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Elle Jauffret

Writer ~ Science Enthusiast ~ Fork Handler

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Summer: reconnecting with spooky children's literature

There is nothing like cold chills to survive a hot summer, and with a light work schedule, I am happy to be able to reconnect with my childhood love: "spooky" children's literature (it can be found in your bookstore under "Contemporary fantasy/horror/ghosts/ wizards & witches/historical”). 

1) THE WICKED DEEP by Shea Ernshaw (Young Adult- horror-witches)

From the book (hardcover p.16-18): “The sign above the glass door reads: ALBA’S FORGETFUL CAKES in pale pink frosting-swirled letters on a cream-color background. […] Her tiny forgetful cakes are intended […] to wipe away bad memories.”

Decadent chocolate fig basil cake (right); Lemon lavender (middle); Hazelnut espresso (left)---all mentioned in the book.

Decadent chocolate fig basil cake

Cream butter (4 tbsp of soft butter) + sugar (1/3 cup). Add to 3 large eggs and mix well. Add flour (1/3 cup) + salt (1/4 tsp). Mix well. Then add bittersweet chocolate (8oz and melted) + basil (chopped leaves about ½ cup) + figs (2 large, ripe).

Pour into muffin pan (makes about 10). Bake at 400 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes.

Decorate with powdered sugar, basil leave, or a slice of fig

Lemon lavender

Cream butter (1/2 cup softened) + sugar (1 cup). Add 2 eggs. Mix. Add flour (1 ½ cup) +baking powder (2 tsp) + salt (1/2 tsp). Mix well. Add low fat yogurt (1/2 cup) + lavender extract (1 tsp) + lemon juice (of 1 lemon).  Divide equally and pour into muffin cups/pan (makes about 10-12). Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes.

When cool, pour icing over cakes and sprinkle with lemon zest (of 1 lemon) and lavender flowers.

Icing recipe: confectioners sugar (1 ½ cup) + + lemon juice (2 tbsp)

Hazelnut espresso

Cream butter (1/2 cup softened) + sugar (1 cup). Add 2 eggs. Mix. Add flour (1 cup) + hazelnut flour (1/2 cup) + baking powder (2 tsp) + salt (1/2 tsp). Mix well. Add low fat yogurt (1/2 cup) + coffee extract  (or extra strong coffee) (2 tsp). Divide equally and pour into muffin cups/pan (makes about 10-12). Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes.

 

2) THE INN BETWEEN by Marina Cohen  (Middle Grade-ghost)

Early in the story, Quinn and Kara stop at Norm's Diner. Even though the menu offers many southwestern dishes, only grilled cheese sandwiches are available. I wanted to remediate that and give Quinn the taco salad she wanted and Josh the Diablo burger he craved.

Taco Salad            

In a bowl, place: Romaine lettuce (chopped, 1 handful) + ½ avocado (sliced in small cubes) + 1/2lb ground beef-less ground beef (or regular ground beef) (previously sautéed with 1 tsp of taco seasoning + 8 cherry tomatoes (cut in 4) + 1/3 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese + ¼ cup of salsa.   Mix all. Top with ¼ cup sour cream + 2 tbsp of scallions (sliced small) + tortilla chips 

Diablo burger

Brioche bun + roasted red bell pepper (1-2 slices) + Pepper Jack cheese (2 slices) + bison burger (cooked to taste) + mayonnaise +  slices of chili pepper

Image includes: Emma's orange backpack, the yellow ball cap, a page of Spanish lesson, pink string (bracelet), dead cellphone battery.

 

 

 

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San Diego Comic Con

Here are a few highlights from the convention:

 

          

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French Tapestry and Memes

It was announced last week that the Bayeux Tapestry will leave France for the first time in 950 years and travel to London where it will be exhibited in 2022.

The Bayeux Tapestry (la Tapisserie de Bayeux) is a 9-century-old, 230-foot-long and 20-inch-tall embroidered cloth that depicts the battles that led to the Norman conquest of England. 50 scenes are included, all created with colored woolen yarns on linen.

To celebrate the occasion, let’s create medieval memes thanks to MIT and GitHub. Here are mine:

A modern take on the tapestry—here, the fight for women's rights as if depicted in the 11th century. Inspiration: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (above).

Netflix hit series Stranger Things, season 1 and season2 (below).

 

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The Beautiful, the Strange, and the Scary

Not a kill but just a thrill; not a gore but spooky lore; I want October days to be, hair raising and scary, haunted but also funny.

