WELCOME! Once a month, usually on a Thursday evening, a group of writers, illustrators, teachers and librarians meets in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles to discuss children's books. Usually we talk about one picture book and one middle grade or YA novel. After the meeting, Sandy Schuckett, a retired LAUSD librarian, summarizes our discussion. Here are her reports of our thoughts about the books we have read. We'd love to have your comments too!
Thanks to Nancy Hayashi for our wonderful title art! Our group has been meeting since 2007. It was organized under the auspices of the Children's Literature Council of Southern California (CLCSC).


A typical spread at one of our meetings!
Our meetings always include snacks (often substantial!) and at holiday time we have a potluck.  Occasionally we share our recipes.  Here are a few.
Scroll down for the following recipes:



12 oz. plain chocolate (39 % cocoa solids)
2 sticks butter
2 level tsps. Instant coffee granules
2 tbsp. hot water
3 large eggs
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup self-rising flour
6 oz + 1 tbsp. chopped walnuts
1 ¼ cup plain chocolate chips


1.    Preheat  the oven to 375F.  Grease a 12 x 9 in. baking pan, then line the bottom with parchment.

2.    Break up the chocolate into pieces and melt slowly with the butter in a bowl set over a pan of hot water, stirring occasionally. Leave to cool. Dissolve the coffee in the 2 tbsp. of hot water.

3.    In another bowl, mix together the dissolved coffee, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the chocolate mixture. Fold in the flour, walnuts, and chocolate chips, and then pour the mixture into the prepared baking pan.

4.    Bake in the preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes or until the brownies have a crispy top and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave the brownies to cool in the pan, and then cut into 24 squares. Store in an airtight tin.

Provided by Dana Middleton.


2 Chicken breasts boned and skinned and cut into half inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 to 4 cups oil for deep frying
1 cup walnut halves
1 red pepper cut into ½ inch cubes
1 green pepper cut into ½ inch cubes
2 Tablespoons bean sauce with garlic—available in Chinese and Thai markets
2 Tablespoons sugar
¼ cup chicken stock
1 Tablespoon sherry.

Combine chicken with salt, egg white and cornstarch.
Deep fry in hot oil for 2 minutes.  Reserve and drain.
Deep fry Walnuts until golden brown.  Drain oil
Reheat 2 Tablespoons oil in wok.  Stir-fry red and green peppers 1 minute.  Remove.
Reheat 2 Tablespoons oil in wok.  Add bean sauce. Stir 3 minutes.  Lower heat.  Add sugar, Stir 30 seconds, add stock and sherry.  Stir until dark brown.
Recipe can be made ahead up to this point.
When ready to serve, add chicken and peppers to the sauce.  Stir fry until heated through.  Sprinkle with fried walnuts and serve.

Contributed by Ann Paul

Sift together
3 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Cream 8 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons solid shortening on low speed for 4 minutes or until light and smooth. Add 1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar in three additions, beating at low speed for one minute after each portion added.

Blend in one large egg and one egg yolk.
Blend in 6 tablespoons molasses and  2 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
On low speed add the sifted ingredients in 3 additions.
Add 3/4 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger.
Scrape down sides of pan often.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or I use those plastic things you can buy at baking supply stores.
Place 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a bowl.
Scoop up 2 tablespoon size mounds of dough and roll into a ball. Roll each ball in the sugar and place on the sheets about three inches apart and only 9 mounds to a pan. I tried more and it didn’t work, they really do grow.
Bake in oven for around 12 minutes or until set. Let the cookies stand in the baking pans for a minute or two, then transfer to cooling racks.
Makes three dozen cookies.

Contributed by Ann Paul.

Makes about three dozen

Beat together 4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
until foamy
add 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until soft mounds
add 1 cup granulated sugar, a tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff and glossy. Fold in 12 oz. chocolate chips.
place a scant 1/4 cup mound on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake in preheated 225 degree oven for one and one half hours. Cool before removing.

Contributed by Ann Paul.

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or hot--turkey or not--whatever suits your fancy!)
8 lasagna noodles (I use the no-cook kind)
8 ounces ricotta cheese,
1 package chopped spinache or 1 pound fresh, steamed and chopped.
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
15 1/2 ounces of thick tomato sauce (Make your own or buy)
2 tablespoons freshly grated cheese.

