Tag Archives: highlights magazine for children

Tex Mex Tofu Scramble and They Draw and Cook

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Hope everyone had a good one! ūüôā ¬†

I’m still recovering from a Hidden Pictures Retreat at Highlights this past weekend–lots of work to catch up on!¬† ¬†It was wonderful to see old friends and make new ones. ¬†The folks at Highlights are the best. ¬†I stayed in the cutest little wooden cabin, and we artists spent all day Saturday learning all about Hidden Pictures! ¬†I have done a few of Hidden Pictures for the magazines for the younger set, Hello!¬†and High Five. ¬†But I grew up with Highlights for Children (the most popular of their magazines), as did almost everyone else in this country. ¬†It is such an honor being able to contribute to the magazine from my childhood. ¬†ūüôā ¬†I will have to do a post about it in the future. ¬†But this one is the one I started before I left for Honesdale, PA last week!



Quite frankly, I would probably never have made this Tofu Scramble had it not been for the They Draw and Cook Glad Party. ¬†I submitted an illustration there, and the requirement was to come up with three different recipes using the same ONE ingredient. ¬†I usually only eat tofu with Asian flavors or in Chocolate Mousse, which I included in the recipe below. ¬†After illustrating it though, I decided I had to try it. ¬†And you know what — I love it! ¬†I’ve been eating it several times in the past week — it is so yummy with refried beans, cheese, and salsa! ¬†I also garnish with lime juice, plain yogurt (I can’t eat sour cream), and chopped cilantro.

For the concept, I knew I wanted to include animals, becauseI love drawing them, and I wanted characters and a story in the piece. ¬†Since there had to be three recipes, I thought it would be fun to do three different courses: A soup, a main entree, and a dessert. ¬†Then I came up with the Fox’s Cafe and went from there! ¬†I realized each recipe kind of has a different cultural background as well, so I incorporated that into the design with each animal saying how delicious tofu is in three different languages. ¬†At the end I have instructions for storing tofu. ¬†It’s important to keep it in fresh water. ¬†I actually have some leftover tofu in my fridge in water in a Glad container just like the little guy in my sketch:


And this is the final piece which I submitted:

Click to view larger

Click to view larger

It pretty much was the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted, though it doesn’t look so complicated… ¬†It’s made up of several files, one of which — just the ingredients in the recipes—was over 550 layers! ¬†Crazy, huh? ¬†That’s what happens when you import something from Illustrator. ¬†Lol. ¬†Every sliver of scallion had its own layer. ¬†The animals (yes, I am obsessed with the bunny and the bear — they keep showing up) are a separate file, and I assembled everything together in one big Photoshop file.

I realized that working this way (using several flattened files to make one big file) is a LOT like baking a complicate dish– something like the German Chocolate Cake we made for Denis’ birthday last weekend! ¬†There are also three stages to making the cake: ¬†First there is the cake component, then the ¬†filling component (which needs to be cooked and coddled and babied at the stove for 20 minutes), and then assembled all together later when everything has cooled!

This year, I had a baking assistant, which I was very grateful for!

Cracking the eggs...OMG, this cake has 3 eggs, and 4 egg yolks!!!  It's kind of scary like that.

Cracking the eggs…

OMG, this cake has 3 eggs, and 4 egg yolks!!! It’s kind of scary like that. ¬†But if you are brave, here is the recipe. ¬†I only make it exactly once a year, and only for the man I love!

Tex Mex Tofu Scramble

1 block of tofu

1 teaspoon oil

1/2 onion, diced

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/4 teaspoon or to taste of ground cumin, chili powder, and dried oregano

dash of kosher salt and pepper

1/4 cup chopped cilantro and more for garnish if desired

1.  Wrap block of drained tofu in a paper towel and weight under a heavy pot for 30 minutes.

2.  Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Saute onion and pepper until softened, about 3-5 minutes.  Crumble pressed tofu and add to skillet.  Season with spices, and saute for about five more minutes.

3.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

4. ¬†Serve with¬†grated cheese, lime wedges, refried beans, sour cream, salsa, and warm tortillas if you’d like.

Makes about 2 servings.


Filed under Art Related, Vegetarian

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‚Ķ

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‚Äôt, 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. ūüôā

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


Filed under Art Related