Posts Tagged ‘baking’

1. It’s always exciting to discover a quirky new alphabet book — even better when it features fruits and veggies like you’ve never seen them before. Check out Aitch’s Veggie Fruit Alphabet, which the Romanian artist describes as “a playful approach on the traditional alphabet book. Each letter features a fruit or vegetable, depicted as a morph between the fruit’s or veggie’s shape and the female body, a beautiful tribute to natural diversity. Each character has a companion page featuring an illustration of the letter itself and a hand painted pattern based on the fruit or veggie.”

This 56-page gem has super shiny covers, and there’s also a cool art print you can purchase separately (my fave is a toss-up between the Eggplant and the Watermelon). Visit Aitch’s Etsy Shop for more info.


2. You may have noticed that I am slightly mad for English pottery and china. I squealed with delight when I stumbled upon Stokesay Ware — dollhouse miniature china (1:12 scale) in classic English patterns made by hand using completely authentic materials and techniques. The designs/patterns are not applied with decals. Instead, the “decoration is made using specially drawn artwork and hand printed by silk screen using specialist onglaze enamels which are coloured with metal oxides.”

Nursery Tea Set

Sovereign Red

Blue Willow

Victorian Kitchen Ware

Imagine serving your dolls or teddy bears on patterns such as Blue Willow, Asiatic Pheasant, Jubilee Gold, or Sovereign Red or Blue! And there’s an adorable Nursery pattern featuring the alphabet. It almost makes me want to get a dollhouse . . .


3. How about a quilted spot of tea? Canadian quilt pattern designer Laurraine Yuyama combined her love of tea and Japanese country patchwork in these adorable fabric teapots, cups and saucers.

My style has been described as “country chic” which mixes elements of old and new to create a sophisticated timeless quality. I like to incorporate machine-appliqué, hand-embroidery and buttons along with at least a splash of linen in everything I make. I enjoy combining elements from both my passions of patchwork and pottery– creating dishes with patches of intricate patterns, and quilting three-dimensional teapots and teacups.

Such a unique idea! Laurraine began selling patterns online when the demand for finished pieces became overwhelming. To date, her patterns have been included in at least 11 craft books, and she hopes to publish her own book someday. Find out more about her downloadable pattern booklets here, and view more of her finished work here.


4. Whoever thought “biting the biscuit” could be so creative, stylish and fun? Behold the Hairdo Cookie Cutter designed by Avihai Shurin! Now with each bite you can style Sam’s hair :). A little nibble here, a strategic munch there, go short or shaggy, round or square. It’s totally up to you. No such thing as a bad hair day when your cookies taste so good. :)


5. It’s never too early to think about holiday gifts, especially those you’d like to have personalized. What about a lovely  folk art print by Catherine Holman? Ever dream of having your own cupcake or tea shoppe? Maybe you have a friend who’d love to see her name on the awning of this cute and cozy cakery and cafe.

Visit Catherine’s Etsy Shop to see her selection of personalized and other folk art prints, all of which come signed and dated by the artist. Thanks to Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for the link!


6. Love this delicious post by Cara Nicoletti which was featured at Food52 recently. You may know Cara from her wonderful blog Yummy Books. In “Cook Like Hermione Granger and 11 Other Ladies of Literature,” Cara serves up a splendid dinner party menu inspired by some of her favorite characters.

Tomato Jam Toast|Harriet M. Welsch|Harriet the Spy

Though we see the likes of Elizabeth Bennet’s White Gazpacho and Bathsheba Everdene’s Grilled Corn with Basil Butter, the majority of dishes are linked to children’s book characters (Anne Shirley, Jo March, Lucy Pevensie, Ramona Quimby, Mary Lennox).

Cara’s new book Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books (Little, Brown, 2015), was just released August 18, and is definitely on my TBR list!


7. It’s here, it’s here! Though its official pub date is September 15, Jeannine Atkins’s Little Woman in Blue (She Writes Press, 2015), is already available via online booksellers. In her first historical novel for adults, Jeannine shines the spotlight on the youngest Alcott sister May.

