The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog

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Happy Epiphany: Let Them Eat Cake!


Today is the day that the three wise men FINALLY showed up to bring baby Jesus some sweet swag. In various parts of the world this is celebrated by eating a cake that has a trinket baked inside of it. The person that finds the trinket, without eating/choking on it, is dubbed king, given a paper crown and a year’s worth of bragging rights.

This year I spent Christmas in France with my husband and in-laws so so we celebrated Epiphany a bit early with Galette des rois (King Cake).

The french version of King Cake is lovely, with a buttery, flakey phyllo housing   sweet frangipane. The trinket or fève is of a nicer caliber than the misshapen plastic Jesus that typically adorns the American versions and can come in a variety of shapes and themes.

My mother-in-law has collected fèves most of her life and has a impressive collection tucked away in a coffee tin. Over the years people have added to her collection and she now has hundreds of miniatures.  There are nativity sets, Disney Characters, monuments, barn yard animals, 1920’s actors, books, etc. I love looking at the every Christmas when we visit.3

I ate my slice fastidiously, confident that THIS year I had the fève.  No fève. But no one got it, so we had to try again later than night at dinner.

I carefully ate tiny bits, not wanting to break or swallow the ceramic prize.  And the Queen was…

My husband. Every freakin year!


The prize was an adorable ceramic book: Le Diamant de la Couronne (The Crown Diamonds.

But it wasn’t a totally loss for me.  After careful consideration and dagger looks from his wife, my husband dubbed me Queen of the King Cake and I got to wear the crown for a bit.

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Ignore the look of extreme jet lag and exhaustion.

It’s good to be Queen!

If you want to make your own King Cake you can get my recipe from last year. It is simple and easy because I am a lazy chef, but it was pretty tasty if I do say so myself.


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Red is a bold color, which can symbolize passion, love, and wealth, as equally well as insanity, death, and rage. Often red is used to illustrate something malevolent or toxic.

Snow White is poisoned by a deep, red apple, when it could just as easily been a green Granny Smith.  In Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts madness is exemplified by her obsession with color red.  Somehow mauve or periwinkle wouldn’t have had the same impact.  Even in Star Wars the Dark Side sports angry red light sabers, as oppose the peaceful green and blue ones that the Force prefers.


As it turns out, just as red is toxic in fiction, it can be toxic in real-life as well.   But rather than a poison apple, potentially toxic red comes in the form of a common food dye known as Red 40.

Red 40/Allura Red/Food Red 17 is usually derived from from petroleum.  That’s right, dead dinosaurs, the same stuff we use to make gasoline for our cars.

According the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Red 40, which is found numerous foods throughout the US, has been linked to allergic reactions, hyper-activity in children and even cancer in lab research.  In fact, the European Union and British government have taken actions to ban most chemical food dyes from their food, but in the United States we consume the dye in everything from cookies to butter to cough medicine.


So what’s the culinary to do when faced with a recipe that requires an ENTIRE bottle of red food dye?  Sure you can opt for the natural plant based dyes, utilizing beets or tomatoes for coloring, but I have a more exotic suggestion: Carmine dye.

Carmine (Natural Red 4) is made from the female cochineal beetle which is indigenous to Mexico and South America.  Many of us, myself included, are squeamish at the prospect of eating insects.  And entomophagy (eating insects for food) is certainly is not a prominent part of western culture, but it other parts of the world insects are readily consumed and even enjoyed.  Below are 3 reasons to eat insects.


3 Reasons You Should Eat a Bug:

1. You’re already eating insects regularly and just don’t realize it.  Carmine, the above-mentioned dye, is actually an ingredient in a lot of the foods, including juice yogurt and candy.  The insect dye might be called carmine, carmine acid, natural red 4 or under FDA standards it may just be labeled as natural coloring. If this is upsetting to you then you will be very distraught to learn that the FDA also allows a certain number of “unavoidable defects in foods” which often comes in the form on insect body parts.

  •  Frozen broccoli allows an average of 60 or more insects per 100 grams
  • Chocolate allows an average of 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
  • Canned Mushrooms allow an average of over 20 or more maggots (yes, you read that right maggots) of any size per 100 grams

2. They are better for the environment than other meats.  Greenhouse gas effects are great concern for the environmentally conscientious.  Livestock is large contributor to the increased greenhouse gases, but ‘mini livestock’ (bugs) produce far less pollution and are still rich in protein.

3. Once you get past the idea that you are eating an insect, they are pretty tasty.  I ate a sour cream and onion-flavored cricket and honestly it tasted just like a potato chip, granted a cricket-shaped potato chip, but seriously it wasn’t bad.  Sure finding an antenna in my teeth later that day was a bit off-putting, but I’m sure I would get past that as some point.

The United Nations recommend insect food sources and potential solution to ending world hunger.  In order to embrace insects as a food supply, I garnished my Red Velvet cake with mealworms.  Yum!


Click for this AMAZING Red Velvet Cake Recipe by Lily Plauché.


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A Christmas Story: Star of Vengeance

star1   This is my favorite Christmas ornament, but rather than symbolize peace and goodwill (as it should) it symbolizes vengeance and spite.

I was working at a furniture store after Christmas and all of our ornaments were reduced to 75% off. This little star was .50 cents. A terrible woman (dressed to the nines and driving a Lexus, so pretty well off) came into the store and wanted 4 star ornaments, but wanted to only pay .25 cents a piece. As we weren’t at a yard sale I said no and she started arguing with me, becoming increasingly rude and belligerent.

After not bullying me into caving she said “Fine! My friend works at the other store in Huntsville and she told me that all the ornaments will be 90% off tomorrow, so I’ll just come back in the morning.

“I can’t guarantee they’ll still be here,” I said.

And the jerk said, “There are 12 stars in the store and I only want 4, so I’ll get what I want.  Prepare to feel stupid tomorrow.”

So in an anti-grinch moment my heart shrank 3 sizes and I bought all 12 of the star ornaments. I then called the other Huntsville store and bought ALL their ornaments. And just to be extra spiteful I bought all the star ornaments in Decatur and Florence. It was the most vengeful $30 I ever spent.

The next morning she was at the store as soon as we had opened. I had the pleasure of telling her that ALL of the star ornaments in North Alabama had been sold to one customer.

For years I gave the ornaments to friends and family, but I saved just one for myself.
12 years later, I still smile when I hang it on my tree.star3