Kirsten’s Surpriseis a story that takes place during Christmastime. While the book doesn’t feature an actual Christmas-day feast, it features several wintery yummies, so I decided to combine them all to create Kirsten’s Christmas supper menu.
Each of these foods appear at a different point in the story, and three of them are technically desserts. But that’s what Christmas is for, right?
The only item on this menu that I didn’t feature in its own blog post is the cinnamon candies, and that was for two reasons. First of all, candy making is a very involved process that requires several tools (like a candy thermometer) that I do not own. Second of all, I can’t eat hard candies anymore because of all the fillings in my teeth. And, wow, that makes me feel ancient. Anyway, even if you don’t want to make cinnamon candies, feel free to buy some from the store to add to this menu.
Check out the links for recipes for these menu items, and enjoy your simple wintertime meal!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for sales made through the links. Rest assured, this will not cost you any extra money.
Kirsten’s Surpriseis a winter tale, so it’s not surprising that the characters dine on potato soup. Pioneers only had access to a few fruits and vegetables during the winter, and potatoes were one of them. This potato soup recipe is simple, yet hearty and comforting. Perfect for a wintery weeknight dinner. The recipe is also very customizable. You can add a variety of seasonings and toppings to it.
I adapted this recipe from the American Girls Pastimes Kirsten’s Cook Book.
Kirsten’s Potato Soup Recipe
1 small onion, diced
6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon salt
chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups whole milk
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 teaspoon pepper
toppings (bacon, cheese, scallions, etc.)
Peel and dice the onion and potatoes and place them in a pot with the salt.
Add enough broth to barely cover the vegetables.
Simmer the vegetables for 20 minutes, or until soft.
Turn off the burner and mash the potatoes in the pot. You can either use a potato masher or an immersion blender. You don’t have to make it perfectly smooth. I like chunks of potato mixed in.
Turn the burner back on and add the milk, stirring to incorporate it.
Once the soup starts simmering again, add the butter and pepper.
Spoon the soup into bowls and add toppings, such as crumbled bacon, cheese, or scallions.
This potato soup recipe is amazing as-is, but sometimes I like to make it a bit more exciting by adding a few things to it. A bit of garlic powder adds a great flavor, and adding carrots and celery to the mix gives color and texture to the soup. Go ahead and make this recipe your own.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra.
In Kirsten’s Surprise, Kirsten and her mother spend an afternoon baking bread together, and it is a really sweet moment in the book. It is Christmas time, and the book refers to the bread as “Christmas bread.”
I wanted to recreate this Christmas bread recipe, but I didn’t have much information to go on, so I just Googled, “Swedish Christmas bread” since Kirsten and her family are Swedish immigrants. I got back several recipes for what is known as “Jule Kaga.” Different sources disagree on which country invented this recipe, but they all agree that it is Scandinavian in origin. I ended up adapting this Jule Kaga recipe from AllRecipes.com.
Mix together the milk, butter, salt and sugar, and add it to the yeast/water mixture.
Add 2 cups of flour, and mix until well incorporated.
Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours.
Mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
Add the candied fruit, and mix it well.
Add the other 2 cups of flour, and knead the dough well until it is springy and smooth.
Allow the dough to rise 2 more hours.
Divide the dough in half, and form two round loaves.
Allow the loaves to rise for an hour.
Bake the bread at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
I used a candied fruit mixture intended for fruit cake, but I discovered I don’t really like citron. So, if I make this bread again in the future, I will either use all candied cherries, or I will leave out the fruit altogether. The base of this bread recipe is delicious, though. It’s got a hint of sweetness and spice to it, without being too overwhelming. Traditional jule kaga is made with cardamom, but that is an expensive spice that is often hard to find, which is why I substituted with other spices, but feel free to go authentic with this one.
In the book, Kirsten makes a small loaf of Christmas bread for her doll, so I knew I had to bake a small loaf of bread for my Kirsten doll, too. Merry Christmas, one and all!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra!
Get ready to be blown away by this Pepparkakor cookie recipe. These Swedish cookies are like gingerbread’s crispier cousin. With flavors like cinnamon, ginger, and maple syrup all swirled together, these may become your go-to Christmas cookies.
When I was a little girl, I was fascinated by 19th-century American pioneers. Frontierland was my favorite land at Disneyland, and Kirsten was my favorite American Girl. I loved all of the American Girl dolls and their accompanying books, but when I was 7 years old and asked Santa for an American Girl doll, I asked specifically for Kirsten, who was a Swedish-American pioneer. That doll was my very favorite possession from that time forward, and I still keep her in my home, hoping to pass her down to a hypothetical future daughter or granddaughter.
Kirsten’s cookbook was one of the many Kirsten accessories I collected as a child, and it’s a cookbook I still have and use to this day. The Pepparkakor cookie recipe I’m sharing with you today is from this cookbook, and it is such a favorite recipe of my family’s that the book automatically opens to the right page after all these years of wear and tear. This book is falling apart at the seams, but that just shows you how delicious these recipes are.
