A Sumptuous Feast: Francesca Lia Block's The Elementals

Published On: 

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Francesca Lia Block, renowned author of the Weetzie Bat (young adult) series, caring mother of two gorgeous children and one of my writing mentors, has a new novel entitled The Elementals, which is on sale at bookstores today. Pick up any of the books from her prolific list and one sees why Francesca has a huge fan base. Her characters and settings are delicious like ice cream but also have the ability to chill you to the bone.

Francesca Lia Block, author of the Weetzie Bat series.
Her newest novel is The Elementals.

The Elementals is published by St. Martin’s Press. Ariel, a UC Berkeley student, is the protagonist of the novel.  Like Prospero’s spirit servant who works to unshackle the chains of servitude in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Francesca’s modern-day Ariel struggles to free herself from the grief of the guilt and sorrows associated with the ordeals of a dying mother and a missing best girl friend who is presumed dead. Similar to The Tempest, there’s also a lot of mist, mystery and a strong sense of the supernatural in Francesca’s story as most of the action takes place in the San Francisco Bay area.

The Elementals is already receiving accolades from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and others.  A few of the reviews are included here.



In addition to the reviews, insights about The Elementals can be gleaned from David Wilk’s WritersCast.com iTunes podcast interview. Francesca’s book has also prompted an online discussion at Gone Pecan.

The Kirkus reviewer communicated the essence of The Elementals by mirroring Francesca’s mastery in evoking the senses: “Silver rings, a profusion of flowers, hazy graveyards and perhaps the fae embroider this hypnotic tale...(Francesca Lia) Block (Pink Smog, 2012, etc.) returns with her distinctively smoldering style. ...shimmering imagery and nimble characterization.”

Inspired by Francesca’s sensuous settings and details of sumptuous foods, I created and consumed a few of the lovely dinners and desserts mentioned in The Elementals.

Add dried cranberries and slivered almonds to your favorite wild rice.
Light a few candles and savor the rich company of friends and food
like Ariel in The Elementals.

Ariel is also treated to an apple tart in Francesca's book. Here's the fast and easy Ninja Baker's version: Assemble mini phyllo cups, Brie goat cheese, organic mini crimson gold apples, and honey. Place a cube of cheese into each cup, top with 3 thin apple slices in a fleur-de-Lis formation as pictured below and drizzle with honey.

Bake at 350 degrees or until the cheese melts. Garnish with a cranberry.
Plate the piping hot on a dish.
Et voilà, enjoy The Ninja Baker's Fleur-de-Lis Apple Appetizer

In Francesca's book, the main character, a college student also eats quite a lot of frozen yogurt. Top of the list of this Ninja's yumminess is Yogurtland's matcha green tea flavor. (Yogurtland also gets high marks for contributing 10 dollars to
Storm Sandy survivors for every 12 yogurts purchased by a customer.)

AND as a bonus to readers of NinjaBaking.com, Carmen Staton, Francesca’s co-author of Ruby has agreed to a preview of Weetzie's Vegetable Love Rice recipe from her soon-to-be released cookbook of Weetzie Bat recipes.

I made Weetzie's Vegetable Love Rice for my dad and stepmom
when I visited them last month. They loved it and requested an encore!

Weetzie's Vegetable Love Rice

2 cups cooked jasmine rice prepared per package instructions
1 package firm tofu drained, patted dry and cubed
half of 1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly grated or minced ginger
1 bunch kale or Swiss chard rinsed, stemmed and chopped
1 large carrot, shredded
half a package steamed ready to eat beets (can be found in most supermarkets), shredded
Tahini paste (optional)
Bragg's (optional)
toasted sesame seeds (optional)

In medium skillet sauté the onion and tofu adding just a bit of water (2 TBS or more if needed) to keep from sticking. Sauté just until onions soften and turn translucent. Remove from pan  into a bowl. Set aside and keep warm. Using the same skillet, wipe out any remaining water then add the ghee (or oil). On medium high heat sauté the ginger until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the kale or chard stirring to coat with ghee (oil) and ginger. Turn down heat to medium low and cover. Cook until greens wilt and soften a bit but are still bright green, about 10 minutes.

Using nice sized serving bowls, layer the ingredients starting with the rice, tofu and onions, greens, carrots, beets, tahini paste and ending with a couple of splashes of Bragg's or tamari and sesame seeds.

Ninja Baker Notes:

  1. Some stores sell tofu that is already cubed
  2. There are also markets which sell prewashed and chopped kale.
  3. If you cannot find beets in a steam ready package, slicing and steaming beets sold in a jar works well.

As Rory O’Conner declares in her Fourth Street Review of The Elementals
“Given the book is rather atmospheric, I thought a decadent dessert would be in order: Pumpkin Brownies with Chocolate Ganache.” Here's the link to the recipe from blogger Jamie at My Baking Addiction. Jamie's ganache recipe with heavy cream is undoubtedly divine. I melted 6 ounces of delicious dark chocolate with an 8 ounce Cool Whip Lite. 

Rory of the Fourth Street Review describes The Elementals as “lushly imagined.”
One can say the same for the brownies from My Baking Addiction.
Best served hot, they are supernaturally superlative in flavor!

Wishing you a wonderful escape into Francesca Lia Block’s The Elementals.

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker's recipes are also available at:

The Ninja Baker's Japanese Plum Sweet Memories and Recipes


Bob's Red Mill

Wholesome Sweeteners:
The Ninja Baker's Gluten-Free Coconut Chocolate Cheesecake Minis with Espresso Cream

Wholesome Sweeteners:
The Ninja Baker's Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Champagne Glaze & Optional Lemon Peach Marmalade Filling