“Great Breakfasts of My Childhood” by Ryan Warren

“Every Boy and Girl Needs a Hot Breakfast”/Cream of Wheat ad by Frederic Kimball Mizen (1926)

 

Good Morning!

Hungry for a little breakfast?

Coming right up!

*

 

Top ‘o the Morning Lucky Charms Pancakes

 

GREAT BREAKFASTS OF MY CHILDHOOD
by Ryan Warren

My grandfather liked to fry potatoes on Sundays,
peppery and thick with soft onions,
though he knew I did not care for onions,
people didn’t seem to ask much then
children’s opinion on food preparation.
My grandfather, who lived to pull crisp waffles
from the electric iron, though always soggy
by the time you ate them. Who loved a big stack
of Krusteze pancakes, cooked a little too black,
adorned by cold chunks of margarine and Log Cabin Syrup.
On weekdays, though, it was oatmeal,
thick from the pot, clumps of hardening raisins
softening as they were stirred in
with milk, with little rocks of brown sugar.
occasionally, Cream of Wheat instead.
My mother rose later, with my brothers,
and breakfast from her was always a surprise —
though she loved toast the best. Cheese toast,
melted cheddar sprinkled with sugar, cinnamon toast,
toast with peanut butter, with honey, with butter and jam,
with a soft boiled egg quivering atop, sprinkled
with salt and pepper. Eggs, eggs so many ways.
Scrambled with hot dogs, with cheese. Poached. Fried,
yolk unbroken, toast to sop up that sunny puddle of delight.
We were a breakfast family, no “Just a cup of coffee for me.”
Breakfast — to fortify your day, arm you for school, work,
occasionally, and for feverish stretches at a time, for church.
Different churches, different times. We moved in strange
cycles of devotion. But from breakfast we never wavered.
I’ve never understood those for whom food is merely fuel.
And I’m sure they’ve never understood me. How even a bowl
of sugar cereal, dug deep into a cartooned Saturday morning,
Lucky Charms or Captain Crunch or Frosted Flakes
or whatever had been on sale that week, could be a kind of devotion,
a ritual, richer than any of the churches we wove in and out of.
Or sometimes we just had it for dessert.
Don’t even get me started on dessert.

~ first published in The Scarlet Leaf Review (April 2017)

 

Pooh Toast by Marie Saba

*

Continue reading

rachel grant’s world of serene beauty

 

It’s really pure and simple. Rachel Grant’s art gets me where I live. She seems to know I’d love nothing better than to curl up in one of her paintings, sip a warm cuppa and nibble on a piece of cake while gazing out the window.

 

 

Rachel lives and works in an old Victorian terraced house in “The Potteries” — a creative county in North Staffordshire, England. This area became the center of ceramic production in the 17th century, with hundreds of companies producing everything from tableware to decorative pieces to industrial items. If you’re familiar with Wedgwood, Spode, Royal Doulton, Beswick, Emma Bridgewater — just to name a few, or if ‘Stoke-on-Trent’ rings a bell, then you know about the rich ceramics history of the region.

What a perfect setting for an artist!

 

 

 

It is this love of history, time-worn surfaces, and the consistency of the natural world around them that inspires and informs my work . . . I am always busy collecting and studying vintage ephemera, patterns, objects and images in order to interweave historical references with current and upcoming trends in a wide range of markets.

 

 

 

 

The preponderance of ceramic objects in Rachel’s paintings sets my little china-loving heart aflutter. 🙂 Jugs, teapots, mugs, vases — all appear in her cozy interiors, while her many window views feature quaint street scenes or seaside landscapes.

 

 

 

 

 

What I also noticed in her pictures is how perfectly she captures daylight in England. If you’ve ever visited, you know what I mean — whether sunny or overcast, there’s a certain quality to the light when you’re outdoors — different from being in the U.S.

 

Rachel works with mixed media (gouache, acrylic, collage), assembling various elements digitally to create “detailed, textural compositions that convey a sense of warm nostalgia, whilst retaining a fresh, contemporary feel.”

 

 

Whatever the subject, her overall aim is to create “an atmosphere of peace and harmony . . . quiet and still moments in an otherwise chaotic world.”

Precisely what we all need. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel’s clients include Abrams Noterie, Amber Lotus Publishing, The Boston Globe, Canns Down Press, Pier 1 Imports, Design House Greetings, Martha Stewart Living, Peter Pauper Press, Simple Things Magazine, Taproot Magazine and many, many more.

 

For Amber Lotus Publishing, Rachel designed this beautiful “Birds in a Book,”

 

and this fabulous 2020 wall calendar:

 

 

Rachel is a self described “home bird,” and when she’s not working on her art, likes to garden, bake bread, knit, sew, and watch dystopian films while snuggled under crochet blankets. There is always music in the background while she’s working.

 

 

 

She would like nothing more than to someday live in an old cottage by the sea, embracing a quiet, slow-paced, peaceful life. Her illustrations offer a glimpse of this dream.

 

 

 

Enjoy this video “Blurb Book” to see even more (love her botanicals and fun surface designs!). Just fabulous.

 

 

*

 

Do visit Rachel’s Official Website, her Instagram, and FB Page.

You can purchase original pieces, prints, and blank journals at Rachel’s Etsy Shop, and her images are also available for license and commission for publication, editorial, surface pattern, and more. The Blank Card Company sells her art cards.

