[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.

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[tasty review] Food Truck Fest! by Alexandra Penfold and Mike Dutton

Kogi Short Rib Tacos

 

So, what do you fancy right this minute?

A little sushi, falafel, spicy chili, or a pulled pork sandwich? Wanna wrap your lips around some Brazilian barbecue, dim sum, kimchi tacos, Indian dosas or souvlaki?

 

Souvlaki GR, NYC

 

If you’re craving something sweet, there’s ice cream, Filipino halo-halo, cupcakes, frozen yogurt, red velvet pancakes, or mini donuts.

 

Mama’s Apple Cider Donut Bites

 

What’s that? You’d like a bite of everything? Well, you needn’t drive to a dozen places — just go to the Food Truck Fest!

Brooklyn author Alexandra Penfold and Google Doodles illustrator Mike Dutton joyfully invite readers to rustle up their appetites and sip, slurp, chew, lick and munch right through their tasty new picture book, Food Truck Fest! (FSG, 2018).

Told in rollicking rhyming couplets, this lipsmacking romp details an exciting and oh-so-satisfying outing featuring our favorite kitchens-on-wheels.

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singing the picture book blues

“To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold —  brothers who know now they are truly brothers.” ~ Archibald MacLeish

Art ©2018 Ashley Crowley (The Boy and the Blue Moon)

 

I’m diving and flying into the deep blue today with a trio of recently published picture books. I love immersing myself in the beauty, wonder, and heart of these cleverly conceived and beautifully executed stories. Oh, for the ultimate blueness of water and sky!

Whether considering the unique “adventures” of a beloved object, pondering the many colors of the world, or taking a magical journey to the moon, these three blue ribbon titles will touch, delight, and inspire, and are already well on their way to becoming perennial favorites.

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Little Blue Chair by Cary Fagan and Madeline Kloepper (Tundra Books, 2017).  In this enchanting, heartwarming story, we follow the journey of a little blue wooden chair as it travels “from place to place and bottom to bottom.” It starts out as young Boo’s favorite chair; he sits in it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, reads on it outdoors and makes a tent around it. When he outgrows it, his mother leaves it by the mailbox, where a man with a truck picks it up.

He sells the blue chair to a junk shop, where it eventually goes home with a lady who uses it as a plant stand. Each time the chair is no longer needed, it is passed on to someone else who deems it perfect for his/her needs. The chair sails the high seas, is propped atop an elephant for rides, and is enjoyed as a birdseed platform and ferris wheel seat, before it’s won by another little boy, who uses it on his go-kart and as a king’s throne.

Held aloft by three balloons, the blue chair then floats back over the ocean and wondrously lands in the front garden of a grown-up Boo, who repaints it and passes it on to his daughter.

This story has a reassuring feeling of continuity to it, as the blue chair circles back to its original owner. Though the ending is a bit predictable, the narrative itself is not, as each time the chair changes hands the circumstances are novel and interesting. Kloepper’s charming ink and pencil illustrations make good use of white space, allowing the blue chair to take center stage in each scene. A whimsical, satisfying story about the rewards of repurposing, reminding us that the inherent value of any object is only limited by our imagination.

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[review + giveaway] Agua, Agüita (Water, Little Water) by Jorge Tetl Argueta and Felipe Ugalde Alcántara

“A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, could explain the universe to us.” ~ Lucy Larcom

Listen. Raindrops patter on the roof. A tossed pebble plops into a pond. Water burbles over smooth stones in a stream. Big waves crash onto the shore — foamy ebb bubbles and sloshes, smaller waves lap.

Water — life giver, wonder, miracle.

In his beautiful new trilingual picture book, Agua, Agüita/Water, Little Water (Piñata Books, 2017), award-winning author and poet Jorge Argueta describes the life cycle of water from the perspective of a single drop.

My name
is Water
but everyone
calls me ‘Little Water.’

I like
to be called
‘Little Water.’

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Mi nombre
es Agua
pera todas
me conocen por “Agüita”.

A mí me gusta
que me llamen
“Agüita”.

Little Water explains how it is born “deep in our Mother Earth,” gradually climbing along rocks and roots through light and darkness until it reaches the surface, becoming visible as droplets resting on spider webs, flower petals and the tips of leaves. Little Water is a “sigh of morning dew” singing “a sweet, tender and strong song.”

Drop by tiny drop, Little Water becomes a river, a lake, an ocean. Then it climbs to the sky, turning into a cloud until it returns “singing to our Mother Earth.”

I love Argueta’s spare lyrical free verse, his metaphor of song and music, and most of all, his use of personification to give voice to nature, a voice that’s endearing, intimate, and sometimes whimsical.

I am one color
in the morning and
another in the afternoon.

