Rocket Fuel: Cooking the Books with Mary Robinette Kowal

Links: The Calculating Stars preorder link (Can get it signed, and delivered on release day!)
The Calculating Stars Universal Buy Link

What Mary Robinette Kowal brings to the Cooking the Books table is no fewer than seven novels, two short story collections, more than 70 short stories, a blog that boosts other writers with My Favorite Bit, advocacy and volunteering, the Writing Excuses Podcast AND Cruise, the Futurescapes Writing Workshop, and a somewhat unfortunate attachment to okra, although she explains to me frequently that I’ve just not had it cooked properly.  There’s a lot more as well (audio recordings, puppetry, a serious dedication to both fashion and typewriters…)

Mary is an outstanding cook and has been visiting NASA often for research on her latest books — part of the Lady Astronaut of Mars series — The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, the first of which is out July 3 CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON THE LAUNCH PARTY. (the second appears August 21). So of course we asked her about space food.

Links: The Fated Sky preorder link (Can get it signed, and delivered on release day!)
The Fated Sky Universal Buy Link

She joins Aliette de Bodard and me for Cooking the Books this month (in our 65th interview & 38th podcast episode!) to dish on all the details.

It’s all for Cooking the Books this month, both here and at the extension kitchen over at The Booksmugglers! (check out Chelsea’s Booksmugglers Bonus answers!).

This month’s Cooking the Books Podcast, #038: Rocket Fuel – Cooking the Books with Mary Robinette Kowal contains:

  • Thoughts on jiffy pop and early math
  • the taste of tinned beans
  • chess pie and biscuits
  • What the food at Nasa is like
  • a make your own macaroni & cheese bar
  • Astronaut Kibble
  • That point at which we lose it over space food puns
  • And much more.

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

And visit additional Cooking the Books content over on the The Booksmugglers!

(Thanks as always to our friend Paul Weimer who helps clean up the CtB kitchen after we destroy it…)

Podcast #038: Rocket Fuel – Cooking the Books with Mary Robinette Kowal

Mary’s Recipes: Chess Pie and Sour Cream Pound Cake

Mom’s Sour Cream Poundcake recipe

Since I was little, this is the cake I request for my birthday. Mom mails one to me every year. We requested it for our wedding cake. This is the ur cake. This is the platonic ideal of cake.

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 3 c. plain flour
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 2 tsp. orange extract
  • 2 tsp. lemon extract

Cream butter and sugar lightly. Add sour cream; mix soda, 1/2 c. flour and add; mix thoroughly. Add unbeaten egg yolks and remaining flour alternately. Lastly, beat whites light and fold them into other mixture — never beat them in.

Pour into funnel cake pan. Have bottom of pan covered with waxed paper and sides well greased. Bake in 325-degree oven for 1 1/4 hours. Never open door before this amount of time is up — then look. If cake needs more baking, do so.

Chess Pie
Piecrust – I make a standard crust, but substitute bourbon for the water.
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 1/2  cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
Heat oven to 350°F.
1. Prep pie crust and keep cool.
2. Combine butter, sugar and cocoa. Add the eggs and vanilla. Whisk it until blended and thickish. Stir in cornmeal until just combined; pour into crust.
3. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until pie is set and top begins to resemble the surface of the moon. Dark and crusty with cracks running across its surface. Cool it. Serve at room temperature. If it’s a dairy night, adding whipped cream is a lovely touch.

Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of The Glamourist Histories series, Ghost Talkers, and the forthcoming Lady Astronaut duology. She’s a member of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses and has received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo awards, the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel. Her stories appear in Asimov’sClarkesworld, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), recording fiction for authors including Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit

Cooking the Books is a mostly-monthly podcast hosted by Fran Wilde and Aliette de Bodard.

Check out our archives.

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