Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

“I like you very much . . . just as you are.” (Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, Bridget Jones’s Diary)


Colin: Is it true about Poldark?

Me: Whaaa?

Colin: Has he replaced me in your affections?

Me: Never.

Colin: Haven’t I told you (endlessly) how ardently I admire and love you?

Me: Yes.

Colin: Didn’t I plunge into a mucky lake on your behalf?

Me: Uh-huh.

Colin: And say I like you “just the way you are” despite your blue soup?!

Me: Yes, yes.

Colin: Of all your Eye Candies, don’t I still TAKE THE CAKE??!!

Me: Of course!

Colin: Well then, what’s all this talk of Cornwall this and Aidan Turner that, topless scything, and windswept hair?


Colin: I thought so. You’ve gone all Irish on me, haven’t you? To think that an inadequately bathed whippersnapper on horseback could have stolen your heart! What is the world coming to?!

Me: But Colin, I made crème brûlée.

Colin: Oh well in that case :) . . .



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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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via Okan Arts

1. Just in case you missed it, wanted to point all Julie Paschkis fans to the lovely post about her by Patricia Belyea at Okan Arts. What a treat to get a mini tour of Julie’s gorgeous Seattle home and learn a bit more about her passion for quilting. As one would expect, each room is a creative haven with its many colors, textures and charming objets d’art.

via Okan Arts

As you probably know, Julie is a multi-talented force of nature — an award winning author/illustrator, textile designer/quilter, champion pysanky decorator, and a good cook and baker! We’ll be featuring her new bilingual poetry book, Flutter and Hum: Animal Poems (Henry Holt, 2015) soon!


2. New picture book alert! Lick your chops and open wide for There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight (Random House, 2015) by Penny Parker Klostermann and Ben Mantle!

We all know that “there was an old lady” who swallowed lots of things. Now meet the old dragon who swallows pretty much an entire kingdom! Will he ever learn a little moderation?! This rollicking rhyme is full to bursting with sight gags, silly characters, and plenty of burps! Parents and kids alike will delight in Ben Mantle’s precisely funny illustrations and in Penny Parker Klostermann’s wacky rhymes.

Debut author Penny Klostermann has penned a zany send-up of “there was an old lady who swallowed a fly” that’s a riot to read aloud. She proves her Medievalish muster by featuring a delirious dragon sans decorum whose antics inevitably lead to much bloating and burping (what do you expect when you guzzle and gulp like there’s no tomorrow?). It’s one thing to swallow a knight, a steed, a squire, a cook, and a lady — but a castle and a moat??!! Ben Mantle captures all the gustatory gulping and nonstop nonsense with his colorful, vigorous, high-octane illos. Clippity, clippity, clippity clop to your nearest bookstore and (politely) swallow this one whole. It is, in short, a GAS. :D :D :D (Click here for Dragon’s Blog Tour.)


3. Shopping for just the right gift for a bookish friend? Check out these cool mugs from The Literary Gift Company. Pick a pre-printed classic or order a personalized mug with any title and author’s name on it (eg., “Pies I Have Loved” by Cornelius Rattigan). :)


4. On what would have been Princess Diana’s 54th birthday, blogger Tori Avey celebrated the People’s Princess with a batch of her favorite Bread and Butter Pudding as prepared by Chef Darren McGrady, who cooked for the royal family at Buckingham Palace for over a decade before moving into Kensington Palace to cook for Diana and her boys.


via ToriAvey.com

Like Tori, I remember vividly that fateful Sunday when I first heard the saw news of Diana’s death. Can you believe August 31 marks 18 years that she’s been gone? How Diana would have doted on Prince George and Princess Charlotte if she were alive today! The Bread and Butter Pudding was a special treat in Diana’s otherwise health-conscious diet.

