Tag Archives: Anne Rockwell

California Dreamin’

June and me

June and me

It’s been so long since I’ve posted, I feel like I’ve almost forgotten how!  In the past few weeks, I’ve had a ton of deadlines and events, and in June, we made a visit to California.  It was my 30th high school reunion, and we had a book signing in my home town of Lompoc on the Central Coast.  Life has been a whirlwind and now I am catching up!

Air travel and the time difference makes life so surreal… It was hard to believe that the same day we left Brooklyn, we later found ourselves driving around in sunny Los Angeles in a rented car.   After a lunch of the requisite In-n-Out burgers (which are nowhere to be found in New York),   we hopped on the 405 and headed north to Lompoc.  On the way there,we made a quick visit to a Barnes and Noble store in Westlake Village where we met June Sobel, the author of B is for Bulldozer, and the two of us signed books there.  I illustrated this book over ten years ago, and June’s son, to whom the book is dedicated and was inspired by, just graduate from Stanford this summer!  We had just met in person finally this year in NYC, and it was great to see her again. 🙂

Then, the next thing we knew, we were in beautiful Santa Barbara at the wonderful Chaucer’s Bookstore where I got to sign more books!

Jamie and me with Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

Jamie and me with Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

It was so great to finally make it to Lompoc after 15 hours of non-stop traveling!

I’m totally dating myself when I say it was my 30th reunion, but honestly it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long! Lol.  Some of my classmates whom I haven’t seen in 30 years were in town and came to a book signing we had at The Bookstore–a wonderful independent book store in Lompoc.  I don’t think we’ve changed THAT much.  It was so great to see these lovely women again after so many years!

sarah me barbie karen

 

bookstore karie, donna, lisa

 

There were several reunion events during the weekend.  What fun it was to see everyone again and reconnect.  It was  kind of weird to talk to people who remembered things that happened that were shared experiences that had no recollection about…!  And so amazing to realize that we had all watched each other grow up and now here we were in the present so enmeshed in our respective adult lives and identities!  It was also nice to be able to introduce Denis to everyone and meet my classmates’ significant others and tie the two worlds (past and present) together.

While in Lompoc, we stayed with my mom, of course.  I hope I have her energy when I’m 84….

My mom tree trimming on her property.

My mom tree trimming on her property.

The whole time we were there, I think every meal I ate except for maybe one was Mexican!  I so miss the food I grew up with, and here in our part of Brooklyn, great, cheap Mexican food is not to be had….  My mom made her yummy enchiladas (I did a post on it here and again here!), and I literally ate a burrito I got in town and brought home (it was as big as my head) for about five meals.  lol.

For breakfast, my mom introduced us to a delicious and so so easy to make Mexican Migas that a friend taught her to make recently.  Basically it is scrambled eggs with salsa and leftover cut up corn tortilla.  It is SO good!  Total comfort food.

You start by frying the corn tortilla in a bit of oil:

migas 1

Then you add beaten eggs:

Note the Japanese influence of cooking with wooden chopsticks...

Note the Japanese influence of cooking with wooden chopsticks…

Then you add salsa:

migas 2

Serve and eat!

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

I’ve seen other migas recipes made by sauteing onion and pepper first, but my mom’s recipe is easier– you could do it in your sleep – or at least before your first cup of tea or coffee!

I think it also tasted so good because my mom made it for me. 🙂

Hope you enjoy it!

me jamie mom in lompoc

Mexican Migas

2 corn tortillas

1 teaspoon oil

2 eggs, beaten

about 1/4 cup salsa or more to taste

1.  Cut up corn tortillas.  Heat oil in skillet.  Saute tortillas until soft.

2.  Add beaten eggs to skillet and stir. Cook until no longer translucent.  Stir in salsa and cook until heated through.

3.  Serve with shredded cheese, chopped onions, beans, sour cream if you wish.

Makes one to two servings.

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Filed under Books, Breakfast, Eggs

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread (Gluten Free) and Book Events

At Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn

At Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn

This past weekend I had back to back book events.  On Saturday, I read B is for Bulldozer and Truck Stop  at Greenlight Bookstore.  I also did this  ultra cute, fun collage project (from No Time For Flashcards) with the children.  Check it out — it is perfect for pre-K and Kindergarten aged kids!

