[review + recipe] A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey by Jacques Pépin

“It is important to have a child spend time in the kitchen — the most secure, comfortable, loving place in the house. The smell of food cooking, your mother’s or father’s voice, the clang of the utensils, and the taste of the food: These memories will stay with you for the rest of your life.” ~ Jacques Pépin

Jacques Pépin once asked his then two-year-old granddaughter Shorey Wesen whether she liked blueberries. She said she loved them, adding that they contained antioxidants. This early precociousness regarding food wasn’t especially surprising, since both her father and grandfather are professional chefs, and her mother Claudine cooks for the family every day, using fresh ingredients either from their home garden or nearby organic markets.

From about the age of five, whenever Shorey visited her grandparents, she’d stand on a wooden box next to Jacques so she could “help” him cook. Simple tasks like washing the lettuce, helping to gather herbs from the garden, or passing tools or ingredients, made Shorey comfortable in the kitchen and more enthusiastic about eating the food she helped prepare.

 

 

For both Shorey and her mom, there was no such thing as “kid’s food.” They learned to eat what the grown-ups were eating, subsequently developing a gourmand’s palate. This, along with Jacques’s longstanding philosophy that “great meals are always the ones that are shared with family and friends,” form the basis for A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).

 

Deviled Eggs with Salmon Caviar

 

Just as he taught Claudine how to cook in one of his PBS cooking series, Jacques shares cooking basics with 13-year-old Shorey in this accessible collection of 75 recipes, 36 of which have companion 10-minute videos hosted at Sur La Table.

This is less a “children’s” cookbook than a primer for novice cooks of any age, with simple and elegant recipes presented via clear, step-by-step instructions, beautiful color photographs, Jacques’s winsome line art, engaging headnotes full of tips and family stories, and occasional quotes from Shorey. Recipes were chosen in line with Shorey’s favorites and what she would have the most fun making.

 

Shorey’s Raspberry Cake

 

The book opens with lessons on setting the table and good table manners, followed by sections featuring Hors d’Oeuvres, Soups and Salads; Eggs, Sandwiches, Pizza, and Breads; Fish and Shellfish; Poultry and Meat; Pasta and Quinoa; Vegetables; Desserts and Confections; and Decorating for Fun.

Continue reading

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. 🙂

*

PRIMO: THE SONG OF THE JELLICLES

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:

*

Continue reading

[review, recipe, nonsense] Junket is Nice by Dorothy Kunhardt

And now, from the department of strange children’s books you can’t help but love, here is Junket is Nice by Dorothy Kunhardt (New York Review Books, 2013).

Yes, that Dorothy Kunhardt — of Pat the Bunny fame. 🙂 Junket is Nice is Kunhardt’s first book, published in 1933, seven years before Pat the Bunny. Thank goodness New York Review Books re-issued Junket is Nice as part of their Children’s Collection (which features little known or forgotten titles), or I might never have learned about junket, which is described on the back cover as “a delicious custard and a lovely dessert.”

It’s a simple story, really. Call it “inspired nonsense.” Yet I can see why it would appeal to kids and young-at-heart adults.

Seems there’s this man with a bushy red beard wearing red slippers eating a very large bowl of junket. Spoonful after spoonful, eating and eating and eating like there was no tomorrow.

People were surprised at how hungry this man was and they soon began to arrive from far and near just to watch him eat. They all told their friends and more and more people kept coming and coming until every single person in the world was there, including a little boy in red socks riding his tricycle.

 

Continue reading

[review, recipe, giveaway!] Miss Muffet, or What Came After by Marilyn Singer and David Litchfield

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

 

Well, no. Not exactly.

There’s more to this story than meets the eye.

Curtain Up!

*

🎻ACT ONE, or The Real Story 🎻

It seems nursery rhymers of yore mistook our dear Miss Muffet for a dainty scaredy-cat milquetoast without really considering:

  1. her true potential
  2. some spiders are undeniably cool
  3. the inherent power of cottage cheese.

Now, thanks to Marilyn Singer and David Litchfield, Miss Patience Muffet finally gets her props in a hilarious new picture book, Miss Muffet, or What Came After (Clarion, 2016), proving, once and for all, that where there’s a will there’s a whey. 🙂

Told in sprightly verse as a rousing musical theatre production, the book features a fetching cast that includes an off-stage narrator, a chorus of three (gardener + 2 maids), Webster the spider, and nursery characters Little Bo-Peep and Old King Cole, among others. These clever players had me from their opening lines.

Narrator:

Her given name was Patience.
Her schoolmates called her Pat.
In the garden on a stool
is where one day she sat.
What do we know about her?
Just this much, if you please:
She didn’t care for spiders,
but she did love cottage cheese.

Chorus:

Cottage cheese, cottage cheese,
she eats it every day.
Cottage, cottage, cottage cheese,
she calls it curds and whey.

In December or in June,
in a bowl, with a spoon.
Cottage cheese, cottage cheese.
Very tasty (slightly pasty),
or so we’ve heard her say!

We soon learn that much to her parents’ dismay (her mother yearns for a perfect little miss and her father wishes she’d share his passion for bugs), Pat has a mind of her own.

Continue reading

a fond farewell to downton abbey

“All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite.” ~ Violet

The soufflés are sinking, the puddings are pouting, the meringues have taken to incessant weeping.

I fear much of our “unbridled joy” is rapidly dissipating — Downton Abbey is ending its 6-year run on PBS with the series finale on March 6!

Only one more episode to go. No! 😦 😦 😦

Treated myself to a Crawley family Spode Stafford White cup and saucer just to drown my sorrows.

I’ve been hooked since Season One, Episode 1, only too willing to spend my Sunday evenings with the entire Crawley family at their opulent digs in Yorkshire. Not since the original “Upstairs, Downstairs” (1971-1975) have I been so emotionally invested in the lives of an aristocratic British family and their servants. I find the entire class system fascinating, rooting for those who would dare defy the established social order, sympathetic to characters grappling with changes beyond their control.

Today serving Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding Tea: “This decadent dessert tea has the homemade flavors of vanilla cake drizzled with rich caramel sauce.” Good afternoon tea, a perfect pairing with puddings, scones, and shortbread.

Indeed, when I first started watching Downton, I was instantly reminded of “Upstairs, Downstairs.” The time periods somewhat overlapped, with UD beginning about a decade before the sinking of the Titanic and ending in 1930. Both series revealed interesting aspects of post-Edwardian social life set against significant historical events. Instead of Mrs Patmore there was Mrs Bridges, instead of Daisy, there was kitchen maid Ruby. Bellamy son James marries his secretary Hazel as Crawley daughter Sybil marries chauffeur Tom Branson — both compelling, frowned-upon liaisons championing the triumph of true love over all impediments.

Continue reading