You may remember my mentioning Chef McGrady in a previous post about the famous Chocolate Biscuit Cake favored by both Prince William and the Queen. The Bread and Butter Pudding recipe is included in Chef McGrady’s wonderful cookbook, Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen (Thomas Nelson, 2007), a must-read for all royal watchers. For now, visit Tori’s webpage for a virtual taste and step-by-step recipe instructions and photos.



5. Having a baaaaad day? Then you need a Mary Kilvert sheep fix! This Somerset-based artist has created a distinctive line of sheepish homeware products reflecting her love of the English countryside. She first began making miniature needle-felted sheep back in 2008, inspired by a fictional character she created called Baatholomew, who knitted himself a colorful jumper (sweater) so he could stand out from the flock. Naturally all the other sheep copied him by knitting jumpers too (different colors and patterns to reflect their distinctive personalities).






Mary’s shop in Somerset.


Well, wouldn’t ewe know it? As soon as word got out about Mary’s baaaaad sheep (whose fleece was white as snow) — they became an instant success, and very soon their likenesses began appearing on plates, mugs, dishes, aprons, tea towels, stationery and bags. Adorable and fun! Visit Mary’s website for more (don’t worry, if sheep are not your thing, she has some equally irresistible doggy stuff). :D



6. One of the books I read and especially enjoyed during my summer blog break was Anne Bustard’s debut middle grade historical novel, Anywhere But Paradise (Egmont USA, 2015). There are so few children’s books set in Hawai’i, even fewer that explore the subject of bullying in which the victim is a white character among ethnically diverse kids.

anywhere cover

It’s 1960 and Peggy Sue has just been transplanted from Texas to Hawaii for her father’s new job. Her cat, Howdy, is stuck in animal quarantine, and she’s baffled by Hawaiian customs and words. Worst of all, eighth grader Kiki Kahana targets Peggy Sue because she is haole–white–warning her that unless she does what Kiki wants, she will be a victim on “kill haole day,” the last day of school. Peggy Sue’s home ec teacher insists that she help Kiki with her sewing project or risk failing. Life looks bleak until Peggy Sue meets Malina, whose mother gives hula lessons. But when her parents take a trip to Hilo, leaving Peggy Sue at Malina’s, life takes an unexpected twist in the form of a tsunami. Peggy Sue is knocked unconscious and wakes to learn that her parents safety and whereabouts are unknown. Peggy Sue has to summon all her courage to have hope that they will return safely.

This story will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider. Peggy Sue’s voice is engaging and compelling, and I found myself remembering those times when I felt intimidated by tough, mean girls who hung out in the restroom smoking, giving anyone who dared to enter a menacing stare. The book also brought back pleasant memories of taking hula and sewing lessons, and basking in the warmth and talkiness of extended family. Of course it felt good to “return” to a familiar setting and culture. Be sure to check this one out!



7. Would you like to host (or virtually attend) a Harry Potter themed dinner party? What about a nice Wind in the Willows picnic, a Peter Rabbit Easter Brunch, a Queen of Hearts Tea Party, or a Hobbits Party complete with seed cakes, scones, apple tarts and mince pies? Sound good? Head over to Food in Literature, a thoroughly delicious and inspiring site hosted by Australia-based blogger Bryton Taylor. Bryt serves up recipes based on some of her favorite books (mostly children’s and YA fantasy), along with great craft and entertaining ideas. She is especially fond of Harry Potter (hear that, Julia?), but also whets the reader’s appetite for noshes à la Sherlock Holmes, The Great Gatsby, Mad Men, Ulysses, Pride and Prejudice, and The Da Vinci Code. Both printable recipes and video demonstrations can be viewed at Bryt’s site. Here’s a sample video of Bryt making Mrs. Weasley’s English Toffee:

*   *   *

8. Heads up, teapot collectors! Talk about cute as a button. LOVE these Avoca Button Print teapots. They’re available in 2-cup or 6-cup sizes and are made in Ireland. Top off the fun with a set of button ceramic mugs. :) Want.


button mugs


Wishing you an eventful, delicious, inspiring last-week-of-August! Be kind. Keep smiling. :)


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

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Good Morning! Hungry?