Collage made by me and Jamie

Collage made by me and Jamie

I precut the shapes out of construction paper.  Jamie was my helper and passed them out.  I brought pieces of brown paper bag for “dirt” and encouraged them to tear it up into pieces and glue to their collages.

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Sunday was an amazing event at Books of Wonder on 18th Street in Manhattan.  If you have never been there before, it is a fantastic independent bookstore devoted solely to children’s books.  They do not carry any licensing products — you will not find any Disney or Nickeloden books here!  All the picture books are arranged alphabetically by illustrator, rather than author.  It’s the only bookstore I know of that does this!

>We love it there and go often for events of which there are many.  It’s been a wonderful opportunity to meet legendary book people, like the late Tomi Ungerer or Chris Van Allsberg as well as newer, well-known authors and illustrators.  One of our favorite events was listening to Nortan Juster and Jules Feiffer talk about creating The Phantom Tollbooth last year in celebration of its 50th anniversary.

This Sunday, though, I was on a panel there!  My panel mates are all exceptional picture book creators.  I was honored to be included in the group.

With Brian Floca, Anne Rockwell, Robie Harris, Chris Raschka, Deborah Heiligman.  Not pictured are Leyuen Pham, Doreen Cronin, and Betsy Lewin.

With Brian Floca, Anne Rockwell, Robie Harris, Chris Raschka, Deborah Heiligman. Not pictured are Leyuen Pham, Doreen Cronin, and Betsy Lewin.

I was totally nervous before the event – I am not so comfortable speaking in public anyway, but my anxiety was heightened by the stellar company I was keeping.  Anne Rockwell, who is the most sweetest, generous, warmest person ever, put me at ease.  I was so thankful she was able to make it.  She is a “living legend” as Peter Glassman, owner of Books of Wonder, said in his introduction of her.  She has written over 100 books, many of which she herself illustrated.  You can imagine my immense relief when she told me she love the illustrations for her warm story, Truck Stop!

Anne and I both spoke a bit about how the book came to be and our process of creating it.  Brian Floca spoke about his amazing book, Locamotive.   He actually got to drive an old fashioned locamotive for an afternoon as part of his research.   Robie Harris and Chris Racshka discussed writing and illustrating a book about child fears, When Lions Roar.  The challenge was creating something that wasn’t too scary, but scary enough, and what a delicate line that is.  Deborah Heiligman and Leuyen Pham talked about their book on the life and work of Paul Erdos (The Boy Who Loved Math)  as well as the esoteric system of Erdos numbers.  The wonderful Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin of Click, Clack, Moo! fame have been collaborating for 18 years.  Their newest is Click, Clack, Boo! They spoke about their collaboration and how much trust and respect they have for each other — also how they both share the same sense of humor (obvious if you’ve ever read their hilarious books about duck and Farmer Brown).

Everyone had such an interesting perspective on the work of picture book creating. It was really fascinating and inspirational.  I was so happy to meet finally Chris Raschka and Betsy Lewin  whose illustrations I adore and whose books Jamie grew up with (along with many of Anne’s).

Anne Rockwell and me outside of Books of Wonder after the event.  Do I look relieved?

Anne Rockwell and me outside of Books of Wonder
after the event. Do I look relieved?

It really is such a gift for kids to be able to meet authors and illustrators of the books they love.  If you ever have the opportunity, please do so!  Not every place is like  NYC where there are book events all the time, but in cities across the country, especially at independent book stores, there are events taking place often — and they are free!

With all these book events (not to mention deadlines and travel), this fall has been really busy.  It’s always a pleasure then to find a really, super easy recipe — especially one that is tasty, healthy, kid-friendly, and in this case, gluten free!