At last, a book about the other artistic Alcott sister. May Alcott, dismissed in Little Women as the pampered youngest March sister Amy, explodes onto the pages of this wonderful novel as a real and hugely likeable woman, passionate about life, art, and adventure, and struggling to make sense of her relationship with an older sister who will never appreciate her for who she really is. Thank you, Jeannine, for giving Amy March a voice of her own! (Gabrielle Donnelly, author of The Little Woman Letters)

I’ve only just started to read it, but so far — wow! As one might expect from an author who’s also a poet, each sentence, each scene is beautifully crafted, informed by thorough research and illuminated by an indeniable passion for her subject. Friends who’ve finished the book have deemed it a must read. A rivalry between two talented sisters, and May’s internal struggle over the desire for artistic achievement as well as having a family of her own will make for a compelling read. Check out these excellent reviews by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman and Melodye Shore.


8. Start with the alphabet, end with the alphabet. Love Emma Block’s beautiful floral alphabet, now available as an archival print at her Etsy Shop. All prints are signed and dated by Emma, whom we spotlighted in this interview. A is for Anenome, J is for Jasmine, O is for Orchid. Perfect for the flower lover and/or gardener on your list (and for you)!


Be kind. Don’t forget to smile, and have a lovely Tuesday!


Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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Welcome to Poetry Friday at Alphabet Soup!

Please help yourself to a mug of coffee, tea or milk and a blueberry crumb bar — just the thing for hopping from blog to blog and reading some good poems. :)

To set you on your way, thought I’d share a poem from Mary Szybist’s Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013), which won the 2013 National Book Award for Poetry. I like the intersection between the temporal and the spiritual, the dissolution of will and ego while singing praise for the divine glory of the world. And, too, in this day and age of blatant self aggrandizement, it is humbling to contemplate Mother Nature’s largesse as well as her indifference to our inconsequential and fleeting existences, our infinitesimal obsessions.


“Blueberries’ Great Escape” via DogwoodStudioAlaska


by Mary Szybist

When I see the bright clouds, a sky empty of moon and stars,
I wonder what I am, that anyone should note me.

Here there are blueberries, what should I fear?
Here there is bread in thick slices, of whom should I be afraid?

Under the swelling clouds, we spread our blankets.
Here in this meadow, we open our baskets

to unpack blueberries, whole bowls of them,
berries not by the work of our hands, berries not by the work of our fingers.

what taste the bright world has, whole fields
without wires, the blackened moss, the clouds

swelling at the edges of the meadow. And for this,
I did nothing, not even wonder.

You must live for something, they say.
People don’t live just to keep on living.

But here is the quince tree, a sky bright and empty.
Here there are blueberries, there is no need to note me.

~ from Incarnadine (Graywolf Press, 2013).


This poem appears near the end of the book, a sort of benediction. The entire collection is luminous and deeply thought provoking, with inventive explorations of the divine in everyday life. The National Book Award judges citation reads in part: “This is a religious book for nonbelievers, or a book of necessary doubts for the faithful.” Definitely worth a look — Szybist is a poet’s poet.


Speaking of which, Heartfelt Congratulations to Juan Felipe Herrera, our new U.S. Poet Laureate, and Jacqueline Woodson, our new Young People’s Poet Laureate! Way cool! :)


Now, please leave your links with Mr. Linky below. Don’t forget to include the title of the poem you’re sharing or book you’re reviewing in parentheses after your name. The links page will stay up indefinitely and can be accessed at any time for your reading convenience.


*   *   *

Thanks for joining us today. If you’d like the Blueberry Crumb Bars recipe, click over to Smitten Kitchen. Cool thoroughly before slicing and enjoy with a side of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. :)

Have a wonderful weekend!
(Here there are blueberries, here there are poems.)


Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

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via Food Socialist

Sometimes there’s more to a brownie than meets the eye.

A really good brownie could become your identity, your touchstone, your raison d’être.

A dark chocolate fountain of creativity, the right brownie is your heart of hearts and knows where you live.

Just ask Judyth Hill.


by Judyth Hill

I got famous for them, brownies,
adding nuts and all my attention,
9 years of my life, to the batter.
The recipe reads:
Stir with all your desire to be a poet.
Break 27 thoughts about God, children,
and postgraduate degrees.
Beat till thick with ambition.
Fold in longing and chocolate, hot as the tar roof
on 101st & West End.
Mix just till you remember all the words to Mac the Knife,
Add nuts and the words Jonathan wrote on the boxing gloves
I got for Christmas:
Words from Catallus, Odi et Amo:

I hate and I love.
You ask how that can be.
I know not, but I feel the agony.

