ABCs of Christmas, a yummy recipe, and a holiday blog break

#58 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Please help yourself to some of Susan Branch’s Christmas Coffee Cake 🙂

 

Ho Ho Ho!

To celebrate the season, here’s an old fashioned Christmas abecedarian by American poet Carolyn Wells. This verse was first published as a picture book by McLoughlin Brothers in 1900, and describes how many of us still define Christmas more than a century later.

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A CHRISTMAS ALPHABET
by Carolyn Wells

A is for Angel who graces the tree.
B is for Bells that chime out in glee.
C is for Candle to light Christmas Eve.
D is for Dreams which we truly believe.
E is for Evergreens cut for the room.
F is for Flowers of exquisite perfume.
G is for Gifts that bring us delight.
H is for Holly with red berries bright.
I is for Ice, so shining and clear.
J is the Jingle of bells far and near.
K is Kriss Kringle with fur cap and coat.
L is for Letters the children all wrote.
M is for Mother, who’s trimming the bough.
N is for Night, see the stars sparkling now.
O is for Ornaments, dazzling with light.
P for Plum Pudding that tasted just right.
Q the Quadrille, in which each one must dance.
R is for Reindeer that gallop and prance.
S is for Snow that falls silently down.
T is for Turkey, so tender and brown.
U is for Uproar that goes on all day.
V is for Voices that carol a lay.
W is for Wreaths hung up on the wall.
X is for Xmas, with pleasures for all.
Y is for Yule log that burns clear and bright.
Z is for Zest shown from morning till night.

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[review + recipe] A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey by Jacques Pépin

“It is important to have a child spend time in the kitchen — the most secure, comfortable, loving place in the house. The smell of food cooking, your mother’s or father’s voice, the clang of the utensils, and the taste of the food: These memories will stay with you for the rest of your life.” ~ Jacques Pépin

Jacques Pépin once asked his then two-year-old granddaughter Shorey Wesen whether she liked blueberries. She said she loved them, adding that they contained antioxidants. This early precociousness regarding food wasn’t especially surprising, since both her father and grandfather are professional chefs, and her mother Claudine cooks for the family every day, using fresh ingredients either from their home garden or nearby organic markets.

From about the age of five, whenever Shorey visited her grandparents, she’d stand on a wooden box next to Jacques so she could “help” him cook. Simple tasks like washing the lettuce, helping to gather herbs from the garden, or passing tools or ingredients, made Shorey comfortable in the kitchen and more enthusiastic about eating the food she helped prepare.

 

 

For both Shorey and her mom, there was no such thing as “kid’s food.” They learned to eat what the grown-ups were eating, subsequently developing a gourmand’s palate. This, along with Jacques’s longstanding philosophy that “great meals are always the ones that are shared with family and friends,” form the basis for A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).

 

Deviled Eggs with Salmon Caviar

 

Just as he taught Claudine how to cook in one of his PBS cooking series, Jacques shares cooking basics with 13-year-old Shorey in this accessible collection of 75 recipes, 36 of which have companion 10-minute videos hosted at Sur La Table.

This is less a “children’s” cookbook than a primer for novice cooks of any age, with simple and elegant recipes presented via clear, step-by-step instructions, beautiful color photographs, Jacques’s winsome line art, engaging headnotes full of tips and family stories, and occasional quotes from Shorey. Recipes were chosen in line with Shorey’s favorites and what she would have the most fun making.

 

Shorey’s Raspberry Cake

 

The book opens with lessons on setting the table and good table manners, followed by sections featuring Hors d’Oeuvres, Soups and Salads; Eggs, Sandwiches, Pizza, and Breads; Fish and Shellfish; Poultry and Meat; Pasta and Quinoa; Vegetables; Desserts and Confections; and Decorating for Fun.

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[tuneful review] Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World by Gary Golio and Rudy Gutierrez

“There’s a melody in everything. And once you find the melody, then you connect immediately with the heart. Because sometimes English or Spanish, Swahili or any language gets in the way. But nothing penetrates the heart faster than the melody.” ~ Carlos Santana

Just as there are celebrated rock singers whose vocals are instantly recognizable (Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks), there are electric guitarists whose signature stylings and timbres we’d know just about anywhere.

