Book Camp Life

Book Camp 2018, Day 5

Every good thing comes to an end. So must book camp. Because I can really only keep up with these five for a week. We also have tomorrow as a day of play and freedom. Hooray!


In our family, at least three generations of us have enjoyed a scrumptious Christmas morning meal of bubble bread. More recently, it’s sold in stores or named in recipes as monkey bread. I will forever call it bubble bread because it at least looks like bubbles. There are no monkeys in the making of the dish, I promise.

After I married I began changing the recipe a little at a time. Less of this. More of that. Assembled this way, not that way. So now I have the bubble bread recipe perfect for me.

Today, we began by shrinking the recipe so that each of us could make a tiny three-roll bubble bread of our own. We began with a basic recipe and a ratio of dry and wet ingredients. Then we discussed what purpose each ingredient serves and each child decided what to retain and what to substitute. Finally, each child selected items to add on.

With our perfect-for-us recipes in hand, we practiced letting go. We placed each little recipe in a bowl, shook them around, then picked them out. With someone else’s recipe in hand, we changed one thing–an addition, a substitution, or a subtraction. Then we handed the recipes back to their owners and proceeded to bake.

We made our toppings, poured them over our rising rolls. And waited.


If Ron Chernow could not have let go of his research and writing, he would not have made the book that is Alexander Hamilton. And Lin-Manuel Miranda would not have read the thing.

If Ron Chernow had not let go of the creation that is Alexander Hamilton, we might not have a musical, at least not one that benefitted from his experience and input.

If Lin-Manuel Miranda had not let go of his lyrics, he would not have collaborated with other professionals to make Hamilton: An American Musical. He may never have put them into the world.

If Lin-Manuel Miranda had not let go of his singular vision for the musical, how many other voices and ideas would have been silenced? How different would the result have been? Would it have been successful if it had no other fingerprints on it at all?

Now that Hamilton is out in the world, there’s a moment-by-moment letting go. Fanfiction. Licensed and unlicensed artwork both for sale and not.

The work is Miranda’s but the thing now belongs to all of us. Not in any legal sense. Not that we have the right to tickets or downloads or artwork. But we all have our own interpretations now. Our own thoughts and theories and embellishments. That’s the part that belongs to us. Miranda has no rights to it and no control over it. He had to let go enough to let us grab hold.


We have a poem set to music. A pop song turned to a musical number. A folk song turned narrative turned comic. A Hamilton song turned comic. A fairy tale turned comic.

Do you sense a theme?

They are not final drafts. They are imperfect. And they are excellent! Beautiful. Ingenious. And none of that is the point.

The point is that they did the thing.

You should too. And finish. And let go. So we all can grab hold.


All week, Friday night has read TBD. The kids are all five alphas, though how that happened I’ve no clue. They do not like uncertainty. But when it came down to it, we didn’t determine much. Movies, butterbeer, leftovers. Win!


Bubble Bread – Book Camp 2018 Recipe
  • 21 frozen dinner rolls (we use Rhodes because SO good)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/8 cup butter, melted
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a bundt pan and set it on a cookie sheet.
  2. Arrange frozen rolls evenly within the circle of the pan. Allow to partially thaw until the rolls appear wet and sticky. They will not have risen much if at all.
  3. Combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom.
  4. Stir melted butter and heavy cream into sugar mixture.
  5. Poor butter-cream-sugar mixture over rolls.
  6. Allow rolls to rise, probably for 4 or so hours. As the rolls rise, return the mixture to the top of the rolls as it tries to roll off.
  7. Bake in pan on cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool 5 minutes. Turn out on cookie sheet. Enjoy.

Variations: You want to keep the dry and liquid ingredients roughly in the same proportions.

  • To use chocolate sauce, replace some or all of the butter and/or cream. Same for melted butterscotch, jams, or coffee.
  • To use cocoa powder, replace some of the sugars.
  • To add flavoring, such as almond extract, short your butter or cream and add one teaspoonful of the flavoring.
  • To use honey, replace sugars.

