The Kitchen Tree: Cooking the Books with Ada Palmer

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I heard Ada Palmer before I met her. One of the primary singers and songwriters for the a capella group Sassafrass, Palmer has performed at SFF conventions for many years. At my first (and – sob – last) Farthing Party, I got to see members of Sassafrass perform live, and I continue to make every effort to hear them at every occasion.

As compelling as that was, that same weekend, I also heard Palmer speak eloquently on a range of literary and historical topics, and I was forced to conclude that this was A Brilliant Person and I needed to know more.

Along with her teaching duties as a professor at the University of Chicago, Palmer supplies an endless opportunity of more (more knowledge, more delightful recipes, more insights into things I didn’t know I needed to know). She hilariously co-hosts the auction at Vericon. Occasionally appears in brilliant formal dress at one’s table at the Nebulas. And has now written one of the books that will stick with me for a long time — her first book — Too Like the Lightning (Tor 2016) with the next book soon to follow.

But what you really want is to hear Ada yourself, on topics of food and enlightenment! So please do pull up a chair, and bring your appetite.

(You know how in The Phantom Tollbooth Milo & Tock go to the Word Market and tastes all the delicious words? This podcast is going to be like that.)

The ingredients for podcast #23 ~ The Kitchen Tree: Cooking the Books with Ada Palmer ~ include:

  • multiple servings and preparations of gelato
  • pasta, being the best of all foods
  • porto-vino
  • intense worldbuilding methodology
  • hard truths about enlightenment-era dining
  • one Pope hat
  • dumpster diving
  • the aforementioned kitchen tree
  • 100% more flying cars

Ready? Subscribe to the Podcast here! Or on iTunes! Or click play below:
(and consider supporting us on Patreon, hmm?)

Podcast #023: The Kitchen Tree – Cooking the Books with Ada Palmer

And as promised in the podcast, here is:


Ada writes: Here are five good simple gelato recipes that don’t require complex prep.  These are designed to be easy and work reasonably well with commonly available ingredients, not depending on super high quality milk or fruit.  For any of these you just need to stir the ingredients together (one needs a blender), then put them in the machine, start it up, and wait 30-45 minutes. The machine is the challenge. I recommend the DeLonghi GM6000 gelato maker, which isn’t too terribly expensive and is a real workhorse, plus has the advantage over most ice cream makers that you don’t need to pre-chill anything, so it doesn’t clutter your freezer and you can make gelato spontaneously whenever you like.
Agrumi di Sicilia (mixed citrus)
Combine 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup lemon juice, and 1 1/2 cups other citrus juice, preferably fresh squeezed.  Our best combo ever was 3/4 cups Uglifruit juice and 3/4 cups orange, which gave a fierce fresh tartness, but any citrus will work.

Pear Almond Cider Gelato (requires blender)
Core two soft, overripe pears (no need to skin them) put them them in a blender with 1 cup apple cider, 4 oz (half a small can) of canned sweet almond paste (or marzapan), 2/3 of a cup of brown sugar, blend until homogeneous, then put in gelato maker.

Lemon Chocolate Sorbet
Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice with 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.

Watermelon Sorbet
Combine 2 cups fresh watermelon juice with 1 cup of sugar, when it’s nearly done freezing dump in a few chocolate chips to be the seeds.  If your grocery store doesn’t sell fresh watermelon juice, putting good watermelon in a blender and liquefying it will do.

Maple Syrup Gelato
Combine 2 cups good quality milk with 3/4 cups maple syrup.

AdaPhoto1000-e1405782457538-300x198Ada Palmer’s first science fiction novel Too Like the Lightning (volume one of Terra Ignota, from Tor Books) explores how humanity’s cultural and historical legacies might evolve in a future of borderless nations and globally commixing populations. She teaches in the University of Chicago History Department, studying the Renaissance, Enlightenment, classical reception, the history of books, publication and reading, and the history of philosophy, heresy, science and atheism, and is the author of Reading Lucretius in the Renaissance (Harvard University Press). She often researches in Italy, usually in Florence or at the Vatican. She composes fantasy, SF and mythology-themed music, including the Viking mythology musical stage play Sundown: Whispers of Ragnarok (available on CD and DVD), and often performs at conventions with her vocal group Sassafrass. She also researches anime/manga, especially Osamu Tezuka, early post-WWII manga and gender in manga, and worked as a consultant for many anime and manga publishers. She blogs for, and writes the philosophy & travel blog You can find her on Twitter too!

Hungry for more Cooking the Books? – Check Out The Interviews Pantry

And if you found this tasty, consider supporting us on Patreon!

 (We would very much like to begin an interview transcription, if anyone has suggestions that don’t involve me typing up the interviews, because hands don’t work like they used to.)


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