Marketplace Tea Eggs


Some of my favorite scenes in Cinder took place in the market, where Cinder has her fix-it shop. I imagined crowded shops, charmingly messy displays, and lots of passersby. If you’re doing market shopping, you definitely need to keep up your strength with some market snacking, like some kids in the book who were munching on tea eggs. These are a classic Chinese street food, lightly salty and delicately flavored with spices and citrus. The striking spiderwebby pattern is lovely and interesting.

Tea Eggs

Recipe from Inn at the Crossroads

  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tea bags (black)
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 3 strips orange peel

Place the eggs in a medium pot and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring ta boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the eggs (leaving the water in the pot) and let cool under cool water.

When cool enough to handle, gently crack the eggshells with the back of a teaspoon, being careful to keep the shell intact. The more you tap, the more intricate the marbled pattern will be.

Return eggs to the same pot with the boiling water and add in the soy sauce, sugar, tea bags, star anise, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and orange peel. Bring to a boil then immediate reduce to a very low simmer. Simmer for 40 minutes, then cover and let steep for a few hours minimum, ideally overnight.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 17: Cinder

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Cinder-inspired Mini Cupcakes

Cinder cupcakes

Inspired by Cinder’s mechanic profession and partial cyborg body, these red velvet cupcakes, made rich with chocolate pudding and creamy, slightly zing-y frosting, are decked out with special gear and nut (like “nuts & bolts” nuts) sprinkles by The Geeky Hostess (available here). The cupcakes and frosting are based on recipes from The Dainty Apron and Wicked Good Kitchen respectively.

 Cinder-inspired Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

  • Cupcakes
  • 1/2 of a 16.5 oz package of Red Velvet Cake Mix
  • 1/2 of a 3.9 oz package of Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Sour Cream (I didn’t have any so used 1/2 Cup Vanilla Yogurt + 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda. Cool reaction!)
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Frosting
  • 1 Cup Butter, just room temperature
  • 1 8 oz pkg Cream Cheese
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 4 – 4 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp. Fresh Lemon or Orange Zest
  • 1/4 tsp. Fresh Minced Ginger (optional)
  • Silver Decorating Sugar
  • Steampunk Geeky Sprinkles

Cupcakes: Heat your oven to 350ºF. Grease a mini muffin pan with crisco. In a karge mixing bowl mix all of the ingredients on medium speed until combined. Scoop about 2 tsp. of the batter into each muffin cup & then bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven & let cool for a minute before placing the cupcakes onto a wire cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting: In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy, & then add the cream cheese & vanilla & beat on high speed until fully incorporated & fluffy. Lower the speed & gradually add the powdered sugar in increments until it’s to your taste. Increase the speed for a minute or 2 to fluff. Spoon the frosting into a decorating/piping bag with a medium opening & pipe a thick spiral onto each cooled cupcake. Lightly sprinkle with silver decorating sugar & gear/nut sprinkles & voila! Fun to eat with chopsticks–keeps your fingers clean!

Cinder cupcake bite

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 17: Cinder

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Cinder-inspired Tea & Ginger Mocktail

Cinder drink

To go along with the red theme of the Lunar Chronicles covers (each cover has a red object in it) and the various reds and crimsons described in the story, I concocted this easy-to-make drink, great for a Cinder/Lunar Chronicles get together.

 Super Simple Cinder-inspired Mocktail

  • 3 Cups Water
  • 3 Hibiscus Flower Tea Bags (I used Tazo brand that included other ingredients as well)
  • 2 Cups Ginger Ale (I used Segrams brand)
  • 1/3 – 1/2 Cup Vanilla Syrup (I used Torani brand)

Put the water and tea bags in a pot together & bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat & let steep for a few minutes. Squeeze & remove the tea bags with tongs & pour the tea into a large pitcher. Let the tea cool on the counter & then put it in the fridge to chill.

Add the ginger ale & vanilla syrup & stir. Taste test & add more ale or syrup as desired.

Listen to the episode! Fiction Kitchen Episode 17: Cinder

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Cinder cover w quote

Diana and Carrie discuss the classic Cinderella fairytale –with a futuristic, robotic, cyberpunk twist!– in the Marissa Meyer novel Cinder, first book in the Lunar Chronicles series.

*Correction @ ~5:18: Marissa married her fiancé a few months before the release of Cinder, not after. Oops! But it still stands true that he was an awesome support throughout her touring 🙂



The intro and outro music clips, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and “In the Morning of the Magicians”, are both by The Flaming Lips.

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