[spooky review + giveaway] The Pomegranate Witch by Denise Doyen and Eliza Wheeler

Hello my pretties! Ready for a spookalicious story?

*cackles and strokes chin wart*

No matter where we grew up, most of us can remember a mean or eccentric neighbor, a creepy old house that was supposedly haunted, or a place we were afraid (or not allowed) to frequent for one reason or another.

It was the kind of thing where we were both curious and terrified at the same time. We hungered for more even as we trembled in our boots. It’s wonderful how local lore and enduring legends figured in our childhoods, how we bore witness to the dynamic process of their evolution.

In The Pomegranate Witch (Chronicle Books, 2017), Denise Doyen and Eliza Wheeler serve up a deliciously eerie and suspenseful tale of five neighborhood kids who battle a green twiggy-fingered Witch for fruit from her haunted, zealously-guarded pomegranate tree.

Beyond the edge of town,
where streetlights stopped and sidewalks ended,
A small boy spied a farmhouse in a field long untended —

And before its sagging porch, amid a weedy foxtail sea,
Found the scary, legendary, haunted pomegranate tree.

The gnarled tree loomed high and wide; its branches scraped the ground.
Beneath there was a fort, of sorts, with leafed walls all around.
Its unpruned limbs were jungle-like, dirt ripplesnaked with roots,
But glorious were the big, red, round, ripe pomegranate fruits.

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a little tale of beatrix potter and canon hardwicke rawnsley (+ a recipe for Lakeland Lemon Bread)

 

Once upon a time there were four little Rabbits —
and their names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter.

They lived with their Mother in a sand-bank, underneath the root of a very big fir-tree.

‘Now my dears,’ said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, ‘you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don’t go into Mr. McGregor’s garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.’

So begins the story of Peter Rabbit, the most beloved bunny in children’s literature. It’s likely this charming tale will be enjoyed during family Easter celebrations on both sides of the pond this weekend.

Refreshments may include blackberries and milk, currant buns, lettuces, radishes, parsley and camomile tea. Other favorite Potter characters such as Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten, Jemima Puddle-duck, and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle may also get their fair share of attention, but what about Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley?

Who?

Well, it’s time you knew (if you don’t already). 🙂

Rawnsley wrote the “other” Tale of Peter Rabbit. Yes, there actually was another version. And it was written in verse!

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cookie capers, reindeer poems, and a holiday blog break

Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight;
Make me a child again just for tonight.”
~ Elizabeth Akers Allen

‘Tis the season for cookies, cookies, cookies, those crispy chewy crumbly tokens of love, sweet love ❤️.

If pies are the best part of Thanksgiving, then cookies are definitely the best part of Christmas. We all have our favorites — cookies we make for gifts, parties, exchanges, or just for ourselves (because we deserve it, right?). What will be on your cookie platter this year?

from Baby’s Christmas by Eloise Wilkin (1980)

Hmmmm, let me guess — sugar cookies cut in the shapes of stars, bells, or candy canes? Or maybe Chocolate Crinkles, Snickerdoodles, Mexican Wedding Cakes, rich Butter Cookies or old fashioned Gingerbread? Oh, I know! Molasses Spice! Spritz! Raspberry Thumbprints! Pecan Shortbread, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Classic Chocolate Chip? Maybe you’re into Stained Glass Cookies, Coconut Macaroons, or (you saucy minx) Rum Balls! Oh ho! 🙂

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ho ho ho!: scrumptious treats and a holiday blog break

IT’S CHRISTMAS WEEK! IT’S CHRISTMAS WEEK!

Put on your best bibs and elf shoes and ring those bells!

Now that I’m done with shopping, wrapping, mailing and decorating, I can finally “relax” and concentrate on my favorite part of the holidays — food! Needless to say, the Alphabet Soup furry kitchen helpers are beside themselves with excitement. This year, we decided to try a couple of new recipes to keep things interesting, and we picked up a few treats from the British Pantry in anticipation of “Downton Abbey” starting up again on January 3. Mrs. Patmore, here we come!

To me, there’s nothing more British than mince pies at Christmastime. The only person in my family to ever bake mince pies was Auntie Ella, and she made the full size pies that are common in America, rather than the individual serving tart-size ones that you see in the UK. Mince pie also appeared on the Thanksgiving table in New Hampshire; when Len’s parents were still alive, mince and apple pies were served more often than pumpkin.

 

 

 

Those little mince pies are just too cute — couldn’t resist buying a couple of boxes from the BP, Walker’s Spiced Orange and Cranberry, and Mr. Kipling’s. Of course they’re perfect with a cup of tea, so we stocked up on some Downton Abbey Holiday Cheer and Christmas teas.

Also treated ourselves to a tin of Quality Street confections. These yummy chocolate covered toffees were made by Mackintosh in Halifax, West Yorkshire, before Nestlé acquired Rowntree-Mackintosh in 1988. Happy to see that the Quality Street sweets are still packaged in the familiar pink/magenta boxes and tins, something I first saw when I lived in England, and which I’ll always associate with traditional British holidays.

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[a most aromatic review] Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano and Marjorie Priceman

Mmmmmm! There’s nothing like the tantalizing aroma of a brand new picture book to put me in a happy holiday mood. Even better when it’s been cooked up by two immensely talented women — multiple Emmy award winner Sonia Manzano and two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Marjorie Priceman.

Miracle on 133rd Street (Atheneum, 2015) contains just the right ingredients for a satisfying, heartwarming read: family, friends, neighbors, sharing, a little bit of magic, music, and even a mustached pizza chef!

Most important, this story is about the power of food — to soothe the savage breast, bring people together, and beget joy.

The food in question is a roast. A BIG roast. One that’s too big to fit in the oven. It’s Christmas Eve and Mami is beside herself. She’s also homesick for Puerto Rico, where she could have easily cooked the roast outside. Jokingly, young José says what they need is a big pizza oven. Papi thinks that’s actually a good idea, so they put the roast in a big box to take it to Regular Ray’s Pizzeria.

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