my darling, my toaster

“The smell of that buttered toast simply spoke to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.” ~ Kenneth Grahame (The Wind in the Willows, 1908)

Good morning!

Though most of you probably greet each new day worshipping at the ‘altar of drip coffee maker’, my wake-up appliance of choice is my humble yet decidedly adorable toaster.

Love this clever and well deserved ‘toast to toasters’ by Allan Chochinov. 🙂

“Rosebud” watercolor by Denny Bond (2011)
by Allan Chochinov

Ode to my toaster, so shiny and clean
You’re the butterknife's foe, you're the bread's trampoline
You're the lightest, the darkest, the coolest and proud
You’re the jack-in-the-box of the countertop crowd.

In the old days you had a side entrance instead
You were far more ornate as a true thoroughbred
But now you're a box with a push-button trick
You're a bit more convenient, but a little too slick.

And if that weren't sufficient to cause you some shame,
There's your bullying arch-rival muscling in on your game
They say big toaster-ovens are "double the tool"
They can brown up a bagel and reheat your gruel.

But don't be discouraged, I still think you're swell
You do do one thing, but you do that thing well
And though fancy new gizmos might stir up a yen, remember
Your name still pops up, every now and again.

~ via Design Observer (2008)


I smile whenever I catch a glimpse of my creamy-shiny, chunky but cute Dualit toaster sitting happily on the kitchen counter. I bought it when we moved into our current home 22 years ago, and it has served us well.

I remember thinking at the time that it was a little pricey, but I decided to splurge anyway.

After all, I loved its classic design, and it was hand built in the UK with fully replaceable or repairable parts, meaning I’d never have to buy another toaster ever again. It’s been worth every penny.

Continue reading

special thanks to all the 2010 poetry potluck poets!

       "Tea and Toast" cupcake by abbietabbie.

It’s time to raise our cupcakes and offer a special TOAST to all 21 wonderfully talented, brilliant, wild and wooly poets who participated in the first alphabet soup Poetry Potluck!
You brought us family stories, observations of the natural world, so much fun, wit and whimsy, color, spice, sweetness, snow, snark and soup! You took us to Mexico, Brazil, France, and Mansfield, Missouri. We listened, learned from, and loved what you so generously shared. We noshed, sipped, slurped, licked and crunched. We even tasted gingerbread with chocolate frosting dropped from an airplane! As we wipe the last delicious crumbs from our faces, I salute you and bow to you. Thank you, poets, for the beauty and understanding you bring to the world with your lovingly chosen words!


* Wine and appetizers: "The Poets in My Life Meet on the Third Sunday," "A Gourmand’s Prayer"

1. Elaine Magliaro: "Chick Chatter," Almond Gateaux

2. Karen Edmisten: "Sustenance," Atticus’ French Bread

3. Laura Shovan: "An Absolute Vista," Blizzard Soup

4. J. Patrick Lewis: "Hillary Hollery Q. McQatt Introduces the Crew," Sticky-Goo Buns

5. Julie Larios: "Domingo," Tortas Mexicanas

6. Kelly Polark: "The TV Speaks," Bowtie Pasta Salad

7. Sara Lewis Holmes: "Biscuits," Ann’s Angel Biscuits

8. Kristy Dempsey: "Outside Dog at Dinnertime," Brazilian Brigadeiro

9. Charles and Debra Ghigna: "Sleepover," "Slumber Party Surprise," Ghost Bite Cookies

10. Susan Rich: "Chanterelle," Chanterelle and Goat Cheese Pastry Puffs

11. Mary Lee Hahn: "Apple Crisp," Apple Crisp

12. Liz Garton Scanlon: "Sweet," Barley Stuffed Squash

13. Jeannine Atkins: "Not Today," Hermit Cookies

14. Greg Pincus: "Foods That Scare," Grandma’s Chicken Paprikash

15. Douglas Florian: "French Toast," Not-so-French Toast

16. Laura Purdie Salas: "Yum!", Brickle

17. Kelly Fineman: "His Chair," Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

18. Tanita S. Davis: "An Ode to the Lime," Easy Tofu Lime Cheesecake

19. Andromeda Jazmon: "Figs," Homemade Fig Bars

20. Tricia Stohr-Hunt: "A Generous Baker," Raspberry Crescents

21. Joyce Sidman: "Maybe," Blender Mousse

HERE’S TO ALL OF YOU! Toast toast toast toast toast!

 "Miss Toasty Cookies" by mitsel18.

♥ For future reference, a permanent link to this post can be found in this blog’s sidebar under "Bookish Recipes." 

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved. 

friday feast: topping it off with our surprise guest, joyce sidman (and a giveaway)!

#23 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

     Joyce and her Small Munsterlander, Watson.


The calendar says, “April 30th,” but I can’t believe it.

It’s the final day of National Poetry Month! *sniff sniff*

Time sure flies when you’re busy juggling biscuits and buns, snarfing down candy, cookies, crisp and cake, investigating paprikash, practicing your French and Spanish, balancing on airplanes. Wasn’t it just yesterday I served up the wine and appetizers?

Continue reading

counting chips with miss rumphius, tricia stohr-hunt

#22 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

        photo by Cake Doctor.

Today we are counting our lucky stars because the one and only Miss Rumphius, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, is here! Quick, everybody sit up straight and pay attention (I hope you did your homework last night).

