Tag Archives: bookcourt

Click Here to Start Launch and Power Button Start Cookies

  
This past week, we celebrated the release of my husband, Denis’, debut novel, Click Here to Start.

Click-Here-to-Start-High-Res
This awesome book cover was illustrated by Octavi Navarro.

The book chronicles twelve year old Ted, who is a whiz at Escape the Room Games, and his two friends, as they cleverly figure out what is behind the clues left by Ted’s great uncle – a WWII veteran of the Nisei Brigade from Hawaii. Ted is sure there is something valuable to be found in his late uncle’s apartment, and he has to use his gaming knowledge to do it. Along the way, the trio realizes there are other people searching for the same “treasure”, and they may not be so “friendly”. Ted and his friends have to use their wits and brains to solve the mystery – and ultimately, themselves, in this fact-paced, kid friendly novel.

The audio book, produced by Listening Library, was released at the same time, which was very exciting! It’s narrated by Greg Watanabe, an actor and comic. He does a wonderful job! I love how he’s able to do the different voices of all of the characters, whether they are male or female, young or old, from Hawaii or from the mainland… He gives each of them a distinct personality.

So far, the book has gotten such positive reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, kidlit bloggers, teachers, librarians, kids. It was named a School Library Guild Section and an Amazon Best Books of the Month Selection.

“As addictive as your favorite video game. I couldn’t put it down.”-Adam Gidwitz, New York Times bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm

“Humor, believable characters, and adventure…keeps readers in suspense to the end. A winner for mystery enthusiasts.”-Kirkus Reviews

“In this clever debut, Markell takes readers on a clue-filled adventure…[and] maintains an energetic, entertaining balance of character-driven narrative and tricky challenges.”-Publishers Weekly

“Markell’s highly entertaining debut novel…is a well-paced read with fully realized and likable characters,…[and] should have strong appeal to gamers, fans of video game-based stories, and reluctant readers.”-School Library Journal

And today from Jean Westmore of the Buffalo News:

“Markell offers plenty of scary suspense, thrilling action, references to literature and movies and lots of humor in his cleverly constructed puzzle. The book is dedicated to “the valiant men of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat team, who fought so bravely for the U.S. at a time when their Japanese-American relatives back at home were being treated so dishonorably.’ His wife’s uncle was among them.”

click-cookies_Melissa-Iwai
For the Click Here to Start book launch at BookCourt this past weekend, I made Power Button Start Cookies. Jamie, our son, was a great help with frosting and packaging. He’s so proud of his dad! 🙂

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me-icing_Click  

For the cookies, I used my tried and true sugar cookie and royal icing recipe I’ve used for holiday cookies in the past. This time, I used powdered egg white merengue for the frosting, and I think it really made a difference. The exterior piped frosting was perfectly hard. I am just not so great at piping! I dyed the frosting a bright green to match the Start button on the cover of the book. We frosted them green, then later, I piped the Start symbol on top in white. It is an extra step to do the piping and then the fill with diluted frosting, but the results are much better. You get a crisp outline and a very smooth interior with no ridges.

The event was wonderful. Fun to see old friends and new ones. Denis spoke about how he came to write the story, which is inspired by my uncle, Nicholas, Nakabayashi, who fought with the 100th Battalion during WWII. Denis also had fun playing Escape the Room Games with Jamie as research. 🙂

 Denis-and-Aubry-at-Book-COurt
I was surprised that almost all of my 38 cookies were eaten at the event! Only two remained, which we enjoyed after the big event. 🙂 

  

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Chocolate Hardware Tools and Book Signing in Brooklyn

Melissa Iwai 2016

Melissa Iwai 2016

Anne Rockwell, the author of Let’s Go to the Hardware Store, and I will be at BookCourt (163 Court St.) in Brooklyn tomorrow  (March 26) at 2 pm to read and sign books. I will also talk a bit about how I created the artwork for the story.

I also made a bunch of treats to bring to the event!

First up are dark chocolate and milk chocolate tools. I bought a cute tool mold here to make the candies. I melted chocolate pieces in a heat proof bowl in the microwave at 30 second intervals (about 1.5 to 2 minutes). Mixed well to get rid of any lumps and poured into the molds.

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Getting the chocolate in the nooks and crannies takes a bit of time. You can nudge the chocolate with a spoon. Then, I wiped the edges clean with a damp paper towel and tapped the mold hard on the counter several times to get rid of any air bubbles. I found the dark chocolate to be easier to work with. Then I stuck it in the refrigerator to chill. The milk chocolate took longer to harden. Also, I discovered that the longer you let the chocolate chill, the easier it is to remove.

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To do so, you just turn the mold over and gently press on the shapes. The chocolate should snap out in one piece.

Finished tools -- they are so shiny!

Finished tools — they are so shiny!

I wrapped the chocolates in foil, and then printed out my illustrations of tools from the book and affixed them to the wrapped chocolates.

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For the toolbox, I made gingerbread. I used the same recipe I used for my Haunted Gingerbread House and Magna Tiles, but made one and half batches. I was inspired by this blogger’s cute tool box, but I made my own template, and I used a breadstick instead of a straw for the handle.

The trick is to roll the dough out on the baking sheet on parchment.

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Then, using a template, score the dough gently with a knife. Bake for 15 minutes. While the dough is still warm, cut out the shapes. This ensures a sharp clean edge.

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Then I frosted the pieces using this recipe. I am not so great at frosting and made my flooding icing too thin. 😦 So my toolbox is not so pretty. But it holds my chocolates well. I made a divider out of card stock that is labelled “dark chocolate” and “milk chocolate” on each side so people can choose their favorites.

If you are in the Brooklyn area, please stop by and say “Hi” and grab a chocolate tool! 🙂

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Chocolate Candies

1 bag chocolate pieces

  1. Pour 5 oz. of chocolate into a medium bowl.
  2. Heat at 30 second intervals in the microwave oven, checking the chocolate each time. You don’t want to overheat it. When it is smooth and silky when you stir it, stop heating. For dark chocolate it was about 90 seconds. For milk chocolate it was a little longer.
  3. Pour chocolate into candy molds. Be sure not to overfill. Nudge chocolate with a spoon or knife into nooks and crannies.
  4. Wipe around mold if you got chocolate in between shapes. Chocolate will come out easier if all the edges are clean. Tap mold hard several times on counter to remove air bubbles.
  5. Chill in refrigerator until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  6. To remove, turn mold over and gently press on the bottom. Chocolate should pop out easily.

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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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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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