Photo 1: If Death approached you with a bouquet, would you invite her to dance? (Shadow selfie)

Photo 2:  Call me Dimewise* because I'm worth it.  (*In reference to Pennywise the Clown—the terrifying monster from IT by Stephen King)

 

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Insects on the Menu

My fascination with food started at a young age and sampling as many foreign dishes as possible when travelling has always been one of my goals ("discover, do not judge, and learn" is one of my family mottos).  So when I was given the possibility to try insects, I couldn’t refuse (granted—I agreed after an initial gag).  This was far from the infamous Kali cultists’ dinner of “Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom”, but the movie came to mind :) 

Eating insects (called “entomophagy”) is considered a smart, nutritional, and sustainable choice. Not only insects are said to be high in protein, but their production is also a great alternative to meat and leaves only a tiny carbon footprint.

We forwent the "cricket burger" but ordered the “taco with silkworms,” the “maple and soya entono-mix” (a mix of crickets, ants, silkworms, and termites cooked in maple syrup and soy sauce),  the rice "crispy square with whole crickets", the "lemonade with ants", and the "soft ice cream cone dipped in termite chocolate" (they were out of termites so we went with ants). The taco was delicious and had a light curry sauce (the silkworms tasted like chicken), the entomo-mix and rice crispy square were sweet, between chewy and crunchy, but not unpleasant, the lemonade (and its floating ants) was a bit unappealing (I probably would have obtained the same result leaving my lemonade on the grass for a hour). In both the lemonade and the ice cream, the ants felt like sharp pieces of metal in my mouth. In conclusion, when it comes to taste, insect-eating is not a thumb up or a thumb down, but more like a "meh."

I have to thank the Montréal Insectarium (Montréal's natural history museum and the largest insect museum in North America) for this experience.

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ComicCon Blade Runner 2019 Experience

 

ComicCon2017 provided visitors with the opportunity to enjoy an immersive, physical experience into the dark world of Blade Runner 2049—complete with landmarks and props from the original movie (spinner car, noodle bar...), live actors, and the sampling of noodles and three varieties of whiskyHere are a few pictures from my walk through futuristic Los Angeles streets.

    

 

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Neurology Research Meets Writer's Research

When Neurology Research Study and Writer's Research collide.

Getting fitted with QUASAR's EEG headset, which measures electrical activity in the brain.

QUASAR = Quantum Applied Science and Research; EEG = electroencephalogram

  

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Eggshell dolls: Japanese culture and craft.

A visit to the Mingei International Museum reminded us the importance to play with food.

 

In the exhibit on Japan, artist Yoshiko Teraoka’s egg dolls (omasa-sushi) (see above) inspired us to plan our day around eggs. This is how our eggshell dolls turned out:

 

Ninjas & knight

18th century French writer and seamstress (Provence clothing)

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Treats for TOBY (picture book)

The book: a young boy and his father decide to adopt a dog from the local rescue shelter.

Written and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, and published by Candlewick press, TOBY will be released on Sept.13, but is available for pre-order everywhere. For more info, check http://www.hazelmitchell.com/toby/

TOBY TREATS

Recipes

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin “Biscotti” Dog Treats (“Biswoofti”)

2 1/2 cups flour (whole wheat or regular)

2 eggs 


3/4 cup pumpkin purée (canned or homemade)


3 tablespoons peanut butter

            1/4 teaspoon salt 


1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Place all the ingredients (except the peanut butter) in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Flatten dough with a roller (or empty glass bottle) into a large rectangle (the size of a cookie sheet). Spread peanut butter on flattened dough. Roll up the dough on itself as if to make a “roll cake”. Press down on the roll cake so that it is no more than ½ inch in thickness (height). Slice the roll crosswise into 1/2inch slices. Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven (175 degrees C).

 

Cheese and Beef “Quiches” Dog Biscuits (“Barkiches”)

2 ½ cups flour (whole wheat or regular)

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons beef bouillon granules (1 ½ cubes)

½ cup hot water

1½ cups shredded cheese (or left over bacon/meat or anything your pup enjoys).

Dissolve the bouillon granules in hot water in a large bowl. Add the eggs and flour. Mix until well combined. Add the shredded cheese. Knead dough until all the ingredients are well incorporated. Roll the dough into a long snake (about ½ inch to 1 inch in diameter). Cut the dough in ½ inch slices. Place the slices cut side up back onto the baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven (175 degrees C).

 

To watch TOBY's book trailer, click here.

If you are on Twitter and want to connect with TOBY and its creator, Hazel Mitchell, check @MeetToby .

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San Diego ComicCon International 2016 : Highlights

 

I usually don't need to be saved, but I made an exception for Comic Con... then I put my tiara and cuffs back on : ) 

 

I met one of my favorite Game of Thrones characters: righteous Ser Davos Seaworth—Liam Cunningham. (He's such a kind and courteous man.)