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread

I have several people in my life (friends, my niece, Jamie’s friend) who are gluten intolerant.  So I am always on the lookout for some yummy gluten free recipe I can pass onto them or make.  I saw this TWO ingredient plantain bread on purelytwins.com recently, and I’ve been making it and experimenting with different variations and flavors.  The twins recommend using yellow plantains with a few brown spots, as they are less starchy.  But if you want a sweeter, less tangy flavor, the dark ones work too.

plantains

I came up with this Double Chocolate Plantain Bread Mini Loaf that is so moist and delicious.  It’s a nice snack cake for after school or even for breakfast.  I added vanilla, sugar, cocoa powder and chocolate chips to the two ingredient aforementioned plantain bread.  I baked it in a mini loaf pan.  I made the batter in my Vitamix, but any blender or food processor would work just fine (I’ve also made it in a food processor but the Vitamix is easier to clean!)

chocolate plantain bread 2

Double Chocolate Plantain Bread Mini Loaf

non-stick spray

1 large plantain, either yellow with a lot of brown or all brown

2 eggs

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon (or more depending on your taste) sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons chocolate chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line the bottom of a mini loaf with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

2.  Peel and slice plantain. Put in a blender or food processor with eggs, cocoa, and sugar.  Puree until smooth.

3.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Drop chips evenly on top and stir gently to incorporate.

4. Bake for 25-35 minutes, checking with a skewer.  If it comes out clean when poked in the center, the loaf is done.  Check at around 25 minutes.  The center can be very moist and pudding like.  If you like that texture, take it out.  If not, bake a bit longer.

5.  Let cake cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then remove and cool completely.

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Filed under Books, Desserts, Snack, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Princeton Children’s Book Festival and Chocolate Protein Mini Muffins

Denis and I signed Hush Little Monster together

Denis and I signed Hush Little Monster together

This past Saturday we participated in the Princeton Children’s Book Festival.  It was a  beautiful day for celebrating children’s books!

We met a lot of interesting authors and illustrators and wonderfully supportive parents buying books.  It was also great to see old friends.

With Anne Rockwell, author of Truck Stop, and her daughter and illustrator, Lizzy Rockwell,

With Anne Rockwell, author of Truck Stop, and her daughter and illustrator, Lizzy Rockwell

With Denise Dowling-Mortensen, author of Good Night Engines and Wake Up Engines--we met in 2004, the year Jamie was born and when Good Night Engines was released. :)

With Denise Dowling-Mortensen, author of Good Night Engines and Wake Up Engines–we met in 2004, the year Jamie was born and when Good Night Engines was released. 🙂

I made mini donuts to hand out — they looked like these and the recipe is here:

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Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of them — I was too distraught over finding my cake stand had broken en route! The good news was that the pile of donuts quickly disappeared within the first couple of hours.

Jamie was a trooper and didn’t mind having to be with us at the festival all day long with no playmates.  He wandered about the four tents of 20 authors and illustrators and looked at books, sampled treats, and had his program signed by all 80 of them!

Table seating of each tent

Table seating of each tent

He also scored  cute drawings from Dave Roman (author/illustrator of the Astronaut Academy series) and Alexis Fredrick Frost (of Adventures in Cartooning fame):

dave roman sketches

By Alexis Fredrick Frost

By Alexis Fredrick Frost

Thank you so much for being so kind to my son!

Jamie also got to choose a couple books for himself and a friend which he had signed by Dave Roman and Fiona Robertson.  It’s so special when you can give and receive an autographed copy!

By Dave Roman

By Dave Roman

By Eva Ibbotson, Illustrated by Fiona Robertson

By Eva Ibbotson, Illustrated by Fiona Robertson

I knew it would be a long day of meeting people and signing books, as well as traveling to and from the event.  It’s the kind of situation where you never know if you’ll get really hungry in a place where there might not be healthy, portable options available.  In preparation, I made a dozen Shelly’s Chocolate Protein Mini Muffins to bring with us.

Chocolate Protein Mini Muffins

Chocolate Protein Mini Muffins

This recipe is from The World According to Eggface — a fantastic blog with lots of great recipes.  These muffins came in handy when we were stranded on the platform after just missing our train back to the city!  It was dinner time and we had to wait for the next train–in the end we were kind of glad we did, because we got to ride with more of our festival compatriots who arrived at the train station later.  Plus, we weren’t hungry anymore!

