Bringing Literature to Life

By day, Bryton Taylor is a social media coordinator in Australia. But outside the office, she is a veritable genius of literary-themed recipes, parties, and crafts! She began blogging about her amazing creative work in 2008, and now readers can browse her extensive range of original recipes and party how-tos, including Harry Potter, The Hobbit, The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Rabbit! Katie caught up with Bryt to chat about her adventures in bringing books to life…


Your website, In Literature, began when you shared the recipe and story about your second effort at making the Mad Hatter’s Unbirthday Cake. What changes did you make after the first attempt didn’t go so well? And was your Easter party a success despite the first cake sliding off its plate?

I used a doll cake pan for better structure when I attempted the Unbirthday Cake for the second time. And I’m happy to say the party was a success! The Mad Tea Party decorations made up for the fact that the cake had a few issues. Paper lanterns were strung up above the table, where a toy mouse popped out of a teapot. Large bowls were transformed into oversized teacups which doubled as Easter baskets. Caterpillar shoes stuck out of the vines, where ‘This Way’, ‘Down’, and ‘That Way’ signs set the tone for fantastical madness! It was a great day in the end.

Delightful unbirthday cakes

Do you have a favorite genre of book when you are creating recipes or putting together a themed party?

I find I cover a variety of fiction genres – children’s, classics, young adult, fantasy, mystery. But my favourite books to cover tend to ones that we grew up with. It’s through these stories that we share nostalgic memories, triggering feelings of happiness. Creating recipes and parties around these books will hopefully give others a space to replay their memories, and possibly even make new memories.

Alice in Wonderland tea party

For parents or grandparents, it can be a way of extending the experience of reading with their kids, of creating new shared memories. Recreating Marilla’s raspberry cordial from Anne of Green Gables, Turkish Delight from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, even the tomato sandwich from Harriet the Spy, is a trip down memory lane.

Winnie the Pooh honey cakes

Break down your thought process when you are putting together a unique recipe from a fantasy or dystopian book, such as Elvish lembas bread from The Lord of the Rings or the Snookers and Snookers Birthday Cake from Dr. Seuss. How much research is involved when you are creating your recipes?

It’s so much fun taking an imaginary food description and bringing it to life. When I first started blogging, I gave my imagination free rein to visualize what the food might look like, how it would be presented, and so forth. I had a fabulous time conjuring up Wonka’s Marshmallow Pillow and Three-Course Dinner Gum!

Harry Potter jelly slugs!

Although creativity plays a key role, authenticity is equally important. I depend on research to develop a recipe that is as ‘real’ as possible for a food scene that we all share, particularly where personal memories are attached.

Above all else, I’m a literary food history detective. I look into what literary researchers have uncovered about the author’s inspiration and search within their descriptions for clues about the details. Old cookbooks are scoured along with food trends from either the author’s timeline or from where they drew inspiration. Once I have gathered all the pieces, I then add the essential magic ingredient – a dash of creativity to bring it to life.

What was your most challenging recipe to make or hardest craft to create?

The “Drink Me” potion from Alice in Wonderland was a challenge. The description goes, “it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast.” My first attempt was a total flop. I discovered that capturing and combining hot roast turkey and hot buttered toast is not an easy feat! It’s still on my to-do list of remakes. I’m continually working through my list of challenging recipes. For example, I’m still on the hunt for the elusive recipe for pickled limes from Little Women.

Alice in Wonderland “Drink Me” potion

What are your most popular posts?

Harry Potter continues to be a favourite, as I’ve created a number of recipes over the years. My copycat recipe for pumpkin juice through to a simple bottle of liquid luck helps people as they start planning their parties. And there are many classics: Ratty’s picnic from Wind in the Willows, Paddington’s marmalade, through to my interpretation of pop cakes from The Magic Faraway Tree.

Wind in the Willows picnic

Where in the world has been your favorite literary location to visit? And where are you hoping to go once travel restrictions are lifted?

I loved visiting Sleepy Hollow, New York in October 2019 along with exploring Kipling’s Vermont and hope to revisit once our world has found some sense of normal again. The east coast of the United States is just brimming with literary locations!

Treasure Island dinner party

How many titles do you currently have in your book collection?

It would take too long to count the number in my collection, but I can definitely say that I will always feel it’s not enough.

Peter Rabbit coat

Can you share any details about a project you are currently working on?

After over a decade of blogging, I’m actually spending this year revisiting and rewriting old posts. However, I’ve got my eye on more Roald Dahl. I still have more rooms to explore in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Willy Wonka chocolate bar. Yesssssss!

I have to ask…what Hogwarts House did the Sorting Hat place you in?

I’m proudly a Hufflepuff. I’m happy to say those Hufflepuff interests, of nature, animals and Herbology, also make me well suited to live a life in Hobbiton.

Hobbiton seed trays


Images courtesy of Bryton Taylor

Camping? Nom Nom Nom

camping nom nom nom

Pack your tents and hit the great outdoors with your friends Monster and Mouse. But keep an eye on Monster…he tends to eat the equipment!

