Friday, May 22, 2015

In Which I Make Mini Cottleston Pies Inspired by A.A. Milne's The World of Pooh

Who here likes Winnie-the-Pooh? 

(This is a rhetorical question. Everyone’s hand should be raised high in the air.)

If I could only own one book in the entire world, I think it would be The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne. It would have to be the one illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, of course. I grew up with Winnie-the-Pooh and I can’t ever think about him without growing Warm and Fuzzy inside. I loved him when I was little. I used to stay up late at night reading Lord of the Rings but then be afraid to turn off my lights because what if the Ring Wraiths came after me? So I’d stay up and read about Pooh and the Hundred Acre Woods. Now that I’m older, I think I love this book even more.  It’s not a book you grow out of. In fact, I’d say it’s a book that you appreciate more the older you get.

I can’t imagine living in a world without Winnie-the-Pooh. For a Bear of Very Little Brain, he has a lot of wisdom (not to mention Fun and Adventure) to offer. He taught me that a little hunny fixes almost anything and that nobody can be uncheered with a balloon. Friends are to be treasured, even if you have to go hunting for their tails or floating down a river in an umbrella to rescue them. He told me that Tiggers should never be unbounced and that you should never take away what makes a person special. Even small, timid people can do Very Grand Things and sometimes the Heffalumps and Woozles in your life aren’t nearly as scary as you thought they might be. He taught me how to play Pooh Sticks and how to masquerade as a Little Black Raincloud. He proved that being Short and Tubby is something to be proud of and that the Hummy Sort of Days are the best kind. But, most importantly, he reminded me that you never can tell with bees.

He also told me that, if you don’t know what’s going on, it’s a very Good Idea to not worry and instead sing Cottleston Pie:

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
A fish can't whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie. 

You see, it’s okay if you can’t whistle or if you can’t bird. It’s alright if you don’t fit in or if you haven’t got much of a brain. You just have to be comfortable with yourself and be satisfied with knowing that you have some hunny waiting for you in your cupboard.

In case you’re wondering, Cottleston Pie isn’t actually a real pie. Actually, it is now. In honor of Pooh Bear and his Brilliant and Adorable Poem, I have come up with a little something of my own. It’s inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh and baklava, so if you like these two things, you’re in the right corner of the Hundred Acre Woods.

Ingredients - 

For the crust:
For the yummy filling:
  • 1 and ¼ cups of chopped walnuts or pecans (or both, which is what I did). You can also make Piglet happy and use Haycorns, but I think those only exist in the Hundred Acre Woods.
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of walnut oil (you can use melted butter if you’re not dairy-free)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
For the Scrumptious Hunny Sauce:
  • 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup of hunny (or Honey, if you want to be uncool about it)
  • ¼ cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Directions –

