Barbara Crooker’s “Fifteen Bean Soup” with “Saltines”

“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re fools when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more fools not to take delight in it while we have it.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham/epigraph from Some Glad Morning

 

There’s nothing more restorative on a chilly winter’s day than a spot of Yorkshire Gold and reading the luminous poems in Barbara Crooker’s latest book, Some Glad Morning (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019).

True to W. Somerset Maugham’s quote, Barbara’s ninth collection inspires us to take joy in everyday pleasures, hold fast to fleeting moments, and cherish the here and now.

Whether she is exalting in an explosion of spring flowers, mourning the loss of a friend, awestruck by an unexpected murmuration, ruminating on a Matisse painting, or celebrating food, glorious food (martinis, BLTs, cream puffs, summer peaches, fried eggs!), she is wholly present with verses that read like lyrical prayers, inviting us to a space of hope and light.

Over and over, she says, life is transient, ever-changing. Though loss, grief, and an acute awareness of mortality may be constant companions, these are the very things that make what we do have even more precious. We will always have the power to create our own realities.

Let the terrible politicians practice/their terrible politics.
At my kitchen table, all will be fed. I turn
the radio to a classical station, maybe Vivaldi.
All we have are these moments: the golden trees,
the industrious bees, the falling light. Darkness
will not overtake us.

Speaking of food, glorious food, it’s time for soup and crackers. In these two poems, Barbara serves up delectable portions of memory, nostalgia, metaphor, slurp-worthy detail, and earnest praise. Put on your bibs and enjoy!

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welcome friends, soup’s on

 

*enters kitchen, eats three pieces of chocolate, then takes out the soup pot. . . *

Hello, Cutie Pies!

Yes, we’re finally back. 🙂

It’s so good to know I can type a few words, find you here, and share this small, safe space with you — cause things in this world seem to be getting scarier and more tumultuous with each passing day.

It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening to our country with everyone fighting and on edge all the time.

 

 

We’re exhausted, frustrated, demoralized, fearful. We feel broken and powerless in the face of unmitigated hate, corruption, and greed.

And then there’s the profound sadness —  three recent mass shootings, and the loss of Toni Morrison and Lee Bennett Hopkins last month.

What to do? How to cope?

Toni Morrison’s words inspire, ground, and uplift:

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.

I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art.

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♥️ a trio of sweet treats for valentine’s day ♥️

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Have you ever noticed how many terms of endearment are related to food?

Just call me Honey, Babycakes, Sugar, Pumpkin, Cookie, Cutie Pie, Cupcake, Pudding, or Dumpling.

Of course I wouldn’t mind a little foreign flavor once in awhile, like “petit chou,” (little cabbage, French), “polpetto/a” (meatball, Italian), or “fasolaki mou” (my little green bean, Greek).

It’s all good, cause food is love, and love is food.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this week, we’re serving up a little three-course feast just for you, cause we love you more than chocolate . . . well, almost (and that’s saying a lot). 🙂

So put on your best bibs and savor these goodies to your heart’s content (feel free to smack your lips, lick your chops, and kiss your bunched fingertips).

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❤️ APPETIZER: VINTAGE FOODIE VALENTINES ❤️

Oh, how I love old timey valentines! They take me right back to grade school. It was exciting to go to the five-and-dime with my mom to buy a pack of valentines for my classmates.

Back then, there weren’t any rules about having to give them to everyone in your class. On Valentine’s Day morning, we’d put our cards in a big box, and when we returned from morning recess, we’d find those addressed to us on our desks.

This was actually both a happy and sad experience, because some kids ended up with a big pile of valentines, while others only received a few. A ranking of popularity there on display for all to see. I still remember how sorry I felt for Ronald, because he only got one. This was over 50 years ago, and it still bothers me.

Anyway, a quick scan of vintage valentines (ca. 1950’s) revealed a preponderance of food-related puns. Some are sweet, some are groan-worthy, and some a little strange. Nevertheless, all harken back to a simpler time and are interesting for different reasons. It’s too bad that for the most part, we’ll never know who the artists were behind these designs. Hope you enjoy this little feast from yesteryear!

