irresistible stories with a hint of the exotic or the magical. She loved Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy, but I think she should try Uprooted by Naomi Novik next.
  • For M–my friend’s favorite book is Pride and Prejudice, and I’d love to buy her a really nice hardcover copy.
  • For I–my Nana loves romance and mystery–I think she’d like Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
  • For K–my brother loves Edgar Allan Poe and I think he’d really be into H.P. Lovecraft, so I think I’d find him an anthology.

Well that’s how I think I’d spend my gift card. What book would you buy right now without a second thought? Do you have other recommendations for the readers on my list? If so, I’d love to hear them in the comments. I’m always looking for new books for the people in my life and love getting new ideas!


Top Ten Tuesday: Where are they now? Children’s and YA Characters I’d Like Epilogues For


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all about childhood characters we’d like to revisit in their adult years.

I think it is fair to say that I was a bit obsessed with Meg Cabot as a teenager. I read almost all of her series and owned the majority of her YA books. When she released Royal Wedding last year, I knew I had to revisit the series so that I could have Mia’s teenage years firmly in mind when I went back to read about her as a grownup. Needless to say it was awesome and I want more! So here are characters from my childhood I want to know more about as adults:


  1. Everyone from Harry Potter—So I know there’s an epilogue at the end of the last book, which gives you a pretty good idea about what happens next. But I want more details. Like Neville’s a professor, but has he found love? What’s a typical day like for Harry and Ginny? What shenanigans do the kids get up to? Do Hermione and Ron still bicker? These are important questions, people!
  2. Alice from Alice in Wonderland—Does she grow up to be as boring as her sister? Does she still live in her imagination? I want to know.
  3. Sam from Meg Cabot’s All-American Girl—Where do you go to college after you save the president? Are you destined for some type of diplomatic position or do you pursue your artistic dreams? I don’t think Meg Cabot will be releasing another book, but I’d settle for a short story.
  4. Mary and Colin from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden—I want to know how they keep up the garden, who they marry, and how their lives end up.
  5. Matilda from Roald Dahl’s Matilda—What do you do for a living when you can move things with your mind?
  6. Margaret from Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret—I mean, it seems like she’ll eventually end up a well-adjusted adult, but who can say?


Did I miss any characters from your favorite children’s books? Who would you like to see as an adult?

Rest In Peace, Alan Rickman

IMG_3254It’s really hard when you lose great artists. Or when you lose people who represent your childhood. Even though you never would have met them, and there’s no way they could know that they had an influence on your life, it’s still painful to lose them.


I was so sorry to lose both David Bowie and Alan Rickman so close together. So I did a little calligraphy–my tiny way to honor them.


I will miss Alan Rickman in all the great roles that I loved him so much in, like Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. But I will especially miss the person who embodied Severus Snape and made him come to life off of the page.


(If you’re interested in having any of these pieces or one like them, you can find them here on my Etsy shop).

Baking for Bookworms: A Discussion of the Harry Potter Series and Treacle Tart


I could probably come up with ways to write about Harry Potter forever, but as with all things, sadly our Harry Potter series is coming to an end. But what better way to end our Harry Potter Baking for Bookworms series than with Harry’s favorite treat: treacle tart.

Treacle tart makes its appearance in several books, and I have to admit it’s one of those things–much like English puddings–that I’m just not familiar with. If you live in the United States, you’re likely in the same boat (unless you’ve got family in England or are just obsessed with all the things British down to the emerald green cans of Lyle’s syrup).

The reason that I’ve never had this delightful treat is that one of the main ingredients is not readily available in the U.S. You can buy the syrup online, in specialty grocery stores, or you can make your own as I did below.


But before we get to the recipe, I wanted to take the time to delve into some of the associations food has in the Harry Potter books. The world of magic as outlined in Harry Potter is J.K. Rowlings universe, and with its creation comes the need to describe it in great detail. Rowling uses foods that are obviously magical (Every Flavor Beans, butterbeer) and juxtaposes them with the familiar (roasts, pies, puddings) to create the universe that exists in Britain but is simultaneously separated from the area that people know.

However, food does not merely act as a magical backdrop in the series, but rather it is a tangible display of how Harry relates to his environment. The muggle world is associated with scarcity and unhappiness. In the seventh book, Ron is constantly out of sorts without food, but Harry is used to going hungry–to going without–to having less than he needs. This is not to suggest that the muggle world in general is like this, just Harry’s view of it. The lack of fulfillment of his basic needs is not just about food, it’s about love. In his aunt’s house, he is starved for love and attention and this is reflected in what he’s given.

In contrast stands the wizarding world and Hogwarts, the only place Harry has truly felt at home. The comfort foods found here and the unfamiliar ones parallel his experience at the school. Hogwarts is a place that feels like home, but is simultaneously challenging, demanding the best of him.

Food in the books is less indicative of the wizarding world at large and much more focused on how Harry relates to it and it to him. The definitions of ‘familiar’ and ‘exotic’ are all relative to his experience. It is this experience of looking through Harry’s eyes that make these books remarkable. Harry is such a determined character that you know what he likes for breakfast, supper, and dessert.

