The stories of Paddington, the problem-prone bear who moves from "Darkest Peru" to London, have been turned into a movie, and early reviews say it is an excellent one. But before you get to know him on the screen, take the time to get to know him on the page. Paddington creator Michael Bond has been writing about the bear's misadventures for more than 50 years, and he is a splendid storyteller.
We came to Paddington by way of Pooh, whose capers we would read for hours to our son when he was young enough to let us. It was somewhat selfish, really. Pooh author A.A. Milne was a gifted writer who was able to express more in 10 words than most can in 100. We were as transported by Pooh and Piglet's adventures as our son.
Bond and his bear are much the same. Paddington is a marmalade-loving bear with a knack for getting into — and out of — trouble. No matter how crazy his mishaps, he always comes out on top. After stowing away on a boat from Peru, Paddington ends up in London. The kindly Brown family takes in the loveable, talking bear, only to be taken on a series of silly adventures, all of which Paddington dutifully chronicles in his scrapbook.
School vacation is the perfect time to embrace Paddington. And to help get you in the mood, we created a cook it-craft it Paddington project. Paddington never is far from a marmalade sandwich (he even keeps one under his hat for emergencies). So we created a delicious and sticky marmalade chicken dinner.
And for when you're feeling crafty, we have an easy project for you and the kids — a brown paper bag scrapbook for chronicling your own (mis)adventures.
STICKY MARMALADE-GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS
Start to finish: 25 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup orange marmalade
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat the broiler. Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Mist the baking sheet with cooking spray.
In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs and brown for 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Heat until bubbling and thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet, tossing to coat with the sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes. Arrange the thighs on the prepared rack. Spoon any sauce left in the pan over them. Broil on the oven's middle shelf for 4 minutes, or until caramelized.
Nutrition information per serving: 440 calories; 190 calories from fat (43 per cent of total calories); 22 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 190 mg cholesterol; 27 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 24 g sugar; 34 g protein; 440 mg sodium.
This scrapbook, made out of brown paper lunch bags, is a perfect spot for pasting photos and recording memories. Its clever construction creates pockets that can store journaling pages, ticket stubs and small souvenirs, Just like Paddington loves to do. Decorate it with maps for a vintage travel look, or choose other prints to fit your theme.
3 paper lunch bags
Scissors or paper trimmer
Maps, old atlas pages or other decorative paper
Stack the paper bags on top of each other with the folded flaps facing up. For the top and bottom bag, have the flap on the left side of the stack, and for the middle, have the flap on the right.
Fold the stack in half to make the book and staple close the folded edge.
To create ties that will allow the book to be secured shut, glue lengths of ribbon to the edge of the front and back of the album. These will be sandwiched between the paper bag covers and the cardstock covers in the next step. Cut two pieces of cardstock, one for the front cover and one for the back. Decorate as desired and glue to the front and back of the album.
Decorate interior pages as desired. To make journaling pages that fit in the pockets, measure the pages and cut to fit.
(Scrapbook plan by Holly Ramer)
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at email@example.comSuggest a correction