In honor of the #AslansFeast Narnia recipe link-up hosted by Alison’s Wonderland Recipes, I’m writing up a menu from one of my very favorite Narnia books.
This Narnia menu is inspired by a scene from The Horse and His Boy. A large portion of this book takes place in Calormen, which is one of the other countries in the Narnia world. The main character, Shasta, escapes from his abusive adoptive father and also helps Bree, an enslaved talking Narnian horse, to escape with him. Once they get on their way, Shasta becomes hungry, so Bree suggests they look in his saddlebags, leftover from his former owner.
“They investigated the saddle-bags and the results were cheering — a meat pasty, only slightly stale, a lump of dried figs and another lump of green cheese, a little flask of wine, and some money…”
The Horse and His Boy
The meat pasty was the easiest part of this menu to come up with, and you can find a link to the recipe I used below.
As for the “green cheese,” I had to do a little bit of research. When I first read this description, I thought it meant a lump of cheese that was green in color. After researching a bit, I discovered that, in the cheese-making industry, “green” means “new” or “fresh,” meaning that it is unaged. This sounded much more appetizing to me that literal green cheese. Some “green” cheeses include queso fresco, ricotta and paneer. Since ricotta and paneer tend to be a little wetter, it makes them hard to carry around in a saddlebag, so I went with a lump of queso fresco cheese.
I have a little confession to make regarding the dried figs. The dried fruit you see in these photos are prunes, not dried figs. I ordered dried figs from the Walmart grocery pick-up app along with some other groceries, and when I arrived to pick up my groceries, the employee loading up my car said, “I’m sorry, we had to make a substitution. We were all out of dried figs, so we gave you prunes instead…” Well, I didn’t want to be “that person,” so I just said, “Sure, okay.” It’s all dried fruit, am I right? So anyway, if you want to be more authentic, you can find actual dried figs. Or, you can be lazy like me and just use any old dried fruit. 🙂
I used grape juice instead of wine, since I do not drink alcohol, but feel free to make substitutions for your own personal Calormenian feast.
In The Horse and His Boy, which is one of the lesser known books in the Chronicles of Narnia series, a young boy named Shasta escapes from his abusive adoptive father and helps a free Narnian talking horse named Bree along the way. Shasta is from Calormen, which is a land in the same world as Narnia. When Bree and Shasta escape, they find some food and money in Bree’s saddle bags to help them along the way. One of those items is a meat pasty.
This meat pasty recipe is an adaptation of this Cornish pasty recipe I found from BBC Good Food. Since C.S. Lewis was British, I figured adapting a British recipe was the way to go. This recipe was fairly easy and it turned out delicious. I used ground beef, but the book doesn’t specify what kind of meat is in the pasty, so I think you could use any kind of meat and still be authentic.
Calormenian Meat Pasty Recipe
1/2 pound ground beef
1 medium potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups beef broth
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 pie crusts (I used store-bought refrigerated pie crust to save time)
1 egg, beaten
Brown the ground beef in a large pan, and drain off the excess grease.
Add the diced potato and diced carrot to the pan.
Add the flour to the pan, and stir until the flour is incorporated.
Pour the beef broth into the pan, and add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Heat the mixture on the stove for about 15 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Stir occasionally to keep the food from burning on the bottom of the pan.
Cut out 6 circles of pie crust, about 6 inches across.
Place a few spoonfuls of the beef mixture towards the edge of each of the pie crust pieces.
Brush the edges of the pie crust with egg, and fold the edges over the beef mixture, sealing the edges tight.
Place the pasties on a cookie sheet, and brush the tops with egg.
Cook the pasties for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F.
These meat pasties can be eaten either warm or cold. While I prefer to eat them warm, Shasta definitely ate them cold in the book, so that’s what you’ll want to do if you want to be authentic to the book. Enjoy, whether you find yourself in Calormen or Narnia.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra.
Nut breads make many appearances throughout the Redwallseries, and it makes sense. Squirrels, mice, and other small critters do eat a lot of nuts and seeds. This banana almond bread was inspired by the nut bread Matthias eats for breakfast in the first Redwall book.
As a kid, I was never a fan of banana nut bread, but then I realized that it was the walnuts everybody used that I didn’t like. Banana bread is delicious, but I am not a fan of walnuts. So, when I decided to make a nut bread inspired by Redwall, I set out to find a recipe that used a different kind of nut. I found all sorts of interesting recipes, including a coconut bread with macadamia nuts, which sounded amazing, but I figured macadamia nuts were a little too exotic for Redwall. I finally settled on a banana almond bread recipe from Your Cup of Cake. I altered the recipe a bit to fit my needs. First, I incorporated the almonds into the bread itself, whereas the original recipe put the almonds on the top. Second, I divided the recipe in half to make only one loaf instead of two.
Banana Almond Bread Recipe
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
Beat together the butter and sugar until well incorporated.
