[review + recipe] All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky

When I was nine, there was nothing I wanted more than to belong to the All-of-a-Kind Family.

I loved the idea of having four sisters, all of us wearing our white pinafores as we traipsed to the library Friday afternoons and spent our pennies for treats on Rivington Street. Would I get a warm sweet potato like Ella, hot chick peas like Sarah, or candied fruit on sticks like Charlotte and Gertie? I don’t think I’d opt for a fat, juicy sour pickle like Henny did. 🙂

I’m guessing most of us who loved Sydney Taylor’s classic AOAKF books imagined ourselves as one of these girls, perhaps the one closest to our own age. But since we got to know them all so well, we were probably able to find parts of ourselves in each of them.

Months ago, when I first learned that Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky were publishing a new picture book based on Taylor’s series, I reread all five books and fell in love with them all over again. So wonderful to feel the comforting embrace of this close-knit family and immerse myself in their turn-of-the-century world. I was once again charmed and captivated by Taylor’s writing, appreciating anew her ability to speak of and to a child’s heart with such candor and truth.

But I did wonder how Emily and Paul would be able to create the same kind of magic in a 40-page picture book. I needn’t have worried. I love All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah. In fact, it’s my favorite food-related picture book of 2018!

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a good gobble

“If you think about a Thanksgiving dinner, it’s really like making a large chicken.” ~ Ina Garten

Art by Mary Engelbreit

 

Just wanted to pop in briefly to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

I’ll be away from the blog until next week, since I’ll be busy turkey plucking, cranberry gathering, green bean snapping, potato mashing, and pie baking eating devouring.

(Okay, fine. So I’m getting a little help from Whole Foods this year . . .)

Still, I must be in full concentration mode as I dig out the big platters and serving dishes, wash plates, goblets and silverware that don’t often see the light of day, and — my favorite part — set the table. 🙂

 

Art by Kelsey Garrity-Riley

 

Here are some things I am especially thankful for this year:

1. My father turned 104 years old on November 17. He has been in a slow decline since contracting pneumonia recently, and is not on his computer anymore. It’s been touch and go; we weren’t sure he’d make it till his birthday, but he did. This is something he wanted to do, so he did it. We remain in awe of his resiliency, and are thankful for each day he chooses to remain with us in this world.

2. There are no words to describe the devastation and heartbreak of the California wild fires. We are so grateful for the courage and strength of the firefighters, first responders, rescue workers, and forensic teams who continue to labor above and beyond. In the painful aftermaths of this and other recent tragedies (Pittsburgh, Thousand Oaks, Puerto Rico, Parkland), unsung heroes have given us hope by proving that human beings are capable of infinite goodness.

3. I am relieved and thankful that as a result of the midterm elections, a check on the executive branch has been restored. Faced with an egregious lack of leadership in this country, we have seen that our votes and our voices do matter and can make a difference.

4. Though it’s been a tough 2 years with our democracy being challenged at every turn, I am actually grateful for the enormous wake-up call. Since we have a President who has succeeded at bringing out the worst in this country (instances of hate, racism, bigotry, violence, xenophobia, corporate corruption, incivility, moral bankruptcy), we’ve all been forced to re-evaluate what it means to be good citizens, and to take action when and where we can. I do think for too long we took for granted what we “thought” we had all along. As flawed human beings, too often we value something more when faced with losing it (e.g., free speech).

5. Artists, musicians, writers, and creatives of all kinds: thankful for how their work sustains and inspires me each and every day. Much is being destroyed in this world. I stand wholeheartedly with those who devote their lives to making, building, birthing, uplifting.

6. YOU.

What are you especially thankful for this year?

 

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 🍗 HAPPY GOBBLING! 🍗

 

“What I love about Thanksgiving is that it’s purely about getting together with friends or family and enjoying food. It’s really for everybody, and it doesn’t matter where you’re from.” ~ Daniel Humm

“I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage.” ~ Erma Bombeck


Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

wrap your lips around this: “Perfect for Any Occasion” by Alberto Ríos

“Pie, in a word, is my passion. Since as far back as I can remember, watching my mom and dad make their apple pies together every fall as a young boy, I have simply loved pie. I can’t really explain why. If one loves poetry, or growing orchids, or walking along the beach at sunset, the why isn’t all that important. To me, pie is poetry that makes the world a better place.” ~ Ken Haedrich (Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie)

“Eat Pie” by Julie Paschkis (click to purchase archival print)

 

Imagine what it must be like to have everyone squeal with delight upon seeing you.