  

Prince Zuko (from The Last Air Bender) shared his tea with me (his uncle approved) and Deapool and I chatted a little...

...while the Powerpuff Girls protected the area.

 

I was told to be pickier when choosing my friends...

 

.... so I hung out with the Silver Surfer and Wayne Szalinski  (”Honey, I shrunk the kids) with his lovely "Michelin wife".

  

I experienced a "What the Tweedle?!" moment with Dee and Dum, and ended the day at Aliens' 30th anniversary special screening event (the wonderful Sigourney Weaver and James Cameron made an appearance).

 

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National Selfie Day

Celebrating National Selfie Day with 8 literary genres: noir/crime fiction, SciFi, contemporary romance, drama, humor, horror, speculative fiction, historical fiction (1940s)  

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Captain Nemo’s Daughter Grilled Octopus Salad

Aboard a submarine thought to be a narwhal,

A toothed whale with a protruding tusk;

In ragged clothes to blend among sailors

Captain Nemo’s daughter hid in the kitchen.

 

She gave her father life with hint of happiness,

With dishes inspired by their travels;

Along their 20,000 league voyage

She caught her meals with diving suit and air gun.

 

She survived a giant octopus attack,

Grilled cephalopod on the menu;

Avocado, vinaigrette, and meat from

A souvenir tentacle lost in the battle.

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Absinthe Tainted Reminiscence

 

(Painting: La Muse Verte by Albert Maignan)

Year 2115. Saturday, May 4th

A bottle of emerald liquid stood in front of his penthouse front door in place of his daily delivery of hookers and cocaine. He picked up the unexpected gift, wondering what psychoactive drug his personal concierge had fetched him. A gold tag dangled from the flask’s neck. On it, a stenciled green fairy smiled mischievously and two words in cursive read “Drink me”. He shook the artisanal container and looked at the dubious green booze swirl.

What the hell. He took a swig and contemplated the jungle of concrete and steel below him. A sleepless metropolis where workweekss were 7 days long, residents never bore wrinkles, and where children couldn’t be found. The city he had created but for which he failed to be proud. A hole had deepened in him, as he grew in financial power and notoriety, that even his addictions couldn’t fill.

The flavor of anise burned in his throat, reminiscent of the hot summers and wormwoods from his childhood landscapes in Switzerland and France.

The cool air, the plants and the wind. The soil, sand, and grass under his juvenile feet.

Absinthe. An illegal drink praised as an artistic stimulant but with purported degenerative effects—whatever that meant. He didn’t care. He was already debauched and corrupt. He took a long swallow that emptied the bottle and faced the gathering dark behind his window, experiencing so many emotions at once—from his first love, success and fame to a strongly rooted sense of loss—experiencing what Oscar Wilde did, centuries ago, after three glasses of absinthe. “You see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.

He loosened his thousand-dollar tie and unbuttoned his shirt. The vision of his monetized present life and emotionally barren future hindered his breathing.

I need fresh air. He pushed on “ground level” of his private elevator and ripped off his clothes. And he dashed to the only place that felt real. A small patch of grass had been preserved from extinction, just a block away.

I need to feel. He ran nude and barefoot as his pre-pubescent self did down the hills of Neuchâtel and the fields of Provence. He lost the security guards trying to catch him, slid below the gate, and crawled on the soft soil and grass.

This is where I am meant to be. He lied on his back, flapping his arms and legs to feel the grass’s caresses, oblivious to the growing crowd around him. And he curled in a ball, sideway, waiting for something he couldn’t name. He was exhausted of faking to be the man society wanted him to be. He was chagrined by people who feared his financial and political influence, and by women with eyes devoid of twinkle complimenting his sexual prowess.

He wanted to be bare and be held. And loved for who he really was: a simple man.

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Spring Haiku

Rain drops in Socal

Brown snail mother and daughter

Up the hill of life

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The 25th Easter of Éléonore

Nobles and dignitaries from all over Europe had courted her since she appeared at her first debutante ball, but none had succeeded in stealing her heart. Éléonore had turned down every single gift, gesture, or advance—from Fabergé Imperial Easter eggs to egg-shaped earrings made from the rarest pearls—for she wanted to be seduced not by riches but with her senses. She wanted to be romanced with adventures, with unapologetically raw emotions, which her gender was forbidden to know.

It happened on the Easter of her 25th birthday, when Sir Van Houten of the Netherlands brought her an egg-shaped cake that he had made with cocoa beans he had ground himself by hand. The first bite brought a flush to her cheeks, the second gave her shivers, the third one made her cry and want more. Sir Van Houten and she married on that day, for only he could oblige by serving her more.

