two scrumptious food poems from barbara crooker’s new book Les Fauves

Ever have this daydream?

You decide to take a break after writing all morning. When you step outside, instead of your ho-hum suburban neighborhood, you find yourself in one of the most beautiful villages in southern France.

Breathe that bracing air! What a gorgeous, deep blue cloudless sky! Love the quaint cobblestone streets, ivy climbing up ancient brick walls, morning glories spilling out of flower boxes. And crusty baguettes in bicycle baskets!

Mmmmm — what’s that heavenly aroma? Following your nose, you spy a charming boulangerie just around the corner. Your prayers have been answered! Give us this day our daily bread — and we would not object in the least if you’d like to throw in a few French pastries. Mais, oui!

Thanks to the inimitable Barbara Crooker, we can visit the boulangerie of our dreams at this very moment. You have to love a country where food is an art form and bakers are revered, where the universal language of deliciousness brings people closer together. There is no finer way to feed the soul than to savor each bite with passion and gratitude.

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9 cool things on a tuesday

Turbo has his own desk and reading lamp.

1. Nothing cuter than a few literary hedgies to get your day off to a cheery start! I’m sure Mrs Tiggy-winkle would be highly pleased. See more Bookish Hedgehogs here.

Scooter (RIP) preferred fresh air and a picnic blanket.

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2. New book alert! Just in time for Fall is Apple Picking Day!  by Candice Ransom and Erika Meza (Random House, 2016), a Step Into Reading title that’s a perfect companion to last year’s Pumpkin Day!

Who doesn’t love to go apple picking at the first sign of fall? A sister and brother celebrate autumn with a trip to a local apple orchard in this simple, rhyming Step 1 early reader.
 
The kids bound with glee through the rows of trees, and race against other children to pick the most and the best apples. The story of their day is bright, fun, and full of light action. It’s told in easy-to-follow rhyme, ensuring a successful reading experience.

Congrats on the new book, Candice!

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3. Heads up Susan Branch fans! In addition to collecting Susan’s wonderful illustrated cookbooks, 3-part memoir, calendars and greeting cards, you can also enjoy her fabulous designs on fabric, wallpaper, labels, and gift wrap.

Visit her design shop at Spoonflower to see the entire collection. I am especially partial to her dotty, kitchen, and afternoon tea prints, but she also has pretty florals, butterflies, sweet lambs, and a marshmallow world. Just lovely!

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4. Recently read a wonderful post (“if quirky is your thing”) at Orange Marmalade about a series of classic children’s books republished in beautiful new editions by New York Review Books (NYRB). In her post, Jill highlights five titles from their Children’s Collection, which currently features around 80 books.

What a great way to discover gems from the past!. I’m especially excited about getting my hands on Junket is Nice and The Magic Pudding, but so many of them look interesting. Visit the New York Review Books Children’s Collection page for more. Actually, I wish I had them all. 🙂

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5. Holy guacamole! Have you ever fantasized about being a human burrito? Come on, admit it!

You’ll be happy to know you can now embrace your inner taquito with the ingenious TORTILLA TOWEL. 🙂

This fetching 5-foot round limited edition towel resembles a real flour tortilla. Imagine yourself as a tiny taco filling — a little chicken, refried beans, jalapeno, maybe? Roll around in the grass, become the envy of those snooty sunbathers on the beach, or cuddle up for a nice after-bath nap. Finally, a towel to meet all your Mexican dishy needs!

See how you can become a taco, quesadilla, tostada, enchilada, burrito or taquito. Would you like a little Cholula with that?

Order yours at the Tortilla Towel site.

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6. Pop over to The Literary Foodie for a nice list of Food Fiction titlesJessica says this will be an ongoing, ever-changing list, and she welcomes recommendations from all.

I’m only familiar with a few of the titles (Babette’s Feast, Like Water for Chocolate, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe), so I’m looking forward to checking out some of the others!

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7. Love this Mad Hatter Teapot for One from LennyMud!

It’s made from lead free, toxin-free earthenware clay and is dishwasher and microwave safe. Perfect gift to let friends know you’re mad about them! 🙂

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8. What to do with those cute drawings your kids make? Post them on the fridge — or if you’re a creative Mom from Tokyo (aka Konel Bread), you incorporate them into loaves of round bread! KB makes these loaves with natural flavors and colors (beetroot, spinach, cocoa), and many are based on her son’s drawings. I want some mustache bread! See more at Konel Bread’s Instagram.

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9. Finally, if you’re a Jacques Pépin fan like I am, you’ll be happy to know his whimsical artwork is featured in a new collection of handcrafted Italian ceramics and table linens available exclusively at Sur La Table.