Add the egg, and mix until fluffy
Pour the milk and flavor extracts into the mix, and stir well.
Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and mix until just incorporated (don’t overmix!)
Add the bananas and almonds and mix until you can’t see big chunks of banana anymore.
Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 60 minutes, or until cooked through and browned on top. If the bread starts to get too brown on top before it’s finished cooking in the middle, cover it with some foil for the duration of the cooking period.
Let me tell you, this almond bread smelled absolutely divine while it was baking, and it tasted amazing, too. I can’t wait to experiment with other nut breads in the future, perhaps for another Redwall breakfast menu!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from all sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra!
Redwall is the first book in a long series by Brian Jacques. This series follows the mice, squirrels, hedgehogs, and other animals who live in the iconic Redwall Abbey. It is one of my favorite series, and I just love to get lost in its world. In the Redwall series, food is practically a supporting character. Mr. Jacques describes the food in great detail, and it really gives the reader a good idea of what life is like at the Redwall Abbey and beyond.
Sometimes Redwall Abbey hosts great feasts, but other times characters dine on simpler fare. Such is the case with this Redwall breakfast menu. This is one of the breakfasts that Matthias, the main character in the first book, eats while he tries to figure out how to defend Redwall Abbey from Cluny the Scourge.
The creatures of Redwall Abbey are pescatarians, meaning they do not eat meat, but they do eat fish. Their diet mainly consists of foods made with nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. This particular meal consists of nut bread, apples, and fresh goat’s milk. If you’re not a fan of goat’s milk, I’m sure substituting cow’s milk or a non-dairy milk would still be in the spirit of Redwall.
Check out the recipe I used for banana almond bread, or make your own nut bread. Since the book was non-specific as to what kind of nut bread Matthias ate, you can have some fun with it and use your imagination. Use any kind of nut you choose. You can also make pumpkin nut bread or coconut nut bread, or another variation other than banana bread.
Pair your favorite nut bread with some fresh apples and a bowl (or cup) of goat’s milk to really transport yourself to Redwall Abbey. Yum!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for sales made through those links. Rest assured, this costs you nothing extra!
In The Hobbit, Beorn serves clotted cream to Bilbo and friends while they’re staying at his house. As an American, clotted cream is not something you can usually just buy off any old shelf, so I researched how to make my own. I found several different clotted cream recipes at Fearless Fresh. I decided to share some of my favorites with you so that you can decide which one works best for you. As a side note, the recipe says to not use ultra-pasteurized heavy cream, but that was all I could find, no matter how many stores I went to. I used ultra-pasteurized, and it turned out fine, though I admit it probably would have been better with non-ultra-pasteurized cream.
Clotted Cream – Three Methods
Quick Devonshire Cream – This is one of the quickest ways to make clotted cream, though some may say that it isn’t as good as the other methods. This is the one I used for this menu, and I thought it turned out great. It’s a little runnier than the other methods, which produce thicker cream, but flavor is all there.
Slow Cooker Method – This method takes longer but has a richer result. Be careful to check in on it every once in a while, though, to make sure that the cream is not burning on the edges.
Buy jarred clotted cream. Okay, this is kind of cheating, but it’s definitely the easiest way, especially living in the United States, where it’s hard to find the proper ingredients. You can either buy it from a specialty store, or you can find a jar online and have it shipped to you. This will definitely be the most expensive option, though.
There you have it. If you’re looking to serve up a Hobbit meal and need some clotted cream to serve with scones or honey cakes, there are several ways you can accomplish it. Enjoy!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a small commission from all sales made through those links. Rest assured, this doesn’t cost you any extra money!
When I decided to do a full menu based on the food that Beorn provides for the company in The Hobbit, I knew that twice-baked honey cakes had to be on the menu. As I was researching, I found many different versions of the honey cake recipe, but a lot of them were not very true to the book. They either were not twice baked, as the book states, or they had frosting and other messy things on them that would not travel well. And these cakes, after all, were created in the book specifically with travel in mind.
Finally, I found a couple recipes that were perfect. I based my recipe for Beorn’s twice-baked honey cakes on these two recipes from Food in Literature and Kitchen Overlord. I used elements from both these recipes and made a few adjustments of my own to come up with the following recipe:
Beorn’s Twice-Baked Honey Cakes Recipe
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup honey
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Extra honey, as a glaze
Mix the softened butter and the honey together until well incorporated.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Mix in the vanilla extract.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and blend well.
Shape the dough into small cakes (I used a brownie edge pan, pictured below. Best invention ever!)
Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes.
Take the cakes out of the pan and place them on a cookie sheet.
Brush the tops of the cakes with honey, and let the honey soak in for a minute.
Bake the cakes for 10 more minutes on each side.
The honey will harden into a sweet glaze as it bakes, and the cakes will have a nice firm crust, perfect for taking with you on adventures. I believe these cakes are something Beorn himself would be proud of!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission from sales made through those links. Don’t worry, though, this costs you nothing extra!