Crumble sausage and cook until well done. Drain thoroughly.
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9 by 9 baking dish.
Arrange four noodles in bottom. Spread with half of the ricotta, top with half spinach, sausage and mozzarella. Pour half of spagetti sauce over the top. Repeat layering. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and heated through (30 minutes) Cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Contributed by Ann Paul.


1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 jar herring in wine sauce, drained**
¼ cup chopped pickled beets (or more, if you like)
½ red onion, very thinly sliced, and then cut into ½ in. long slivers
fresh dill – finely chopped – as much as you like

1.    Mix all ingredients well in a bowl except herring.

2.    Fold in pieces of herring. If they seem too large, they can be cut in half.

3.    Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours for flavors to meld. Stir again just before serving to distribute the beet juice (and provide a great color!)

4.    Sprinkle more chopped fresh dill on top, and serve with your choice of crackers, small sliced rye bread, or???

**Some brands include sliced onions. Remove these and save for another use.

(Adapted from New Scandinavian Cooking – PBS)
Enjoyed at our February 21st meeting.
Contributed by Sandy Schuckett. 


6 zucchini, about 7 inches long
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 tsp salt
Dash pepper

Cut off ends and scrub zucchini well; cook them whole in boiling,
salted water to cover for about 12 minutes, or until they are tender
but still firm. Remove the squash from the water and cut each one
lengthwise in half. Scoop out the center pulp and invert each
"slipper" to drain briefly.
Meanwhile, mix together the eggs, cheddar cheese, cottage cheese,
parsley, salt and pepper. Fill each zucchini shell with the cheese
mixture and arrange on a greased baking dish.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Then turn oven to 450
degrees for 5 minutes, or until the cheese topping is browned. Serves 6.

This recipe (enjoyed at our holiday celebration) is from the Sunset Cookbook.
Caroline Arnold


1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Blend butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Add eggs; beat well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; gradually blend into egg mixture. Stir in nuts.
Spread in greased 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until brownie begins to pull away from edges of pan.

This recipe  is from the Hershey's Chocolate Treasury cookbook. (I bought it when I visited the Hershey factory in PA a long time ago!)
Caroline Arnold

ROASTED EGGPLANT SPREAD(Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)

Serves 6-8

1 medium eggplant, peeled
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion into one inch cubes.
Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread them on a baking sheet.
Roast for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking. Cool slightly.
Place the vegetables in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with crackers or French bread.

This recipe was enjoyed at our October 8, 2009 meeting.
Caroline Arnold

FRANGIPAN (Luxury Almond Cake)

1 roll 7 oz. Odense pure almond paste
7 oz granulated sugar
7 oz unsalted butter (softened)
3 medium eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup flour (sifted)
pinch of salt

Mix all the time at slow speed. Blend almond paste, sugar, and salt
thoroughly in electric mixer.
Add butter gradually until well mixed and eggs one at a time.
Remove bowl from mixer. Fold in flour until just blended in.
Grease and flour a ten inch pan and pour in batter. (If you don't
have a tart pan, a 10 inch cake pan will work too.)
Bake at 325 degrees F for 40 minutes (check after 30 minutes) until
golden and toothpick comes out clean.
Frost with chocolate frosting and decorate with fruit.

You should be able to find Odense almond paste in your supermarket in the baking aisle.
This dessert was enjoyed at our 2009 holiday meeting.
Recipe from Caroline Arnold


Topping: ½ cup sugar, ½ cup chopped nuts, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon melted butter.

Batter: Beat 1 ½ cups brown sugar, ½ cup shortening and 1 egg.
    Sift and add: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, ½ tsp salt
    Add: 1 cup sour cream
    Stir in: 2 cups rhubarb cut into ½ inch pieces

Spread batter in 9" x 13" greased and floured pan. Batter is very thick.  Sprinkle with topping.
Bake at 350 degrees 45-50 minutes.  May serve with whipped cream.

This recipe is also good made with blueberries instead of the rhubarb.

