[sweet review + recipe] A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman and Susan Gal

Please help yourself to a Pineapple Macadamia Bar

On Christmas Eve, millions of kids all over the world will be leaving out cookies and milk for Santa, and many will also provide a few carrots for his trusty reindeer.

Though my family did not do this when I was little, I’ve more than made up for it since. Any holiday tradition involving cookies is fine by me, and Santa deserves the very best. 🙂

Until I read A World of Cookies for Santa by M.E. Furman and Susan Gal (HMH, 2017), I didn’t know very much about Santa in the context of other cultures. As an egocentric American, my concept of “cookies and milk” was very generic — a few sugar cookies here, a gingersnap there, chocolate chip cookies everywhere. That’s understandable when you tend to think Santa belongs only to you.

Silly me, Santa belongs to everyone, and he enjoys lots of deliciously different treats (not all are cookies) as he travels hither and yon. Yes, he swigs a lot of milk, but he’s also able to wet his whistle with tea, beer, sparkling cider, eggnog, hot chocolate and wine. Lucky man!

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[scrummy review + recipe] Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story by Nadiya Hussain and Clair Rossiter

Ho, Ho, Ho, jingle jangle jingle – what better way to rustle up a little holiday spirit than with a brand new Nadiya Hussain story-cookbook!

If you’re a fan of The Great British Baking Show/Great British Bake-Off, you know Nadiya as the GBBO Series 6 winner (2015). Ever since then, Nadiya has been racing full steam ahead as an author, columnist, and television presenter, while remaining a devoted mum to her three children..

So far, she’s published two adult cookbooks, one contemporary novel, and now, two children’s story-cookbooks. You may remember when I featured Nadiya’s Bake Me a Story last Fall and baked her Very Berry Breakfast Muffins. I was excited to learn she had published a second children’s book, Nadiya’s Bake Me a Festive Story, which was just released in early October.

Nadiya once again celebrates her love of storytelling and cooking, but this time her focus is on what matters most about the holidays: caring, giving, sharing, family, joy and fun.

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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. 🙂

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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:

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[review + recipe] eat this poem by nicole gulotta

“Both the cook and the poet are makers. One holds a knife, the other a pen. One grinds fresh pepper over a mound of tender lettuce, while the other adds a period to the end of a sentence or a dash to the end of a line. With available ingredients — vegetables and herbs, rhymes and words — layers of flavor and meaning are infused in the pan and composed on the page.” ~ Nicole Gulotta (Eat This Poem, 2017)

Some of you may remember when Nicole Gulotta wrote a guest post for Alphabet Soup several years ago featuring an Apple Crumb Muffin recipe inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem “Apple Pockets.”

As a longtime fan of Nicole’s literary food blog, Eat This Poem, I was happy to see her first book come out earlier this year. This summer I finally had a nice chunk of time to give it a careful reading, savoring each word, each poem, each recipe.

Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry (Roost Books, 2017) features 75+ new recipes paired with poems by 25 of America’s most beloved poets (Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mark Strand, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry). Just as she does at her blog, Nicole includes thoughtful commentary on each poem, followed by personal stories about the recipes.

All are presented thematically in five sections: On What Lingers, On Moments in Time, On Growth, On Gathering, and On Splendor. Recipe categories include Breakfasts, Salads, Soups, Snacks and Small Bites, Meat and Seafood, Vegetables/Vegetarian, Desserts and Drinks.

Enjoy Diane Lockward’s “Blueberry,” then read about Nicole’s Christmas morning family tradition of opening stockings by the fireplace while eating muffins (she then tempts us with a recipe for Blueberry Bran Muffins).

Contemplate Joy Harjo’s “Perhaps the World Ends Here” (one of the first food poems I ever shared at Alphabet Soup back in 2007), and then read about how Nicole’s great-grandmother used to slather a chicken in fresh oregano before roasting it for family dinners. Nicole’s recipe for Oregano Roast Chicken had me drooling (imagine the aroma of olive oil and savory spices wafting through your kitchen on a Sunday afternoon).

Do you know Sharon Olds’s bittersweet poem “First Thanksgiving” — about a mother anticipating her daughter’s return home after her first few months away at college? Nicole offers a recipe for Wild Rice with Chestnuts and Leeks, inspired by a semester abroad in London. In December, she took walks around the city the last week she was there to take it all in before returning home. She chanced upon a stall selling hot roasted chestnuts and tasted them for the first time, a wonderful moment that became an indelible memory.

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[review + recipe] Fanny in France by Alice Waters and Ann Arnold

Bonjour Mes Amis!

Are you in the mood for a little trip to France?

I was so excited last Fall when I learned that renowned chef and restaurateur Alice Waters had written another children’s book about her daughter Fanny. I remember well when I first saw Fanny at Chez Panisse in a bookstore back in the mid 90’s.

You know that feeling when you see a book that looks interesting, and you casually pick it up, and as you’re fanning through the pages, your pulse starts to quicken and your senses go on high alert because, because — oh my, what’s this? wow! LOVE, yes! it’s love at first sight!?

I had not seen a book like that before — a children’s story with illustrated recipes! Usually stories were stories and recipes lived in cookbooks. But to combine the two? Brilliant!

So began my obsession newfound interest in food-related children’s books and illustrated cookbooks. I also wanted to move to Berkeley, California, immediately so I could dine regularly at Chez Panisse.

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