Soy de un color
por la mañana y
de otro color en la tarde.

Children will delight in following Little Water’s wondrous journey and seeing the interconnectedness of all living things. They will like hearing Little Water speak directly to them, one small friend to another sharing the secret of its existence, and with personal connection comes awareness, appreciation and caring for Mother Earth.

Alcántara’s luminous, jewel-toned illustrations reinforce the sense of continuity, fluidity and constant motion with their concentric circles and ripples. As raindrops make ever widening circles on the water, we are reminded that even small things can have an impact, as they transform themselves into larger elements with powerful repercussions.

We see many “little waters” bubbling up deep from the ocean floor, entangled amongst roots, flowing through verdant landscapes, tinted by the sunset, cascading down rocky cliffs, caressing the shoreline. Finally, there is the “water bird” described in Argueta’s final stanza, a graceful, blue winged creature symbolizing life itself.

As in many of his books, Argueta expresses his affection and deep reverence for Mother Earth. Water is perhaps her greatest gift, essential to the web of life, as soft as it is forceful, mysterious and pervasive:

I am all colors
and have no color.
I am all flavors
and have no flavor.
I am all shapes
and am shapeless.
I am Water,
I am Little Water.

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Soy de todos los colores
y no tengo color.
Soy de todos los sabores
y no tengor sabor.
Soy de todas las formas
y no tengo forma.
Soy Agua,
soy Agüita.

In addition to Spanish and English, Argueta’s poetic ode is presented in the back of the book in Nahuat, the language of his Pipil-Nahua ancestors in El Salvador — a great way to introduce readers to a fascinating ancient culture. Here’s a taste of it:

Nutukay At
Maya ha muchi
Nech ishmatit guey atchin

Naja Nugustú
Manéchilguiya
Atchin

In addition to sparking interesting discussions about the importance of water and identifying its different manifestations, Agua, Agüita will likely inspire young readers to write their own poems about the wonders of the natural world, perhaps personifying their favorite parts of it.

Beautiful and awe-inspiring with its own brand of charm, don’t miss this lovely, informative book, which holds special appeal for those who enjoy blending poetry with science.

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AGUA, AGÜITA/WATER, LITTLE WATER
written by Jorge Tetl Argueta
illustrated by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara
translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura
published by Piñata Books/Arte Público Press, October 2017
Picture Book for ages 4-7, 32 pp.
*Junior Library Guild Selection
**On shelves October 31, 2017

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📘 SPECIAL BOOK GIVEAWAY! 📕

The publisher has generously donated a copy of the book for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EST) Wednesday, November 8, 2017. You may also enter by sending an email with WATER in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!

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The lovely, warm and welcoming Linda Baie is hosting the Roundup at TeacherDance. Waltz on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Have you eaten all your Halloween candy yet? 🙂


*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2017 Jorge Tetl Argueta, illustrations © 2017 Felipe Ugalde Alcántara, published by Piñata Books/Arte Público Press. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

[tasty review] the knish war on rivington street by joanne oppenheim and jon davis

To knish or not to knish?

Believe it or not, I’ve never eaten a knish. Woe is me and my sheltered life!

(click for Mrs. Stahl’s Potato Knish recipe)

My dear knish, how I long to wrap my lips around your flaky- dough-wrapped mashed potato and fried onion goodness! I was born to love you, as I do all dumplings. I know I’ve dallied with your knishin’ cousins in the past — Cornish pasties, empanadas, samosas, calzone — but you are the only one featured in a brand new picture book, a spirited, savory story that clearly shows why you are worth “fighting” for. How I dream of strolling into a kosher bakery and snatching you up!

The Knish War on Rivington Street by Joanne Oppenheim and Jon Davis (Albert Whitman, 2017) takes us to NYC’s Lower East Side in the early 20th century.

When Benny and his family came to America, his mama baked delicious knishes, round dumplings filled with kasha, cheese, or potatoes, which his papa sold from a pushcart. Soon they were able to open a little store, a knishery, the first of its kind on Rivington Street.

Everyone loved Molly’s knishes, quite a “tasty bargain” at 5 cents each! All was well until the Tisch family opened their knishery right across the street. Mrs. Tisch’s knishes were fried and square, and what’s more, they were advertised as being “Famous” and priced at only 4 cents each.

Well, Papa wasn’t going to let anyone put them out of business. He made a new sign for the shop window, touting Molly’s knishes as “the only real and original” ones, and lowered his price to 4 cents.

When the Tisches lowered their price to only 3 cents each, it was all out war. Benny and Solly Tisch paraded up and down Rivington Street with their placards. Papa began handing out raffle coupons with every purchased knish. Naturally Mr. Tisch did the same.

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