Monday, September 14, 2009

Author Christine Verstraete and Miniature Food

I met Chris V. when she also had a story in The Heat of the Moment anthology where my first story about Alana and her antiques mall appeared. Chris wrote a great middle grade mystery and came this summer to help teens at my library make their Miniature Dream Rooms. Her writing involves miniatures. I'm so glad she is guest blogging here. I'm actually guest blogging elsewhere today - at Echelon Shorts. Enjoy Chris's post in my absence -she even did a take on what readers here know is my favorite cookbook series - the Southern Heritage Southern Living Set! Welcome to guest blogger, Christine Verstraete, who presents a slightly different take on food via her writing and collecting. -Amy

Thanks for inviting me, Amy.

I think old cookbooks are fascinating to look at, but I have a confession – I don’t cook much! Most of the things I make are simple and straight-forward: baked chicken, turkey burgers, etc, and don’t require a cookbook. I hardly ever cook something that needs a recipe.

My fictional characters seem to do the same, mostly eating simpler meals or enjoying everyday favorites.

In my middle-grade mystery, Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, besides sleuthing, friends Sam and Lita seem to eat a lot, as kids often do. Their favorite? Ice cream. But given the book’s warm weather setting and the fact that this is their last few days off before heading back to school, ice cream seems like the perfect snack.

Food, of course, seems to play a part in other areas of life, too. I’m a dollhouse and miniatures collector, and while I enjoy designing a room or house, one of my favorite interests is the miniature food. Well, who can resist food without calories, right?

Besides that, it’s probably the realism of some miniature food that grabs me. While I’ve made a few things myself that I’m proud of – (most are made of polymer clay or also use air dry clay) - the professional work of other artisans is something you have to see to believe. (Check out the amazing fish pie and other foods by Kiva Atkinson or the work of Janet Uyetake.

One of the most fun things I’ve done in miniature was replicating the cover of The Southern Heritage Celebrations Cookbook (1983) that I found at a garage sale. While most people buy cookbooks for the recipes or art, I bought this one purposely for the cover. An online miniatures group was having a contest to duplicate a book cover so I chose this one as I figured I would be able to make the foods.

While I’d never made a miniature watermelon before, it was fun figuring out how to make the half melon and the melon balls so they looked as close as possible to the picture. (And no, I haven’t tried this in real life, either, though it looks so pretty (and a lot of work!) But fried chicken and corn on the cob are old favorites.)

Note: the miniature food is one-inch or 1/12th scale where 1” equals 1 foot, so the corn cob on the plate is about ½” long.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my unique take on food and old cookbooks!

The cookbook cover features the Fourth of July Stars and Stripes Menu. Here’s one of the recipes:

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup commercial sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 (6 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans

Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour, soda and salt; add to creamed mixture, blend well. Stir in chocolate morsels and pecans.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheet; remove to wire racks, and let cool completely. Yield: about 2 ½ dozen.


chris v said...

Thanks for hosting me Amy. How fun! I didn't realize that was your favorite cookbook series! I confess, it's a fun cookbook to browse through, great art and tidbits so I've hung on to it!

NoraJean said...

The doll house and miniature link has this url:“”

when it should be this url:

I thought I'd let you know.


Norm Cowie said...

Turkey burgers, huh? That's .. like, good for you, right?


Amy said...

Norm - aren't you the man who swims and runs all the time?