Black Forest Cupcakes

black forest cupcakesThese Black Forest Cupcakes were delicious!  I used a recipe from Cooking Classy and was mostly pleased with the results.  I will definitely fill the cupcakes with cherry pie filling next time or maybe use some dried cherries for texture in the mix.

 The kicker with this recipe was that I decided to make my own marshmallow frosting and as you can see in the picture, I wasn’t able to get it quite right.  I had some difficulty getting the right consistancy.  Even though these cupcakes were a bit sloppy, they were super tasty and went very well with our trip into Germany and The Hangman’s Daughter.

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The Hangman’s Daughter

hangmans illusThe Hangman’s Daughter was a book that the Steepers found to be a bit cumbersome.  We weren’t sure if it was because it was a translation from the German that maybe didn’t translate so well.  In the end, most of us agreed that we weren’t too eager to rush right out and read the second book in the series.

Recently, there have been far too many books that are titled The Someone’s Someone.  The Time-Traveller’s Wife, The Alchemist’s Daughter, The King’s Sister, etc. etc.  Ever notice that it’s somebody’s female relative?  We all kind of agreed that this book was mistitled.  It didn’t end up having too much to do with Magdelena.  She wasn’t even the third most important character. 

We did have some fun talking about the wonderful Horrors! Horrors! from the book, including some stunningly creepy black and red illustrations. To see more of them, check out the listing at Tower books.   Unfortunately, for those of us reading the ebook version, we missed out on these images, which, in my humble opinion really added to the book.

Some of our best Steeper quotes from the evening were as follows:

During a discussion of one character telling another to leave his work post to get a drink, most of us voiced that we’d be uncomfortable complying.  Steeper Colleen says, “Psh, if someone comes up to me at work and says ‘Go get a drink!’ I’m like, ‘Okay! I’m on it!’”

Finally, to show how loved I am as a librarian and as the moderator of our little book club, Steeper Tara informed me, “They’d burn you as a witch.”  So there’s that.     

December 2013: The Hangman’s Daughter

hangmanFor December 2013: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

 Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin.
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History of the World in Snickerdoodle Blondies

Deciding on a treat to make for History of the World in 100 Objects was tough!  Should I make something with historical impact (what dessert even has historical impact?  I seriously think they all do!) or perhaps something traditionally British since the book is a collection of items from the British Museum, or perhaps something with a good ole fashioned fall feel.

I narrowed it down to two options, Jammie Dodger cupcakes (I thought this would be great fun) or Snickerdoodle Blondies for some fall flavor.  I thought about something with pumpkin, but since everybody will be gorging themselves full of pumpkin pie next week (and since I abhor pumpkin) I thought I’d stick with the cinnamonny flavor.  Now, I would eat a snickerdoodle year round, but I decided it would be a nice and unique treat for our group.

It was.

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A History of the World in 100 Objects

history1Holy crap.  We met on Tuesday night … I’m writing the blog on THURSDAY!  Wonder of wonder.  Miracle of miracles.  Pardon me, I’m just terribly proud of myself right now.

 For November, we at Read It & Steep read Neil MacGregor’s History of the World in 100 Objects.  Now, I’m using the word “read” rather broadly.  Steeper Rachel had chosen this massive work of non-fiction.  At over 700 pages, we all felt fairly sure we weren’t going to get through it all.  Therefore, from the start we agreed that we were each only going to read about the items that interested us.

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November 2013: A History of the World in 100 Objects

historyA History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor for November

 This book takes a dramatically original approach to the history of humanity, using objects which previous civilisations have left behind them, often accidentally, as prisms through which we can explore past worlds and the lives of the men and women who lived in them. The book’s range is enormous. It begins with one of the earliest surviving objects made by human hands, a chopping tool from the Olduvai gorge in Africa, and ends with an object from the 21st century which represents the world we live in today.

 Neil MacGregor’s aim is not simply to describe these remarkable things, but to show us their significance – how a stone pillar tells us about a great Indian emperor preaching tolerance to his people, how Spanish pieces of eight tell us about the beginning of a global currency or how an early Victorian tea-set tells us about the impact of empire. Each chapter immerses the reader in a past civilization accompanied by an exceptionally well-informed guide. Seen through this lens, history is a kaleidoscope – shifting, interconnected, constantly surprising, and shaping our world today in ways that most of us have never imagined. An intellectual and visual feast, it is one of the most engrossing and unusual history books published in years.

Just a jump to the left . . .

Finally, I’d like to share big congratulations to Steeper Kristin who was an ensemble member in a fantastic production of the Rocky Horror Show in October.  A few of our book club members got to check the show out and we had so much fun … plus we’ll never look at our Kristin the same way again!  Way to go, Kristin, you were out of this world. Your book club loves you. 🙂

They do it yearly, so we are hoping to make this an annual Read It & Steep field trip!