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Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Look what’s officially hitting shelves today!

This charming, whimsical tale very loosely inspired by the real life friendship of Julia Child and Simone Beck is cooked to fingertip-kissing perfection and definitely has my name written all over it.

I literally squealed with delight when I first saw Julie Morstad’s scrumptious, I-could-just-eat-you-all-up ink, gouache and Photoshop illos — so many adorable details and the childlike sophistication is oh-so-français. :)

True, this book had me at the cover, but when I read Kyo Maclear’s spritely celebration of good food, friendship, fearlessly pursuing your passions, growing young, and never forgetting how to have a marvelous time, I could almost hear the real Julia’s rousing cheer, chirrup and hoot of approval. After all, it was she who said, “That’s what human life is all about — enjoying things.”

In Julia, Child (Tundra Books, 2014), we meet cooking buddies Julia and Simca, who firmly believe it’s “best to be a child forever” and are therefore dismayed by all the big, busy, hurried, “wary and worried” grown-ups around them.

Art © 2014 Julie Morstad

What to do? Cook special ‘growing young’ recipes, of course. They whip up a delectable feast complete with “fluffy clouds of cheese soufflé,” “perfect loaves of crusty baguette,” and “a golden compote of fresh peaches, sweet as summer sunlight . . . ” Magnifique!

The big busy people devour every morsel, but something isn’t right. Talk about greedy and grabby! Can the girls come up with another recipe to turn these adults into sensible children once again?

I’m so pleased Toronto-based author Kyo Maclear is here today to talk about this mouthwatering story, her best job ever, and what she’s learned from her children. Put on your best bib, help yourself to some Wonder Seeds, and bask in the joie de vivre. Bon Appétit!

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Nathan and daughter Alice

If you love pancakes, raise your hand!

Okay, just as I thought. That pretty much includes everyone.

Chances are good that if you’ve cooked pancakes for your kids (or the kid in you), you’ve probably made them with faces or in fun shapes now and again. But have you ever thought of kicking those pancakes up a notch with more intricate designs by theme?

Enter Seattle illustrator Nathan Shields, whose pancakes are not only amazing works of art but delicious teachable moments. He started making “silly pancakes” for his son Gryphon (6) and daughter Alice (3) while living in Saipan several years ago. These days all three of them “batter up” in the kitchen, creating pancakes inspired by books, movies, cartoon characters, animals, insects, and other real and imaginary creatures, with Nathan’s designs continuing to become more detailed and elaborate.

It’s fascinating to watch how quickly he can squirt out a new design — darker outlines hit the griddle first before he fills in the spaces. I love his portraits of famous people and fictional characters as much as his “scientific” sets (arthropods, marine invertebrates, cephalopods, beetles, wildflowers, reptiles, sharks, birds, human organs). If you’re into math, behold his fractals. Of course he’s also made many perennial kid faves (pirates, dinosaurs, Bad Piggies, monsters, robots, sport figures, bunnies).

They’re calling him the Pancake Genius. Who else would make human parasite pancakes? Who’s ever had a chance to actually eat them with lots of butter and maple syrup? :)

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MY MOTHER’S HANDWRITING
by Julia Wendell

Individual as DNA, it spoke to me
from fridge notes, Christmas tags,
and report cards I took back to school,
with her hurried scrawl at the bottom.

Even now, the ache when I find her
half-cursive, half-print,
as unique as her voice was
sonorous and youthful, even as she aged.

But she is nowhere more present
than in her stash of recipe cards marked
Vegetables and Salads, Meat and Poultry,
as if she’d just penned the headings yesterday.

I scan the green cardboard box
for something yummy and familiar,
reading her hand-me-down script,

more alive than the cherry tree blooming
outside my window, more permanent
than my own body
that once slipped out of hers,

my half-breed penmanship reduced,
like anyone’s, to scribble in the end –
the way we sign our names,
caress a cold ankle or pull up a sheet,

the way we say goodbye
or fix a perfect salad.
She returns to me in fading ballpoint pen:

Press the garlic into the sides
of the wooden bowl.
Add tons of garlic and Parmesan cheese.
Toss and serve. I savor
every dash.

~ posted by permission of the author (Take This Spoon, 2014).

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It wasn’t until I moved to Virginia that Margaret started sending me recipes in the mail.

I requested a few local favorites so I could share a taste of Hawai’i with my new neighbors: Hot Shrimp Dip, Sweet Bread Pudding, Butter Mochi, Korean Kalbi, Cucumber Kimchi, Teriyaki Chicken.

Every so often, she’d send me a surprise recipe or two — a curry vegetable dip I just “had to try,” the Waioli Tea Room Fried Chicken recipe making the rounds at work, a new pancake recipe her sister Ella couldn’t stop raving about. Some were typed on her snazzy IBM Selectric, but most were written in her generous speedy script — breezy handwriting that artfully pinned down chopped parsley, dill weed, yogurt and grated red onion before they had a chance to flit away.

These occasional exchanges, short for, you’re too far away for me to cook for you but since I’m your mother I must make sure you don’t starve to death, took the place of actual letters, which were my Dad’s forte. Busy Margaret was more about random notes, lists, a line or two in a greeting card and hastily jotted recipes, some giving rise to good stories about making, eating, sharing.

