pumpkin pie o’clock

‘Tis time to be thankful and eat pie. 🙂

Though some grow giddy at the mere thought of roast turkey with all the fixins’, for me, Thanksgiving has always been about pie.

Pumpkin pie, to be exact.

Maybe it’s because we only had it once a year. Though we dallied with apple, blueberry, banana cream, custard and pecan at other times, pumpkin pie was largely reserved for Thanksgiving.

To this day, one bite and I’m back in Hawai’i at one of our family potlucks — table laden not only with turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, several hot veggies, and fresh cranberry sauce, but also pineapple glazed ham, steamed rice, makizushi, pork and vegetable lo mein, at least two kinds of kimchi, a retro Jell-O salad, and a roast chicken for Grandma Yang, who did not like turkey.

Yes, we relished every savory mouthful of this lovingly prepared homemade spread, but I always knew, deep down, that the best was yet to come.

Here’s a delectable poem to whet your appetite.

*

Digital painting by Lois Boyce
WHEN THE PIE IS COOLING 
by Camille A. Balla

I recall the first Thanksgiving
I was designated to be the pumpkin-pie baker
and for years thereafter; pies made
with the excitement of family homecoming --
always making the dough from scratch.

Today I call upon the Pillsbury boy
to make and roll out the circle of dough
which I place into the pan, then add
the traditional filling with just the right
amounts of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.

The November chill makes cozy the warmth
from the oven as I await the sweet, spicy aroma,
telling me when the pie is just about done.
How satisfying it is to delight once again
in this simple work of my hands.

I think of the many hands
along the way to my kitchen that made
possible the baking of this pie:
The grower of the pumpkin,
the wheat farmer, the dairy farmer, the egg
farmer,
the hands that picked the sugar cane.
The hands of workers in a cannery,
of truckers who transport foods to the store,
the hands of the people who shelve ingredients
that come from here or far-off lands.

Hands of people I never met
yet all of them a part -- whether aware or not --
of this pumpkin pie now ready
to be served at my Thanksgiving table.

*

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[review] A Gift for Amma by Meera Sriram and Mariona Cabassa

It’s market day in India. Would you like to tag along as a young girl picks out a special gift for her mother?

Just to be clear, this is no ordinary outdoor market — at least not as it’s presented in this gorgeous new picture book by Meera Sriram and Mariona Cabassa.

The market in A Gift for Amma (Barefoot Books, 2020) is a bustling bazaar of blossoms, spices, powders, sweets, fabrics, and feathers — an eye-popping rainbow of luscious colors that rouse the senses.

Once we step into the world of this artfully crafted story, we find ourselves awash in fiery vermilion, cool terracotta and soothing indigo with an eager shopper as our guide.

She faces quite a conundrum though, since there are many wonderful things to choose from, and we can feel her energy and enthusiasm as she describes each item in terms of color:

SAFFRON orange strands in tiny scoops.
Would Amma like to season rice?

Orange marigolds swing over doors —
Swish, swish! Should I make her a garland?

With just two lines per page, Sriram’s spare, lyrical text powers an engaging narrative brimming with sensory details that make every scene come alive.

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fangirling about sonny and cher (+ a recipe)

“Believe in magic and it’ll happen.” ~ Sonny Bono

Don’t you love how we all have unique soundtracks to our lives?

Hear a certain song and it instantly takes you back — right there, feeling all the feels . . .

They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow.
Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me and baby I got you
Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

The year is 1965, a very good year for popular music. The Stones sought “Satisfaction,” Dylan confronted us with “Like a Rolling Stone,” the Temptations crooned about “My Girl,” Pet Clark hung out “Downtown,” the Beatles played Shea Stadium, and Arlo Guthrie got arrested for littering.

My friends and I lived and breathed music, poring over the pages of Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, saving our money for albums and concert tickets, daydreaming about meeting our many idols. Long hair and guitars? Yes, please. British accents? Triple yes. We instantly became rabid fans. So many cute rockers, so little time. 🙂

And then there was Sonny and Cher.  Never dreamed we’d fall so hard for such an oddly dressed couple. Sure, there were other singing duos we loved (Chad and Jeremy, Peter and Gordon come to mind) — but these two were so different, clearly smitten with one another, and their chemistry on stage had us clutching our hearts, yearning for that same brand of pure, perfect love.

We tried to emulate fashion icon Cher, with her gorgeous long black hair, Cleopatra eye make-up, bell bottom outfits and flashy gem stone rings. Sonny was adorable and fun-loving in his bobcat vest and Caesar haircut, exuding a certain paisano charm and friendliness.

Their signature song, “I Got You Babe,” released in July 1965, shot to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, selling over a million copies in the U.S., while also hitting #1 in the UK and Canada. Once their first studio album, Look at Us, came out in August, there was no stopping them and they were everywhere, touring and appearing on popular TV shows like “Shindig,” “Hollywood Palace,” “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “American Bandstand,” and “Hullabaloo.”

Some say “I Got You Babe” was inspired by Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me Babe.” In any case, Cher had a solo hit with Dylan’s “All I Really Wanna Do.”

And we watched them all, and listened to their music constantly. When we heard they were coming to Hawai’i for a concert in December, we were ecstatic.

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catherine nolin: rooms with more than a view

 

Catherine Nolin’s paintings take my breath away. Her gorgeous room portraits, still lifes, and botanical designs are defined by rich, vibrant colors, intricate patterns and luscious textures, each a sensual feast for the eyes steeped in antiquity.

 

 

A self-taught artist based in Andover, Massachusetts, Catherine says she’s always thinking about color and became fascinated with the emotional impact of various color combinations at a young age. The youngest of six sisters, she grew up in a family where Italian traditions were fundamental.

When I was 10 years old, a family friend, an artist, recognized my talent and enrolled me in a class at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. After that seminal experience, I continued to draw and in high school I practiced drawing furniture pieces and chairs with fabric patterns. The Italian Renaissance became my favorite art history period and I often incorporated objects and themes from this period into my work. In college, I studied pottery, figure drawing and art history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting became a necessary form of therapy when she had her third son, who is autistic. This “part-time escape” soon evolved into a full time profession.

 

 

 

 

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[scrumptious review] The Tiny Baker by Hayley Barrett and Alison Jay

Are your antennae twitching? What’s the buzz?

It’s 3 p.m. and tea time!

Hope you’re wearing a fancy day dress and bonnet, maybe have a favorite parasol to twirl while you’re queuing up with all the other tony arthropods. Get ready to wrap your lips around trays and trays of delectable sweets!

In The Tiny Baker, a whimsically delicious new picture book by Hayley Barrett and Alison Jay (Barefoot Books, 2020), we are treated to a lyrical and visual feast that’s cuter than a bug’s ear.

The baker in question appears to be a honeybee, whose tearoom is always crawling with business.

Her customers line up in rows.
Antennae wave well-bred hellos.

They’re always elegantly dressed,
Silk gowns or trousers neatly pressed.

They wait to try her lemon tarts,
Her sugar-sprinkled cookie hearts,

To sample her pecan pralines
And nibble lacy florentines.

Just before she opens her doors, the bee baker makes sure her “pantry is pristine,” while her “spotty squad” of ladybug pastry chefs busily mix, whisk, and stir.

Then she’s happy to welcome and seat a group of elegant ants, mentioning her “sublime éclairs” while pouring them pink lemonade or freshly made rose-hip iced tea.

But “in the kitchen trouble brews”: a fragrant breeze brings urgent news, prompting the ladybug assistants to suddenly swarm off — every last one of them! Disaster!

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