(If you have thoughts about the way food is used in the Harry Potter books, leave them in the comments)

But now on to the recipes.


Treacle Tart

This tart, once you have all the ingredients, is really simple to whip up. While I’m not sure I would call it my favorite dessert, it’s very tasty–almost like a ginger snap with a great lemony undertone.

recipe adapted from Adventures in Cooking

for the crust:

  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbs water

Mix the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter (with a pastry cutter, potato masher, two knives, your hands–whatever). Add the water and mix until it comes together. You can also do this by pulsing the ingredients in a food processor.

When the crust dough is well combined, press into a large tart pan, so that the dough goes up the sides and covers the pan evenly. Set aside.


for the filling:

  • 1 cup golden syrup
  • 2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs (buy them or make your own in a food processor)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tbs milk

Preheat oven to 400F.

Warm the syrup to a pourable consistency either on the stove or in the microwave.

Mix the dry ingredients together, and then create a little well in the center. Add in the eggs, milk, butter, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.

Pour mixture onto the crust and bake for 30 minutes, cooling at least 30 minutes before serving. It’s delicious by itself or with some whipped cream on top.


Golden Syrup

Golden syrup can be hard to come by in the States, and this recipe is cheaper anyway, since a small can can cost around ten dollars.

recipe adapted from this video by Tom’s Kitchen

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbs water
  • a few drops lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 of a lemon

Place a tall sided pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Put in the sugar and the water, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Squeeze in a couple drops of lemon juice from the lemon you’re going to put in later–this will keep the sugar from crystallizing or caramelizing too quickly.

Stirring every so often, keep the sugar boiling until it turns a dark caramel color (this takes about ten minutes) Slowly add in the boiling water, then add the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then turn the heat down to low. Add the lemon.

Simmer for forty-five minutes, then strain into a sterilized jar. The consistency will become more like honey as it cools. Let it cool for at least an hour before using.


My syrup didn’t get very dark (after I’d messed it up for the fourth time, I was getting pretty paranoid)–you really want a nice dark caramel color before you add the rest of the water and sugar.

**I didn’t have any jar to sterilize, so I used a glass container that I washed thoroughly. Since it’s not sterilized, I have about a week or so to use it up, and it has to go in the fridge to prevent any bacteria from growing. If you use a sterilized jar and lid, the syrup will last several months.

Which of the Harry Potter books is your favorite? Personally I can’t get enough of the fourth one, but I love them all.

Baking for Bookworms: French Onion Soup from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


There’s nothing better on a gloomy fall day than soup. Especially if it’s French onion soup inspired by Harry Potter…It’s the little things in life, really. French onion soup will always have a special place in my heart. This is by no means a quick recipe, but the flavor explosion is well worth the effort.

The seventh book is not the first mention of French onion soup in the series (Molly Weasley makes it too), but its appearance in this book signifies the creation of a new home. With all the upheaval the main characters face, it’s natural that after leaving behind everything they’d known they’d seek refuge in a familiar place. Their treatment of Kreacher says a lot about the kinds of people they’re going to be, and it shows that even the most hardened hearts can be swayed by love and respect.

This soup comes towards the beginning of the book, right after Harry, Ron, and Hermione leave the Burrow:

“He began to spoon soup into his mouth. The quality of Kreacher’s cooking had improved dramatically ever since he had been given Regulus’s locket: Today’s French onion was as good as Harry had ever tasted.”   (227)



  • 4 pounds onions (halved and cut into 1/4 inch slices)
  • 3 tbs butter cut into three pieces (if you use salted butter, use less salt)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry or white wine (if you don’t use wine for cooking, just throw in  a 1/4 cup chicken broth or beef broth)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

for the top:

  • small baguette cut in slices
  • shredded or sliced gruyere

Preheat oven to 400F.

Spray a casserole dish with vegetable spray. If you have a Dutch oven, this is the time to break it out–I don’t have one, so I made do with two casserole dishes (though you could use a 9×13 inch pan). Or if you’re not making this for a crowd, you could easily halve the recipe and it would all fit in a casserole dish.


Anyway, put a lid or tin foil over the dish (adding the butter and some salt and pepper on top) and put it in the oven for an hour. After an hour, take it out and stir it. Then stick it back in for at least another hour, or until the onions are soft.


Take the dish out of the oven and transfer it to a large pot (this is where the Dutch oven would come in handy because you could just put that on the stove). Cook the onions over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until all the juices evaporate (15-20 minutes). Keep cooking it a little longer until the onions start to brown and then add 1/4 cup of water, letting it evaporate.

Onions should be this dark before adding your sherry and broth.
Onions should be this dark before adding your sherry and broth.

Repeat the process of adding the 1/4 cup of water and letting it evaporate 3 more times, or until the onions have a gorgeous, dark caramel color. Then add your wine, if using and let it evaporate (5 minutes or so).

Stir in two cups water, chicken broth, beef broth, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for half an hour or more.

When you’re ready to eat the soup, throw it in some broiler safe crockery. Top with a toasted baguette slice (I put mine in the toaster oven with a little butter) and add the gruyere. Buy a baguette or be like me and forget to buy it and bake it instead (recipe follows).


