Literary Dishes for the Holidays

I love food, and I love books. Because of that, the holidays are a special time. Not only is it the perfect reading weather, with afternoons spent snuggled up under the blankets, listening to the radiator click as you lose hours with your nose buried in a novel. It’s also the season for food.

Not for exotic, culinary delights, but for mouth-watering (hopefully) comfort food. For roasted turkey and glazed ham. Cranberry sauce and stuffing. Pumpkin pie and hot chocolate.

Yet, even though I spent countless hours in the kitchen as a child, watching my mother turn scraps and leftovers into some delicious meals, I’ve never been blessed with cooking genes.

“How much garlic does it need?” I’d ask my mother.

“How much do you think it needs?” she’d reply. “There are no recipes in this kitchen.”

Unlike my mother, I, however, need a recipe. When something goes wrong, I want a map I can use to retrace my steps. I want to know that someone out there has chopped and mixed and baked and sautéed their way through the dish at least once before.

Authors, it turns out, are more than just “wordsmiths,” if you will. Many find cooking to be an inspiration to their work. It shows up in their writing, or, as with Emily Dickinson or Sylvia Plath, the act of cooking is an act of meditation, allowing each writer’s mind to wander, for ideas to flow.

Below are some literary recipes perfect for the holidays, with links to each recipe.

Virginia Zaharieva’s Turkey with Chestnuts

Ralph Ellison’s Sweet Yams

Nora Ephron’s Mashed Potatoes

L. Frank Baum’s Gingerbread Cake with Butterscotch Sauce

Beatrix Potter’s Gingerbread Cookies

“We Have Always Lived in the Castle” Spicy Molasses Cookies

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Molasses Pumpkin Pie

Stephen King’s Cranberry Orange Cheesecake

“Stacey’s Emergency” Brown Butter Pecan Brownies


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