Whenever possible, use really good butter. I like Kerry Gold, unsalted, for baking. Quality of butter makes a difference.

  • 1 litre cream soda
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 Tablespoon imitation butter flavoring*

Mix all ingredients in a 9×13 glass dish while the dish is in the freezer. Allow to freeze. Stir occasionally. Serve alone or with topping (below).

*I know. This seems gross. And usually I’d agree it is gross. But butterbeer is the exception. Butterbeer requires this ingredient.

Butterbeer Topping
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch ice cream topping or 1/8 cup maple syrup

Whip together until desired consistency. A hand mixer is helpful. Use to top butterbeer.

Now. Go make something!

Book Camp Life

Book Camp 2018: Day 2

Day 2 began with chores and the daily routine. Being the lone counselor has its advantages!

On day 1, we looked at what makes an adaptation. Today we drilled a bit down to what works and what doesn’t. We followed this core idea through baking and Hamilton, but then the kids decided what they would adapt.


We engaged in an apple pie experiment. Each kid selected their own apple at the store. We ended up with New York Ruby Frost, Fuji, Red Delicious, and two Honeycrisp. I chose Ambrosia.

Back at home, I had prepared a few changes to the pie recipe, cut the paper apart, and put the pieces in a bag for choosing.

  • leave peels on apples
  • omit sugar
  • omit cinnamon; add thyme and rosemary
  • crumble on bottom; crust on top
  • omit butter
  • twice the sugar

We allowed ourselves a standard crust, made by the thirteen-year-olds. It was made per recipe. Meanwhile, we rotated through the kitchen trying to make little ramekin pies with our differences.The ten-year-old got the apple peel instructions, and he was thrilled! Poor thing, he’d never had an apple pie with tough peels. He just knew he got to skip a step.One eleven-year-old omitted sugar and the other doubled it. The omitter substituted honey, and the doubler was ecstatic. The thirteen-year-old butter omitter substituted banana to make her crumble. The other thirteen-year-old added thyme and rosemary to the recipe. His leftover apples were abandoned by all. I built my ramekin pie with the crumble on bottom with severe doubts that it will be crumbly.


When Lin-Manuel Miranda created Hamilton, he changed parts of history. The most difficult for me: his friends weren’t at his wedding, at least according to Ron Chernow. But the opportunity to return to the original friendship song and to continue the thread of Aaron Burr versus the remainder–golden and waiting and right there.

In Hamilton: The Revolution, Miranda writes about Philip and Angelica both having more siblings than their songs would have you believe.

But the best example for the young writers in the house: the folks who confronted Hamilton about the Reynolds payments were not Jefferson, Madison, and Burr.

Miranda changed details to fit the effect he desired. Whether that was a rhyme, a clever twist on a familiar song, or the double duty of recognized villains–the changes matched Miranda’s palate.

Making Connections

Today’s experiment was forced. I gave a limited number of changes to the bakers. Because it can be hard to think outside the recipe. It can be daunting to imagine something different from what already exists. Later this week, the kids will make their own baking (and authoring) adaptations. This gentle prod brought them a bit closer.

Adaptation Planning

The kids decided the source material they would adapt and the format in which it would be adapted. Yay!

We talked about copyright and ownership. It’s a common discussion during book camp, because ownership means creativity can continue. The kids learned that for private home educational use, we can use any source material. We do not intend to publish the adaptations or share them beyond our own little circle, and we are learning. We talked about the need to ask permission, and in many circumstances the need to purchase rights, to adapt another person’s work. Then we looked at some examples of works in the public domain that may be adapted without legal ramifications.

Fort Night!

Yes, I know it’s not spelled that way. But then again, I’m not arming the children with axes and sending them out to their enemies either.

I’ve never felt more left out of my own home! The fort has subsumed the four biggest bookcases.



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