[savory poem + recipe] sing a song of soup

“It is impossible to think of any good meal, no matter how plain or elegant, without soup or bread in it.” ~ M.F. K. Fisher

“Vegetable Soup” by Joe Anna Arnett
SOUP ALLURE
by Nancy Dymond
Combine the following and stir:
A fragrant powder of savory herbs
Tree nuts tossed and gently toasted
Vegetables oiled and slowly roasted
Broth of beef, honey of bee
Flake of parsley, salt of sea

In a great pot over a medium flame
Provoke rolling bubbles of rising steam
Turn to the lettuces; wash, chop, mix
Color with celery and carrot strips
Raisins? Almonds? Olives and cheese?
Tomatoes? Scallions? All of these?

Reduce the flame to a quiet simmer
Set the table for evening dinner
A scalloped knife beside the bread
Jam to sweeten and butter to spread
What more could a person want from life
Than a salad, a soup, and a loaf with a knife?


~ from Sleep Barn (Stockport Flats, 2015).
“Salad Bowl” by Tjalf Sparnaay (oil on linen, 2006)

*

It’s always nice when soup season returns each fall. There is something so comforting about having a pot of soup simmering on the stove with its promise of a satisfying meal later on. Making soup is calming and therapeutic — you can’t rush homemade soup.

Continue reading

[tasty review + recipe] Be More Vegan by Niki Webster

Whether you’re hoping to go full-tilt vegan, thinking about trying something new, or are just looking to cut back on meat and dairy, Niki Webster’s Be More Vegan: The Young Person’s Guide to Going (A Bit More) Plant-Based! (Welbeck, 2021) is the book for you.

The “young person” in the title suggests this book is just for teens, but adults will also find much to love in this upbeat introductory guide. Webster, a certified holistic health coach, food consultant, and acclaimed vegan food blogger, establishes from the outset that veganism doesn’t necessarily have to be an all-or- nothing choice. Being “more vegan” — regardless of how you choose to define “more” — is a positive step towards personal well being, animal welfare and a thriving planet.

Niki Webster photo by Katie Palmer Photography

The book opens with Webster introducing herself and explaining why she’s a vegan. As a child, she didn’t like meat and refused to eat it. She just felt eating animals was wrong. After developing a milk intolerance, her “fussy eater” diet became even more restrictive, so in her teens she began cooking for herself, experimenting with and discovering foods she liked to eat.

Continue reading

[review + recipe] Beatrix Potter, Scientist by Lindsay H. Metcalf and Junyi Wu

Sometimes in late summer, especially after we‘ve had a lot of rain, giant white mushrooms sprout up in our woods. Their tops can grow as large as dinner plates if the deer don’t take a bite out of them first.

They seem quite magical; I like to imagine fairies or gnomes using the flat mushroom tops as writing desks or tabletops, happily setting out their acorn teacups for special guests.

I actually became more interested in mushrooms about 20 years ago after learning about Beatrix Potter’s fascination with fungi, and then seeing her incredibly beautiful botanical drawings.

While most everyone knows Beatrix as the author and illustrator of the Peter Rabbit books, and perhaps as an ardent conservationist who helped preserve some 4,000 acres of pristine countryside in the Lake District, few may know she was also a dedicated naturalist who devoted about a decade of her life to mycology (the study of fungi), with a special interest in mushrooms.

I was understandably excited when Beatrix Potter, Scientist (Albert Whitman, 2020) came out last summer, because so far it’s the only picture book biography that takes a closer look at this lesser known aspect of Beatrix’s life.

Continue reading

[review + giveaway] Alpha Beta Chowder by Jeanne Steig and William Steig

#52 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.

 

Foreword

A chowder is a robust goop
That’s more akin to stew than soup.
It can be brackish or divine.
Sit down and take a taste of mine.

So begins Alpha Beta Chowder, a wry, witty, and deliciously wicked ABC poetry book by husband and wife team Jeanne Steig and William Steig. This classic 26-verse feast of wacky wordplay was originally published by HarperCollins in 1992 and reissued by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books last month.

I admit this title has been on my radar for years but I only recently had the chance to read it. Of course I’m a longtime William Steig fan — I still sigh and swoon over Brave Irene and Dr. DeSoto, especially  — but I wasn’t familiar with Jeanne Steig’s work, and boy, have I been missing out!

Nasty numbskull Naomi and her nitwit Ma and Pa

Goodbye, boring “A is for Apple” and “Z is for Zoo” — Jeanne’s cheeky alliterative rhyming poems feature a motley crew of odd and quirky mock heroes, many you’d rather read about than meet in person. God forbid you get stuck in a room with Noisome Naomi, a nervy newtish nightmare whose “voice is like a needle,” or come within hearing distance of Coaxing Carrotina and her blister inducing shrill cadenzas on the concertina. *covers ears* 

Continue reading

out of my gourd for sophie’s squash + a recipe for butternut bisque

All autumn long, I’ve been harboring a big love for Sophie’s Squash (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2013), Pat Zietlow Miller’s heartwarming debut picture book illustrated to perfection by Anne Wilsdorf.

I had my eye on it well before its official release date back in August, marveling like everyone else when it proceeded to rack up *starred review* after *starred review* (Booklist, PW, SLJ, Kirkus), my excitement steadily building until I finally held a copy in my hands and devoured every word. Oh my, oh yes! No wonder! Every accolade this book has received is so well deserved.

One bright fall day, Sophie chose a squash at the farmers’ market.

Her parents planned to serve it for supper, but Sophie had other ideas.

These ideas included naming her squash Bernice, holding her, bouncing her on her knee, tucking her into bed and taking her everywhere. Ever the steadfast friend, Sophie refuses her mother’s gentle prodding to cook Bernice and rejects her father’s attempts to pacify her with a new toy to take Bernice’s place.

But as time goes on, Bernice develops splotchy “freckles,” so Sophie decides to act on a farmer’s advice to keep Bernice healthy. She tucks her into “a bed of soft soil”, then waits out a wistful winter, hoping Bernice is okay. Come Spring, with all the snow melted, Bernice magically re-emerges, soon gifting Sophie with two wonderful surprises, as only the best of friends can do.

Art © 2013 Anne Wilsdorf

Continue reading