[tasty review + recipe] The Pancake King by Phyllis La Farge and Seymour Chwast

Pancakes, pancakes, who wants pancakes?

Just hearing the word makes me happy. I’m six years old again, sitting at the kitchen counter in my red polka dot pajamas, while my mom adds eggs, milk, and a little vegetable oil to some Bisquick.

I wait for the sizzle of slightly lumpy batter on the hot griddle, the little bubbles forming on top, and that great swish-hiss when she finally flips them. Then it’s gobs of butter and a river of syrup on those steamy, golden beauties. Mmmmm!

Since the only thing better than eating pancakes is reading about them, I was excited when I learned that Princeton Architectural Press had recently published an updated edition of The Pancake King by Phyllis La Farge and Seymour Chwast.

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beatrix part two: of guinea pigs, nursery rhymes and cupcakes

Today we are honored to welcome a very special guest to Alphabet Soup: the one and only Amiable Guinea-pig!

After reading and reviewing Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson and Charlotte Voake (Schwartz & Wade, 2016), we felt a tasty homage to this dapper little fellow was definitely in order.

Peter Rabbit gets a lot of attention, as does Miss Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten and Squirrel Nutkin. In fact, they all have their own little books written about them. But not the Amiable one, who was actually the first guinea pig in Miss Potter’s work. She wrote a clever limerick about him that appeared in Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes (1917).

But one limerick does not a book make. Wouldn’t you feel a little slighted? To add insult to injury, initially Miss Potter’s publisher Frederick Warne & Co. wasn’t that keen on the Appley Dapply rhyme collection, which she had hoped to publish following the release of The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902.

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[review and recipe] Fannie in the Kitchen by Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter

Several years ago, Anamaria at Books Together tipped me off to this charming picture book about Fannie Farmer by Deborah Hopkinson and Nancy Carpenter. Happy to say I’m finally getting around to featuring it here at Alphabet Soup and I even rewarded myself by making Fannie’s Famous Griddle Cakes using the recipe provided in the book. 🙂

These days, most of us don’t think twice about reaching for our measuring cups, spoons, or kitchen scales when we’re ready to cook or bake. Especially with baking, when precise measurements can mean the difference between a cake that rises nicely or sinks like a stone, it’s always about starting out with a good, reliable recipe.

Boston native Fannie Farmer is often credited with inventing the modern recipe. She was one of the first to write down exact instructions for measuring and cooking. But what inspired her to do that, and to eventually publish a cookbook that’s been popular for over 100 years?

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[review and recipe] Kids Cook French by Claudine Pépin, Jacques Pépin and Shorey Wesen

Bonjour! Êtes vous affamé? (Hello! Are you hungry?)

I don’t know about you, but after reading the yummy recipes in Kids Cook French (Quarry Books, 2015), I’m starving! At this very moment, I would love to feast on Claudine Pépin’s Spring Menu: Eggs Jeannette with a Salad, Chicken Breast with Garlic and Parsley, Sautéed Swiss Chard, Parsnip-Potato Purée, and Almond Cake. Mmmmmm!

You may know Claudine from any one or all three of the James Beard Award-winning PBS cooking series she appeared in with her father, legendary French chef Jacques Pépin. It is natural that Claudine (an accomplished home cook and wine educator who married a chef), should publish a cookbook for kids, since she grew up with fine cuisine and now cooks most nights for her 11-year-old daughter Shorey.

Art © 2015 Jacques Pépin

True to Claudine’s guiding philosophy — that there’s no such thing as “kids food,” only “good food” — Kids Cook French doesn’t look or read like a children’s cookbook. You won’t find rebus-like directions in large print with little measuring spoons, or yet another “recipe” for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This is not to say that the recipes are overly complicated, only that adult supervision is required for what are clearly family projects.

Claudine (center) with Shorey, Rollie, Jacques and Gloria (by Tom Hopkins).

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friday feast: a christina rossetti poem + a scrumptious peach danish recipe

Please help yourself to a cup of tea and a peach cream cheese danish.

Happy first Poetry Friday of April, and Happy National Poetry Month!

Though I always look forward to Poetry Month, April is now bittersweet because it’s the month my mother died. Even a year later, it hasn’t fully sunken in. I think of her daily, remembering so many little things — her love of stripes, her big laugh, the sound of her chopping garlic and green onions in the kitchen.

I don’t think about the thin frail woman she was at the end, but the strong, energetic, busy person she was throughout most of her life — always a good sport, the one everybody could depend on to get things done.

It’s true what many people say — part of you fears you may forget the person you lost, and sometimes you feel guilty for happily getting on with things. This universal feeling is beautifully expressed in Christina Rossetti’s poem. Remember when the Dowager Countess Violet shared a line from it with Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey Season 4? Even as we happily celebrate holidays such as Easter with loved ones, we inevitably think of those we miss.

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