 

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The Beautiful Books of Ancient Maya: Codices

 

The Maya developed a hieroglyphic script (around 300 BCE), which contained signs representing words or sounds that could be combined and/or merged in different ways. This written language survived until about 1700 CE. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They recorded their knowledge in codices (ancient manuscript texts in book form sometimes illustrated with images).

 

 

 

 

 

The Madrid Codex details how to carry out the rituals for each new-year ceremony.

 

 

 

 

 

The Maya invented a mathematical system to document the astronomical phenomena they observed and predicted. (Dots indicate the value of 1; lines indicate values of 5; a glyph with one dot indicate the value of 6, etc…) Their calendars were a combination of hieroglyphic script and numbers. 

 

Date shown below: January 2, 2016            May 24, 1982 Fire Flower's birthdate

 

To learn more about the Maya Civilization, click here.

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A Meal from LOOT by Jude Watson (Middle Grade Fiction)

 

“March thought of the many things his father loved and would never eat again. Pommes frites and herring sandwiches and American potato chips and licorice.”  LOOT by Jude Watson. (Scholastic Inc. - Paperback p.12)

The story: the son of a master jewel thief follows the clues left by his deceased father, discovers the existence of his twin sister and organizes a series of high-stakes heists to reclaim seven cursed moonstone gems.

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Salad from Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe (Fiction, grade 2-5)

“I got a good look at the tomato. There were suspicious marks on the skin. […] I believe they’re teeth marks. […] “The Mark of the Vampire!” / “There must be something wrong with our refrigerator. That’s it. It’s turning all the vegetables white.” / “It was a big bowl of salad! […] With that funny white dressing on it, they would never notice if a few vegetables were white.” / “Bunnicula, not sure what to do, jumped high in the air and landed, with a great scattering of greens, smack in the center of the salad bowl. Lettuce and tomatoes and carrots and cucumbers went flying all over the table and onto the floor. BUNNICULA - A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe (Scholastic, Paperback - October 2007 p. 36, 54, 84, 87)

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Stoverij from INCONCEIVABLE! by Tegan Wren

A snippet of a scene from INCONCEIVABLE! 

John hovered a table covered in pieces of lace. “[…] Don’t you think you need to take home some Brussels lace?[…]” […] “What’s stoverij?” I asked. “It’s a meat stew, a classic Flemish dish. They add a nice bit of strong beer from one of the local Trappist abbeys. It also comes with pommes frites.”  (INCONCEIVABLE by Tegan Wren, ebook, p.136 & 145)

The story: A romance with a modern medical twist which follows Hatty Brunelle (a Missouri Ozarks native and journalism student at Toulene’s Royal University) and John Meinrad (the dreamy Prince of Toulene, a small European country), their romance, courtship, marriage, and struggles with infertility. European/international settings and characters guaranteed.

 

Recipe: Stoverij with pommel frites

For the "pommel frites" ("French fries" in French), simply peel and slice potatoes lengthwise, place in oven, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 450 degree F for about 45 minutes. (or fry in a deep fryer until golden). 

Stoverij (a Flemish beef stew made with beer): for recipe, click here

 

 

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Rutabaga soup from BLACK RADISHES by Susan Lynn Meyer (Fiction - MiddleGrade)

“There’s just no food here,” she said. “How am I supposed to make a meal with yesterday’s bread and rutabagas? […]” (p.96) Gustave bit into his stale bread, imagining how much better it would taste with creamy butter and the spicy tingle of black radish. He and Maman both loved radishes. (p.97) Papa came home with a whole sack of potatoes and three eggs that a farmer had given him in exchange for two pairs of children’s shoes. […] He ducked back down to the floor and flipped over puzzle pieces, looking for a corner. (p.99) She stood chopping carrots and onions at a scarred wooden kitchen table. (p.116) Even for his twelfth birthday, all Maman had been able to make was hard boiled eggs and rutabaga soup. (p.126)

BLACK RADISHES by Susan Lynn Meyer (First Yearling Edition 2011, paperback)

The story: In 1940, a French Jewish boy flees Paris and moves to a small village with his family to hide his religious identity from the oppressive laws of German-occupied France, and becomes involved in the French resistance. 

Recipe: roasted rutabaga soup 

Step 1: Place 2-3 rutabagas (peeled and cubed) in pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30-40 minutes (until roasted—slightly golden and tender).

Step 2: Place 1-2 rutabagas (peeled and cubed) in 5-8 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable) in a saucepan and bring to boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until vegetables are soft (about 30-40 minutes). Remove from heat and blend with a mixer.

Step 3: Add roasted rutabagas to mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

 

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