ABCs of Christmas, a yummy recipe, and a holiday blog break

#58 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

Please help yourself to some of Susan Branch’s Christmas Coffee Cake 🙂

 

Ho Ho Ho!

To celebrate the season, here’s an old fashioned Christmas abecedarian by American poet Carolyn Wells. This verse was first published as a picture book by McLoughlin Brothers in 1900, and describes how many of us still define Christmas more than a century later.

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A CHRISTMAS ALPHABET
by Carolyn Wells

A is for Angel who graces the tree.
B is for Bells that chime out in glee.
C is for Candle to light Christmas Eve.
D is for Dreams which we truly believe.
E is for Evergreens cut for the room.
F is for Flowers of exquisite perfume.
G is for Gifts that bring us delight.
H is for Holly with red berries bright.
I is for Ice, so shining and clear.
J is the Jingle of bells far and near.
K is Kriss Kringle with fur cap and coat.
L is for Letters the children all wrote.
M is for Mother, who’s trimming the bough.
N is for Night, see the stars sparkling now.
O is for Ornaments, dazzling with light.
P for Plum Pudding that tasted just right.
Q the Quadrille, in which each one must dance.
R is for Reindeer that gallop and prance.
S is for Snow that falls silently down.
T is for Turkey, so tender and brown.
U is for Uproar that goes on all day.
V is for Voices that carol a lay.
W is for Wreaths hung up on the wall.
X is for Xmas, with pleasures for all.
Y is for Yule log that burns clear and bright.
Z is for Zest shown from morning till night.

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[review + recipe] A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey by Jacques Pépin

“It is important to have a child spend time in the kitchen — the most secure, comfortable, loving place in the house. The smell of food cooking, your mother’s or father’s voice, the clang of the utensils, and the taste of the food: These memories will stay with you for the rest of your life.” ~ Jacques Pépin

Jacques Pépin once asked his then two-year-old granddaughter Shorey Wesen whether she liked blueberries. She said she loved them, adding that they contained antioxidants. This early precociousness regarding food wasn’t especially surprising, since both her father and grandfather are professional chefs, and her mother Claudine cooks for the family every day, using fresh ingredients either from their home garden or nearby organic markets.

From about the age of five, whenever Shorey visited her grandparents, she’d stand on a wooden box next to Jacques so she could “help” him cook. Simple tasks like washing the lettuce, helping to gather herbs from the garden, or passing tools or ingredients, made Shorey comfortable in the kitchen and more enthusiastic about eating the food she helped prepare.

 

 

For both Shorey and her mom, there was no such thing as “kid’s food.” They learned to eat what the grown-ups were eating, subsequently developing a gourmand’s palate. This, along with Jacques’s longstanding philosophy that “great meals are always the ones that are shared with family and friends,” form the basis for A Grandfather’s Lessons: In the Kitchen with Shorey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).

 

Deviled Eggs with Salmon Caviar

 

Just as he taught Claudine how to cook in one of his PBS cooking series, Jacques shares cooking basics with 13-year-old Shorey in this accessible collection of 75 recipes, 36 of which have companion 10-minute videos hosted at Sur La Table.

This is less a “children’s” cookbook than a primer for novice cooks of any age, with simple and elegant recipes presented via clear, step-by-step instructions, beautiful color photographs, Jacques’s winsome line art, engaging headnotes full of tips and family stories, and occasional quotes from Shorey. Recipes were chosen in line with Shorey’s favorites and what she would have the most fun making.

 

Shorey’s Raspberry Cake

 

The book opens with lessons on setting the table and good table manners, followed by sections featuring Hors d’Oeuvres, Soups and Salads; Eggs, Sandwiches, Pizza, and Breads; Fish and Shellfish; Poultry and Meat; Pasta and Quinoa; Vegetables; Desserts and Confections; and Decorating for Fun.

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[review + recipe] All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky

When I was nine, there was nothing I wanted more than to belong to the All-of-a-Kind Family.

I loved the idea of having four sisters, all of us wearing our white pinafores as we traipsed to the library Friday afternoons and spent our pennies for treats on Rivington Street. Would I get a warm sweet potato like Ella, hot chick peas like Sarah, or candied fruit on sticks like Charlotte and Gertie? I don’t think I’d opt for a fat, juicy sour pickle like Henny did. 🙂

I’m guessing most of us who loved Sydney Taylor’s classic AOAKF books imagined ourselves as one of these girls, perhaps the one closest to our own age. But since we got to know them all so well, we were probably able to find parts of ourselves in each of them.

Months ago, when I first learned that Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky were publishing a new picture book based on Taylor’s series, I reread all five books and fell in love with them all over again. So wonderful to feel the comforting embrace of this close-knit family and immerse myself in their turn-of-the-century world. I was once again charmed and captivated by Taylor’s writing, appreciating anew her ability to speak of and to a child’s heart with such candor and truth.

But I did wonder how Emily and Paul would be able to create the same kind of magic in a 40-page picture book. I needn’t have worried. I love All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah. In fact, it’s my favorite food-related picture book of 2018!

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[tasty poem + recipe] From My Mother’s Kitchen: An Alphabet Poem by Pat Brisson

#57 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet

By now, most of you know I’m a big fan of abecedarian poems.

Of course I like the foodie ones best. But food that mom used to make? Even better!

Many of the foods in Pat Brisson’s poem kindled fond childhood memories — times when “homemade,” “family,” and “love” flavored each delectable mouthful and provided enough nourishment to last a lifetime.

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Cinnamon Tapioca Pudding via Thinking Outside the Sandbox (click for recipe)

 

FROM MY MOTHER’S KITCHEN: AN ALPHABET POEM
by Pat Brisson

Food my mother made for us
Food from A to Zed;
Food she baked and cooked and boiled
To keep her family fed.

Apple pie with a flaky crust made from Crisco,
Beef stew (with too much gristle),
Chocolate chip cookies from the Tollhouse recipe,
Dates stuffed with walnuts and coated with sugar,
Eggnog at Christmas time,
French toast with butter and cinnamon sugar,
Ginger ale (stirred until flat) for upset stomachs,
Hamburgers and hot dogs on the 4th of July,
Ice cream? Breyer’s coffee for her and Neapolitan for us,
Junket rennet custard, a slippery, slidey treat,
Ketchup on our meatloaf,
Ladyfingers with fresh strawberries and whipped cream,
Mincemeat pies at the holidays, (eaten only by the grown-ups),
Noodles, broad and buttery,
Oatmeal cookies flavored with lemon,
Potatoes, usually boiled,
Quick bread, mostly date and nut,
Ravioli from Chef Boyardee,
Spaghetti with meat sauce,
Tapioca pudding with cinnamon on top,
Upside down peach cake,
Vanilla pudding made from scratch, served over steamed apples and yellow cake,
Watermelon slices with too many seeds,
10X confectioners sugar dusted on top of lemon pound cake,
Yeast bread warm from the oven with butter melting into it,
Zwieback when we were very young.

Food my mother made for us
Food from A to Zed;
Food she baked and cooked and boiled
To keep her family fed.

~ posted by permission of the author, copyright © Pat Brisson; first appeared at Your Daily Poem, where you can find more of Pat’s poetry.

Strawberry Lady Shortcake via I’m Not a Cook

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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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