Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

I picked this book up after hearing chatter and reading hype in the book mags. I heard above all else that it was funny and I was ready for some light hearted entertainment. The first section of the book certainly delivered light hearted entertainment. I can certainly see the author’s television experience. Many of her descriptions BEG for visual representation. The images that developed in my mind were certainly akin to something hilarious on a big screen, larger than life. But then the second section of the book hit me… and I realized, yes this is a hilarious, quick read. But by golly there are meat on these funny bones! We are talking about happiness and sacrifice. More importantly we are talking about self-identity and the struggle many women face of balancing life roles.

Seriously, I’ve found a fiction book that makes me laugh and gives me points to ponder? My continued raves have caused this book around the library staff and spurred much discussion. That’s always an indicator of great material. But I have a more significant indicator – I’m going to buy it. A book better be darned good fiction for me to fork out a penny for it. In fact I only buy if I feel the need to share in an immediate way with my friends… not in the pick this up at the library recommendation way – but the forceful handing over with a “Here, you gotta read this.”

Yep, Where’d You Go, Bernadette is serious book pusher material.

Now for the recipes. If I were to host a girlfriend chat about this book, the menu is easy-peasy. We would have Pink Penguin Drinks & Baked Alaska. It just seems like an obvious fit for me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t actually find a ‘Pink Penguin’ drink recipe. I did find a number of Penguin-ish recipes but I’m choosing this one. I like this one because I think it might actually create a pink-ish hue and doesn’t sound disgusting.

The Baked Alaska would be from Pampered Chef because I can do it without a blow-torch. Not that I wouldn’t want to operate a blow-torch. But I don’t own one. And after the major cash output to buy the alcohol necessary for the ‘Pink Penguin’ drink ~ I might have to make some budgetary decisions. And let’s face it, after all of that alcohol who’s gonna know what I serve them?

BUT that’s what I would do… but I’m not having a girlfriend get together… I’m just randomly jabbering about it everywhere. And I’m not drinking all of that alcohol myself. Or eating the cake either, for that matter. Instead I’m selecting a berry recipe, inspired by one of my favorite scenes of the book. Extra bonus: Wheat Free!

So the recipe comes from Illustrated Step-By-Step Baking which is quite possibly the single most wonderful beginning baking book I’ve ever seen. I hope to offer a full review of it in the future. But in the meanwhile, I’ll just offer you this:


The Lemon Polenta Cake (+ blueberries or else I have no wonderful book tie in – only cake)

12 t butter, softened + extra for greasing

7oz sugar (divided)

3 large eggs

1/2 c polenta

1- 1/3 c ground almonds

finely grated zest & juice from 2 lemons

1 t gluten free baking powder

Handful fresh berries

Preheat oven to 325. Grease & line a springform pan with parchment -though I don’t own a springform so I just used a cake pan. Worked fine! Cream butter & 6 oz of sugar until fluffy. Whisk eggs and gradually beat into creamed mixture. Fold in polenta and almonds. Finally mix in zest and baking powder. Batter will be stiff. Smooth into pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes until springy. When cake is cool enough to handle remove from pan. In a saucepan heat juice and remaining sugar over medium until completely dissolved. Poke holes in cake. Then pour syrup over cake. Serve with whipped cream on top.

Let me also say that truly this recipe cannot be appreciated outside of the original cookbook. It is a grown ups picture book… But the cake is delicious 🙂 Enjoy!


4 thoughts on “Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

  1. I’m hosting the book club and need to come up with a menu. I wonder if I can just get away with anything “take out?” Well, it would fit the book. 🙂 (But, Pink Penguins are a must.)

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