This coming weekend, I have more book events.  If you are in the NYC area, please come join me.  I will be at Greenlight Bookstore (686 Fulton Street at South Portland, Brooklyn, NY)  on Saturday, September 28 from 11- 12, reading Truck Stop and the board book version of B is for Bulldozer, which was just released this month!  On Sunday, September 29, I will be on a panel with Anne Rockwell and several other authors at Books of Wonder (18 West 18th street between 5th and 6th Avenues) from 1-3 pm.

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Filed under Art Related, Books, Breakfast, Children, Snack, Travel, Vegetarian

BookCourt and Mini Donuts Three Ways

5 dozen Mini Muffins and 7 dozen Mini Donuts

5 dozen Mini Muffins and 7 dozen Mini Donuts

Last Saturday we had our book launch at BookCourt in Brooklyn.  We’re so lucky to have such a fantastic independent bookstore in our neighborhood!

Anne reading Truck Stop.

Anne reading Truck Stop.

Anne Rockwell, the author, came all the way from Stamford, CT to be there!  It was nice to see her again.  If I had any brain cells I would have had Denis take a picture of us in front of the store!

Talking about how I made the artwork.

Talking about how I made the artwork.

It was well attended and a lot people ended up staying a long time even after the reading was over (that’s a sign of a good bookstore!)

I made mini donuts and mini muffins for the occasion.  Luckily there were no leftovers to bring back home…  A big THANK YOU to all those who showed up!

Cinnamon sugar, chocolate, vanilla with chocolate glaze, and vanilla with sprinkles

Cinnamon sugar, chocolate, vanilla with chocolate glaze, and vanilla with sprinkles

 

Note:  I used a mini donut pan.  You could make regular sized donuts instead.  You will have to bake them for about 15 minutes and it will make about 1 dozen for each recipe.

Baked Vanilla Donuts with Vanilla and Chocolate Glaze (based on this recipe from theKitchn. I used a different method for the glaze because I wanted to make sure the glaze would be firm enough for transport)

Non-stick spray

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)

2 tablespoons warm water

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

water

Drop of food coloring if you want!

sprinkles

Chocolate glaze:

2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

milk as needed (about 1-2 tablespoons)

Cinnamon Sugar:

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

sprinkles

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray donut pan with non-stick spray.

2.  In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and set aside.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, melted butter, vanilla extract, and yeast mixture until combined.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until incorporated.

4.  Spoon batter into donut pan –just a little bit — about half way.  With the mini donut pan, you don’t need much! It will spill over and look like a muffin.

5.  Bake donuts until puffed and golden, about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes on rack.  Transfer donuts to rack to cool.

6.  For vanilla glaze, I just added vanilla and a bit of water a little at a time to sugar until the consistency is opaque but still wet.

7.  For chocolate glaze, melt chocolate and butter together in microwave in 30 second intervals.  Stir until smooth.  Add sugar gradually.  Add milk if it is too thick.

8.  For cinnamon sugar topping, mix sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.

9.  To decorate, dip donuts in glazes and sprinkle with sprinkles if desired.   Dip on both sides in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Baked Chocolate Donuts (based on this recipe on Mom Advice

Non-stick spray

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

4 teaspoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325 F.

2.  Coat donut pan with non-stick spray.

3.  Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

4. In another bowl, whisk milk, sugar, egg, butter, coffee, and vanilla until smooth.

5.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture.  Whisk until fully incorporated.

6.  Fill donut pan a bit less than half-way full.  Bake for 8 minutes or until donuts spring back when touched.

7.  Cool in pan for about 5 minutes on rack.  Remove donuts to cool on rack.

8.  Dip in vanilla glaze (see above).

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Filed under Art Related, Books, Breakfast, Children, Desserts

Giveaway Winner and Diligent Dan’s Pancakes

Coming soon May 2013!

We have a winner for my TRUCK STOP giveaway:  Amy from  I Found It Interesting !
Congratulations, Amy!  I will send you a copy signed by both me and Anne Rockwell, the author.

