a trio of fall favorites: cats, corpse, crisp

‘Tis the season of apples, pumpkins, black cats and twisted tales, so we’re getting our Fall on this week with a three course meal of old favorites.

I suppose one could say this post is equal parts miao, morbid, and mmmmm. πŸ™‚



I love cracking open my Edward Gorey version of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Not only does it remind me of when we saw Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Cats” in London many moons ago (I’ve been licking my paws and prancing about ever since), but of the pleasant after dinner walks Len and I used to take around our old neighborhood.

You see, two streets down and around the corner we were usually greeted by a Jellicle Cat. A fine fellow he was, all tuxedo-ed up for the ball under the bright moonlight. He was both sleek and adorable, having washed behind his ears and between his toes (he knew we were coming). A Fred Astaire of cats, we think of him still.

I love this reading by T.S. Eliot himself:


by T.S. Eliot

Jellicle Cats come out to-night
Jellicle Cats come one come all:
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright –
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball.

Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats are rather small;
Jellicle Cats are merry and bright,
And pleasant to hear when they caterwaul.
Jellicle Cats have cheerful faces,
Jellicle Cats have bright black eyes;
They like to practise their airs and graces
And wait for the Jellicle Moon to rise.

Jellicle Cats develop slowly,
Jellicle Cats are not too big;
Jellicle Cats are roly-poly,
They know how to dance a gavotte and a jig.
Until the Jellicle Moon appears
They make their toilette and take their repose:
Jellicles wash behind their ears,
Jellicles dry between their toes.

Jellicle Cats are white and black,
Jellicle Cats are of moderate size;
Jellicles jump like a jumping-jack,
Jellicle Cats have moonlit eyes.
They’re quiet enough in the morning hours,
They’re quiet enough in the afternoon,
Reserving their terpischorean powers
To dance by the light of the Jellicle Moon.

Jellicle Cats are black and white,
Jellicle Cats (as I said) are small;
If it happens to be a stormy night
They will practise a caper or two in the hall.
If it happens the sun is shining bright
You would say they had nothing to do at all:
They are resting and saving themselves to be right
For the Jellicle Moon and the Jellicle Ball.




Now, for a touch of morbidity, Nick Bantock’s version of the traditional nursery rhyme Solomon Grundy. I’ve had this little pop-up gem forever in our library cabinet where I keep miniature books. The other day it called to me, wanting a little attention in this season of the wily and wicked.

Mr Cornelius was a little afraid of the pop-up faces; it’s a good thing the doctor and nurse were close by. He felt sorry for Solomon, who had a very short life.


1. Solomon Marmaduke
Fortescue Grundy,
born on a black and
beastly Monday,

Christened on a
stark and stormy

2. Married on a
grey and grizzly

3. Ill on a
mild and mellow

4. Worse on a
bright and breezy

5. Died on a
gay and glorious

6. Buried on a
baking, blistering

This is the end
of Solomon Grundy.




Mind you don’t dance too long on Solomon Grundy’s grave — we’ve got apple crisp!

While drooling my way through Susan Branch’s Autumn book, I found her recipe for Cranberry Apple Crisp. Seemed like a nice idea to give it a try. I do like toppings that call for oatmeal, and for all the years I’ve made apple crisps, I’d never thought to toss in some cranberries. It’s like a little teaser for Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we enjoy fresh cranberry sauce and cranberry muffins, and strings of cranberry garlands grace our Christmas tree.

Nothing could be easier to make or more satisfying on a cool autumn day — that sweet crunch of buttery brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, juicy Granny Smiths, the occasional tart bursts of cranberry, and melty vanilla ice cream. More please!


  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 large green apples, peeled and sliced 1/2″
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup softened butter


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a square baking pan. Place apple slices and cranberries in the pan. Mix remaining ingredients well and sprinkle over fruit. Bake 30 minutes. Serve hot with ice cream or cold with whipped cream.

Jama’s note: I used an 8″ xΒ  8″ pan.

~ from Autumn: From the Heart of the Home by Susan Branch (Spring Street Publishing, 2004), as posted at Jama’s Alphabet Soup


“A black cat dropped soundlessly from a high wall, like a spoonful of dark treacle, and melted under a gate.” ~ Elizabeth Lemarchand



Little did we know (though we should have guessed) that Monsieur Random Integer Generator is good friends with the Kindly Lady. He was so thrilled when he heard there was a new picture book with her in it, that he dashed over to her house (all the way from Christys’ London, where he had just purchased a Fur Felt Melusine Top Hat), to personally congratulate her.

She welcomed him with a warm cup of Pomegranate Tea and Pomegranate Orange Scones. After chatting about how excited they were that Halloween is only several days away, the Kindly Lady tossed all the entrants’ names into M. Generator’s new top hat. After scarfing up his tenth scone, M. Generator picked the winner, who is:

*trumpet fanfare*



*boogie boogie shake*





Your prize is on its way to you even as we speak, and will be delivered personally by the Pomegranate Witch via her power broom. πŸ™‚

Thanks, everyone, for entering. Not to worry, there’ll be another giveaway this coming Tuesday!