He gave me sporting equipment a lot,
though I don’t do sports.
He always remembered to add the words.
I do words.
I do brownies.
I do variations on brownies, cantatas of brownies
sonatas of brownies, quintets of fudge.
And short compositions featuring chocolate
as if it were a bassoon.

Perhaps I am the Picasso of brownies.
My blue period, the year I cried over every batch.
The way the one eyed woman can eat a brownie
and still be in my painting — a trick I discovered
and it became a genre.

Perhaps I am the Seurat of brownies,
dots of primary flavor
deep, sweet, salt,
an illusion adding up to the spectrum of dessert.

I am the Einstein of brownies,
discovering how the more chocolate you eat,
the later it gets.
Discovering how Poem x the Speed of Light² = Brownies.
Discovering that mass, brownies, and time are infinite.
Discovering that the energy of the universe
will go into each pan,
and it’s still brownies.

Maybe I’m the Martin Buber of brownies.
Climbing 10 chocolate rungs to grace.
Or the Albert Schweitzer of brownies,
giving brownies to everyone,
whether they need them or not.

What if I’m the Donald Trump of brownies,
building a cocoa empire.
Blocks of fudge, whole towers of semisweet,
bittersweet and Swiss, bullions of brownies,
chips of profit and loss. Or Lenny Bruce.
Hilarious and obscenely chocolate.
Chocolate so good it’s dirty,
and we can’t talk about it here.

Perhaps I am the Chanel of brownies,
designing a brownie for every outfit,
accessorizing brownies with shoes and bags,
a suit, a rich dark color that goes with everything.

~ from Written with a Spoon: A Poet’s Cookbook, edited by Nancy Fay & Judith Rafaela (Sherman Asher Publishing, 2002). Posted by permission of the author.

Chocolate Chanel Purse Cake via Certified Foodies


Judyth says, “At the time I wrote ‘Brownies’, I owned and ran the famous Chocolate Maven Bakery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I am the original Maven! The bakery has gone on to be a huge success, and I sold her to pursue my career as a Poet/Author.”


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Bonjour! Êtes vous affamé? (Hello! Are you hungry?)

I don’t know about you, but after reading the yummy recipes in Kids Cook French (Quarry Books, 2015), I’m starving! At this very moment, I would love to feast on Claudine Pépin’s Spring Menu: Eggs Jeannette with a Salad, Chicken Breast with Garlic and Parsley, Sautéed Swiss Chard, Parsnip-Potato Purée, and Almond Cake. Mmmmmm!

You may know Claudine from any one or all three of the James Beard Award-winning PBS cooking series she appeared in with her father, legendary French chef Jacques Pépin. It is natural that Claudine (an accomplished home cook and wine educator who married a chef), should publish a cookbook for kids, since she grew up with fine cuisine and now cooks most nights for her 11-year-old daughter Shorey.

Art copyright © 2015 Jacques Pepin

True to Claudine’s guiding philosophy — that there’s no such thing as “kids food,” only “good food” — Kids Cook French doesn’t look or read like a children’s cookbook. You won’t find rebus-like directions in large print with little measuring spoons, or yet another “recipe” for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This is not to say that the recipes are overly complicated, only that adult supervision is required for what are clearly family projects.

Claudine (center) with Shorey, Rollie, Jacques and Gloria (by Tom Hopkins).


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Please help yourself to a cup of tea and a bite of peach cream cheese danish.

Happy first Poetry Friday of April, and Happy National Poetry Month!

Though I always look forward to Poetry Month, April is now bittersweet because it’s the month my mother died. Even a year later, it hasn’t fully sunken in. I think of her daily, remembering so many little things — her love of stripes, her big laugh, the sound of her chopping garlic and green onions in the kitchen.

I don’t think about the thin frail woman she was at the end, but the strong, energetic, busy person she was throughout most of her life — always a good sport, the one everybody could depend on to get things done.

It’s true what many people say — part of you fears you may forget the person you lost, and sometimes you feel guilty for happily getting on with things. This universal feeling is beautifully expressed in Christina Rossetti’s poem. Remember when the Dowager Countess Violet shared a line from it with Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey Season 4? Even as we happily celebrate holidays such as Easter with loved ones, we inevitably think of those we miss.


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