This dessert was enjoyed at our meeting May 9, 2013.
Contributed by Caroline Arnold


¼ cup pine nuts
2 1 pound eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthwise ½ inch thick
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
2 celery ribs, cut into ¼ inch dice
¼ cup currants
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
One 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup pitted kalamata olives chopped
¼ cup chopped mint.

Toast pine nuts until golden brown.  Let cool.
Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill over moderately high heat until charred and tender (I suppose you could do this in the oven)  Cut into ½ inch dice.
In large deep skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil.  Add onion, celery, currants, crushed red pepper and toasted pine nuts.  Cook stirring until onion and celery are softened.  Add tomatoes, brown sugar and vinegar and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.  About 8 minutes.  Add grilled eggplant and olives and season with salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature, garnished with mint.

Contributed by Ann Paul


8 ounces roasted salmon fillet or smoked salmon, flaked
2 large red potatoes, peeled, cubed and boiled until just tender
1 large onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced (optional)
4 large hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1 cup (or to taste) good-quality mayonnaise
salt and pepper
Dill for garnish

In large bowl, mix all the ingredients until well moistened. Chill several hours. Portion onto lettuce-lined plates, garnish with dill and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Contributed by Ann Paul and enjoyed while reading The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming.


1 cauliflower, cut into flowerettes, cooked
3 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 T. parmesan cheese, grated
3 eggs, separated
1 dash cayenne, to taste


1 In a pot, melt butter and blend in flour.
2 Gradually add in milk and cook over low heat until thick; stirring often.
3 Add salt, cayenne and cheese and stir until cheese melts.
4 Remove from heat and add egg yolks, stirring.
5 Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in
6 Add the cauliflower and mix gently.
7 Pour ingredients into a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until brown.

Yield: 6 servings

Contributed by Caroline Arnold. Enjoyed at our annual holiday potluck.


Small baguette (8 ounces), cut on the diagonal into 24 slices
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped dried Mission figs
1/4 cup light-brown sugar
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish (optional)
Coarse salt
5 ounces goat cheese (1 small log)

Heat broiler. Brush both sides of baguette slices with oil; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side; set toasts aside.
In a small saucepan combine figs, sugar, wine, thyme, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened, 7 to 9 minutes. Let compote cool to room temperature.
Dividing evenly, spread each toast with goat cheese, and top with compote. Garnish with thyme, if desired.

Contributed by Ann Paul.


Made by Caroline Hatton


8 oz sliced mushrooms
3 T butter, divided
1/4 c shallot or onion, minced (I used shallots)
5 large eggs
1 and 1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c water
4 oz smoked Gouda cheese
1 T snipped chives
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper

Preparation: Preheat oven to 375 and place rack to the middle position. Spray a 9-inch pie dish* with baking spray. Mince the shallot or onion. Snip the chives. Grate the cheese.

Method: Heat a saute pan over medium heat and when hot, add 2 tbsp butter and the sliced mushrooms. Stir to coat the mushrooms. Saute for two minutes, then stir and saute 1-2 minutes more or until some of the moisture has been removed. Transfer to a small plate to cool.
Place the saute pan back onto medium heat and when hot, add 1 tbsp butter and the onions. Stir to coat the onions and saute until softened. Remove from heat.
Add the eggs, heavy cream, water, salt and pepper to a medium bowl. Beat at high speed until combined and frothy.

Layer: Add 1/3 of the cheese to the bottom of the pie dish, spreading it so that it is even. Arrange 1/2 of the onions, 1/2 of the mushrooms and 1/2 of the chives evenly over the cheese. Add another layer of cheese, followed by the rest of the onions, mushrooms and chives. Slowly pour the custard over the ingredients. Top with the remaining cheese.
Bake: Bake for 15 minutes at 375, then for 15 minutes at 350 or until the top is browned and the middle is just set. It may puff up a bit. Let cool to room temperature before serving or cover (after cooling) and refrigerate until needed.
Serves: 6 
*NOTE: I used an old fashioned 9 inch pie dish with sloping sides, which did not accommodate all the liquid! Some of it did not make it into the quiche! Next time I’d use a bigger dish. Also, my quiche needed an extra 15 minutes in the oven to be “set” in the middle. Every oven is different!

Contributed by Michelle Markel

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