 

 

 


Copyright © 2019 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[guest post + recipes] What I Eat is How I Feel by Julia Wendell

We’re delighted to welcome back poet, author, and equestrian athlete Julia Wendell. She was last here discussing her poetry chapbook Take This Spoon (Main Street Rag Publishing Co., 2014), which explores the complicated relationship humans have with food. In her new memoir, Come to the X (Galileo Press, May 2020), food is again a central trope as it was in her previous book, Finding My Distance: A Year in the Life of a Three-Day Event Rider (Pathway Books, 2020). Both memoirs combine poetry and prose, showing how food reflects inner weather.

*

 

WHAT I EAT IS HOW I FEEL

by Julia Wendell

In writing Come to the X (forthcoming, Galileo Press, 2020), I was struck by the way what I eat over the last decade has changed, and how my patterns of eating and relationship to food reflected the events in my life.

 

 

In Finding My Distance (Galileo Press, 2009), elaborate dinners and their preparation were like a reward. From lamb to shrimp, exotic pastas to salads, mountains of crabs and all the fixin’s — caesar potato salad and Asian cole slaw — to rich desserts like ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce, crisps and mousses and souffles. The long work days always ended with focus on cocktail hour and dinner, prepared and eaten with relish by this family of four, including two kids who were introduced as toddlers to an adult palate — whatever we ate got whizzed in a blender — a husband who is a stress eater, as well as myself, who has a history of anorexia. Whatever the complex motivations, and whatever stressful life events vying for our attention, sharing dinner and sitting down together as a family were key.

We head to Annapolis to meet my Aunt Kay for dinner at Cantler’s Riverside Inn, where we introduce her to a slice of Maryland she’s not partaken of before: platters of crabs brought steaming to our table. Barrett shows her how to crack open and hammer and peel, and before we know it, several mountains of spent legs and shells litter our brown-papered table, along with empty plastic containers of cole slaw and straggler fries and rings. Crab parts go flying, Aunt Kay busily wipes her white shirt, the clientele whoop it up at the tables and bar behind us, dusk starts to fall, and the Magothy River starts to sparkle behind us. We order another round of beers, another half-dozen crabs, and more slaw. After we’ve consumed our very last crab, we still have room for more and order key lime pies all around. Our server doesn’t even bother to clear away the mess before bringing out dessert, and now we’ve got a Vesuvius on our table.

“I’ve never seen you eat with such gusto, Julia,” Aunt Kay says.

“You’ve never seen me eat crabs before,” I reply. She’s amazed by the mess.

Finding My Distance, in contrast to Come to the X, is a book filled with hope and purpose; it is largely about my determination as a middle-aged equestrian athlete to climb the levels in three-day eventing. It is also about the challenges of being the mother of two young adults. Food, and specifically dinner preparation and its sharing with family, complement the inner weather of the book. After attending the Preakness Race:

My day ends well with Barrett’s shrimp pad thai and lots of Anapamu, and reruns of our eventing and racing videos. There goes Foolish Groom from the back of a twelve-horse pack, picking off his contenders in the last quarter mile, winning again by a good 10 lengths.

Continue reading

nine cool things on a tuesday

 

1. Since we’re definitely in a “spring is almost here!” mood, we’re starting off with some charming watercolors by Chicago-based artist, illustrator, educator, and writer Michelle Kogan.

I first saw Michelle’s work on the cover of the very first Today’s Little Ditty Anthology (2014-2015), edited by the indefatigable Michelle H. Barnes (there is definitely something magical about Michelles). Michelle K. then joined the Poetry Friday gang, and we’ve been treated to her delightful posts every week, where she shares both her poetry and art (doubly delish).

 

 

Michelle is a lifelong nature lover, and her paintings depict the interesting bits of flora and fauna she observes in her various ramblings. She likes to paint outdoors during the summer, either in her own garden or in other nature venues in the Chicago area.

 

 

 

Michelle also paints figures, some of whom appear in her children’s illustrations. A staunch advocate of preserving our natural environment, she hopes her work will continue to inspire more beauty.

 

 

 

Do check out Michelle’s Etsy shop, where you can purchase archival prints, mini-prints, cards, bookmarks, journals and postcards. And of course there’s more art at her Official Website, and poetry and art every week at her blog. Contact Michelle directly via her website for info about classes and workshops, or for poetry, children’s book, or painting commissions.

*

 

Continue reading

Barbara Crooker’s “Fifteen Bean Soup” with “Saltines”

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re fools when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more fools not to take delight in it while we have it.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham/epigraph from Some Glad Morning

 

There’s nothing more restorative on a chilly winter’s day than a spot of Yorkshire Gold and reading the luminous poems in Barbara Crooker’s latest book, Some Glad Morning (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019).

True to W. Somerset Maugham’s quote, Barbara’s ninth collection inspires us to take joy in everyday pleasures, hold fast to fleeting moments, and cherish the here and now.

Whether she is exalting in an explosion of spring flowers, mourning the loss of a friend, awestruck by an unexpected murmuration, ruminating on a Matisse painting, or celebrating food, glorious food (martinis, BLTs, cream puffs, summer peaches, fried eggs!), she is wholly present with verses that read like lyrical prayers, inviting us to a space of hope and light.

Over and over, she says, life is transient, ever-changing. Though loss, grief, and an acute awareness of mortality may be constant companions, these are the very things that make what we do have even more precious. We will always have the power to create our own realities.

Let the terrible politicians practice/their terrible politics.
At my kitchen table, all will be fed. I turn
the radio to a classical station, maybe Vivaldi.
All we have are these moments: the golden trees,
the industrious bees, the falling light. Darkness
will not overtake us.

Speaking of food, glorious food, it’s time for soup and crackers. In these two poems, Barbara serves up delectable portions of memory, nostalgia, metaphor, slurp-worthy detail, and earnest praise. Put on your bibs and enjoy!

*

Continue reading