I was thrilled to find Julia Wendell’s poem at Alimentum. Talk about someone taking the words right out of your mouth! I’ve always loved studying handwriting, delighted with how size, slant, speed, shape and pressure can reveal mood and personality. Now, when I chance upon an old recipe card, Margaret returns to me “in fading ballpoint pen.” I look harder at her scribbles, hoping to hear more.

“My Mother’s Handwriting” is included in Julia’s brand new chapbook, Take This Spoon (Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2014). I’ve been slowly savoring each and every food poem and yes, there are family recipes. Julia’s a new-to-me poet; I like her intimate conversational style and use of telling detail to reveal hard truths about family dynamics, personal demons, and the complex relationship we have with food. Wholly accessible with startling emotional resonance, these beautifully crafted poems are not to be missed. But I’ll let Julia herself tell you more about them, since she’s agreed to drop by soon for a chat. Stay tuned!

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♦ CHILI (BEVERLY HILLS RESTAURANT) ♦

This is one of Margaret’s ‘survival recipes’ that I’ve made several times with my own variations. She sometimes whipped up a batch during the week and occasionally served it at beach park picnics. One time she couldn’t figure out why it didn’t taste quite the same. That’s what happens when you forget the beans. :D

  • 1 lb. pinto beans (soak overnight)
  • 5 cups canned tomatoes
  • 1 lb. green (bell) peppers, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons salad oil
  • 1-1/2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2-1/2 lb. lean ground round
  • 1 lb ground pork or Italian hot sausage
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seed

1. Wash beans, soak overnight, then cook until tender.

2. Sauté green peppers in oil.

3. Add onions and cook until tender. Add garlic and parsley.

4. Sauté meat in butter 15 minutes; add meat to onion and pepper mixture, stir in chili powder, then cook about 10 minutes. Add beans and rest of spices. Simmer, covered, about an hour.

5. Cook an additional 30 minutes uncovered. Skim fat from top before serving.

Note: Recipe may be halved. Substitute vegetable oil for butter and ground turkey for pork to cut down on fat calories. You can also use canned pinto beans in place of dried.

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Julia Wendell grew up in the Allegheny Forest of northwest Pennsylvania. Educated at Cornell University, Boston University, and the University of Iowa, Writer’s Workshop, she left her mid-careers as teacher and editor for the world of horses and three-day eventing. Her children John Logan (a classical sitarist) and Caitlin Saylor (an actor/playwright), grew up with their mother and her husband, poet and critic, Barrett Warner, on their horse farm in northern Baltimore County, where Julia and Barrett still live and work. Julia is enamored of jumping horses over immovable obstacles while galloping cross country.

For more info about Take This Spoon and her other chapbooks, poetry collections, and memoir, visit Julia’s Official Website.

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poetryfriday180Casual poet and serious slurper Diane Mayr is hosting today’s Roundup at Random Noodling. Don your best bibs, polish your chopsticks and feast on all the poetic delights being served up in the blogosphere this week. Bon Appétit!

 

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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. Drop by for some yummy Coffee Bars and check out what deliciousness the other bloggers are sharing this week!

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

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All autumn long, I’ve been harboring a big love for Sophie’s Squash (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013), Pat Zietlow Miller’s heartwarming debut picture book illustrated to perfection by Anne Wilsdorf.

I had my eye on it well before its official release date back in August, marveling like everyone else when it proceeded to rack up *starred review* after *starred review* (Booklist, PW, SLJ, Kirkus), my excitement steadily building until I finally held a copy in my hands and devoured every word. Oh my, oh yes! No wonder! Every accolade this book has received is so well deserved.

One bright fall day, Sophie chose a squash at the farmers’ market.

Her parents planned to serve it for supper, but Sophie had other ideas.

These ideas included naming her squash Bernice, holding her, bouncing her on her knee, tucking her into bed and taking her everywhere. Ever the steadfast friend, Sophie refuses her mother’s gentle prodding to cook Bernice and rejects her father’s attempts to pacify her with a new toy to take Bernice’s place.

But as time goes on, Bernice develops splotchy “freckles,” so Sophie decides to act on a farmer’s advice to keep Bernice healthy. She tucks her into “a bed of soft soil”, then waits out a wistful winter, hoping Bernice is okay. Come Spring, with all the snow melted, Bernice magically re-emerges, soon gifting Sophie with two wonderful surprises, as only the best of friends can do.

All art © 2013 Anne Wilsdorf

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Hungry?

Let’s check the weather report to see what’s on today’s menu.

I hope we’re not getting any hamburger storms or pea soup fog. I wouldn’t mind a little drizzle of orange juice, followed by a few low clouds of sunny-side up eggs with lightly browned pieces of toast drifting in from the east. If you see any cream cheese and jelly sandwiches out your way, don’t eat too many or you’ll get a tummy ache.

I twirled my spaghetti with glee when I learned that my favorite meatball maven Judi Barrett had published a brand new cookbook containing some of Grandpa’s favorite recipes. Now, you and any nibble-happy munchkins hanging out at your house can create your very own culinary weather!

As you know, the original Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs book starts out with Grandpa flipping pancakes on Saturday morning. So it’s only right that the first recipe in the cookbook should be for these very same pancakes, which taste just as good any day of the week, any time of day. Flipping them onto someone’s head, however, is entirely up to you.

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