 

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So, did you like those? I think my favorite is the Olive Oyl one. I did find a few raise-the-eyebrow-strange non-foodie ones, too:

 

Violent, much?

 

Flattery will get you everywhere.

 

This one’s probably the weirdest. Just ewww.

 

I like that the practice of sending Valentine’s Day cards, flowers, chocolates, and other gifts started in the UK. Leave it to those clever Brits! And back in Victorian times, they exchanged fancy valentines made with real lace and ribbons before paper lace was invented. So cool.

Do you still send Valentine’s Day cards? More than just a nod to romantic love, this particular holiday is a wonderful time to celebrate friendships.

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[review + recipe + giveaway] Blue Corn Soup by Caroline Stutson and Teri Weidner

Brrrrrrrrr!

When it’s snowy out, and the world has turned into a frosted fairyland, it’s nice to keep warm indoors and read a tasty picture book.

What could be better than cuddling up with your favorite blankie on a comfy sofa, while a pot of homemade soup gently burbles on the stove? Oh, that tempting aroma wafting through the house. Mmmmmm!

I’m definitely in the mood for Blue Corn Soup (Sleeping Bear Press, 2017), how about you? Written by the late Caroline Stutson and illustrated by Teri Weidner, this cozy rhyming picture book will warm the cockles of your heart and send you straight to the kitchen.

It all begins one snowy day when Mouse, a.k.a. Abuelita, decides to make a pot of soup.

Whiskers wiggle. Eyes grow bright.
Mouse peeks out. The canyon’s white.
Snow — she blinks. She’ll grind dried corn.
Blue corn soup will keep her warm.

Abuelita fills her pot.
She’ll make sopa — not a lot;
just enough for one small mouse,
cozy in her sagebrush house.

As her soup begins to cook, its savory aroma drifts around the canyon, making her neighbors curious and hungry. She continues to taste and add more ingredients, convinced something is missing.

Meanwhile, the good smells prompt Chipmunk to leave his woodchopping. Is it sopa? He must find out.

Rabbit, who was drawing water from the well, can’t resist either. Sniff, sniff. Is it sopa? He, too, must find out.

The delicious aroma even awakens Old Bear from his winter nap. He’s a little grumpy, but when something smells that good, he decides he must investigate.

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two yummy recipes from The Tasha Tudor Family Cookbook (+ a giveaway!)

“If you took some chamomile tea and spent more time rocking on the porch in the evening, listening to the liquid song of the hermit thrush, you might enjoy life more. Joy is there for the taking.” ~Tasha Tudor

It must have been lovely to join Tasha Tudor for afternoon tea at her beloved Corgi Cottage in southeastern Vermont.

Perhaps her Corgis would greet me at the door, and if I was a little early, she’d put me to work, melting semi-sweet chocolate to fill her speckled cookies. I would happily set the table with her favorite heirloom Blue Canton or hand painted pink lustre tea set, basking in the warmth and charm of her cozy kitchen, only too willing to immerse myself in her 19th century world.

Tasha’s older son Seth built Corgi Cottage in 1970 using only hand tools (photo via Tasha Tudor & Family).

I can’t remember when I first encountered Tasha’s work; it seems like her enchanting pastel watercolors were always part of my read-write-teach existence as they adorned nearly one hundred children’s books and a myriad of greeting cards and calendars. How I appreciated this gentle reminder of simpler times, the idyllic views of New England people, villages, woods, fields, farms, and gardens!

photo by Richard Brown/The Private World of Tasha Tudor

Tasha’s life was a work of art. She often remarked that she was the reincarnation of a sea captain’s wife who lived from about 1800 to 1840. Here was an artist who wholeheartedly lived and dressed the part, making her own clothes from flax she grew, raising her own farm animals, indulging her passions for gardening and traditional handcrafts such as basket-making, candle-making, calligraphy, weaving, sewing, knitting, and doll-making.

photo by Richard Brown/The Private World of Tasha Tudor

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