friday feast: a taste of Carol-Ann Hoyte’s new anthology, Dear Tomato (+ 2 recipes)

Just in time for growing season, here’s a brand new anthology that serves up a delectable cornucopia of poems celebrating the food we eat and where it comes from.

Edited by Canadian poet Carol-Ann Hoyte, Dear Tomato: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems (CreateSpace, 2015), contains over fifty verses by thirty-four poets from seven countries, with fetching black-and-white photographs by Norie Wasserman. Along with praise for the hardworking farmer, the global menu offers much food for thought with topics such as composting, urban gardening, food activism, vegetarianism, honeybee collapse disorder, free-range vs. caged hens, food banks and fair trade.

Kids 8-12 will enjoy the tasty assortment of poetic forms, styles, points-of-view and flavors of emotion, from light-hearted to reverent to joyous to pensive. They will delight in J. Patrick Lewis’s dancing mushrooms, Ken Slesarik’s nude root veggies, and Cindy Breedlove’s and Conrad Burdekin’s diatribes against peas. They will likely find April Halprin Wayland’s personal narratives about picking figs or buying a frog at a farmers market fascinating, and thanks to Matt Forrest Esenwine, Buffy Silverman and Frances Hern, think about familiar foods like pumpkins, corn, squash, beans, and peaches in new ways.

I was happy to see nine Poetry Friday friends in the line-up and be introduced to many new poets, three of whom I’m featuring today. Philippa Rae rhapsodizes about her favorite vegetable, Helen Kemp Zax extols the wonders of the farmers market, and Matt Goodfellow’s lyrical farmer’s song exalts the agrarian lifestyle upon which we all depend. I think their poems will give you a nice taste of the delightfully different voices and styles included in this toothsome collection.

I thank Philippa, Helen and Matt for allowing me to post their poems, for providing a little backstory about writing them, and for sharing recipes and food notes. Grab your forks and enjoy the feast!

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🍅 PHILIPPA RAE (England) 🍅


A great source of material is to write poetry from an unusual object’s perspective. The list is virtually unlimited! All you have to do is let your imagination run free. I enjoy using word play puns so an opportunity to write a food poem greatly ‘a-peeled’ to my sense of humour! And as a vegetarian I chose potatoes because they are my favourite food. Potatoes are one of the most versatile staple foods that we have, and can be virtually cooked any way. Nutritious and filling, they can be naughty or nice!

At their most humble – baked and served with a variety of different fillings, or at their most majestic – exotic spicy curries or in rich, creamy sauces.

photo © 2015 Norie Wasserman



The cream of the crop
The tuber to beat
You’re so delicious
A vegetable treat

Your skin is a-peeling
My knees turn to mash
whenever I see you
A spud that is smash

In your smart jacket
a treat for my eye
You are multi-talented
Boil, bake, or fry

Let’s grow old together
Have an offshoot or two
Have fun in the earth
while we’re still new

I’ll just cut the waffle
Please be my friend
Let’s put down roots
Together to the end

~ Posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2015 Philippa Rae. All rights reserved.


The recipe that I have chosen is one that I find easy to prepare and quick to make.


Delicious served on its own with crusty bread or as a vibrantly coloured side dish.

Serves four.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 potato, cut into thin strips
  • 1 fennel bulb, cut into strips
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin strips


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons clear honey
  • salt and pepper


  • snipped fresh chives
  • fennel fronds 

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the potato and fennel strips and cook for 2 -3 minutes, until beginning to brown. Remove from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

2. Arrange the carrot, red onion, potato and fennel in separate piles on a serving platter.

3. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and pour over the vegetables. Toss well and sprinkle with snipped chives and fennel fronds. Serve immediately or leave to chill in the fridge until required.

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🍅 HELEN KEMP ZAX (United States) 🍅


I remember visiting my mother’s friends at the Jersey shore when I was about ten. I can picture myself on the porch with my Uncle Sam—the sun high and hot, salt in the sea air. He handed me a peach. It was big and round and pink and yellow. I held the coolness of it in my hands. Then I bit into it. Sweet juice slid down my throat and dripped along my lips. I remember thinking: nothing will ever be this delicious again. For years I longed for a peach that tasted like that summer peach. And then I discovered my beloved farmers market. It sets up each Saturday from June through March on the blacktop of a school near my home in Washington, DC. My farmer Jim sells white-fleshed peaches, freestone peaches, donut peaches, peaches so delicious that each year I can hardly wait for summer.

