Summer Study and Tasty Tuesday
There are lots of ways to appreciate a book--especially a book as good as Maniac Magee and especially if one is a blogger.
Last Thursday, I wrote about the character of Earl Grayson. Last Saturday, I wrote about the fictional setting of Two Mills, Pennsylvania. Today, I shall prove that I did more than just read and write. I baked, too.
"Two Mills" Browndies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
4 to 6 tablespoons milk
2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1) In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanila. Combine flour and salt. Stir into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan; set aside.
No, we didn't use the nuts.
(which only approximates the measurements in the recipe)
and it was the best greased tin we've ever had!
Yes, I know our table cloth is ugly. There's no need to rub it in.
because it was so sticky.
2) For middle layer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. Combine the flour, cocoa and salt. Stir into creamed mixture. Add nuts. Spread over the bottom layer Bake at 350 degrees [Fahrenheit] for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the centre comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.
(And yes, I know our chairs are as embarrassing as the table cloth.)
We baked them at 150 degrees Celsius and for only 25 minutes or so
because all the thin, sharp knives we inserted
started coming out nice and clean.
3) For icing, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and milk; bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool until just warm; beat in confectioner's sugar until the icing achieves spreading consistency. Spread over brownies. [Browndies!!!] Let stand until set. Cut into bars.
(Have I mentioned that that was the best greased tin we've ever had?)
The book says the recipe yields two dozen bars, but we didn't count ours.
but I really wanted you to see the layers.
Unfortunately, all my bars come out that flat.
I can never figure out how to make them blockier.
so I halved the recipe given in the book.
That turned out to be a good thing, because nobody liked the frosting.
so it ended up more of a glaze than a frosting.
Which made no difference because the frostings in this book are always too sweet
and nobody I bake for ever likes them.
(Hey, at least we have pretty plates! =D)
Jerry Spinelli's Maniac Magee actually has lots of food in it, and my brothers and I could have ordered some pizza and then tried making someone's homemade twist on butterscotch Krimpets. (We could have also dropped peanut butter on the floor and tried sliding around in it . . .)
Food plays a very significant role in the novel. I have a post somewhere (on my old, defunct blog) about why the Baby Ruth bars in the movie Hellboy are a symbol of Communion (the Catholic understanding of Communion, of course). We don't have an obvious equivalent here, but it is obvious from Maniac's love of Krimpets . . . from Mrs. Beale's cakes . . . from the holiday dinners shared with Grayson . . . and from the openness of the Pickwell family's dinner table that this novel was written by an author who understands all about the soul's hunger for the sacramental. So for our concluding activity, my brothers and I could also have gone to Mass.
We did take our "Maniac Magee Appreciation Project" from our trusty "Taste of Home" Baking Book (which has proven good for everything except frostings). At first I wanted something with three layers, to represent the three stages in Maniac's search for a real home. But my brothers liked the way "brown" and "blond" come together in the Double Brownie recipe (which we've since renamed the "Browndie" recipe), the way some black characters from the East Side and some white characters from the West Side come together in the book. So that is what we did.