friday feast: like father, like son


James Paul McCartney and his father James “Jim” McCartney at age 64.

Tomorrow is Sir Paul’s birthday and Sunday is Father’s Day — what better time to feature a song Paul wrote with his dad in mind?

“When I’m Sixty Four” has always been one of my favorites. Whenever I hear it, I feel a little ‘goofy-happy,’ probably because of its rooty-toot rhythm and slightly mocking tone. Ah, those bouncy clarinets! You may know that Jim McCartney had a big influence on Paul’s musical upbringing. Self taught on the piano and trumpet, Jim played in ragtime and jazz bands in Liverpool during the twenties and thirties. He encouraged Paul to take music lessons and taught him to sing harmony.
 
Music was central in the McCartney household — they listened to the radio and Jim’s 78 rpm records, and of course, Jim played popular dance hall tunes on the upright piano (which Paul, reputedly, still owns). Paul’s granddad Joe was also musical. An opera lover who was more of a traditionalist, he played the double bass and tuba.  

Paul wrote the melody for “When I’m Sixty Four” with Jim’s encouragement when he was just 16. When the Beatles were still the Quarrymen, the song was a “stand-in number” when the amps weren’t working or the electricity went off. It wasn’t until Jim turned 64 in 1966 that Paul decided to revise and record what would become the first completed cut for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, widely regarded as one of the most important and influential rock albums in popular music. When Paul himself turned 64, his children sang the song to him as a birthday present.

When I first heard the song as a teenager, 64 seemed positively ancient. Now, not so much . . . ☺.

 

♥ Full lyrics here.

♥ Jone has the Roundup today at Check it Out. Dance on over and enjoy all the cool poems being shared around the blogosphere this week. 

   

Happy 69th Birthday, Sir Paul, and Happy Father’s Day weekend to all!

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

carl sandburg’s soup

#4 in an eclectic collection of notable noshes to whet your appetite and brighten your day.


ed ed/flickr

  Fave writer soups: Truman Capote (Gumbo), Willa Cather (Vegetable), Bob Dylan (Split Pea), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Vegetable), George Bernard Shaw (Vegetable), William Makepeace Thackery (Bouillabaisse). Source: soupsong.com.

 

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

illustrator chat: diane degroat on charlie the ranch dog

Charlie, overwrought with excitement

Well, flap my jowls and tickle my ears! 

Have you ever seen a more lovable dog? Yep, it’s Charlie, easily the most famous basset hound in America. He lives with Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman herself, and his new picture book, Charlie the Ranch Dog (HarperCollins, 2011), has been on the New York Times Bestseller List for the past 6 weeks! Doggone awesome!


Is that bacon I smell on his breath?

Anyway, just in case you’re not familiar with the book (where on the wide prairie have you been?), it chronicles a typical day on the cattle ranch from Charlie’s point of view. Along with his best friend Suzie (a spunky Jack Russell terrier), he gets up too early every morning and works so hard (wink, wink) fixing fences, gardening, keeping cows and other critters in check, fishing, and rounding up cattle.

A dog this busy certainly deserves oodles of bacon a good meal and endless naps a little rest now and then just to keep his strength up. Why, if not for Charlie’s steady vigilance, Daisy the cow could have destroyed the garden! Personally, I happen to admire those who’ve perfected the fine art of napping and bacon nipping, and I know exactly how Charlie feels: a dog’s work is never done. ☺

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friday feast: noshing with maya angelou

This week I’ve been dipping into Maya Angelou’s latest cookbook,
Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart (Random House, 2010). 

Inspired by her recent weight loss (35 pounds), the book features her favorite time-tested recipes and personal anecdotes. Her guiding philosophy is to frequently eat small portions of really tasty, savory food throughout the day, rather than obsess over counting calories or seeking “diet recipes.”

In the section entitled, “Cooking Vegetarian with Courage I,” she includes a satirical poem she wrote back in 1983, a kind of “self defense” prompted by a visit to Ye Olde Health Food Diner in Los Angeles. Although basically carnivorous, one day she craved broccoli and steamed rice. After placing her order, she took out a pack of cigarettes and was surprised when the waitress immediately chastized her for being a smoker.

She looked around at the pale, pitiful customers in the diner and asked the waitress whether they were newcomers, hoping to “get better.” The waitress assured her they were vegetarians who had been eating there for years, to which Maya replied, “Don’t ever tell anyone that these people have been coming here for years, and are still looking no better than they do now.”

THE HEALTH-FOOD DINER
by Maya Angelou

No sprouted wheat and soya shoots
And Brussels in a cake,
Carrot straw and spinach raw,
(Today, I need a steak).

Not thick brown rice and rice pilau
Or mushrooms creamed on toast,
Turnips mashed and parsnips hashed,
(I’m dreaming of a roast).

Health-food folks around the world
Are thinned by anxious zeal,
They look for help in seafood kelp
(I count on breaded veal).

No smoking signs, raw mustard greens,
Zucchini by the ton,
Uncooked kale and bodies frail
Are sure to make me run

to

Loins of pork and chicken thighs
And standing rib, so prime,
Pork chops brown and fresh ground round
(I crave them all the time).

Irish stews and boiled corned beef
and hot dogs by the scores,
or any place that saves a space
For smoking carnivores.

Copyright © Maya Angelou. All rights reserved.

*

 

Maya’s poem made me smile and remember a time when health-conscious eaters were called “nuts,” vegetarianism was viewed as a hippie fad, and much of what you could find in a health food store was inedible. Happily, things have changed; Maya hasn’t smoked in over 20 years and is “enchanted with vegetables.” As am I. But I still crave a good burger or plate of ribs every now and then . . .

Here’s Maya’s recipe for cornbread, sure to please vegetarians as well as carnivores. She suggests cutting a piece in half horizontally, inserting a slice of Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese, then heating it in a toaster oven for breakfast. Nice change from cereal!

 

ALL DAY AND ALL NIGHT CORN BREAD
(makes 9 squares)

3 T butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1-1/2 cups white cornmeal
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
1-1/2 cups plus 2 T milk
1 egg, well beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Melt the butter in an 8-inch square pan.

2. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.

3. Stir in 1 cup plus 2 T of the milk and the egg, mixing only enough to dampen the cornmeal mixture.

4. Pour the batter into the pan. Pour the remaining 1/2 cup milk over the batter and stir.

5. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.

*Adapted from Great Food All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart by Maya Angelou (Random House, 2010)
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♥ Anastasia Suen is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup this week at Picture Book of the Day. Take her a piece of cornbread. Secret password: Seaweed.

 

**Note: Food photos in this post are not from Maya’s book.

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

soup of the day: the absolute value of mike by kathryn erskine!

 

Hey, hey!

The clock on the wall says it’s time to celebrate Kathy Erskine’s brand new middle grade novel, The Absolute Value of Mike (Philomel, 2011)!

Before we proceed any further, please select your party shoes. You may choose between yellow sneakers,

 

or duck slippers (quacking optional).

 

Heck, let’s go all the way. Put on this pink “Life is Good” cap while you’re at it.

 

There now! Ready?

I was very excited to read Kathy’s new book because I absolutely adored her National Book Award winner, Mockingbird (Philomel, 2010). Maybe you’re thinking what I was thinking: How could she possibly top that? By showcasing her versatility and writing something completely different, of course!

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