You look soooooo good, they all say, you’re exactly what we wanted! You remind us of Grandma and all that is right with the world.

So you bask in the glory, maximize your flake. Living a life of applause is the only way to go.

 

“Apple Pie and Tea” by Tom Nachreiner

 

PERFECT FOR ANY OCCASION
by Alberto Ríos

1.

Pies have a reputation.
And it’s immediate — no talk of potential

Regarding a pie. It’s good
Or it isn’t, but mostly it is — sweet, very sweet

Right then, right there, blue and red.
It can’t go to junior college,

Work hard for the grades,
Work two jobs on the side.

It can’t slowly build a reputation
And a growing client base.

A pie gets one chance
And knows it, wearing as makeup

Those sparkling granules of sugar,
As a collar those diamond cutouts

Bespeaking Fair Day, felicity, contentment.
I tell you everything is great, says a pie.

Great, and fun, and fine.
And you smell nice, too, someone says.

A full pound of round sound, all ahh, all good.
Pies live a life of applause.

 

2.

But then there are the other pies.
The leftover pies. The ones

Nobody chooses at Thanksgiving.
Mincemeat? What the hell is that? people ask,

Pointing instead at a double helping of Mr.
“I-can-do-no-wrong” pecan pie.

But the unchosen pies have a long history, too.
They have plenty of good stories, places they’ve been —

They were once fun, too —
But nobody wants to listen to them anymore.

Oh sure, everybody used to love lard,
But things have changed, brother — things have changed.

That’s never the end of the story, of course.
Some pies make a break for it —

Live underground for a while,
Doing what they can, talking fast,

Trying to be sweet pizzas, if they’re lucky.
But no good comes of it. Nobody is fooled.

A pie is a pie for one great day. Last week,
It was Jell-O. Tomorrow, it’ll be cake.

~ from The Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press), copyright © 2009 Alberto Ríos. All rights reserved.

“Sixteen Pies” by Wayne Thiebaud (1965)

 

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Are you swooning over “A full pound of round sound, all ahh, all good”? 🙂

Must say, haven’t seen rhyme used to such tantalizing effect in a long time . . .

This poem made me an instant Alberto Ríos fan. Nothing more delightful than celebrating pie while contemplating larger truths tucked beneath the crust, such as — seize the day, easy come-easy go, aging and invisibility, the inevitability of change.

I’ve been thinking about the leftover pies, the unchosen ones. “Leftover pie” is not really part of the Alphabet Soup vocabulary — “disappearing pie” is more like it. 😀

The poet also implies that there are some pies that have fallen out of favor — once chosen and enjoyed, but somehow no longer appreciated. I suppose there are some vintage pies we don’t see as often anymore — remember lemon chiffon, grasshopper, vinegar, or chess pie?

And I don’t really mind mince pie because it makes me think of British Christmases. 🙂

BUT. The thing about pie is that the more “old fashioned” it is, the more we love it. Sure, there are some cute ‘n sassy hand pies making the rounds these days, but nothing comes close to a homemade deep dish apple pie, or other perennial faves like pumpkin, blueberry, peach, chocolate cream, and lemon meringue.

Because pies, are, you know, FOREVER.

What’s your favorite pie? Do you have a fond pie memory to share?

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Alberto Ríos is the author of 11 collections of poetry, including Whispering to Fool the Wind (1982), which won the Walt Whitman Award; The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (2002), which was nominated for a National Book Award; and, most recently, A Small Story About the Sky (2015). He has also written three collections of short stories and one memoir. Ríos’s work has been included in over 300 journals and over 250 anthologies, and he was featured in the documentary Birthwrite: Growing up Hispanic. His awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Walt Whitman Award, six Pushcart Prizes, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award. In 2014, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Currently the first state poet laureate of Arizona, Ríos is also the Regents Professor of English and the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English at Arizona State University in Tempe.

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The lovely, lithe, literary and eminently likable Linda Baie is hosting the Roundup at TeacherDance. Tiptoe on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Enjoy your weekend. 🙂

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“The sandy beach reminded Harold of picnics. And the thought of picnics made him hungry. So he laid out a nice simple picnic lunch.

There was nothing but pie. But there were all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best.

When Harold finished his picnic there was quite a lot left. He hated to see so much delicious pie go to waste.

So Harold left a very hungry moose and a deserving porcupine to finish it up.”

