Book Bites: Robyn Bennis

Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite. 

Robyn Bennis’ first novel, The Guns Above, is filled with high-altitude derring-do, gambling, aristocratic hijinks, and more. She joins Book Bites with a delicious, weevil-free (we hope) recipe for hardtack! Welcome, Robyn!


The Guns Above 
They say it’s not the fall that kills you.

For Josette Dupre, Garnia’s first female airship captain, it might just be a bullet in the back. On top of patrolling the front lines, she must also contend with a crew who doubts her expertise, a new airship that’s an untested deathtrap, and the foppish aristocrat Lord Bernat, a gambler and shameless flirt with the military know-how of a thimble. When the enemy makes an unprecedented move that could turn the tide of the war, can Josette deal with Bernat, rally her crew, and survive long enough to prove herself?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound


If you’re looking for foodies aboard His Majesty’s Signal Airship Mistral, you won’t find many among the regular crew. Their usual fare is hardtack and weak tea. The only true connoisseur is the man who’s there to spy, Lord Bernat Hinkal.

Bernat expects the best, and he doesn’t travel light. In addition to a month’s worth of fall ensembles, his aerial cuisine includes almond cakes for breakfast, lampreys in white wine sauce for lunch, sesame-stuffed mushrooms for dinner, and ginger cookies for an anytime snack. Although there’s no kitchen aboard Mistral, these are simple recipes, easily adapted to high-altitude cooking atop a hot turbine housing.

Sadly, I won’t be sharing any of them with you. Yeah, I’m kind of a tease. You’re not the first to notice. Instead, I’ll give you my recipe for hardtack, the staple of airship dining. If you’re unfamiliar, hardtack was the ration of choice for soldiers and sailors in bygone eras. Whenever nations had to feed a lot of people far from home, hardtack served as a cheap, nutritious, and relatively imperishable solution. 

Relatively imperishable, mind you. By the time it was eaten, hard tack was typically infested with bitter-tasting weevils. Sold yet?

Hardtack

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 5 cups flour

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Pound into 3″ x 3″ by 1/2″ squares.
  3. Poke 15-20 holes into each square.
  4. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes per side.
  5. Cool.
  6. Bake at 225°F for an additional 30 minutes.
  7. Ship halfway around the world in the stinking hold of a leaky ship.

Serving Instructions

  1. Tap out insects, scrape away black mold, and serve with steaming hot coffee, if available.
  2. Bon appétit!

Robyn Bennis is an author and scientist living in Mountain View, California, where she consults in biotech but dreams of airships. The Guns Above is her debut novel.  Homepage Goodreads Twitter

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