Put the ramekin-type things on a rimmed baking sheet and put under the broiler until bubbly, about 3-5 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes or so and then serve.

Adapted from the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook.


Quick French Baguette

If you’ve been curious about making yeast breads, this is a good bread to start with, it’s fast and almost foolproof.

Adapted from this recipe from Girl Versus Dough

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one packet)
  • 3-3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt


In a bowl or in a stand mixer, whisk the yeast with the water and let sit for 5 minutes. Add flour and salt and whisk or use a paddle attachment and combine. Either knead the dough by hand for ten minutes, or use the dough hook on the stand mixer and mix on medium speed for five minutes.


When the dough is smooth and stretchy, shape it into a ball and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for an hour, or until it doubles.

Punch the dough down, divide into two pieces, and roll each piece into a twelve-inch long log. Place on rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let the bread rise a little more while you preheat the oven to 400F (around 20-30 minutes).


Remove the plastic wrap and slash the dough several times with a sharp knife. Put the baguettes in the oven, reduce oven temperature to 375F and bake until golden brown (20-25 minutes).

Take the loaves out of the oven, spritz them with a little water to deepen the color, and transfer them to a cooling rack.

The house smells wonderful when you spend the whole day baking. What’s your favorite thing to make in the fall?

Baking for Bookworms: Crystalized Pineapple from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince


Happy Halloween, everyone! This is one of my favorite holidays, and there’s no better way to celebrate than with some sweet treats. Since the base of these lovely sweets is pineapple (which is a fruit, so it’s healthy…) you’ll get a wonderful tangy treat to go with your caramel apples, popcorn balls, and chocolate.

Crystallized pineapple makes its appearance in the sixth Harry Potter book. It is Professor Slughorn’s favorite treat, and is symbolic of the lengths that Slughorn has gone in the past for his favorites, and of what they give him in return. Harry describes him as a giant spider in the middle of the web, pulling strings in exchange for favors and material rewards.

The pineapple becomes more important in the memory that Slughorn gives Dumbledore and later gives Harry in its more complete version. It shows how people can be blinded by flattery and favors, and it creates a lasting image of Slughorn unwittingly giving Riddle the information he so craves, down to his sticky fingers coated in sugar.

Harry sees Slughorn interact with the young Riddle when he travels with Dumbledore through the Pensieve:

“‘Sir, is it true that Professor Merrythought is retiring?’ [Riddle] asked.

‘Tom, Tom, if I knew I couldn’t tell you,’ said Slughorn, wagging a reproving, sugar-covered finger at Riddle, though ruining the effect slightly by winking. ‘I must say, I’d like to know where you get your information, boy, more knowledgeable than half the staff, you are.’

Riddle smiled; the other boys laughed and cast him admiring looks.

‘What with your uncanny ability to know things you shouldn’t, and your careful flattery of the people who matter–thank you for the pineapple, by the way, you’re quite right, it is my favorite–‘”                                                                                                           (370)

Whether you use this treat to get information out of someone or simply to revel in its deliciousness while you cry and watch sad movies…. we’ll employ a don’t ask, don’t tell policy (or as Fred would say, I’ll ask no questions, and you’ll tell me no lies).

This is a very simple, if time-consuming recipe.

You’ll need

  • sugar
  • water
  • 1 tbs corn syrup
  • 1-2 capfuls coconut rum (optional)
  • pineapple (you can use fresh or canned. I personally advocate fresh, that way it won’t get quite as sweet, but it’s up to you. I used cut, fresh spears and chopped them into chunks.


Cut your pineapple into rings or chunks about 1/2 inch thick. If you’re using canned pineapple, open and drain.

You want to cover your pineapple, so the amount of sugar and water you’ll need will vary. Use two cups of water for every one cup of sugar. I used a 4-2 ratio, but could easily have used 3-1.5 or even 2-1.


Bring your sugar, water, corn syrup, and rum (if using) to a boil over medium heat. If you have a candy thermometer you can use that. You’re looking for about a 220-235F reading.Once it’s boiling, add the pineapple (and some more rum if you’re feeling saucy) and turn the heat to low.

Cover the pot and let simmer for one hour. Drain pineapple (but keep the syrup–you can use it for cocktails, homemade sodas, ice cream topping, put it in with some chicken or fish as a marinade, use it in a smoothie–the point is don’t waste it. If you do make this recipe and you reuse your syrup, share what you did with it in the comments).

Since my cooling racks are coated and therefore not oven safe, I used this roasting pan. But if you have plain metal cooling racks, those work best.

Put the pineapple on a cooling rack. From here, you can pop it in a food dehydrator like my Nana has, or if you’re like me and you don’t have one, set the oven to 200F and let it dehydrate in there.

Check the pineapple every hour or so. It should take about four hours (or a little more) to dry out. You can sprinkle the pineapple with a little extra sugar and store it in an airtight container. It should last a while, but I doubt it will once people know there’s crystalized pineapple in the house.


Recipe adapted from this one at Dumbledore’s Vegan Army

What’s your favorite Halloween treat? Let me know in the comments.