For those of you in the NYC area, this Saturday, June 1, Anne and will be appearing together at BookCourt in Brooklyn (163 Court St. @Dean St.) at 11 am.  Please join us for a reading, signing, puzzles and treats (mini muffins and mini donuts)!

Diligent Dan orders pancakes with syrup and sausages!

Diligent Dan orders pancakes with syrup and sausages!

Here is our favorite pancake recipe which my husband, Denis, makes almost every weekend.  He’s really perfected it!  They are mouthwatering right off the griddle.  As for the leftovers (if there are any!) we let them cool off, then wrap each individually in saran wrap.   Don’t skip this step– it keeps the pancakes from stick together.  We freeze these in a ziploc bag.  During the week, we can have homemade pancakes for breakfast too.  We reheat a frozen pancake (remove saran first!) wrapped in a damp paper towel for 50 seconds in the microwave, and it’s ready to be gobbled up.

pancake

Perfect Pancakes
(adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

The best way to cook these is on a griddle because they cook flat and evenly.  Do not butter the griddle first, or the pancakes will not have that even golden surface.  If you don’t have a griddle, use a seasoned cast iron skillet.

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoon melted and cooled butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat griddle.

2.  Mix together the dry ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.

3.  Whisk eggs into the milk, then stir in melted butter and vanilla.  Whisk this mixture into the dry ingredients until incorporated.

4.  Spoon batter onto heated griddle using a 1/3 cup measuring cup.  As soon as you see it start to bubble, flip the pancake (after about 30 seconds– it may vary depending on your griddle and how high your heat is).  Cook for about a minute.  Remove to  a plate and, preferably, serve immediately!

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TRUCK STOP Book Release and Baked Buttermilk Donuts

Coming soon May 2013!

I’m thrilled to announce the release of TRUCK STOP, written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by moi!!  The official Viking pub date is this Thursday, but we are kicking off our blog tour today.  TRUCK STOP is a fun picture book for young kids that celebrates all the different trucks and their drivers who gather for breakfast every day at the young narrator’s family’s truck stop diner.

When I first was offered the manuscript in 2011, I was so excited to see it was written by Anne.  I’ve been a big fan for a long time.  She`s written over 100 children’s books for all ages, on topics ranging from boats, history, mythology, to the first day of school, bugs, to the seasons.  Go check out her collection of books here!  Needless to say, I didn’t need much time to think it over and said “yes” to my editor immediately.

Most people don’t realize it, but usually the author and illustrator don’t meet or collaborate at all on the book.  Exceptions are made, of course, if they are married, related, or perhaps have worked together in the past.  So it was such a pleasure last week when I finally had the opportunity to meet Anne in person.  We had been corresponding via Facebook  for the past year after I turned the artwork in (yes, it takes a year for a book to be printed!)

Last year, during our trip to California I did research and took a lot of a reference photos at a truck stop near my hometown.

Truck Stop in Santa Maria

Truck Stop in Santa Maria

A large portion of the story takes place in the truck stop diner. I took a lot of photos inside.

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I love that TRUCK STOP has the food component–yummy breakfasts bringing people together.   Here is the narrator (the son of the owners) helping to make breakfast and opening the truck stop diner:

making breakfast

One of their first guests is Maisie and her Milk Truck.  Maisie orders donuts and coffee for breakfast:

masey

Note plates of collaged donuts:

plate-donuts

I cut each coconut shred and sprinkle by hand!

I cut each coconut shred and sprinkle by hand!

Inspired by Maisie,  I decided to make Baked Buttermilk Donuts to celebrate the TRUCK STOP release.

Plate o' real donuts.

Plate o’ real donuts.

sprinkles close 2

Anne and I will be doing book events in the area.  If you are nearby, please stop by and get a signed copy!  We will both be at Book Court in Brooklyn at 11 am on June 1.  I will be alone at Greenlight Bookstore participating in some “Artists Battles” (I’m a little nervous since I’ll be “competing” against Sophie Blackall and Sergio Ruzzier and Melissa Guion….!) this coming weekend, May 18 at 11 am.  Come cheer me on!

In the next two weeks, Anne and I will also be doing a blog tour.  Our book will be reviewed and given away on several blogger’s sites.  I will be tweeting about it and will also be hosting a give away of a signed book here on The Hungry Artist, so stay tuned.