When Carol-Ann Hoyte put out a call for poems about food and agriculture, she requested that authors submit poems in different forms. I am a huge fan of writing in poetic form. I love fitting my images and words into a set rhythm and rhyme scheme. One of my favorite forms for children’s poetry is an acrostic. In an acrostic, the first letters of each line work together to spell out words that relate to the theme of the poem. Writing acrostics feels like solving a puzzle to me. I love the challenge of working my poetry into the acrostic’s structure.

photo © 2015 Norie Wasserman



Farmers’ fresh produce from local suppliers
Asparagus trucked in for bag-bringing buyers
Ripe scarlet strawberries, stems green as May
Mauve and pink peonies pouf a bouquet
Early birds snag plumpest blueberries first
Rollicking fiddlers tap feet, croon their verse
Summer’s abloom with sweet cherries and corn

Melons and mint scent the hot July morn
August arrives bringing cosmos and poppy
Raspberries, jam berries, juicy and sloppy
Kale in the summer, kale in the fall
Eggs, by the dozen, at each farmer’s stall
Tomatoes in red, yellow, orange and brown
Seasonal treats farmed for markets in town

~ posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2015 Helen Kemp Zax. All rights reserved.


I am sorry to say that I am one of those cooks. I don’t really use recipes; I largely cook by instinct. I do use local ingredients whenever possible. I do buy organic. And as often as I can, I purchase my lovely ingredients from Farmer Jim. One of my favorite recipes is for vegetable soup. I make it all year long because my ninety-two-year-old mother loves it. She eats it every day. Here is the recipe, as best as I can reproduce it.


Peel and chop:

  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 small zucchini

Simmer together until soft in a lidded frying pan with a little olive oil and water.

Place together in a large pot:

  • 1 quart organic stock: I use beef-bone stock made by Amish farmers. Vegetable stock works, too.
  • 1 quart filtered water
  • 3-4 carrots, chopped or sliced: Out of season, use one small bag organic baby carrots.
  • 2 cups organic red tomatoes, skinned and diced: Out of season, add two small cans organic diced tomatoes.
  • 1 large bunch rainbow chard, ripped into small pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Softened onions and zucchini

For a hardier soup, soak one-half cup green lentils overnight in warm water with the juice from half a lemon. Strain and rinse the lentils before adding them to your vegetables and broth.

Simmer on low for an hour to an hour-and-a-half. Freeze what you don’t eat. The soup only gets better with time.


And although I love to eat the healthy, delicious foods my farmer brings to town each week, I do have a weak spot for dark-chocolate, sea-salt caramels. I even wrote a haiku in their honor.

sea salt dots a beach
of dark chocolate and my mouth
goes on vacation

*   *   *



The poem comes from 34 years of crossing the Pennines, a range of hills that separate North West England from Yorkshire. I live just outside Manchester and have always had family in Sheffield who we regularly visited when I was a kid. My wife is from Sheffield also and so the journey continues…The scenery is breathtaking and the hills and moors are dotted with ancient stone farmhouses – and I suppose the poem stems from here: imagining the daily life of a leathery farmer up there on the bleak moors – a rugged, hard, life, I imagine, punctuated by beauty and wonder. And a determination to always be there.

Hills and humanity have always been entwined – and I love being so close to them. Even from my front room, when I open my notebook, I can be up there wandering.

photo © 2015 Norie Wasserman



At the edge of the world, I graze my sheep,
where storm clouds swirl, and the valley cuts deep.

I’ve farmed this land for fifty years,
calloused my hands on shovels and shears,

raised my cattle as best I could,
a constant battle in thick bog mud.

But a soaring hawk, a hare on the run,
an early walk with the rising sun,

a horse’s flanks as they heave and steam,
frost on the banks of a snow-melt stream

make my old heart beat to the rhythm of the farm,
the low pig grunts and the cows in the barn.

Till I’m ash and dust, till I’m dead and gone,
I’ll be in these hills, and I’ll sing this song.

~ posted by permission of the author, copyright © 2015 Matt Goodfellow. All rights reserved.


In terms of recipes, I don’t really have one stand out favourite, I’m afraid. I do however like food to be incredibly hot and spicy. I enjoy curries, Mexican food, Turkish food, kebabs and generally anything that involves grilled meat and chillies!!!