There are a lot of adorable chickens on mugs, platters, aprons, mitts, and pasta bowls. I especially love this baker, which has one of Jacques’s hand-painted menus on the interior. The entire collection has a fresh French country chic feeling about it.

Collection Menu Baker

Jacques has also added new original paintings and signed prints to his art website. You probably know that for years he’s been creating hand-drawn menus of his dinner parties — what beautiful mementos! Some of these are also available as prints. I love a chef who creates art in and out of the kitchen!

“Blue Table” (sold)
“Blue Flower on Brick Wall” (sold)

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Until next time, as Jacques would say,

HAPPY COOKING!

ENJOY YOUR WEEK.

BE KIND!

🙂 🙂 🙂


Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

a chat, a cluck, a kulich and a giveaway: Julie Paschkis on P. Zonka Lays an Egg

Every year, Seattle-based author/illustrator Julie Paschkis attends a big neighborhood party hosted by her sister Jan and husband Greg, where family and friends gather to decorate eggs and eat lots of delicious food.

Their eggs, Ukrainian pysanky, are decorated with patterns of beeswax and layers of dye, and are part of a longstanding folk art tradition that honors the Sun and welcomes Spring. Julie’s new picture book  P. Zonka Lays An Egg (Peachtree, 2015), which officially hits shelves this week (!), was inspired by these marvelous egg-decorating parties, and is, in a word, GORGEOUS.

P. Zonka herself is no ordinary hen. Unlike her clucky friends Maud, Dora and Nadine, she’s a not a regular egg layer, preferring to spend her days gazing at the wonders of the natural world. Much to the bewilderment of the other hens, who think she’s either daft or just plain lazy, P. Zonka is enthralled by soft dark moss, the deep blue of the sky, pale mornings, and the shining centers of dandelions.

(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)

After much pestering, urging and coaxing by the other hens, P. Zonka finally decides to give egg laying a try — and the result is well beyond any could have imagined — in a word, SPECTACULAR!

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guest post: margo sorenson on norwegian lefse (flatbread)

I’m happy to welcome dear friend and award winning author Margo Sorenson back to Alphabet Soup today. 🙂

The good news is that her middle grade historical novel, Tori and the Sleigh of Midnight Blue (first released in paperback back in 2003), is now available as an ebook!

Eleven-year-old Tori and her family are struggling with the Great Depression in North Dakota, and the death of her beloved Papa has been the severest blow of all. To aspiring writer Tori, everything is changing for the worse—her friends are acting too grown-up, and her little brother Otto invades her privacy. When a Norwegian bachelor-farmer begins courting Mama, Tori writes in her journal that her life will be ruined. What will Tori discover about forgiveness and acceptance as she tries to keep her life from changing?

I enjoyed learning about Scandinavian customs through this beautifully written novel, which reminded me of childhood favorites like All-of-a Kind Family and the Little House Books, where family ties, simple pleasures and a strong sense of community sustain the characters through difficult times.

In the chapter “Missing!”, Tori reluctantly helps her mother roll lefse for Thanksgiving. She usually loves making the traditional flatbread, but this would be their second Thanksgiving without Papa, and besides, she was angry that Mama had invited suitor Bjorn Oppestadt to dinner. How dare she? He wasn’t family!

Today, Margo talks about rolling lefse with her own family. It sounds like such delicious fun. Adopt me, please :).

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friday feast: a miracle of flour, yeast, and metaphor

“Peace goes into the making of a poem, as flour goes into the making of bread.” ~ Pablo Neruda

oilbread
Franck Dangereux’s Oil Bread via The Food Fox (click for recipe)

The other day, after rereading Lesléa Newman’s, “According to Bread,” one of my favorite poems in The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School (Pomelo Books, 2013), chewy, mouthwatering bread names playfully called to me, each a poem unto itself.

Bagel, Brioche, Baguette . . . Ciabatta, Challah, Chapati . . . Kulcha, Lavash, Focaccia, Tortilla, Pita, Zwieback.

Play with us, they said. Roll, pat, toss us! Slice, butter, dip, fill, break us. We know we smell good. 🙂

Bread is a beautiful thing — venerable, inclusive, eternal, irresistible. Staff of life and a sacrament, it pays our way and is a gift from every culture and ethnicity in the world.

rosemaryfoccacia
Rosemary Focaccia via My Year Cooking with Chris Kimball (click for recipe)

Just naming these breads makes me happy. I daresay I feel a tad cosmopolitan because I’ve actually tasted all of them and more. What do you reach for when the bread basket is passed around?

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