Have you been following her fabulous Poetry Maker Series this month? Wow — is all I can say! What an impressive collection of poet interviews, beautifully presented with sample poems and lots of handy links for further exploration. I’m convinced there must be at least two of her, to be able to keep up every day while maintaining her busy teaching schedule.

 photo by SLICE OF LIME.

Some of you may know that Tricia is quite the gourmet chef. During the Christmas holidays, she supposedly bakes dozens and dozens of cookies, something ridiculous like 20+ different varieties or something. I guess there must be two of her in the kitchen, too.

photo by

Today, Tricia has brought two kinds of cookies — chocolate chip (her poem) and raspberry crescents (her favorite recipe). Her poem says some interesting things about her grandmother and will definitely make you crave a warm cookie. Can you smell a batch baking right this second? Don’t you love biting into a buttery cookie with lots of melty chocolate chips? Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

 Tricia and her grandmother. © 2010 Tricia Stohr-Hunt

A Generous Baker 

I am a generous baker
My grandmother’s polar opposite
Once while reminiscing about her
Chocolate chip cookies with my great uncle
I called her a “stingy” baker
He called her frugal
I suppose anyone who raised a family
During the Depression would act so
But years later when there was money
Would it have hurt to splurge? 

I can still see her in the kitchen
The strings of her yellow flowered apron
Wrapped twice around her tiny waist
And tied in the front
Slowly folding in the contents
Stirring the dough into beautiful smoothness
Oh how I wanted a taste!
Just one finger lick
But no taste testing was allowed 

The magic ingredient–chocolate chips–
Sat in a small bowl off to the side
Almost an afterthought
Small dollops of dough were
Dropped on the cookie sheet
And three chips, no more, no less
Were placed in each cookie 

Whether driven by frugality or stinginess
They were a bittersweet childhood treat
We learned to eat carefully around the edges
And saved the sweetest bites for last 

I am a generous baker
Pouring the entire bag of chips
Into the dough
Ensuring every bite is filled
With chocolaty goodness
And not a hint of disappointment
I look heavenward each time I make them
And whisper apologies
To my grandmother

© 2010 Tricia Stohr-Hunt. All rights reserved.

photo by Stef Noble.

I love reading about this bit of family history. The “stinginess” Tricia speaks of characterizes many who experienced the Great Depression and widens the scope of her poem. I’m guessing many of you have similar stories. Len’s mom was very frugal, as was my aunt. If we happened to visit when she was baking, we weren’t allowed to taste any of the cookies on the cooling rack. Seems every one of them already had a designated eater.

Of all the cookies Tricia bakes, apparently Raspberry Crescents are her favorite. I just happen to LOVE raspberries, and can’t wait to bite into one of these divine, melt-in-your-mouth morsels.

Raspberry Crescents 


  • 1 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup raspberry preserves
  • ½ cup flaked coconut
  • ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
  • Sugar 


  • In a large bowl, cut butter into flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Beat egg yolk and sour cream and add to crumb mixture. Mix well.
  • Chill several hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Combine preserves, coconut and pecans. Mix well and set aside.
  • Divide dough into fourths.
  • On a SUGARED surface (not floured), roll dough into a large circle (10-12 inches).
  • Turn dough over so sugar side is on top.
  • Spread preserve mixture over dough.
  • Cut dough into 12ths. Roll each triangle into a crescent shape, starting at the wide end.
  • Place points down about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  • Sprinkle tops with sugar.
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes or until set and lightly browned.
  • Remove immediately to cool. 
  • Makes about 4 dozen.

♥ Thanks so much, Tricia!

photo by nagehan2002.


Tricia Stohr-Hunt is a Professor of Education at the University of Richmond. In her official capacity as Department Chair, she’s known as Dr. Stohr, but to the Kidlit Blogging World, she’s known as Miss Rumphius, in reference to the main character in Barbara Cooney’s picture book, who aspires to make the world a more beautiful, albeit better, place. Tricia certainly achieves this on a daily basis with her highly regarded, authoritative blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect, which is a treasure trove of resources for teachers, students, librarians, or anyone who loves poetry and children’s literature in general.

Besides cooking, Tricia loves travel, science, math, Karmann Ghias, mah-jong, puzzles, and NPR. And the woman can sing! No shortage of talent or new adventures for this multi-tasking efficiency expert. Every week, Tricia hosts a “Poetry Stretch,” and yes, she’s also a Poetry Princess extraordinaire. It was fun meeting her at KidLitCon last year; I was happy to discover that in addition to being all-around brilliant, she’s really quite endearing. ☺ Poetry Makers is here; cool interview at 7-Imp here.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

cultivating beauty with andromeda jazmon

#21 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

Doesn’t this photograph take your breath away?

I love the intense colors, the sunlight on the petals. I also love that any time I want a dose of natural beauty, I can click over to A Wrung Sponge, and Andi (Andromeda Jazmon) will fix me right up.

Every day in April, most Poetry Fridays, and on many other days during the year, Andi will post a haiga — a photograph paired with an original haiku. She’s mastered the fine art of capturing “the essence of a moment” in both words and image. They are perfect opportunities for reflection and meditation, gentle reminders to slow down, breathe deeply, and appreciate what’s around us.

Just as Tanita loves limes, Andi is enamoured with figs. Her blog banner features a green fig from her tree, a gift from a bookclub friend. She first planted it “in the sunniest spot in my side yard and waited to see what would happen.” This was her first fig experience, and through the years, as she watched the tree grow, and waited months for the green figs to ripen, she also experimented with a few fig recipes.

Continue reading