A Proper Toast

Meet a toast with a LOT of personality! Today’s blog post is a story time, simple project, and quick snack, all rolled into one!

We recommend Toasty by Sarah Hwang (Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House Books, 2021, read here by the Loveland Public Library). Toasty is a slice of bread, but he really wants to be a dog. Even though he knows there are differences and major challenges, the intrepid Toasty heads to the park to meet some pups. Unfortunately, all does not go as planned. But when a girl appears at the moment Toasty needs her the most, a beautiful friendship begins.

You’ll need:

  • A piece of toast
  • A toaster or oven

Why I didn’t figure out this toast drawing thing when my kids were smaller?!? It’s adorable. First, use you fingers to firmly press a design (or a letter or word) into an uncooked slice of bread. Pop the slice in the toaster, and done!

Of course, me being who I am, I did wonder if the cooking time/temperature impacted how the design appeared on the toast…

toast test 3The answer is basically no. Above you can see 3 slices of toast cooked on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd settings on my toaster. The design appears about the same. Or…maybe I did the experiment so I would have an excuse to eat three yummy slices of toast that morning? Hmmmmm. Totally not telling.

Fudge, Part Deux

Today, Katie is broadcasting from our official blog test kitchen (which wow, looks remarkably like her own kitchen!). She’s tackling her old culinary frenemy…that cursed confection, sneaky sweet, diabolical dessert otherwise known as…FUDGE. Take it away, Katie!


It’s hard to believe it has been nearly six years since I tried and spectacularly failed at making Monsieur Bon-Bon’s Secret “Fooj” from the book Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang by Ian Fleming. Six years! C’est impossible! But after six years, dear blog readers, it’s finally time. Let’s trying making fudge again.

I found a recipe in a charming book titled Peeny Butter Fudge, written by Toni Morrison, Slade Morrison,and illustrated by Joe Cepeda (Simon & Schuster, 2009 – read here by Sankofa Read Aloud). There’s nothing better than spending the afternoon with Nana. She adds love and extra excitement to play time, story time, even nap time! But the best part is helping Nana make her yummy, delicious fudge before Mom comes home.

With just five ingredients and clearer directions than the “fooj” recipe, my confidence was high. I carefully followed the instructions exactly as they were written. When it came time to let the milk/sugar/chocolate mixture boil for five minutes, I set a timer and pulled out my candy thermometer (purchased when I attempted to make acid drops from Harry Potter). I remember reading that fudge must reach a certain temperature to solidify and have the correct texture, so I watched the thermometer closely. I also admit I was a bit nervous when the mixture needed to boil for longer than five minutes before it made a tadpole shape when dropped into a glass of cold water.

While the pot was taking its cold-water bath in the kitchen sink, a series of unfortunate events drew my attention away from the task at hand. The pot must have rested in the sink for too long because when I tried to add the peanut butter, the fudge was hard. Absolutely rock hard. I frantically tried putting the mixture back on the stove to see if it would soften up as I mixed in the peanut butter, but the result was a colossal, clumpy mess. Fudge failure, yet again.

I wasn’t about to give up on Nana and her peanut butter fudge, so I started over from scratch. Armed with the knowledge from both of my failures, I focused wholly and completely on the fudge and finding the sweet spot of victory. And somehow, against all odds, I did it. I made fudge!

Peeny Butter Fudge is delightfully rich and provides the perfect flavor mixture of chocolate and peanut butter, which is one of my favorite dessert combinations. I provided samples for my teen son and his neighborhood friends to try, and all of them said “this is so good!” My son also said it tastes exactly like the filling in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Collectively we give Peeny Butter Fudge our official seal of tastiness approval.

There’s an art to making fudge. You must balance a fine line between delicious success and disastrous failure. I’m very grateful my third attempt was a charm. And though I still consider myself an amateur fudge maker, I’m definitely planning on making Nana’s fudge again.

The Snack of the Swan

My son is bird-obsessed these days, so I presented him with E.B. White’s classic, The Trumpet of the Swan. He loved it and I was soon fielding questions about swans, trumpets, and what watercress sandwiches taste like. I’m not a swan or a trumpet expert, but watercress sandwiches? That I can do!

A quick Google search reveled 559,000 recipe results. In the end, I went with the simplest one: white bread, mayonnaise (or in our food allergic house, Vegenaise), and fresh watercress. I did have a little trouble locating the watercress, but finally found success in the produce section of Whole Foods.

And what did my son think of the sandwiches? Here’s his full report…

To be honest, it did not have much of taste, sort of like spinach. But it did have a bit of spicy aftertaste. Which was not much compared to the mustard cabbage I once tried. That was a dark day. I am obsessed with waterfowl (scientific name Anseriformes). And in one part of the book, the swan eats some watercress sandwiches, and it is said in the book that all the swan really wanted was the watercress. I guessed that waterfowl eat watercress, and other stuff that grows underwater. So we tried it to see what it tastes like. So overall, it wasn’t bad or anything. Just a little bit tasteless. Maybe next time I’ll try bird seed.

Yes, I was a bit surprised. Watercress is a tad spicy. Not unlike arugula. However, the spice added a nice kick to counter the creamy mayo. Nom nom nom. Watercress is also a gorgeous green. I couldn’t resist garnishing Fred Marcellino’s illustration of Louis being presented the bill for twelve watercress sandwiches, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Boston (Harper Collins, 2000 paperback reissue).

If you are looking for a few more recipes, yummies, and challenges heading into the holiday season, you might want to try some rock cakes, say hello with this chocolate pen, or take our literary food quiz!