cooking with aliens: a delicious chat with erik weibel about the adventures of tomato and pea

I’m tickled pink (and red, green, yellow and blue) to welcome newly published author, faster-than-lightning reader, This Kid Reviews Books blogger and budding philanthropist Erik Weibel to Alphabet Soup today!

Eleven-year-old Erik is beloved in the kidlitosphere (he started blogging when he was just nine!), and continues to impress everyone with his consistently incisive and candid book reviews and irrepressible enthusiasm for reading and writing.

He worked on his new chapter book, THE ADVENTURES OF TOMATO AND PEA – Book 1: A Bad Idea, for 3 years (i.e., 1/4 of his life). It is the first in a planned trilogy featuring tiny aliens called Smidges from the planet Oarg, and is notable for its cast of colorful, quirky characters, lively narrative with hilarious rapid-fire dialogue, vivid descriptions, and enduring themes (friendship, cooperation, courage, the triumph of good over evil).

In Book 1, super crime-stopper Tomato, his techno-savvy sidekick Pea, and two other Smidges find themselves tricked, then trapped aboard the rocket ship S.S. Poofy with the evil Wintergreen and his unsavory cohorts. After they crash-land on planet EAR-TH, they must all learn to work together to ensure their survival and find a way to return home to Oarg.

Erik displays remarkable writing chops in this fun, quick read, and it’s exciting to see someone so young accomplish so much.

Yet one question remains:

Can this boy cook? 🙂

After all, he did include a character named Skew in the story, Tomato and Pea’s yellow friend who is a good, resourceful cook. Erik has said there’s a bit of him in each of his characters, and that he loves to cook. You can see why I had to investigate. 🙂 🙂 🙂

And so, my hungry readers —


for the first time on any blog anywhere —

*trumpet flourish*

Erik the Great Weibel dishes about food in The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, his plans to take over the world, his personal food preferences, and then (*drool*) cooks up two mouthwatering, out of this world, Smidge-approved recipes with his alien friends (including notes and tips). Intergalactic Yum!!

* * *

Continue reading

friendly day soup recipe

“Let’s go and see everybody,” said Pooh. “Because when you have been walking in the wind for miles, and you suddenly go into somebody’s house, and he says, ‘Hallo, Pooh, you’re just in time for a little smackerel of something,’ and you are, then it’s what I call a Friendly Day.” ~ A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Hallo, my windblown, winter-weary but eternally good-looking friends! Are you out of hibernation yet?

Just in case you’re in dire need of a little smackerel of something, I’ve cooked up a special batch of Pea-Bean Alphabet Soup, with a recipe from the new and revised Winnie-the-Pooh Cookbook (Dutton, 2010).

Is anyone familiar with older editions of this cookbook — one with recipes by Katie Stewart (Methuen, 1971) and the other with Virginia Ellison’s recipes (Dutton, 1969)? I have not seen Ellison’s older edition, and wondered whether the Pea-Bean Alphabet Soup recipe was in it, or if it was newly added this time around. Years ago, I purchased the Katie Stewart edition in London; looks like different culinary writers were used for the British and American versions. Cool, but a little confusing, since both books have the exact same cover.

In any case, the new Pooh Cookbook, just released in October 2010, is quite lovely, as it contains full color illustrations from Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, as well as the eight original pen-and-ink drawings by Ernest H. Shephard commissioned by Dutton in 1966. Like its predecessors, the new cookbook is sprinkled throughout with excerpts from both Pooh books and features approximately 60 tasty recipes, all guaranteed to feel yummy in your tummy: Breakfasts, Smackerels, Elevenses & Teas, Provisions for Picnics & Expotitions, Lunches & Suppers, Desserts & Party Recipes, Winter Delights and Honey Sauces.

My Katie Stewart cookbook contains things like Chocolate Rock Cakes, Honey and Raisin Scones, Cottleston Pie, Bread and Butter Pudding and Watercress Sandwiches, etc., but it doesn’t have any soups! So I was tickled pink to find three soups in Ellison’s new book: Tomato, Corn and Shrimp Chowder, and the aforementioned Alphabet Soup, which got my full attention right away. â˜ș

I cheated a little on the recipe, making it in the crock pot rather than simmering it on the stove, so my finished product probably wasn’t as thick as the stove version. But that’s the beauty of soup — it’s hard to ruin, allows for all kinds of experimentation and variation in ingredients, and always hits the spot. The resident bears had fun adding the alphabet pasta and spelling out the characters’ names. Hope you’ll try this hearty soup sometime; while it’s cooking you can read a Pooh story, and once you’ve had some soup, you’ll be all set, tiddely-pom and tra-la-la, rum-tum-tiddle-um-tum.

(makes approx. 10 servings)

3 T each of dried beans, such as red, Great Northern, garbanzos, pintos, or black for a total of 15 tablespoons
5 T lentils
4 T split peas, green or yellow
2 quarts water
2 beef bones, marrow or shank, with a little meat on them
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cups canned tomatoes
6 sprigs parsley, chopped fine, leaves and stems
1/2 cup alphabet noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cover the beans and peas in water and soak for 3 hours or longer.

2. Drain and rinse with fresh water.

3. In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, cover the beans, peas, and lentils with 2 quarts of water and add the meat bones, onion, and parsley. Bring to a boil.

4. Add the tomatoes, and simmer until the peas disappear and the beans are tender, about 2 hours.

5. During the last 10 minutes of simmering, add the alphabet noodles.

6. Put in plenty of P’s for Pooh and Piglet and the initials or letters of your own name.

7. Remove the bones and any meat that has cooked free of them. Dice the meat and return to the soup.


“Do you know what this is?”
“No,” said Piglet.
“It’s an A.”
“Oh,” said Piglet.
“Not O, A,” said Eeyore severely. “Can’t you hear, or do you think you have more education than Christopher Robin?” ~ The House at Pooh Corner

Oh! My favorite recipe in the whole book is, “A Recipe for Getting Thin.” You’ll have to get the book to see for yourself, says the newly thin soup maker. â˜ș

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.