[scrumptious review] The Tiny Baker by Hayley Barrett and Alison Jay

Are your antennae twitching? What’s the buzz?

It’s 3 p.m. and tea time!

Hope you’re wearing a fancy day dress and bonnet, maybe have a favorite parasol to twirl while you’re queuing up with all the other tony arthropods. Get ready to wrap your lips around trays and trays of delectable sweets!

In The Tiny Baker, a whimsically delicious new picture book by Hayley Barrett and Alison Jay (Barefoot Books, 2020), we are treated to a lyrical and visual feast that’s cuter than a bug’s ear.

The baker in question appears to be a honeybee, whose tearoom is always crawling with business.

Her customers line up in rows.
Antennae wave well-bred hellos.

They’re always elegantly dressed,
Silk gowns or trousers neatly pressed.

They wait to try her lemon tarts,
Her sugar-sprinkled cookie hearts,

To sample her pecan pralines
And nibble lacy florentines.

Just before she opens her doors, the bee baker makes sure her “pantry is pristine,” while her “spotty squad” of ladybug pastry chefs busily mix, whisk, and stir.

Then she’s happy to welcome and seat a group of elegant ants, mentioning her “sublime éclairs” while pouring them pink lemonade or freshly made rose-hip iced tea.

But “in the kitchen trouble brews”: a fragrant breeze brings urgent news, prompting the ladybug assistants to suddenly swarm off — every last one of them! Disaster!

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[delectable review + recipe] Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate, From Farm to Family by Elizabeth Zunon

 

Every afternoon around 1:30, I bite into a piece of organic 70% cacao dark chocolate. As it slowly melts in my mouth (oh, so velvety rich and flavorful!), my mood lifts and a certain dreamy euphoria sets in. Hello, dopamine, serotonin and antioxidants!

 

 

Not only does chocolate make me feel good, it’s good for my health, overall well being and productivity. As per my ongoing “scientific” research, most of the writers I’ve polled agree that chocolate inspires their best work — all the more reason to heartily swig steamy cups of cocoa, wrap your lips around fudgy brownies, gleefully devour truffles and bonbons, and giddily carouse with cacao at every opportunity.

Glad we agree on that! 🙂

But such divine delights should never be taken for granted. In fact, the next time you reach for your favorite chocolate bar, you will probably appreciate it even more if you consider how the cocoa was sourced and harvested, with a nod to the hardworking farmers in faraway places who play such an important role in producing the scrumptious wonder that is chocolate.

 

 

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[mouthwatering review] magic ramen by andrea wang and kana urbanowicz

“Mankind is Noodlekind” ~ Momofuku Ando

 

Know what would really hit the spot right about now?

A warm bowl of instant ramen. Care to join me?

 

 

I can’t even guess how many years I’ve been going from “hungry to happy” with Top Ramen and Cup Noodles. They’re pretty unbeatable (and ubiquitous) as comfort food — quick, convenient, portable, shelf stable, cheap, tasty and satisfying. It’s the kind of thing you take for granted, the food that helped you get through college. 🙂

But do you know who actually invented instant ramen?

 

 

I first heard of Taiwanese-born Momofuku Ando in an article that appeared in David Chang’s inaugural issue of the now defunct Lucky Peach magazine (2011). What a fascinating and inspirational story! Anyone who’s ever slurped up their fair share of ramen should know the who, what, when, how, and why of what the Japanese consider to be their best invention of the 20th century.

 

 

Now, thanks to Andrea Wang and Kana Urbanowicz, hungry, noodle-loving kids can read all about it in a new picture book, Magic Ramen: The Story of Momofuku Ando (little bee books, 2019). They will see that because of one man’s compassion, ingenuity, persistence, and entrepreneurial smarts, people all over the world can make their own delicious ramen “anywhere, anytime” in just a few minutes. 🙂

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[tasty review] Right This Very Minute by Lisl H. Detlefsen and Renée Kurilla

 

Are you hungry, right this very minute?

Well then, put on your bib and prepare to lick your chops cause you’ve come to the right place. 🙂

Can’t wait to tell you about a brand new picture book (just out today!) by Lisl H. Detlefsen, who, you may recall, visited not too long ago to talk about her award-winning debut title, Time for Cranberries (Roaring Brook Press, 2015). 

This time she’s teamed up with Boston-based illustrator Renée Kurilla to serve up Right This Very Minute: A Table-to-Farm Book About Food and Farming (Feeding Minds Press, 2019).

 

 

Talk about interesting, informative, engaging, and totally delicious! This book spotlights the proud, dedicated farmers and ranchers who work hard to feed us each and every day. From orchards to dairy farms, to wheat fields and cranberry marshes, they are constantly busy getting food to our tables.

The fun begins with a mother serving her daughter pancakes, maple syrup and orange juice for breakfast.

 

All art copyright © 2019 Renée Kurilla

 

What’s that you say?
You’re hungry for breakfast?

Right this very minute?

Then you need a farmer.

You have the stories of so many,
right here on your table.

 

She then goes on to explain that the oranges are tested for ripeness at the citrus grove before they’re harvested and squeezed into juice. Meanwhile, a farmer is preparing his field for seeding. The wheat will be “grown, harvested, and then ground into flour” for pancakes. At the same time, a sugarmaker installs a new tubing system to carry maple sap to a storage tank before it’s boiled down into thick maple syrup in evaporators.

We are then invited to join more families and friends as they enjoy a snack, have lunch, dinner, and dessert. Each time, we are treated to tantalizing tidbits about the foods they’re eating.

 

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[review + giveaway] The Ugly Dumpling by Stephanie Campisi and Shahar Kober

My, my.  A story about dim sum and dumplings. What could be more tempting? 🙂

In the The Ugly Dumpling (Mighty Media Kids, 2016), a new picture book by Stephanie Campisi and Shahar Kober, we are invited to the Golden Swan Restaurant for a “modern fable of friendship, feelings, and being different.”

 

Once upon a time,
perhaps last week,
or even last night,
at your local dim sum restaurant
there was an UGLY DUMPLING . . .

This ugly dumpling
was ugly
in its
OWN
ugly way.

 

Poor thing! Though the dumpling tried its best to be noticed by wrinkling its brow, standing up tall, or even wearing pleated pants, sadly it remained “uneaten and ignored.” But as fate would have it, along came a cockroach whose heart swelled with love, who wept upon seeing the ugly dumpling. It extended an arm (or a leg) in friendship, promising to show the dumpling “the beauty of the world.”

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