The charming and gifted Brenda Davis Harsham is hosting the Roundup at Friendly Fairy Tales. Tiptoe over with your magic wand and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Happy Weekend and Happy Halloween!


This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking. Put on your best bibs and aprons, and come join the fun!

Copyright Β© 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

51 thoughts on “a trio of fall favorites: cats, corpse, crisp

  1. I feel like Solomon Grundy would fit right in with Gorey’s Gashlycrumb Tinies.

    Not a huge cranberry fan, but I really do want apple crisp now. That’s ok to eat for breakfast, right?


  2. I like cranberries (and lingonberries) under pretty much any conditions. Your cranberry apple crisp sounds lovely, but only 8×8? Not enough :-)!
    The Solomon Grundy book has marvelous illustrations.
    This quote is perfect: β€œA black cat dropped soundlessly from a high wall, like a spoonful of dark treacle, and melted under a gate.” ~ Elizabeth Lemarchand


  3. Eliot’s book of practical cats and the play are favorites. When we saw the play so long ago, we were at the front & one of the ‘players’ came prancing down to sit in my daughter’s lap (at about age 8). What a memory! And I love your memory, too, of your own Jellico cat, Jama. Solomon Grundy is a strange one, but that rhythm charms every time, as does Susan Branch, a sweet gift always. Thanks for your “not too scary” post!


    1. What a great memory!! I like how the cats were out and about cavorting with the audience before the play actually began. I remember them changing poses every so often from their perches.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Macavity the Mystery Cat was always my favorite from the Eliot tribe of cats, with the Jellicles a close second. Thanks for the delicious recipe, which I can’t wait to try my hand at.


  5. Well, I can’t say I blame Mr. Cornelius for being a tiny bit afraid of those pop-ups! πŸ™‚
    And I love the idea of cranberries in apple crisp! Why have I never done that??
    Adding my admiration, too, for that wonderful Elizabeth Lemarchand quote!


    1. Glad I’m not the only one who didn’t think to add cranberries to apple crisp. Such a simple idea, may have to try adding blueberries next. πŸ™‚


  6. Oh I love everything here! I met Susan Branch briefly at a book signing. I really like her books and recipes. And doesn’t love pop-up books, even when they’re a little scary!


  7. A perfect trio! A little bit of Halloween and a little bit of fall! Definitely fits my mood at this time of the year. And reading the recipe for Susan Branch’s Cranberry Apple Crunch makes my mouth water and I can imagine the smell of it baking would fit my mood at this time of the year, too!


  8. I have that same, well-loved version of TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Books of Practical Cats. I have always wanted to see CATS, but was too young to travel by myself to NYC to watch it on Broadway (and couldn’t talk any of the grown ups into taking me). Is it too much to hope it will make a revival in London when I visit next March? Eliot’s reading was wonderful! And I will have to remember to throw in some cranberries the next time we make apple crisp. Last night’s version included pears, too.


    1. I love pears — I’ll have to make a pear/apple crisp next time around. It *would* be fantastic if Cats was playing in the West End next March. Not impossible, check the listings!


  9. Love the poems, kitties and perfect Fall dessert! We probably all have a favorite cat story. Mine is from our days in an outpost of Phoenix, Arizona, called Apache Junction. A large desert cat befriended us, and would occasionally consent to come inside and perch on top of the refrigerator. Caught jackrabbits for his dinner.


  10. What a fun trio! I’m partial to the apple crisp course. Now that the Arkansas Blacks are at the farmers’ market (my FAVORITE fall cooking apple), we have crisp on a weekly basis! Not sure I want to mess with perfection by adding cranberries, but I’m intrigued…we’ll see…


  11. How I do love Edward Gorey. I volunteered at WGBH one year, and I got to see some of his sets up close. Each deliberate black dot was somehow funny and dark at the same time. What a master he was. I also have his version of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. I love that you paired the cooking cat with the Lemarchand quote. Just perfect. I am fond of apple crisp with pear mixed in. It’s also good with blueberries. Really, is there a bad kind of crisp? I’m thinking no.


    1. I agree — no bad kind of crisp. I also like peach crisp, or a combo of peach and apples. πŸ™‚

      Since posting illustrations on FB, I’ve been learning more about Gorey. What a mind!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thanks for telling me about it! It looks really interesting. πŸ™‚

      And I love the video. Never heard of that song. You are really broadening my horizons this week, Diane!


  12. The picture of Mr. Cornelius with his legs done like the illustration sent me right over the edge. You are so clever and funny, Jama!


  13. Love your cheerful and fun posts, Jama! It’s rainy and miserable here, and the sweet smell of apple crisp might cozy things up a bit. I’ll get right on that!! πŸ™‚


  14. Great post. That Solomon Grundy pop-up book is fun. πŸ˜‰ Apple crisp is my favorite fall dessert. I made a crumble with apple and cranberries and enjoyed the pop of tart flavor from the cranberries. The vanilla ice cream is a must!


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