noodling around with carol weis

#3 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2011.

Chef Luigi is part of Carol’s “Poems Have Feelings, Too” school-touring program.

Buon Giorno!

Time to twirl our moustaches and greet Chef Luigi and “Cow-Lady” Carol Weis!

I first ran into Carol online at Miss Rumphius’s Monday Poetry Stretches. Imagine my delight when I discovered that besides being a mooover and shaker as an author and poet, Carol was also once a professional cook and pastry chef! Pass the tiramisu, I love you! ☺

Just for us, Carol is serving up a generous helping of everybody’s favorite, spaghetti. I think we’re all born with this love of long slippery noodles, and every time we twirl them around our forks, or enthusiastically slurp up a few toothsome strands, we get the happy flavor of childhood right along with spicy tomato and garlic. Is there any other food quite as much fun?

Carol: The inspiration for this poem came from my daughter’s (and many other kids) mispronunciation of the word spaghetti, along with my cousin Fred’s love of all food Italian. I’m also doing an 18 week poetry residency with 4th graders and right now we’re focusing on the ingredient of ‘sound.’ With repetition a portion of that element, I thought my 4th grade poets would appreciate my using this poem.

by Carol Weis 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than his wee mouth can hold,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
He never does what he is told. 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than his choppers can chew,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
The noodles slide down to his shoe. 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than his throat can swallow,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
His legs, we swear, must be hollow. 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than his stomach can take,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
His belly and knees always shake. 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than most kids that he knows,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
He grins from his hair to his toes.

© 2011 Carol Weis. All rights reserved.

Mangia, mangia!

This was one of the first things I learned to make when I was growing up. My mom was a great cook, but we were never wild about her tomato sauce, which was always a little too watery. I used tomato puree back then and added tomato paste to thicken it even more. But when I started working in professional kitchens and learned about plum tomatoes, and then started growing my own, a whole new world opened up to me. There is nothing like a sauce made with fresh tomatoes. The color is vibrant and flavor incredible. I also add carrots to sweeten it up, and sometimes a bit of sugar if the tomatoes are too acidic.  And I replace the paste with chopped tomatoes in puree. But the secret ingredient is fennel seed, used by my Aunt Minerva, who simmered her big kettle of tomato sauce for 5-6 hours on the stove. 

Carol’s Chunky Tomato Sauce: 


1/4 c olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 – 4 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 – 6 good-sized cloves of garlic, minced (we like garlic, use less if you don’t)

6 c fresh (peeled and chopped) or fresh-frozen Roma and/or beefy tomatoes

1 – 2 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes in puree

4 – 6 basil leaves, whole or chopped

1/2 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 – 2 tbsp fennel seed, depending on your taste

salt and sugar to taste


Optional: use one or more ingredients for extra nutrition and flavor


1/2 bag baby spinach, chopped

6 -7 kale leaves, chopped

1/4 head cabbage, chopped

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

1)     Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add carrots and sauté 2 -3 minutes. Add onions and stir until they wilt, or even better, start to caramelize. Add garlic and stir.

2)     Add fresh and/or fresh-frozen tomatoes and simmer about 15 – 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with spoon before adding remaining tomatoes. Add herbs and optional vegetables. Simmer for 1-2 hours with lid on or slightly ajar. Season with salt and a few pinches of sugar if you like. Discard bay leaves before serving.

Serve over angel hair or your favorite pasta, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, along with a mixed green salad and some warm, crusty Ciabatta bread, slathered with garlic butter or dipped in garlic and rosemary infused olive oil.     

      Makes 3 – 4 quarts of tomato sauce. Enough for freezing and enjoying  later.

Carol Weis is an actor, teacher and children’s entertainer, who once ran a restaurant kitchen, a grade-school library, and a home-baking business, and now writes poetry, memoir, and children’s books.  Her writing has appeared online at Salon and Literary Mama, in various local publications, and has been read as commentary on public radio.  Her chapbook, DIVORCE PAPERS, was released in 2002 by Bull Thistle Press and led her to develop a school-touring program called ‘Poems Have Feelings, Too!’

Her first children’s book, WHEN THE COWS GOT LOOSE, was released by Simon & Schuster in 2006. Carol is a touring author, known affectionately as the Cow-lady, performing over 110 library, school and bookstore events since her book’s release. She is currently a Poet-in-Residence in a classroom filled with dazzling 4th grade poets. She recently completed a new picture book manuscript and her first novel-in-verse. Carol lives in western Massachusetts with her daughter, Maggie, with whom she’s written a mother/daughter memoir that contains a gathering of poems by both authors. When she’s not writing, touring, teaching or cooking, you can find Carol peddling down the rail-trail on her bike.

Carol’s favorite food is chocolate (especially truffles)! Also cool: she has four neon fish named, “John,” “Paul,” “George,” and “Ringo.” Look for Carol online at her official website and do check out her Cafe Press Shop, Cowabunga for Kids!for some udderly fun merchandise.

The Cow-Lady shows off some of her mooves at a summer library event.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.


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