We read Monster and Mouse Go Camping, written by Deborah Underwood, and illustrated by Jared Chapman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). Mouse is very excited to camp, but Monster is reluctant…camping seems a little scary. However, with the promise of food, Monster is happy to try. Except that he eats the lantern, sleeping bags, and tent. Another problem? Mouse forgets to pack the ACTUAL food. Now the two friends are quite cold and hungry. Then they spot another campsite. Polite inquiries are made…only to get a unexpected reaction that makes this one of the FUNNIEST read-alouds, ever. Highly recommended!

You’ll need:

  • 1 large tissue box
  • 1 box cutter
  • A selection of construction paper
  • 1 manila file folder
  • 1 toilet paper tube
  • 1 monster camping equipment template on 8.5″ x 11″ card stock
  • Scissors, tape, and glue for construction
  • Markers for decorating

front of camping monster

First, the monster! Use a box cutter to create a mouth in a large tissue box. Then decorate the box with construction paper (we also offered large eye stickers). While you are decorating, make sure to leave the tissue box hole hole open in the back. This will allow you to retrieve your camping food later.

back of camping monster

As you can see in the above photo, our monster is also sporting a backpack. Ours was fashioned from an old manila file folder using this template. Curl the wings of the template around the circle, then secure everything in place with tape to create a “cup” backpack (we used color masking tape to decorate the backpacks too).

Attach the cup to an extra strip of manila paper, then tape or glue it to your monster box. Add a toilet paper tube mouse if you’d like:

side view of monster backpack

Now for the equipment! Color and cut the items from the template, then feed each item into the monster’s mouth. Retrieve the items using the hole in the back of your monster box. And yes, we did make sure to include all the fixings for s’mores in the set:

monster edible camping equipment

One things I love about the simple and open-ended decoration projects is the styles and color combinations kids come up with. Here are just a few from story time!

Brand Names

brand namesIt’s grilling season, but we couldn’t JUST serve up a steak. We had to make it personal.

Today, we’re testing a “BBQ Branding Iron” which purports to “Add a name or message to your steak!” It’s offered by multiple Amazon sellers each using different descriptive names, but every listing appears to sell the exact same product. Prices range from $11.65 to $39.99, but we paid in the lower range and ordered from a seller who offered Prime shipping.

bbq branding iron boxThe box includes a handle with a letter block, individual letters, blanks to insert between the letters, a small wrench, and 2 metal loops to prevent the letters from sliding out of the block.

bbq branding iron box contentsOur office grill champion took on the task of testing the bbq brander. Take it away Katie!


First, I hand-washed the metal letters, letter track and two loop locks before playing around with funny messages to brand. “YES” was an easy choice, as was “DO NOT TOUCH” and “THIS IS MINE.” I finally settled on “GET IN MY BELLY.” When arranging the letters, you have to remember to put them into the letter track backwards. It’s easy to forget, particularly with some letters that aren’t identifiable already backwards. The kit also includes blank metal spaces to separate the words in your message. You attach the two loop locks on either side of the letter track to keep everything in place as you are using the iron.

putting together the lettersOnce I felt confident I had everything backwards and spelled correctly, I headed out to start cooking. Beef steak was first.

ready to grillAs my grill was heating up, I put the branding iron inside and made sure to leave the wood handle sticking out. I grilled one side of my steak, flipped it over, and tried the iron. Despite having left the wood handle outside of the grill, it was still hot. VERY hot. Not wanting to continue burning the palm of my hand, I dropped the branding iron and scurried to my kitchen to get an oven mitt.

The second attempt was a success. After 10 seconds of leaving the hot branding iron on the sizzling meat, the message “GET IN MY BELLY” appeared on the steak. Nice!

grilled steakThe next food test was for our vegetarian and vegan friends: TOFU! (Side note: I am not a tofu connoisseur and had no idea it comes in different sizes and varying consistencies. Who knew? I do now!). I went extra firm, to get as close to the consistency of steak as I could.

extra firm tofuIn order to change the letters, I ran the branding iron under cold water and simply slid the used letters out of the track. Not feeling terribly creative, I changed the message to read “NOT MEAT.”

Perhaps my inexperience grilling tofu didn’t help with the branding, but it was an epic fail. I tried multiple times to make the “NOT MEAT” brand dark enough on the tofu. Not once did it work. I tried leaving the brand on the grill for more time, putting the iron on the tofu longer, and it just didn’t take. I also thoroughly destroyed the tofu as I was flipping it over (and over).

tofu failMy thoughts on the BBQ Branding Iron? Steaks – beef, pork, lamb – and certainly chicken breast are the choice meat to use in order to get the message sufficiently branded. I suspect that hamburger might also work, but since I didn’t test the iron on a burger, I’m not sure. Tofu is definitely a no-go.

There were some reviewers who felt there weren’t enough letters included in the package, and that the letter track was too small and should be wider for longer messages. I can fully appreciate and understand their concerns.

I believe the BBQ Branding Iron would provide a clever personal touch for a reception or party where steaks are on the menu. It also would be a great gift for someone who loves to grill. Personally, I can’t imagine myself using it on a regular basis.

Recommended for grill masters, meat lovers, and party planners!