‘Looking Glass’ Plum Cake

One of the best college events I ever helped with was a Science Fiction and Fantasy Feast – a potluck replicating foods featured in favorite SF/F books, tv shows and movies. Great imaginative descriptions can extend to food as well, and there are certain books that just make you hungry. So, I have declared a tiny personal quest to recreate recipes suitable for such an event.


  • No one has published a recipe for butterpies, from Diana Wynne Jones’ A Tale of Time City! Aargh!
  • Every child reading Lewis Carroll should have the opportunity to make a Plum Cake that cuts itself, after it’s handed round…
  • Terry Pratchett excels (as usual) with Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook, but most of the other published works are simply collections of recipes from sff writers (like Anne McCaffrey’s Cooking out of this World and Serve it Forth, although they do contain the party-ESSENTIAL liquid nitrogen ice cream instructions), or semi-lame tie-ins (wookie cookies might taste good, but were definitely not part of the original series. ;))

I will begin with my contribution to the original event –  Alice’s Plum Cake, from Through the Looking Glass.  Recipe and Instructions For How to Hand it Round follow the break.

This recipe is nice to hand out with the fall’s bounty of plum preserves, if your backyard tree is producing more than you can handle.

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Just because I watch too much anime, doesn’t mean that onigiri (rice balls) aren’t a totally awesome portable snack food. They appeal to my love of “elemental food” – simple to make, unprocessed foods with few ingredients, which usually happen to be a major part of cultural traditions. One of my (many) favorite parts in Spirited Away was when Chihiro was fading away in the spirit world and Haku brought her some rice balls to make her solid again – this is food that brings you back to earth.

At their most basic level, onigiri are simply shapes formed out of sushi rice (short grain rice seasoned with vinegar). They can be wrapped in nori seaweed, filled with fish or umeboshi paste,  coated with sesame seed furikake for flavor, shaped in balls or triangles or cutesy rainbow and flower shapes, etc etc… I prefer the standard sushi-rice version, stuffed with canned tuna with mayo; but my husband prefers a sweet version, made with brown sugar and cream or almond milk. As you can see, I cheat in the shaping, using a little wooden mold I ordered online – as my first attempts at shaping them by hand with my Love Hina-besotted little sister were tasty, but funny-looking. Use of a mold makes them much faster to assemble.

One more anecdote before the recipe… my bag of rice had a New Crop sticker on it, which always makes me a bit melancholy. Niea_7 was a beautiful, funny, and sad story that was a little bit about growing up away from home – and even years later I still remember starving student Mayuko’s joy at being gifted with a bag of rice from the new crop. Food that can make someone that happy is food that should be celebrated. I wish more people would open their eyes and appreciate simple food for the pleasure that it can be.  (^_^)

Basic Onigiri Recipe

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