1. Follow your instructions for the gluten-free pie crust. I used Bob’s Red Mill pie crust mix and instead of cutting in butter, I cut in solid coconut oil. It tastes great and not at all like coconut, but the crust is a bit hard. It might have been my oven because it’s never done that previously, but if you’re not dairy-free, you can use butter instead. Once the dough is in the refrigerator, move on to the next step.
2. Mix together all of the ingredients for the nut mixture.
3. In a small sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Then bring to a simmer and add the hunny, vanilla, and the cinnamon stick. Spell check is trying to tell me that hunny isn’t a word. Clearly, they’ve never met Pooh. Let sauce simmer until it will coat the back of a spoon.
4. By now your dough should have been chilling for an hour. Bob’s Red Mill mix makes two crusts, but you’ll only need one. You can freeze the other one for later use. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4. Spread out two sheets of the dreaded plastic wrap on a flat surface. Cursing is optional at this point. Just remember we’re making food inspired by a children’s novel. Maybe you can try saying “Oh bother” instead? Put your dough on the plastic wrap surface and cover with two more sheets of plastic wrap. Roll out until the dough is about ¼ inch thick. It doesn’t have to be in any particular shape. Mine came out in a sort of weird blob:
6. Now break out your mini muffin pan. Don’t worry about spraying it with oil. Using a cup, start cutting your dough into circles and putting them down in their respective cups. You’ll have enough dough to fill all of the cups, though you may have to roll out the dough again, using the ‘in between’ strips you didn’t use during the first round. The mini pie crusts will look like horrors at this point, but it’s okay:
After you’re done, you can make them look pretty by removing or adding dough where needed:
7. Now fill each crust with the nut mixture. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. My oven is ancient and cooks unevenly, so you should keep an eye on your pies just in case less (or more) time is needed in your oven.
8. Once the pies are out of the oven, pour sauce over each pie (a teaspoon to a tablespoon, depending on your sweetness preferences) and let sit for 15 minutes. There will be leftover sauce, which you can serve with the pies later if you’d like.
I like to eat these with Dandelion Tea, which you can find on Amazon. It tastes a bit like coffee, only not as bitter. I thought dandelion tea would be nice for two reasons: 1) Eeyore eats thistles, which come from the same plant family that dandelions do. 2)  We know that Piglet likes to blow on dandelions:
We didn’t own any plates that I felt went with Winnie-the-Pooh’s whimsical feel, so my Mom and I went on a Grand Adventure at a local antique market. We found a lot of weird things, including a huge back-lit picture of the beach out of which came noises of crashing waves and seagull squawking, but no good plates. Then we went to our local DAV and found this adorable cup and plate:
I can’t tell you how much fun I had making this recipe, or even writing this post. I discover something new each time I look through The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne.

For instance, did you know that if you combine the names Kanga and Roo, it spells Kangaroo? Okay, I guess everyone knew that, but it took me a couple years to put it together. Also, Eeyore sounds a lot like the sound donkeys make, which is where his name comes from. Wait, am I the only one who didn’t know that? Oh bother.

Another Little Something I rediscovered this time around was this quote: “For [the river] knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, ‘There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.’”

Yes, I suppose we shall all get where we’re going someday. All we can do is make sure There is really where we want to go. Other than that, we might as well sit back, enjoy life, eat a bit of hunny, and go on Grand Adventures with the people we love the most.

What about you? Have you ever read The World of Pooh? What did it teach you?  

Related articles:
Gluten and Dairy Free Seed-cake, Apple-tart, and Nut Round Recipes Inspired by The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Rosa Hubermann's Pea Soup Inspired by The Book Thief
Hot Cocoa Drinks Inspired by Agatha Christie's Mysterious Affair at Styles

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  1. Ah! I've always loved Winnie the Pooh. I was especially excited when I saw the title; I love the Coddleston Pie poem!!! (though I could never remember the second part) and I knew it wasn't a real pie, but always thought it would be such a good idea to make it a real recipe. And then I see this post. Yay!!! I'm definitely going to try this one.
    I also tried your oriental stir fry from an earlier post, and it turned out really good. You should publish a "Fandom/Bookish" recipe book and put all of these recipes in. :D

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! Winnie-the-Pooh rocks. =)
      That's a great idea about the recipe book. I think I'm going to have to look into that. I have no idea why I'd never thought of that before. Thanks!

  2. I agree with Susannah. You should definitely publish these recipes, Hannah! The pies look amazing! I've never had dandelion tea, but it sounds really good. As for Pooh, I read the book a lot with my son. I guess the most important thing we learned was how to be brave. Lovely post - you melt my heart with your sweetness, Hannah! <3

    1. I hope you decide to try the tea. It's really good! I'm actually drinking some right now. =)
      I loved hearing that you read Winnie-the-Pooh with your son. That's so sweet! Made me day. And you're right: so many books try to inspire bravery, but not many do it better than this one. Just goes to show that books don't have to use sword or magic spells to tell tells of bravery...sometimes all you need is a story about a fluffy bear in a red t-shirt. =)


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