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Winnie-the-Pooh’s cookbook speaks to children

Wed., Dec. 29, 2010, midnight

At the New York Public Library, visitors to the Winnie-the-Pooh room are greeted by a gigantic mural of the roly-poly bear and his friends sitting down to dinner.

“That’s the iconic image that the publisher chose to welcome people into the room,” says Elizabeth Bird, senior children’s librarian at the institution, which is home to the Pooh stuffed animals owned by the real-life Christopher Robin. “That’s the first thing you’ll see, before you even see Pooh.” Another wall features Pooh with his famous honey pots.

Food, friendship and simplicity have always been central to A.A. Milne’s classic tales. And as tribute to this notion, Dutton publishing has re-issued Virginia Ellison’s 1969 book, “The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook.”

Though the updated recipes for “smackerels” like honey toffee apples and easy honey buns have been updated and purged of lard, the book still features original drawings by Ernest H. Shepard interspersed with memorable quotes from Pooh and his coterie. And messages that speak even to today’s children.

“Kids understand being hungry and wanting more of your favorite food,” Bird says. “It’s kind of a wish fulfillment. Imagine having a pot as big as yourself filled with your favorite food. Like a big pot of cake.”

Honey Gingerbread Cookies

Recipe adapted from Virginia Ellison’s “The Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook,” Dutton, 2010

1/2 cup sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup butter or margarine, cut into dots and brought to room temperature

1/2 cup honey

Into a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

Use your fingertips to work the butter into the dry ingredients. When thoroughly worked in, add the honey and stir until blended.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

When the dough is chilled, heat the oven to 350 F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out about 1/8-inch thick. The dough also can be placed between sheets of parchment or waxed paper, then rolled out.

Use 3-inch cookie cutters to cut cookies from the dough, rerolling the scraps once. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, in batches if necessary. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until just golden at the edges.

Let the cookies cool for 1 minute on the pan, then use a spatula to transfer them to a rack to cool.

Yield: Makes about 30 cookies

Nutrition information per cookie: 108 calories; 55 calories from fat (51 percent of total calories); 6 grams fat (4 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 16 milligrams cholesterol; 12 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram protein; 0 grams fiber; 117 milligrams sodium.

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