[zesty review + recipe] Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki

Tie on your apron!
Roll up your sleeves!
Pans are out, oven is hot.
The kitchen's all ready,
where do we start?

From its very first cheery HELLO! . . . to its final glorious SLURP!, this exuberant, soul-nourishing story demonstrates the good that can come when ordinary people work together to help others.

In Our Little Kitchen (Abrams BFYR, 2020), Caldecott honoree Jillian Tamaki takes us inside a bustling community kitchen, where every Wednesday a crew of hardworking volunteers prepares a meal for their neighbors.

They’re a resourceful, ethnically diverse bunch who get the job done with their no-nonsense brand of high energy, cacophonous teamwork.

Upon arrival, young and old waste no time in assessing available ingredients: “what we’ve grown, what we’ve kept, been given, and bought!”

In the garden they find ripe tomatoes and zucchini, though “the lettuce is holey,” the carrots too small. But in the fridge, a purple-haired teen boy jubilantly discovers carrots, celery and radishes.

They know how to make the best possible use of what’s on hand, cutting the brown bits off apples to make a sweet crumble, tossing day-old bread into the oven (“Soft and warm, good as new!”), and earnestly contemplating what to do with the abundance of food bank beans: “bean salad? bean soup? bean tacos? bean stew?”

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joy soup for a new blue year

“I’m a ‘blue sky thinker’ and dream big.” ~ Hilary Knight

Hello Cutie Pies, and Hello Brand New Year!!

Yes, we’re back. Actually, we’re back and BLUE. Once again.

It feels good to open a new calendar and be a member of the Clean Slate Club. As Anne Shirley said, “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.” Oh, the possibilities!

Come what may, COOKIES are always a good idea — along with warm cups of tea, a comfy chair, and a good book or two or five hundred. 🙂

We’re all bears here (oh, you’ve noticed?). Hibernate is the name of the game. 🐻

So, did you have a good holiday? One of the nicest things to happen here was welcoming a new resident, BLUE BEAR.

He arrived on our doorstep thanks to the kindness and generosity of dear blogger friend Linda Baie, who hangs out at TeacherDance. Not too long ago, I stumbled across a photo of Big Blue Bear online; those of you who are from or have visited Denver are probably familiar with him, as he’s been peeking into the Colorado Convention Center since 2005.

But until a couple of months ago, I did not know he existed! Yes, I lead a sheltered life, but one would THINK that since Len travels to Denver sometimes on business, he would have mentioned Big Blue Bear at some point. He’s lived with over 300 bears for 30-odd years and knows very well I would want to know about this cool 40-ft high, 10,000 pound sculpture. Men!

 

“I See What You Mean”/Big Blue Bear was created by the late Lawrence Argent, an art professor at the University of Denver.

 

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[review + recipe + giveaway] Blue Corn Soup by Caroline Stutson and Teri Weidner

Brrrrrrrrr!

When it’s snowy out, and the world has turned into a frosted fairyland, it’s nice to keep warm indoors and read a tasty picture book.

What could be better than cuddling up with your favorite blankie on a comfy sofa, while a pot of homemade soup gently burbles on the stove? Oh, that tempting aroma wafting through the house. Mmmmmm!

I’m definitely in the mood for Blue Corn Soup (Sleeping Bear Press, 2017), how about you? Written by the late Caroline Stutson and illustrated by Teri Weidner, this cozy rhyming picture book will warm the cockles of your heart and send you straight to the kitchen.

It all begins one snowy day when Mouse, a.k.a. Abuelita, decides to make a pot of soup.

Whiskers wiggle. Eyes grow bright.
Mouse peeks out. The canyon’s white.
Snow — she blinks. She’ll grind dried corn.
Blue corn soup will keep her warm.

Abuelita fills her pot.
She’ll make sopa — not a lot;
just enough for one small mouse,
cozy in her sagebrush house.

As her soup begins to cook, its savory aroma drifts around the canyon, making her neighbors curious and hungry. She continues to taste and add more ingredients, convinced something is missing.

Meanwhile, the good smells prompt Chipmunk to leave his woodchopping. Is it sopa? He must find out.

Rabbit, who was drawing water from the well, can’t resist either. Sniff, sniff. Is it sopa? He, too, must find out.

The delicious aroma even awakens Old Bear from his winter nap. He’s a little grumpy, but when something smells that good, he decides he must investigate.

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two yummy recipes from The Tasha Tudor Family Cookbook (+ a giveaway!)

“If you took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening, listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, you might enjoy life more. Joy is there for the taking.” ~Tasha Tudor

It must have been lovely to join Tasha Tudor for afternoon tea at her beloved Corgi Cottage in southeastern Vermont.

Perhaps her Corgis would greet me at the door, and if I was a little early, she’d put me to work, melting semi-sweet chocolate to fill her speckled cookies. I would happily set the table with her favorite heirloom Blue Canton or hand painted pink lustre tea set, basking in the warmth and charm of her cozy kitchen, only too willing to immerse myself in her 19th century world.

Tasha’s older son Seth built Corgi Cottage in 1970 using only hand tools (photo via Tasha Tudor & Family).

I can’t remember when I first encountered Tasha’s work; it seems like her enchanting pastel watercolors were always part of my read-write-teach existence as they adorned nearly one hundred children’s books and a myriad of greeting cards and calendars. How I appreciated this gentle reminder of simpler times, the idyllic views of New England people, villages, woods, fields, farms, and gardens!

photo by Richard Brown/The Private World of Tasha Tudor

Tasha’s life was a work of art. She often remarked that she was the reincarnation of a sea captain’s wife who lived from about 1800 to 1840. Here was an artist who wholeheartedly lived and dressed the part, making her own clothes from flax she grew, raising her own farm animals, indulging her passions for gardening and traditional handcrafts such as basket-making, candle-making, calligraphy, weaving, sewing, knitting, and doll-making.

photo by Richard Brown/The Private World of Tasha Tudor

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autumn pleasures: three poems, butternut bisque, and gingerbread applesauce cake

Hello Friends. Can’t believe it’s already the end of October!

Fall is going much too fast for me. I wish there was a way to make it last longer — trees aflame with color, deep blue skies, crisp mornings, apple everything and friendly pumpkins! If I had my way, I would skip summer entirely and have two autumns in a row.

More than any other season, Fall reminds me to make the most of each moment. Lovely though it may be, there’s always this sense of reckoning, the gathering in and taking stock, and with that an acute awareness of life’s evanescence.

“Pumpkin Patch” by Paul Peel

AUTUMN
by Linda Pastan

I want to mention
summer ending
without meaning the death
of somebody loved

or even the death
of the trees.
Today in the market
I heard a mother say

Look at the pumpkins,
it’s finally autumn!
And the child didn’t think
of the death of her mother

which is due before her own
but tasted the sound
of the words on her clumsy tongue:
pumpkin; autumn.

Let the eye enlarge
with all it beholds.
I want to celebrate
color, how one red leaf

flickers like a match
held to a dry branch,
and the whole world goes up
in orange and gold.

~ from Heroes in Disguise (W.W. Norton, 1992)

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