Here are some giveaways already going on if you want to try and win a copy!

Just A Little Creativity

Kid Focused

A Mom’s Take

The Children’s Book Review

Five Minutes for Books

Susan Heim on Parenting

Kid Lit Frenzy

For some fun free downloadable games, puzzles, and coloring sheets based on TRUCK STOP, please visit the Activity Sheets section of my website here!

Baked Buttermilk Donuts (inspired by TRUCK STOP) 

This recipe is based on this one at Heather’s French Press.  I omitted the nutmeg and used different toppings in place of the cinnamon sugar.  Also I would advise rolling dough out to 1/2″ (instead of 1/4″ as directed) and cutting out donuts with a 3″ cookie cutter or glass and holes with a 1″ cutter.  I love that these are baked instead fried!

Also, I love that you also get donut holes!

Aren;t these cute?  They look like mini profitroles.

Aren’t these cute? They look like mini profiteroles.

Toppings:

White Glaze- just pour about 1/3 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a bowl.  Add a little bit of milk at a time and stir.  Keep adding 1/4 teaspoon or so at a time until consistency is opaque but thin enough to pour over donuts.  Decorate with sprinkles, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut.

Chocolate Glaze – Melt chocolate chips (I used about 1/4 for two donuts) in a microwave safe bowl at 20 second intervals.  Watch closely.  Stir until smooth, the coat donuts.

For filled donut:  I used the dough scraps and made a solid donut.  I filled it with raspberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar.

sprinkles close cropped

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Filed under Art Related, Breakfast, Children, Desserts

The Next Big Thing

“What is the Next Big Thing?” you might wonder.  I’ll tell ya…  It’s an author blog tour that started in Australia I don’t know how far back when.  The idea is that it gives authors and illustrators a chance to share work and then tag others to share their work and so on and so forth.

I was tagged by Susan Miller, a wonderful artist I met on a bus ride from NYC to Honesdale, PA where we spent then weekend at the Highlights Magazine for Children Illustrators’ Party held every fall.  We’ve both worked for the company in the past, and it’s a great event to meet other artists and writers associate with the magazine and relax in a beautiful, bucolic environment with our families.  Susan’s work can be viewed here.  Please go check it out!  She paints adorable illustrations as well as 3-D ornaments!

As for the questions…..

1) What is the working title of your next book?

It is called Truck Stop and is written by the amazing Anne Rockwell.

Coming soon May 2013!

Coming soon May 2013!

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I think she got the idea from seeing all the different truck stops in the country.  Also, there are no truck stop books! I discovered this while doing research for the book.  So I think it will fill a nice niche.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

It’s for young children and is a picture book.  Any kid who loves vehicles will love this book!

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm.  There are a lot of truck drivers in it, and a boy who is the main protagonist, and his mom and dad and uncle who run the truck stop.

I see James Gandolfini as one of the truckers.  He needs to break out of his “mob” typecasting rut.  Ah, to be a casting director…

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Trucker friends gather for breakfast at a family owned truck stop, but realize that Green Gus is missing — who will find him?

6) Who is publishing your book?

It will be published mid-May by Viking/Penguin.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Actually I didn’t, but it took a long time for research and sketching when planning the illustrations!  About 6 months I think.  We were traveling during that period, so I visited various trucks stops in Illinois and California.  I also visited a lot of diners and took many pictures and did many, many sketches.  I just love homey ‘Mom and Pop’ places.  I tried to capture that feeling in my artwork.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
As I said before, surprisingly there aren’t really any truck stop books.  But there are a lot of truck books, so it would fit with that.  I have also done two truck (vehicle) books in the past,  Good Night Engines and Wake Up Engines, by Denise Dowling-Mortensen.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It’s actually written by the legendary Anne Rockwell, and it is beautiful story.  I knew I wanted to illustrate when I first read it. I love that idea of the truckers each having a different personality that matches their trucks, and also that matches their breakfasts!
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

This book is PERFECT for young kids interested in trucks for sure!  Also any kids who are foodies (e.g. my son) will like it too.  I had a lot of fun making each piece of breakfast food out of paper and gluing it together!

