a little royal wedding breakfast

“Kindness is the No. 1 quality I look for in a man.” ~ Meghan Markle

“I’ve longed for kids since I was very, very young. And so . . . I’m waiting to find the right person, someone who’s willing to take on the job.” ~ Prince Harry

Get your tiaras and top hats ready!

In just 3-1/2 days, HRH Prince Henry Charles Albert David will marry Rachel Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle!

There’s nothing like a royal wedding to quicken the pulse and lift the spirits. Oh, the history and pageantry! And who doesn’t love a fairy tale romance (they met on a blind date)?

This unconventional union shows the monarchy on a decidedly modern track: Prince Harry will not only be marrying a commoner, but an American actress — a divorcée of mixed race who is three years his senior. Such a thing would have been unthinkable in days of yore.


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games in Toronto, Canada (via Splash News)


One can’t help but remember King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne in 1936 to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson, or Princess Margaret having to refuse Group Captain Peter Townsend’s proposal because as a divorced man he was deemed unsuitable by the Church of England.

How times have changed! It’s good to see more openness, inclusion and forward thinking. 🙂

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[review and recipe] a little women christmas by heather vogel frederick and bagram ibatoulline

Most of us remember when we first read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and how it profoundly changed and affected us. It’s just that kind of book.

I was in sixth grade and read it for Mrs. Whang’s English class. We were all a little afraid of Mrs. Whang — she was notorious for being unfailingly strict and rarely smiled. No matter the assignment, only the best would do. For Little Women, we were divided into groups of four and asked to act out our favorite scene(s).

We decided on the first chapter and I was to play Jo. We dressed up in long skirts and shawls and I remember bounding onto the “stage” in my best tomboy fashion and blurting out, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents.” So began a lifelong love for all of Alcott’s books and a fierce yearning for the quintessential New England Christmas — a dreamlike fantasy of snow-blanketed landscapes and cozy fires, something about as foreign as you can imagine when you live in the land of palm trees and eternal summers.

Heather Vogel Frederick’s new picture book adaptation of the Christmas episode from Little Women is a lovely way to meet the March sisters for the first time and bask in cherished holiday scenes brimming with the spirit of giving and gratitude. Frederick interweaves key elements from Alcott’s novel as she distills the essence of this holiday story (Beth’s frail health, Father away at war, Jo and Laurie’s friendship, Jo cutting and selling her hair, making do with what they have).

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chatting with ginger park and frances park about allergies, away! + two scrumptious chocolate recipes

Ginger, Justin, and Frances show off Justin’s Pizza (photo by Trish Moreis-Stiles)

Chocolate Chocolate, yum yum, happy happy!

Look who’s here! As promised, the fabulous Park Sisters are visiting today to tell us more about their new cookbook, Allergies, Away!: Creative Eats and Mouthwatering Treats for Kids Allergic to Nuts, Dairy, and Eggs (St. Martin’s, 2013).

If you remember my previous post, you know that Ginger’s son Justin was diagnosed with severe food allergies when he was just a year old. The new cookbook contains 70 of Justin’s favorite recipes developed specifically for kids like him by his beautiful and talented mom and aunt.

Some of you may know that food allergies are growing by epidemic proportions in this country. Six million kids (or 1 in 13) are affected, and this number has grown by a startling 50% since the late 90’s. Affected families are having to learn different coping strategies that can sometimes prove pretty daunting. What do you cook for your allergic child to keep him safe, make sure he’s adequately nourished, and actually enjoys the variety of foods on his plate? Since eating is also a social activity, how do you ensure he doesn’t miss out on the fun of birthday parties and other special occasions?

Adorable Justin at his third birthday party.

Justin has given all the recipes in this new book his highest *five star rating*. You don’t have to suffer from food allergies to enjoy them either. You’ll find many familiar comfort foods included, and I love the diverse mix of dishes, everything from Korean bulgogi and half moon dumplings to Mexican quesadillas and chili, to Italian pizza, lasagna and risotto to Greek tzatziki (thanks, Koomo!). Of course they’ve included chocolate. Did you have to ask?

Seoulful Half-moon Dumplings!

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friday feast: a special guest post by eat this poem blogger nicole gulotta

Since I’m a big fan of Nicole Gulotta’s uncommonly delicious literary food blog, I was tickled pink when she agreed to do a guest post featuring a children’s poet. Each week at Eat This Poem, Nicole serves up delectable original recipes inspired by poems, each post an elegantly written, thought-provoking blend of insightful analysis, personal anecdotes and gorgeous photography. When I learned Nicole had decided to feature Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s “Apple Pockets,” I asked Amy to tell us a little about the poem:

“Apple Pockets” is actually in [Lee Bennett Hopkins’s] SHARING THE SEASONS, and it’s based on walks we take here on our property. We live on an old farm, and there’s a small grove of wild apple trees bordering the forest. I like imagining the people who lived here before us: what they thought about and who they loved.

