sara lewis holmes and her biscuit boys

#8 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2010.

 Note Hershey syrup can biscuit cutter. ☺

I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing that warms my heart more than the sight of boys in the kitchen. 

Would you just look at these two adorable bakers? Don’t you just want to reach into the picture, give them a big hug and pinch their cheeks? I’ve been in cute overload mode ever since Sara sent me photos of her husband, Mike, and now-college-age son, Wade, making biscuits together.

The recipe comes from a cookbook Sara and Mike received as a wedding gift, called Dining with Pioneers. It seems especially fitting for this “pioneer” family, who has lived in and traveled to many states and countries. Perhaps this family biscuit tradition helped them feel at home no matter where they went. Just recently, Sara mentioned Mike was making biscuits on a Sunday morning. Sigh. Don’t you wish he’d come over to your house?

Cutest rolling pin boy ever.


The book, a wedding gift
from 1984, wishes us “many hours
of pleasure” and admonishes us

“eggs should be at least three days
old before using in cakes.” It opens,
natural as pie, to Ann’s Angel Biscuits;

the paper gritty with dried flour dust;
the ochre glue of the binding visible
where the spine has cracked flat

to this page. The oven is set to 450.
Yeast — granular, fine as brown seeds — floats
on 2 Tablespoons of warmed tap water;

I think of woman and man and what begins
over and over from seed and water
while rough sugar blends into the slippery

whiteness of self-rising flour; molded
together with Crisco — gussied up lard,
silvery salve stored in lidded tubs;

then buttermilk, if we have some, exotic
in a green carton, beaming with wholesome rectitude.
Roll out immediately; orders the recipe, although

it should say: gently, with a dusting of flour
to cushion you. Nothing about how to shape it,
but we know: with the smooth halo of a juice glass,

or (if you’ve saved it all these years) by the open
cylinder mouth of a burnished Hershey syrup can
rescued, measured sweetness, from a brownie box.

Bake until risen, freckled, and puffed
by sugar and grease and heat to row upon row
of circular, layered towers; a city of biscuits on a tray.

The cookbook is called Dining with Pioneers,
and perhaps we do, we makers of biscuits,
we seekers of pleasure, we homesteading angels.

© 2010 Sara Lewis Holmes. All rights reserved.

♥ A perfect biscuit = a perfect poem. ♥

I love so many of Sara’s poetic ingredients: the exotic buttermilk with “wholesome rectitude,” the “gussied up lard,” the idea of a dusting of flour to cushion the dough, the “city of biscuits on a tray.” Swoon! I MUST have one (or two or three) of these perfectly risen, freckled beauties. Now.


Sara: My husband has made biscuits ever since we were married in 1984. He’s made them with both kids, and for guests. When the kids were little, he would let them form the dough scraps into snails and other animal shapes. He’s made them at the beach and in the mountains, and in at least three countries. He’s even made them on a houseboat on Lake Mead using a grill as an oven. We eat them with jam and/or honey; occasionally with slivers of country ham.

Thank you so much, Sara, Wade, and Mike!


Sara Lewis Holmes is the critically acclaimed author of the middle grade novels, Letters from Rapunzel (Winner of the Ursula Nordstrom Fiction Contest) and Operation Yes (Booklist Top 10 Arts Books for Youth). She occasionally posts some of her beautifully crafted poems at Read*Write*Believe, and is one of the seven “Poetry Princesses” who’ve graced Poetry Fridays with group projects (A Crown Sonnet, Villanelles, Rondeau Redoublé). We both love Shakespeare, cupcakes, and popcorn, but when it comes to beets, she’s strictly on her own.

*Unless otherwise noted, all photos © 2010 Sara Lewis Holmes. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

sara lewis holmes booksigning!


Had a lovely time at Sara Lewis Holmes’s booksigning yesterday at Hooray for Books in Alexandria, Virginia. It was a gorgeous day — warm and sunny, in the 60’s, and lots of folks strolled in to meet and congratulate Sara on the publication of her second middle grade novel, Operation Yes (Scholastic, 2009), which, BTW, was just named one of Booklist’s Top Ten Art Books for Youth!

Sara signing books for my contest winners, Marjorie Light and Jeannine Atkins.

Of course Cornelius came along (he has a big crush on Sara). Happily, there were a lot of little green men about for him to play with.

Above is the awesome book Sara’s agent (Tina Wexler) made from LGM photos.

Sara gave an interesting presentation about the genesis of the book, referring to a tack board full of newspaper clippings, drawings, and notes. These bits and pieces of inspiration, along with high school memories of memorizing Shakespeare, a real-life incident of little green men, and of course, first-hand experience with the kinds of challenges kids in military families face, all served as fodder for her imagination.


Audience members were given lines to read at Sara’s cue.

She then read a chapter from the book, during which time something you don’t normally see in a bookstore happened — Sara dropped to the floor (in tight jeans and heels no less), effortlessly breezed through ten push-ups, then jumped back up and continued reading without missing a beat. She wasn’t even out of breath. Aren’t you impressed? Now there’s one beautifully toned, fit writer — a fine specimen of athletic prowess. Yes! I want her to be my bodyguard. ☺

Meanwhile, Cornelius was busy checking the bookshelves for more copies of Operation Yes.

Mmmmmm! Trish made brownies again!

And he got to meet Sara’s husband, the ever famous Mike Holmes. Cornelius was thrilled and proud to pose with a real-live Air Force fighter pilot!

As always, a nice event at this wonderful indie bookstore. With all the friendly people, loads of great books to read, and an endless supply of brownies, one could just about live there. Congratulations again, Sara. I’m sure your book is inspiring lots of readers to think about their lives a little differently, and to definitely say YES! 

To Sara’s right is the board containing some of the things that inspired Operation Yes.

If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, order one from your nearest indie bookstore! ☺

Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

we have two winners in the operation yes book giveaway!

Deep dark 30 (thirty minutes past midnight): Cornelius fast asleep.
When reveille sounds at first light, Little Green Army Men report for duty.

Their mission: Rescue two bloggers from Celadon Crater.

Continue reading

little green army men on the move: win a signed copy of operation yes!


Cornelius loves loves loves Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes!

He likes Bo and Gari and their way cool teacher Miss Loupe, but most of all, he loves all the little green army men! They came spilling out of the story and have invaded the alphabet soup kitchen.
Continue reading

soup of the day: operation yes!

"Theatre is the art of saying yes." ~ from Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes.

Blue Angels in delta formation, MC Base, Hawai’i, 2007.

"Off we go into the wild blue yonder
Climbing high into the sun . . . "

Yes, yes, yes!!

At this very moment, we’re flying high and soaring to new heights, because today is official pub day for Operation Yes, by the one and only Sara Lewis Holmes

       OPERATION YES by Sara Lewis Holmes
        (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009), Ages 9-12, 256 pp.

*adjusts goggles and does happy dance in flight suit*

Yes, that Sara — whose first novel, Letters from Rapunzel, impressed me so much back in 2007, that I simply had to write and tell her, even though I’m usually much too shy to contact perfect strangers. That led to me reading her amazing blog, Read*Write*Believe, where she sometimes features her exquisite poetry. *swoon* Such talent! I was so inspired by what she was doing that I summoned up the courage to start my own blog. Since she encouraged and supported me from day one, you can see why I am especially thrilled to be able to celebrate her second middle grade novel right here on alphabet soup.

Continue reading