At the counter eating breakfast.

At the counter eating breakfast.

I will be doing another post about Truck Stop in May when it is officially released.  You can be sure there will be recipes involved!  Also a giveaway of a signed copy. 🙂

For next week’s Next Big Thing, I tagged Nancy Doniger, who illustrates children’s books and does editorial illustration for the New York Times.  Her book Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed From a Single Word is out now.  Look for her post next week, April 11th!

lemonade book

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Individual Summer Fruit Crumbles

With vanilla ice cream–a perfect summer treat!

I’m right in the middle of finishing all the illustrations of my latest book project.  It will be published by Viking Press next year and is written by the amazing,  award winning Anne Rockwell.

I can’t show anything to you yet, but I can say that yummy breakfast food is a part of it. 🙂

Pancakes anyone?

Denis and I are also getting ready for the launch of our collaborative effort, Hush Little Monster, out next month.  More on that to come soon!

You would think with my workload I wouldn’t have time to make dessert on a daily basis.  But….

You would be wrong!

Here’s a  super easy and great summertime dessert that you can throw together without thinking.  The secret is to have a stash of topping already prepared.

Mix up a batch of crumble topping.  I use butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, some flour or oats, spices and chopped nuts.  Sometimes I also add coconut.  I’ve even made a sugar free one for a friend out of just butter (you could use coconut oil also), almonds, cinnamon, and oats.

Store this crumble mixture in the refrigerator and use as needed.

Leftover crumble in container I keep in the fridge

When you want to have some dessert, cut up some fruit — summer is wonderful for stone fruits and berries which work well here.   Mix with a bit of sugar and other flavorings if you like, such as lemon juice, zest, liqueur– have fun.

Blueberries and chopped cherries mixed with a touch of sugar

Then fill ramekins.  We use about 1/2 cup of chopped fruit mixture per ramekin.

My assistant spooning fruit into ramekins

Top with however much crumble you want.

Putting on topping

Bake at 375 F degrees.   Since it’s been so hot, I just use our Cuisinart toaster oven, aka Easy Bake oven, because it preheats so fast and doesn’t heat up the apartment.  It only takes ten minutes to warm the fruit up and brown the crumble.

Unbaked crumble

Baked crumble – after ten minutes in toaster oven

You could also use a larger baking dish and make a big batch at once time, but you’d need to bake it longer– about 40-45 minutes and use a regular oven.

I like the little individual ramekins because they are portion controlled, heat up fast, and are small enough to fit in our above mentioned toaster oven.

Also, they are cute.

This is a sugar free, dairy free version: Just fruit, oats and sliced almonds!

My son loves making these crumbles.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and enjoy!

Warm, crunchy, and creamy!

Individual Summer Fruit Crumbles

½ cup chopped summer fruit and/or berries per ramekin

½ – 1 teaspoon sugar, depending on how sweet you like it – or none at all

dash of liqueur (such as Kirsch or Cointreau) or lemon juice or zest if you like

Crumble Topping – use however much you like (see recipe below)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.
  2. Stir fruit and sugar (and liqueur, lemon juice, zest, if using) together.  Spoon into ramekins.
  3. Top with crumble.
  4. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until lightly browned on top.
  5. Serve immediately or cool to room temperature.

If you want to make one big crumble for 4-6 people, use about 2 ½ pounds fruit with ¼ cup sugar and stir together in a square baking pan or pie pan.  Top with crumble mixture.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes at 375 F degrees.

Crumble Topping:

6 tablespoons flour or oats or combination

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

cinnamon or nutmeg to taste

5 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into pieces

¾ cup chopped nuts (I like sliced almonds)

Note:  you can also add in dried coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds – use whatever strikes your fancy.

  1. Pulse flour, oats if using, with sugars and salt and spices in a food processor a couple times to mix together.  Add butter.  Pulse some more until mixture is sandy.  Then add nuts (and seeds and coconut if using) and pulse a few times more until mixture is clumpy.
  2. Store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Filed under Children, Desserts