I admit that while I love a good book of any kind, I’m not always great at turning books into projects. I’m mostly okay with that; to me, the real joy is in the reading of the story. However, some books just beg for an activity afterwards, either because they have one built in or because they inspire the reader to create their own. Fannie in the Kitchen by Deborah Hopkinson is one such book. We read it on Monday, the day I documented for my blog, and it inspired our supper for that night. I’ll get to that, though–first, the book.
Fannie in the Kitchen is the story of Fannie Farmer, the first person (a woman, at that) to include accurate measurements in recipes in her cookbook entitled Boston Cooking School Cookbook. She is known as the “mother of the modern recipe” for just this. Fannie in the Kitchen is about Fannie’s career as a mother’s helper in a Boston household in the late 1800s. Fannie teaches Marcia, a young girl in the family for whom she works, how to measure dry ingredients accurately, how to tell if an egg is fresh, and how to choose a ripe watermelon. At the end of the story, Marcia bakes Fannie the perfect going-away cake in celebration of Fannie’s employment as a teacher at the Boston Cooking School. Of course, without Fannie’s careful instruction, the cake would not have turned out quite as well. This picture book is divided into short “chapters” entitled “First Course,” “Second Course,” etc. Fannie Farmer’s original “helpful hints” are also incorporated into the illustrations, usually as pictures framed and hanging on the wall. Cute!
Honestly, what makes this book special is the illustrations. Nancy Carpenter’s pen and ink drawings capture the essence of the time period, from the hairstyles to the labels on the bags, bottles, and cans of food used in the recipes. According to the CIP data in the front of the book, “The illustrations are rendered in pen and ink, collaged with 19th century engravings on the computer, laser printed, Xeroxed onto watercolor paper, and then watercolored.” Whew! And I thoughts artists just drew and painted! The illustrations remind me of the artwork on the opening credits of the television program Cheers. (I even looked this up on YouTube so you can see for yourself what I mean, if you’re so inclined. Link here.)
We’ve actually enjoyed at least one of Deborah Hopkinson’s books in the past. We loved Apples to Oregon ! It turns out that Nancy Carpenter also illustrated this one of Hopkinson’s books. For more about Deborah Hopkinson and her works, visit her website.
As I mentioned earlier, Fannie in the Kitchen even inspired our family’s supper on Monday night! We had already planned to have what is probably the girls’ favorite supper–breakfast for supper–but after reading this book we decided to call our pancakes griddlecakes and follow Fannie’s recipe! (We did modify it a little and use half whole wheat flour, half all purpose flour.) Fannie’s advice served us well–flipping our griddlecakes ”when puffed, full of bubbles, and cooked on edges” yielded excellent results!
What have you and yours been enjoying together this week? Leave a link to your blog post below, or simply leave a comment.
Have a yummy Read Aloud Thursday!