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DEAR TOMATO: An International Crop of Food and Agriculture Poems
edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte
photography by Norie Wasserman
published by CreateSpace, February 2015
Poetry Anthology for ages 8-12, 80 pp.

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April sure zipped by, didn’t it? Here are several cool things that topped off a fun, inspiring month:

♥ First, I was tickled pink that Mary Lee Hahn wrote this poem (now I’m famous!). Thanks, Mary Lee!


Jama shines above the rest,
Cooks up blog posts filled with zest.

She’s not gilding on a lily,
she’s the allspice in our chili!

Copyright © 2015 Mary Lee Hahn


♥ For Poem in Your Pocket Day yesterday, I carried Eileen Spinelli’s charming poem from The Poetry Friday Anthology for Celebrations (Pomelo Books, 2015), compiled by poetry goddesses Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong:


Alphabet soup
is a favorite treat —
a soup to write poems in
as well as to eat.

Copyright © 2015 Eileen Spinelli

This just happens to be the first poem in the anthology, which totally rocks big time.  Guess what Janet had in her soup yesterday? 🙂

Such a smart poet! 🙂 Stay tuned for more poems from this anthology soon!


♥ Finally, another big thanks to the steamy HotTEAs of Children’s Poetry, who provided us with a nourishing feast for the eyes all month long. Just in case you missed any of them, here’s an encore:

I hear there was a run on fire extinguishers, oven mitts, hand-held and electric fans, and flame retardant suits all during the month of April. 🙂

*   *   *

poetry fridayEllen at Elementary Dear Reader is hosting today’s Roundup. Zoom over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Enjoy your weekend!



*Images posted by permission, photographs copyright © 2015 Norie Wasserman. All rights reserved.

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

46 thoughts on “friday feast: a taste of Carol-Ann Hoyte’s new anthology, Dear Tomato (+ 2 recipes)

  1. Thanks for helping promote the book, Jama! I especially liked Matt’s poem – very touching and lyrical. Ironically, I still have not seen the book…so I’m even more eager now. And thank you again for yesterday’s post, too – I’ve received a lot of comments on that!


    1. Congrats on having 3 poems in this anthology! “Growing Greens” made me laugh. I imagine your copy will get there soon. Remember, gourd things come to those who wait. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Appreciations, Jama. There is much sustenance to sup here. It feels like the best Saturday farmer’s market around but served as a Friday Feast.
    A treat to meet three new poets & each one’s poem is worth several reads.
    I loved it that two are from across The Pond!
    I luv Mary Lee Hahn’s tribute – so glad it’s included, along with Eileen Spinnelli’s soup poem & photo.

    Today I have an original Alligator poem (short!) & NPM wrap ups at


  3. Helen’s chocolate haiku is delectable! “Furbandit” is an excellent word, and I love the accompanying photo! When I saw it, Lucy was sitting next to me in almost exacting the same position.


    1. Lucy could be a furbandit too! I agree, that’s a cool word. Fuzzy the Furbandit — nice alliteration. 🙂


  4. So much to sup!
    “Have fun in the earth..” like the sly reference to new potatoes. And the whole tuber of a poem.
    Matt’s is so ballad like & lovely.
    And I like how Helen has included the music & the blooms of these fabulous markets.
    Glad that you’ve shared Mary Lee’s tribute & wowza – that Eileen Spineli poem & alphabet soup photo are a Treasure!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I must have this book. The poems you shared are wonderful, each one celebrating the specialness of food love. I imagine you might like to review it again, Jama! And again! Thanks for sharing all about it, looking forward to it!


    1. You will enjoy this book, Linda. I like how the poems address different aspects of food production and consumption — lots of fodder for good class discussions and inspiration to write more poems.


  6. Thanks for featuring these poems. I love that is a combination of poetry and recipe, two things I do enjoy too. Also, its funny that my poem today sort of takes inspiration from farming.
    I especially loved the last poem.

    Thanks for sharing.


  7. Thanks for the shout-out, Jama! I haven’t seen the book yet, so was happy to read these three here and see those gorgeous photos.
    And Mary Lee’s clerihew is perfection–just like your delicious blog.


