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Archive for the ‘weekend cooking’ Category

One, two, three, and as pleased as can be to see this delectable new counting picture book  by award-winning poet, author and teacher Kathi Appelt!

For one, I’ve long been fascinated by crows and their supreme intelligence. Did you know they can distinguish individual humans by recognizing facial features? Or that they can not only use, but in some cases, manufacture tools? They engage in sports and play, and yes, they can actually count!

(Uncanny, but just as I finished typing the previous sentence, I heard three jubilant caws of approval in the back yard. I’m sure our resident crows know when they’re being written about. Told you they were smart!) :)

The two things I love most about Counting Crows (Atheneum BFYR, 2015) are the varied, innovative rhyme schemes and the fact that the crows are counting, of all things, SNACKS *licks lips*! Not to mention Rob Dunlavey’s fetching feast of whimsical illustrations capturing the peckish personalities and comical antics of these red-and-white sweater-clad flappers in a striking three-color palette of black, white and red.

(click to enlarge)

One, two, three
crows in a tree.

Three roly-poly bugs,
three ripe mangoes.

Three for the counting crows.
Three, by jango!

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Once, when we were living in England, Len and I discovered some wild blackberry bushes growing in Wimbledon Common across the street from the school where I was teaching. I was excited because I’d never even seen a blackberry in person before, let alone eat one, and I remembered that famous last line from The Tale of Peter Rabbit:

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.

The ones we picked were a little sour, but good with sugar and a dollop of cream. Because of that fond memory, I’ll always associate blackberries with England. I also like to tell the story of how because we didn’t have a whisk or rotary beater in our little flat, Len whipped the cream with a fork! I knew then I had to marry that man with his power arm. :)

Thus enamored of blackberries, I recently devoured a gorgeous new picture book by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall featuring A Fine Dessert called blackberry fool, a decadent English sweet dating back to the 16th century consisting of blackberries, cream and sugar.

In this wholly delectable story, we are treated to not one, but FOUR servings of blackberry fool prepared by four families from four different centuries. Such a tasty slice of food and social history! The families all follow the same recipe steps, but of course ingredient sourcing, methods, tools, and technology change through time. They’re united by their love of this dessert and the joy, anticipation and satisfaction that come with making it. No surprise — they all love to lick the bowl — viable proof that some things never change. :)

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Today serving Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea

Mr. Cornelius, a diehard Downton Abbey fan, was beside himself the other day when four members of the Crawley Clawley family accepted his invitation to tea.

He’d been going on and on about how much he’s enjoying Season 5 because it’s mainly about love, romance and secrets. He likes the warm and comfortable relationship between Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, is happy Isobel is hooking up with Lord Merton (nice digs!), is relieved Tom Branson said goodbye to annoying Miss Bunting, loves that handsome Atticus is eyeing up Rose, and is tickled pink about Dowager Countess Violet’s secret past with Russian Prince Thing-a-ma-jig. :)

While Lady Mary’s hotel assignation with Lord Gillingham had Cornelius tsk-tsking for a few days (scandalous! loose woman! how risqué!), he gradually came around and revealed his own secret: he’s had a crush on Lady Mary since Season 1 (boy can she rock a pair of opera gloves).

He’s not intimidated in the least by either Tony Gillingham or Charles Blake. They can jostle all they want for Mary’s affections. Cornelius will charm her with his secret weapon.

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What do you get when you combine one part Gingerbread Boy with one part “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”?

A delightful recipe for a joyous, rollickingly suspenseful foodie-licious story, of course!

Cleverly riffing on Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” Oregon-based author Stephanie Shaw has cooked up an original adventure featuring our favorite iconic Christmas cookie, who narrowly escapes becoming Santa’s midnight snack.

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
And there on a plate,
Was a Gingerbread Boy
Awaiting his fate.

The children had baked him
And dressed him with care,
Using currants for eyes
and icing for hair.

They knew that St. Nick,
With his overstuffed pack,
Would be sorely in need
Of a fine midnight snack.

As the Gingerbread Boy nervously awaits his not-so-sweet fate, two rambunctious puppies bound into the room and begin to pounce, paw, and tear the holiday decorations apart. The plucky Gingerbread Boy knows he must do something to save Christmas, so he quickly distracts those frisky pups by dancing and spinning atop a big red ornament. Employing all his best moves, he’s able to get them to settle down until Santa arrives. After he helps Santa straighten things up, he’s extremely relieved when instead of being eaten, a highly impressed St. Nick asks him to be Night Watchman at his North Pole toy shop.

Stephanie’s bouncy rhyming text scans beautifully and will keep kids rooting for this adorably smart cookie, who ultimately gets his one Christmas wish. The narrative gambols right along and her spritely rhymes and turns of phrase never lapse into predictability.