~ Crockett Johnson (Harold and the Purple Crayon)


mmmmm, pie – the best part of Thanksgiving!

 


Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

a peek at monika forsberg’s walkyland

 

These days I’ve been loving Monika Forsberg’s wonderfully quirky art. I’m taken with her vivid colors and interesting compositions, as well as how she blends humor and fantasy with reality.

 

 

A Monika Forsberg design is bold, eye-catching and very distinctive.

 

 

Though she now lives and works in North London, she’s originally from Sweden. She grew up in a northern seaside town where it was almost always winter.

 

 

In her early 20’s, Monika moved to London to study art and animation at the Royal College of Art. Her boyfriend is also an artist and they are the parents of two boys. After the birth of her second son, she decided to pursue illustration.

 

 

Her work appears in books and magazines, on fabric and paper products (gift wrap, greeting cards, planners, stationery), and a variety of children’s products (games, puzzles, backpacks, baby clothes).

 

 

 

Her client list includes Anthropologie, eeBoo, NY Review, United Nations, Gorman Clothing, Oopsie Daisy and Unicef.

 

 

Monika begins her pieces with pen, paint, and paper — drawing by hand while sitting on her bed listening to audio books or radio documentaries. When she’s compiled a stack of drawings, she moves to her computer, where she scans them in before assembling the best ones in Photoshop.

 

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“November” by Maggie Dietz

“La Belle Jardiniere – November” by Eugène Grasset (1896)

 

Ah, November!

The eleventh month often gets a bad rap. Sometimes described as “somber,” “gloomy,” or “dreary,” it’s neither here nor there.

October, with its splendid, crisp days and peak foliage is quintessential autumn —  a very hard act to follow. As Anne Shirley famously said, “I’m glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

Poor November. Shock of color gone, trees showing their bare bones, chilly winds — suddenly we’re reminded of year’s end, darkness to come. We reflect on our unmet resolutions, mourn the transience of time. At least December has much to distract us with its holiday cheer and bustle, a winter welcome tied with a pretty red bow.

And yet.

 

“Autumn Leaves” by John Everett Millais (1856)

 

Good things happen in November. It’s my birthday month (as well as Len’s, my dad’s and brother-in-law’s). It’s a time to honor veterans (like my mom), and of course, there’s Thanksgiving, when the house smells of spiced cider, roast turkey, homemade pies, squash and pumpkin everything.

A time for gathering in, but also gathering together. Expressing gratitude. Feasting. Who wouldn’t love a month where food takes center stage?

So I’m okay with this take stock, get ready, fortify yourself month. It’s my chance to bask in the fading light and exquisite melancholy. Shorter days? More time for reading and dreaming. 🙂

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“November Freshet” by John Ottis Adams (1897)

 

NOVEMBER
by Maggie Dietz

Show’s over, folks. And didn’t October do
A bang-up job? Crisp breezes, full-throated cries
Of migrating geese, low-floating coral moon.

Nothing left but fool’s gold in the trees.
Did I love it enough, the full-throttle foliage,
While it lasted? Was I dazzled? The bees

Have up and quit their last-ditch flights of forage
And gone to shiver in their winter clusters.
Field mice hit the barns, big squirrels gorge

On busted chestnuts. A sky like hardened plaster
Hovers. The pasty river, its next of kin,
Coughs up reed grass fat as feather dusters.

Even the swarms of kids have given in
To winter’s big excuse, boxed-in allure:
TVs ricochet light behind pulled curtains.

The days throw up a closed sign around four.
The hapless customer who’d wanted something
Arrives to find lights out, a bolted door.

~ from That Kind of Happy (University of Chicago Press, 2016).

 

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Maggie Dietz received a BA from Northwestern University and an MA from Boston University. She is the author of That Kind of Happy (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and Perennial Fall (University of Chicago Press, 2006), winner of the 2007 Jane Kenyon Award from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Dietz has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, and Phillips Exeter Academy, among others. She previously served as director of Robert Pinsky’s Favorite Poem Project, coediting three anthologies related to the project. She currently teaches at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell and lives in New Hampshire.

 

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The beautiful, talented, and exceedingly clever Michelle Barnes is hosting the Roundup at Today’s Little Ditty. With bed head and election results, she’s somewhat of a basket case this week, sharing fab poems with commentary. And do I love all the bear talk? Why yes, yes I do. Check out the full menu of poetry goodness and have a delicious Novemberish weekend.


Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.