Carlos Santana is rightfully ranked among the greatest rock guitarists of all time, alongside such masters as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. When you hear the pure, piercing tone of his guitar as it caresses a melodic line (oh, those amazing solo riffs and sustained notes!), there’s no mistaking whose fiery, impassioned “voice” you’re hearing.

Santana pioneered a unique fusion of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin, African and Cuban rhythms in the late 60’s and early 70’s — a distinctive sound that continues to electrify audiences today. With early hits like “Black Magic Woman” and “Evil Ways,” the rare addition of percussion instruments (congas, timbales) to guitar and organ flavored the music with an old world, positively primal feel. The aptly named, strictly instrumental “Soul Sacrifice,” with its driving polyrhythms and rousing solos, pulsates with an energy that fairly inhabits the listener, taking him/her on a transformative musical journey.

Though I’ve enjoyed Santana’s music since college, I knew very little about Carlos Santana’s childhood, so I was especially pleased to see that New York Times bestselling music biographer Gary Golio had recently published Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World (Henry Holt, 2018). Illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor and Américas Award recipient Rudy Gutierrez (who created Santana’s iconic Shaman CD cover), this captivating picture book describes Carlos’s early years in Mexico as he seeks a personal, authentic mode of musical expression.

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nine cool things on a tuesday (+ 2 extra cause it’s holiday time!)

1. Ho ho ho and Merry Merry! Tis the season for sending cool holiday greetings to your nearest and dearest. What could be better than Clover Robin’s gorgeous cut paper creations?

Buy these individually or in sets of 4 large or 5 smaller size. There’s “Joy,” “Winter Hare,” “Festive Wreath,” “Jug of Festive Foliage,” and my favorite, “Teatime.” They’re blank on the inside and come with natural colored 100% recycled envelopes.

You may remember we featured London-based Clover Robin’s charming cut paper collages not too long ago. Check out her Etsy Shop to order these festive cards or any of her other lovely botanical cards and prints.

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2. This one caught my eye because I’m a big Becca Stadtlander fan. Just released in early October, Made by Hand: A Crafts Sampler, written by Carole Lexa Schaefer (Candlewick, 2018), spotlights 14 handmade objects crafted between 1798 and 1950.

A beautiful, one-of-a-kind volume invites readers to marvel at the time, effort, and care that went into creating handmade toys, tools, and treasures of the past.

Whirr, buzz, hum. Before busy machines in factories turned out most of what we need and use, people crafted these items by hand. From a globe to a pie crimper, a butter churn to a rocking horse, this unique collection highlights fourteen one-of-a-kind objects — each one drafted, stitched, painted, or engraved by hand. Author Carole Lexa Schaefer draws inspiration from real historical artifacts to create thirteen short works of fiction, imagining the hands that might have made and used each item. Several artifacts can be traced to their origin, while others remain complete mysteries, making for a fascinating patchwork of fact, guesswork, and imagination. Illustrator Becca Stadtlander breathes color and charm into this handmade history, bringing to life the different objects, people, and times. The result is a singular glimpse of everyday objects and treasures alike — back when such things were made by hand.

I’ve always been a fan of handmade, “heart-made” objects, and can’t wait to see this book. I love the blending of craft + history + a touch of fiction + Becca’s art. 🙂

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[review] A Movie in My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada by Jorge Argueta and Elizabeth Gómez

Art by Elizabeth Gómez

 

SOUP OF STARS

Many nights
we would go to bed
without eating

We would look up
at the stars —
the stars were our soup

 

I first became acquainted with Jorge Argueta’s work through his delectable cooking poem books (Sopa de frijoles/Bean Soup, Arroz con leche/Rice Pudding, Guacamole, Tamalitos, Salsa). Of course it felt like he had written these books just for me — how could I resist the playful language, mouthwatering imagery, and charming magical realism? Each poem, a spirited, sensory feast with a lasting, distinctive flavor, made me hunger for more.

 

Jorge is one of the original Alphabet Soup Poetry hotTEAS!

 

Two years ago, I discovered another dimension of Jorge’s brilliance when he wrote about the heart-wrenching plight of Central American migrant families in Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds (Groundwood Books, 2016). Winner of the 2017 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, these poems express the child immigrant’s point of view and show how an arduous journey marked by danger and uncertainty is also a testament to courage, hope, resilience, and optimism.

 

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