‘Come Rascal! Come, Rowdy!’
He called them by name.
‘I’ll show you a much better
Christmas Eve game.’

‘A biscuit,’ they barked
With howling dog joy,
‘And one that can talk.
It’s a Gingerbread boy!’

And what he did next
Made those naughty pups stop.
‘Look at me!’ Cookie cried.
‘I can spin like a top!’

Bruno Robert’s bold, action-packed illustrations effectively capture all the fun and frolic of this clamorous caper. Close-ups of the Gingerbread Boy’s worried facial expressions and his overall body language elicit reader empathy, while the perky, playful pups are suitably frenetic but quite lovable. Kids will enjoy the focus on the cookie’s point of view, and appreciate that such a small little guy was able to put aside his big fears without hesitation to save the day.

When the work was all done
Cookie climbed on the dish.
He looked to the stars
And made one Christmas wish.

Then he heard Santa say . . .

A Cookie for Santa has received glowing reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal and Kirkus, and has earned a Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child Magazine. It begs to be read aloud in the classroom or at family Christmas gatherings. What a wonderful addition to the holiday book shelf, especially for those who like their classic ingredients served up with a refreshing twist! Who could resist this tasty tale, a lovingly baked gem sure to be welcomed in all the best (and politically correct) cookie circles. :)

Though I can’t personally guarantee that fewer gingerbread boys will be consumed as a result, I’m pretty confident kids of all ages will clamor for repeated readings. :D

Stephanie reading at Sleighbells Gift Shop (Sherwood, Oregon).

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C – O – O – K – I – E – S ! ! !

Cornelius tries to comfort a worried Gingerbread Boy.

I asked Stephanie to share her favorite Gingerbread Cookie recipe, and she pointed me to this gluten-free one using Pamela’s Bread Mix. Seems more and more people are going gluten-free these days and this recipe sounds like it’s definitely worth a try. Thanks, Stephanie!

GINGERBREAD COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 3-1/2 cups Pamela’s Bread Mix
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup molasses
  • 12 tablespoons butter or margarine, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Use HEAVY DUTY STAND MIXER and paddle. In mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add butter and mix well. Add molasses and milk, mix to combine thoroughly.

Divide dough and roll to 1/4 inch between two layers of parchment paper. Freeze for 15 minutes. Remove top sheet of each and cut out cookies and remove excess dough. Bake on parchment on cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes until edges begin to brown for soft cookies.

For crispy cookies, roll thinner to 1/8th inch and bake for 14 to18 minutes. Scraps can be rolled and cookies cut out again.

© Pamela’s Products, Inc.

He feels much better after reading the book!

*   *   *

A COOKIE FOR SANTA
written by Stephanie Shaw
illustrated by Bruno Robert
published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2014
Picture Book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
Cool themes: holidays, Christmas, baking, food, Santa Claus, animals, rhyming fiction

*Check out the cool Activity Guide at Stephanie’s website!

ETA: Read this fun interview with Mr. Pig at The Little Crooked Cottage and enter for a chance to win a signed copy!

*   *   *

poetryfriday180Paul Hankins is hosting today’s Roundup at These 4 Corners. Scamper over and check out the full menu of poetic treats being served up in the blogosphere this week. Enjoy your weekend, a good time to make Gingerbread Boy Cookies. :)

 

 

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wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food related posts. Put on your best bibs and come join the fun!

 

 

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* Spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2014 Stephanie Shaw, illustrations © 2014 Bruno Robert, published by Sleeping Bear Press. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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“Girls always make passes at guys with mustaches.” (Unknown hairy person)

Good Morning!

I mustache you a question, but I’ll shave it for later. :)

Happy Movember (a tad late)! Time once again to help raise awareness of men’s health issues by sprouting a dapper cookie duster.

I, for one, have always been mad for staches.

“Really?”

You bet. Who was it that said “A man without a mustache is a man without a soul”? When I was growing up, I noticed the smartest, funniest, hottest men all had staches: Albert Einstein, Clark Gable, Charlie Chaplin, Tom Selleck, David Crosby, Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Kurt Vonnegut, Edgar Allan Poe, Santa Claus, The Monopoly Man, did I mention Tom Selleck?

And have you noticed the best lines from movies are all about staches?

Nobody puts Mustache in a corner.

and

You can’t handle the mustache!

and

Say hello to my leetle mustache.

Or what about that incredibly incisive TV question:

Where is your mustache, Jake from State Farm?

Positively hair raising! :D

What’s that? You say you can’t grow your own? Your upper lip is as smooth, soft and hairless as a baby’s . . .

Not to worry, cause today we’re gonna help you get your mighty mo on by serving up four fanstashtic picture books and a delicious cache of chocolaty cookies. Read ’em and eat!

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