Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Berry Fairies

Berries & Fairies

My favorite time and place to look for fairies is in the early morning hours among a patch of wild berries. This is when dew moisturizes everything in sight, and a wonderful stillness and peace surround the trees, trails, and secluded patches. Here in the Pacific Northwest, there are literally millions of places to find berries and fairies, due to the temperate climate, plethora of woodlands and parks, and the rainfall that makes the berries plump and juicy.

At this time of the morning, fairies are preoccupied trying to get their chores done before the heat of the day becomes too oppressive. They tend to be a little more lax regarding human “sightings” and “interactions.” Although they have great places to hide in these environs – behind cascading vines, under mats of berries growing over stumps – the normally shy fairies let their work ethic overwhelm them as they toil busily amongst the most intrepid of berry picker.

All plants have fairy caretakers, including those of the thorny kind. These sprites are great multi-taskers as they help promote the pollination process with their ally the bee; redirect raindrops to their thirsty plants; and keep the earth surrounding each plant mulched and fertilized. They also ward off destructive slugs, ants, and centipedes.
There are the more cultivated berry fairies such as the Strawberry Fairy, beautifully depicted by renowned fairy illustrator and author Cicely Mary Barker in her book, The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies Her observations of nature have also brought to life the more exotic berry fairies in the form of the Sloe Fairy and the Elder Fairy. Barker’s Sunshine & Showers A Flower Fairies Handbook represents in splendid detail these amazing creatures in their beloved environments.
But not all in the berry patch is idyllic. There are many dangers that fairies must guard against, such as berry eating insects, animals, and birds. As a result, fairies have become masters at evading open beaks and chomping mouths. They have also learned how to steer clear of the tramping feet of oblivious, careless berry pickers.

After all their hard work, fairies like to reap some of the berry bounty. They concoct amazing desserts with the fruit, especially if they have access to a nearby kitchen or pantry. They have been known to team up with the obliging Kitchen Fairy to create such sweet and savory concoctions as: Fairy Berries - strawberries that fairies have dipped in chocolate or white chocolate colored pink; Fairy Berry Smoothies; Fairy Jellies & Jams; Fairy Berry Pie; and Fairy Berry Parfaits. Some of these recipes can be found in Barbara Berry’s Fairies Cookbook.
Fairies also use the juice of berries to write short messages on logs and stumps to other fairy friends in the berry patch. Tiny and barely legible, these communiqu├ęs are a fairy’s way of texting, and another sign that fairies are in the vicinity. So stay alert, tred lightly, and happy berry fairy hunting.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Fantabulous Fairy Bread!


“Come up here, O dusty feet!
Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.”
                                                       Robert Louis Stevenson’s
                                                                          A Child’s Garden of Verses

The term Fairy Bread conjures up visions of lighter then air loaves of enchantment. What we found after a little snooping on the Internet is that Fairy Bread is actually a beloved snack from Australia and New Zealand, which all ages go gaga over.  The recipe:  White bread slices spread with butter or margarine, and then topped off with multi-colored sprinkles.  Butter and sugar…what’s not to love?

We also discovered the mania behind Fairy Bread.  On one of several Facebook sites devoted to Fairy Bread, (462,060 people “liked” this particular site), fans weren’t afraid to go on (and on) about their love affair with the stuff.   We’d never seen so many adjectives for tasty!  Quite a few volunteered ideas of how they personalized the sweet treat to excite their own particular palate.  Some toasted their bread, or substituted a healthier wheat bread to offset the guilt of eating butter encrusted with sugar.  Some opted for covering the bread with peanut butter, honey, grape jelly, Nutella or even a reduced fat spread rather than sticking to butter.   The toppings were as varied as clear sugar crystals, chocolate shavings, or nuts and    provided a good way of using up leftover holiday decorating sprinkles.  Some even used cookie cutter or geometric shapes to glam up the appearance of their “glitter bread.”

It’s no surprise that this delightful dessert is a big hit at kids’ parties “down under.”  In addition to being inexpensive to throw together, and immediately gratifying when eaten, Fairy Bread is something kids can make themselves.  That is, if you don’t mind the little ones sporting a butter knife.   Steps are:  Cut off crusts of white bread/spread on butter or other adherent of choice/ apply sprinkles (might be easier to put sprinkles in a shallow plate and than lay bread on top, aka, “dredge” method)/ cut the bread into desired shapes/arrange shapes on a colorful plate. There you have it.   Some supervision might be a good idea if you don’t want to have hundreds and thousands of errant sprinkles all over the kitchen, especially on the floor.  Eating sprinkles…good.  Walking on them with shoes or bare feet…annoying!

Kids and adults are fans, but do fairies eat Fairy Bread?  There is no conclusive evidence one-way or the other.   But just the presence of Fairy Bread, with its kaleidoscope of colored candy toppings, is a sure to way to lure fairies into your kitchen.   If you want some company in your kitchen, check out the adorable My Little Kitchen Fairies, figurines guaranteed to get into any mischief when left unsupervised in the cook’s domain.

Looking for more recipes with fairy appeal?  May we suggest The Fairy Cookbook, full of fanciful, mouth-watering recipes kids and adults will love.  Share them with your friends on Fairy Recipe Cards, a magical invitation into the world of fairy foods.

Do you have a favorite fairy recipe of your own?   Please post your recipies in our comments section for all to share and see!