We—like so many of you in our Foundry Family too—are lovers of books. Always and forever since our very first run-in with our beloved children's librarian (hi, Miss Altshuler), we've had our noses pressed into pages, sucked, vortex-style, head-over-heels, into rich worlds, both far-flung or cozily adjacent to our own. Books feed our souls, nourish our spirits, and whet our appetites—literally and figuratively.
This equation totally stands: love of food x love of books = exponential love of food in books. We imagine we aren't the only ones reading this who can immediately conjure mouth-watering images of maple syrup snow candy from Little House In The Big Woods (or the comparably insane bounty of Manzo's spreads from Farmer Boy), the juicy pop of Sal's Blueberries, or a powdery first encounter with actual turkish delight in real life (and subsequent disappointed wondering: jeez louise Edmund, you sold out Tumnus for this dusty old claptrap!?). We're certainly not the only ones to be a little obsessed with portrayals of food in books (the photographs of Charles Roux and Dinah Fried are little worlds of their own) and this world-moment is the exact right time to bring some of the magical, sweet-smelling, world-building magic into our homespaces.
When Heather recently discovered an actual cookbook inspired by the Redwall series, she about lost her dang mind (not hyperbole). For those of you that haven't read Redwall, let us advise you to break out your library cards/get thee to thy local bookshop ASAP. In short: it is a series of middle-grade adventure tales centered around a fictitious abbey—a commune for peace-lovers—and surrounding lands, chronicling historical battles for land and way-of-life, with wonderful themes of honor, friendship, loyalty, bravery, ingenuity, and camaraderie. And...EVERYONE IS A MOUSE OR BADGER OR RABBIT ETC. WHAT!? It's basically "The Hobbit" meets "The Sword in The Stone" written by Beatrix Potter for 12 year olds. Does it get better!? Yes it does. The food. From Heather:
When you have to feed a whole abbey of mice for a harvest festival etc., you need a well stocked larder (and several cabinets full of acorn cap cups, lily of the valley ladles, and magnolia leaf serving platters). Hotroot soup! Deeper'n'Ever Turnip'n'Tater'n'Beetroot Pie! Meadowcream?? What is it? I don't know! But I want some!! My sister and I would play Redwall in our treehouse, making 'food' out of things found in our marshy backyard—wrapping grass clippings in big leaves and putting them in an old tupperware like it was some enchilada hotdish and the like. Needless to say, this series of books has legendary food that you (or me) will do basically anything in your imagination to recreate.
Unlike the one for Abbot's Special Abbey Trifle, this recipe for "Guosim Shrew Shortbread" is a super-simple delight. Ideal for making with kiddoes on these cozy afternoons, you just blend up the ingredients until it looks like (delicious) sand and press evenly into a parchment-lined baking sheet. Simple, fun, rewarding, and ideal for those-with-short-attention-spans-who-like-to-eat-warm-buttery-sweet-dream-bread-fresh-out-of-the-oven. That refers to most six year olds we know and also most 46 year olds.
HEATHER'S REDWALL SHORTBREAD
- 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- Pinch Salt
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, chilled + cubed
- 1/2 Cup Sugar, preferably superfine, plus additional for sprinkling
"I just kept making this recipe over and over again for the past two weeks and used soooo much butter. Whoops?"
Mara Metz Snack Size Cutting Board, Pallares Kitchen Knife
1. Preheat Oven to 325. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Stir together flour and salt in a mixing bowl, add the butter, and rub it into the flour mixture with your hands. Add the sugar and knead lightly to mix. Alternatively, you can pulse it in the food processor. But using your hands is fun and satisfying!
Adjustable Wood Book Stand, Kenyan Olive Wood Paddle Cooking Spoon, Tiny Olivewood Salt Spoon,
3. Press the dough into the prepared pan.
4. Bake until firm and golden, about 45 minutes.
When you pull that glorious golden sheet out of the oven, take a couple of deep, soothing breaths, and sprinkle the top with sugar.