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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[review + recipe] I Heart You by Meg Fleming and Sarah Jane Wright

❤️ Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️

So glad you’re here. You’re just in time for a cup of tea and a freshly baked brownie! Please help yourself. 🙂

I’ve got the perfect picture book to share with you today: I Heart You by Meg Fleming and Sarah Jane Wright (Beach Lane Books, 2016). Have you seen this one yet?

Debut author Meg Fleming celebrates the love between parent and child in a series of endearing animal vignettes. Her spare, lyrical text — just four 3-word sentences for each animal pair — captures different ways parents express love for their little ones.

We first see a young bunny snatching a carrot from a garden, then running back to a waiting parent with it — a cheerful reunion that ends with them snuggling in their burrow.

I see you.
I miss you.

I hug you.
I kiss you.

Foxes play a game of hide and seek; bears chase, frolic in the grass, then pick apples; ducks swim, hop and cuddle; birds “sway” and “swing” before returning to the nest for a song. The book ends with a doe watching over her fawn as it encounters a human child, who has just picked berries with her mother.

I hear you.
I let you.

I know you.
I get you.

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friday feast: “Oatmeal Deluxe” by Stephen Dobyns (+ a recipe)

“Breakfast” by Alberto Morrocco

Hello, Snowy Winter Morning! What’s for breakfast?

I’ve been an oatmeal-for-breakfast girl for quite some time. Sure, I dallied with cold cereal and Pop-Tarts® in my reckless youth, and even went through a yogurt, fruit, and granola phase. But now, I look forward to starting each day with a warm, comforting bowl of quick cooking oats.

When you live with more than a few bears (300+ and counting), you can’t help but channel Goldilocks. You bask in the fairy tale dimension of porridge, by now having perfected cooking time, addition of milk, maple syrup, berries and nuts to an enviable “just right.”

L. Leslie Brooke (The Three Bears)
via Greg Abbott (Society 6)

Some consider oatmeal bland and boring, ooey gooey pablum for the unimaginative. Fie on them, I say! Obviously they haven’t considered oatmeal’s poetic possibilities. Think of Galway Kinnell, who eats his oatmeal with charming companions like John Keats. And then there’s the inimitable Stephen Dobyns, whose tragicomic oatmeal fantasy reads like the magic porridge pot meets roguish Rodin. While some may sow their wild oats, others sculpt them. No time for mushy romance.

Love me, love my oatmeal. How will you shape your destiny?

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Barrel-aged Oatmeal via Serious Eats

OATMEAL DELUXE
by Stephen Dobyns

This morning, because the snow swirled deep
around my house, I made oatmeal for breakfast.
At first it was too runny so I added more oatmeal,
then it grew too thick so I added water.
Soon I had a lot of oatmeal. The radio
was playing Spanish music and I became
passionate: soon I had four pots of oatmeal.
I put them aside and started a new batch.
Soon I had eight pots. When the oatmeal cooled,
I began to roll it with my hands, making
small shapes: pigs and souvenir ashtrays. Then
I made a foot, then another, then a leg. Soon
I’d made a woman out of oatmeal with freckles
and a cute nose and hair made from brown sugar
and naked except for a necklace of raisins.
She was five feet long and when she grew harder
I could move her arms and legs without them
falling off. But I didn’t touch her much –
she lay on the table – sometimes I’d touch her
with a spoon, sometimes I’d lick her in places
it wouldn’t show. She looks like you, although
her hair is darker, but the smile is like yours,
and the eyes, although hers are closed. You say:
what has this to do with me? And I should say:
I want to make more women from Cream of Wheat.
But enough of such fantasy. You ask me
why I don’t love you, why you can’t
live with me. What can I tell you? If I
can make a woman out of oatmeal, my friend,
what trouble could I make for you, a woman?

~ from Heat Death: Poems (Atheneum, 1980)

Laura Walls Taylor

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[review + recipe] The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang and Alina Chau

While growing up in Hawai’i, I was always a little jealous of my Chinese friends. They got to celebrate two New Years, once on January 1, and again in late January/early February for Chinese New Year. Moreover, their Chinese New Year was actually a two week Spring festival, where all the children received special red envelopes with money in them.

Though I have long been familiar with many Chinese New Year customs, I did not know very much about the fearful single-horned monster portrayed in the dramatic and colorful lion dance. Thanks to a captivating and delectable new picture book, now we can all meet the famous Nian Monster of ancient legend as he descends upon modern day Shanghai and is cleverly outwitted by a feisty young girl.

In The Nian Monster by Andrea Wang and Alina Chau (Albert Whitman, 2016), young Xingling wonders why all the Chinese New Year decorations are red, so her grandmother (Po Po) tells her all about the Nian Monster — a ferocious creature with “jaws as wide as caverns” and “teeth sharper than swords,” who would get so hungry every Spring, he left his home in the mountains to consume entire villages.

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[tasty review + recipe] Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story by Nadiya Hussain

All of us here in the Alphabet Soup kitchen were thrilled when Nadiya Hussain won Season 3 of The Great British Baking Show (‘Great British Bake Off’ in the UK).

We loved her unusual flavor combinations and beautiful presentations, and it was awesome seeing how her confidence grew each week as she tackled all those signature bakes, technical challenges and show stoppers.

Nadiya wins Series 6 of The Great British Bake Off

Most agree that she also captivated audiences with her telling facial expressions. Her flexible eyebrows sometimes told the whole story: determination, panic, joy, disappointment, fear, frustration. It was such an emotional moment when she was declared winner and said, “”I’m never gonna put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never gonna say I can’t do it. I’m never gonna say ‘maybe’. I’m never gonna say, ‘I don’t think I can.’ I can and I will.

This 31-year-old Leeds wife and mother of three has been very busy since her big win last year. In September 2016, she published Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story, a charming collection of 15 updated fairy tales + recipes for children, and her adult cookbook featuring family recipes, Nadiya’s Kitchen, will come out in 2017.

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