I know you’ll enjoy today’s doubly delightful feast featuring one of my fave food bloggers + one of my fave poets!  Guess what I’m having for breakfast this weekend? 🙂

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♥ Guest Post by Nicole Gulotta ♥

The first time I made these apple muffins, I had just started experimenting with whole grain flours in my baking. Since then, I’ve fallen in love with buckwheat pancakes and whole grain crackers, but it was a batch of muffins that helped me ease into embracing healthier baked goods.

When I read Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s poem “Apple Pockets,” I remembered these muffins. Her poem is deeply reflective, a nice state of mind to be in as a new year begins. The speaker isn’t just walking around with apples in her pockets, but the apples themselves help transport her mind to an orchard where “a hundred years ago they picked these apples.”

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Apple Pockets
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

This morning I have apples in my pockets.
I feel them round and ready and remember
That every year for years (with apple pockets)
The people walk this orchard in September.

A hundred years ago they picked these apples
Small children skipping on their way to school
Young families coming home from Sunday church
Old lovers holding warm hands in the cool.

And when I walk alone I sometimes see them
With apples in their pockets and their skirts.
And when I’m quiet sometimes I can hear them
With merry laughs and boot-scuffs in the dirt.

I reach up for an apple and I twist it.
I bite into the white and taste September.
This morning I have apples in my pockets.
I feel them round and ready and remember.

~ Copyright © 2010 by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. First published in Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, published Margaret K. McElderry Books. All Rights Reserved.

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I’m sure you can relate to the experience of standing in a place that so many others have before you, either while traveling, visiting a historic landmark, or even thinking about the families that may have lived in your home before you. My favorite phrase in the poem, “I bite into the white and taste September,” articulates how strongly scent and flavor can be tied to our memories. Like the speaker tasting a bright autumn day, I remembered these apple muffins, and how they have sustained me through many car rides and flights across the country, rushed mornings headed to work, or a leisurely weekend afternoon, which is perhaps the best time to enjoy them.


 Apple Crumb Muffins

Adapted from Ellie Krieger

Makes 12-14 muffins

3/4 cup plus two tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs
1 cup organic applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a 12-capacity muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans, and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Mix in the applesauce and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Blend until just combined, then gently stir in the apple chunks with a wooden spoon.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle evenly with the topping. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Nicole Gulotta is a grantmaker by day and gourmet home cook by night. She received an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2011, she founded The Giving Table, a website that helps people change the food system through personal philanthropy. She is based in Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and French bulldog.

Visit Eat This Poem and sign up for The Right Brains Society newsletter, which features musings on topics like reading, writing, poetry, blogging, living a creative life, how not to hate your day job and other inspiration.

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♥ Poetry Friday regulars may also be interested in seeing Nicole’s post featuring Charles Ghigna’s poem, “Hunting the Cotaco Creek,” which she paired with Butternut-Leek Soup.

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poetryfriday180The always welcoming and lovely Tabatha Yeatts is hosting today’s Roundup at The Opposite of Indifference. Sashay on over to check out the full menu of tantalizing poetic offerings on this week’s menu. Have a good weekend!

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weekend cooking button (2)180This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best bib and join the tasty fun!


Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

my new go-to autumn recipe: amy traverso’s apple pumpkin walnut muffins

Apples pumpkins pudding and pie.
Love you, pumpkin, apple of my eye.

I’m sitting here looking out my office window, sunlight glimmering through gold and russet leaves, with a mug of warm apple cider and a fresh-from-the-oven Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffin. I finally treated myself to a copy of Amy Traverso’s, The Apple Lovers Cookbook (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011). I’d been hearing such great things about it ever since it was released last year and decided it would be a nice way to celebrate my favorite season.

These muffins seemed like the perfect first recipe for me to try — apples and pumpkins represent the essence of Fall, after all. (I just made a rhyme, did you see that?) Though I’ve baked quite a few pumpkin pies and any number of apple desserts (pies, crumbles, crisps, muffins, cakes), I’d never actually combined pumpkin and apple in the same recipe before. What could be cozier than having Autumn all wrapped up in one cozy, take-it-anywhere muffin?

Just in case you’re not familiar with Amy’s book, it’s easily the most comprehensive, accessible apple companion out there. Not only do you get 100 original recipes, but also a fabulous Apple Primer with in-depth profiles of 59 apple varieties — notes on appearance, taste, texture, as well as history, availability, and best use. The varieties are classified as firm-tart, firm-sweet, tender-tart and tender-sweet, and a cool Cheat Sheet allows you to determine which varieties would be best for each recipe.

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