Today we’re serving up a delicious five-course breakfast celebrating the most recent title in the totally faboo Poetry Friday Anthology series created by the incredibly brilliant and uncommonly good-looking poetry goddesses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015) is the perfect way to greet the new school year. Just think of all the glorious Fridays to come, each brimming with oodles of opportunities to read, write, share, and yes, even eat poems! The collection contains over 150 poems by 115 poets, a toothsome smorgasbord of holiday poems written in both English and Spanish grouped by calendar month.

Poetry Friday Anthology Series creators Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong

What better way to celebrate special occasions like Easter, Rosh Hashanah/Tashlich, Earth Day, Valentine’s Day, Lunar New Year, Flag Day, Juneteenth, and National Soup Month (!!!!) than with poems that come with fun Take 5! mini-lessons to help teachers, librarians, and parents share the poems in ways that will engage and delight, facilitate discussion, and encourage further reading?

In addition to poems for widely observed holidays like Christmas, Halloween and Mother’s Day, kids will also enjoy learning about many quirky, lesser-known events (National Dump the Pump Day, Halfway Day, Band-Aid Day, World Laughter Day). Diversity also flavors this poetic feast (Gay Pride Day, Ramadan, Obon, Dashain Festival, Diwali, Day of the Dead), and there are birthday/ baby poems for each month!

I love that each poem is paired with a relevant picture book recommendation and also linked to another poem in the anthology with a similar theme or subject. If you’re hungry for even more, check out the referenced poetry books. Sylvia and Janet have thought of everything! This rich, wholly accessible and versatile resource, which features a gold mine of contemporary children’s poets (Jane Yolen, Eileen Spinelli, Douglas Florian, Janet Wong, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Marilyn Singer, Michael J. Rosen), simply belongs in every home, preK-6 classroom, school and public library. :)


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“The joys of the table belong equally to all ages, conditions, countries and times; they mix with all other pleasures, and remain the last to console us for their loss.” (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin)

Talk about a kid in a candy store. As soon as my copy of Joys of the Table arrived, I polished my silver soup spoon, donned my nattiest bib (velvet trim, don’t you know), licked my chops, then ever so intently sipped, munched, chewed, relished and savored each and every poem in this tasty tome.

What a marvelous feast! The 100 or so poems (some with recipes) by 75 poets from around the country are served up in six courses: Amuse Bouche, What We Eat, Food and Love, Geography of Food, Kitchen Memories, and Food and Mortality. It was nice to see quite a few familiar favorites (Diane Lockward, Sharon Auberle, Barbara Crooker, Andrea Potos, Jacqueline Jules, Susan Rich, Annelies Zijderveld), as well as discover many new-to-me poets whose delicious verses left me craving more of their work (Lisa Kosow, Eric Forsbergh, Katharyn Howd Machan, Dianne Silvestri, Anne Meek, and Christie Grimes to name a few).

“Interior with Phonograph” by Henri Matisse (1924)

In a publisher’s interview, Editor Sally Zakariya was asked why she decided to put together an anthology of food poems:

I wondered that myself more than once! But really, food in its many aspects—personal, sentimental, sensual, universal—is a natural subject for poetry. I realized I had written a number of poems about remembered meals, nurturing cooks, and food as a symbol of communion and contentment, and I found that other poets I know had, too. And because food is so basic to our relationships with family and friends and lovers, I thought many poets would like to have such an anthology on their own shelves—and perhaps to give copies to their favorite cooks.

There certainly was no shortage of submissions — Sally received hundreds of additional poems worthy of being included — but ultimately her criteria for selection was subjective. I do like her taste in poems, noting that there was a higher percentage of poems that resonated with me in this anthology than in others.  (more…)

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