  8. I’m enjoying my copy of the book. Thanks for featuring it on your blog. (And I actually love peas!)


  9. Wonderful! This post struck several chords with me, Jama. I have some carefully reared tomato plants here on the windowsill, just waiting for the weather to warm up. I also remember the taste of those Jersey peaches – and I, too, rediscovered real peaches at the farmer’s market!


    1. Oh, tomato plants! I like picturing them on the windowsill. I hope your careful tending brings delicious rewards. 🙂

      And yes, peaches at the farmers market are the best! Bins and bins of them. Mmmmmm.


  10. Philippa’s good potato poetry has reminded me of these potato picture book titles for you Jama, if you don’t already have them in your potato book pantry.

    ONE POTATO by Sue Porter, (author & illustrator)
    BRAVE POTATOES by Toby Speed with illustration from Barry Root (the name!)

    K & 1st & 2nd grade have enjoyed them when I read them as a visiting volunteeer for BookPALS.

    Wanna go & cook up a sweet potato just now. Yum.


    1. Thanks for the book recs! I love BRAVE POTATOES but haven’t seen ONE POTATO (will look for it). Barry Root was the perfect illustrator for Toby’s book, in more ways than one. 🙂

      Yum, sweet potatoes!


    1. No need to apologize. Love hearing from you. If you do leave a link in a comment, it won’t appear until I approve it (it’s a spam precaution). Just didn’t want you to think it disappeared mysteriously. It’ll show up eventually. 🙂


  11. Thank you, Jama, for being “the allspice in our chili” and for another delectable post! I have to get at least two copies of this book for my gardening friends, and of course one for myself! That soup recipe sounds amazing, and Helen Kemp Zak’s poem has inspired me to get some cosmos seeds today. Few things make me happier than a bouquet of cheery cosmos on a summer day!


  12. How wonderful that you are the first poem in the anthology, Jamal. Thanks for sharing these great poems. Congrats to Carol-Ann for another great book.


    1. I wouldn’t say “I” was the first poem, just so happens that National Soup Month was the first celebration featured since it’s in January — and Eileen just happened to write about alphabet soup rather than any other kind. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the heads up on TOMATO. I have a gift card that is burning a hole in my pocket– I know what I will be buying! I loved Mary Lee’s clerihew- she is so clever. I don’t cook at all, but every time I read your blog, I consider starting!


  14. Thanks for featuring Dear Tomato, Jama, and for showcasing these three wonderful poems that are so different in form and tone. It’s been a fun month, hasn’t it? I love Mary Lee’s clerihew and Janet’s picture too. 🙂


    1. I was so excited when I saw your name in the table of contents 3 times! I love “The Emperor’s Greenhouse” especially. Cucumbers will never be the same. 🙂


  15. Thanks for introducing us to three of the Dear Tomato poets! Zax’s tribute to the Farmers’ Market is spot on!


    1. Enjoyed your poems in the book, Mary Lee! “Gardener’s Math Poems” is so clever. “remainder 0” made me smile :).


  16. I planted my Dear Tomatoes in yesterday and I am just so thrilled that Carol-Ann is succeeding in her quest to bring global poets who write in English together in her anthologies. Loved meeting these new-to-me contributors including my neighbor Helen. Thanks, Jama!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s wonderful to “meet” so many new poets in her anthologies. Makes the world that much smaller and friendlier. 🙂


  17. This post is so chock full of goodies that I don’t know where to begin. I’m helpless before your poetry buffet, Jama! Let me start with Mary Lee’s clerihew—how much do I love THAT? So, so much—she captures you and your spiciness perfectly.

    As for DEAR TOMATO, well—farmer’s markets, cooking and poetry are three of my favorite things, so I’m floating on the deliciousness of it all. Sorry to have been away from your blog so long—it’s truly one of the best-laid tables for literature there is.


    1. Hi Sara! Glad you liked the post. DEAR TOMATO is definitely something you’d enjoy. And no beets or eels! 🙂


  18. Thanks for promoting Dear Tomato, Jama! I am proud to be included with such a star studded group of poets. I especially love Helen’s poem. And the Clerihew Mary Lee wrote for you is spot on! You ARE famous!


    1. Your poem “Food Bank Withdrawal” was so touching. It will give kids a lot to think about, things we take for granted. Congrats on having your work included in this cool anthology, Bridget!

      I’m famous — because I know YOU! 🙂


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