peeking into molly’s organic farm by carol l. malnor and trina l. hunner

Miao! Who’s that peeking through the cauliflower leaves?

Meet Molly, a homeless orange tabby who wanders into a small community farm one Spring day and instantly captures everyone’s hearts.

Based on a true story, Molly’s Organic Farm (Dawn Publications, 2012), introduces young readers to the seasonal workings of an organic farm through Molly’s eyes. Curious and mischievous, she explores this wondrous world of giant cornstalks and row upon row of leafy vegetables, watching, hunting, and playing among the busy birds, bugs and critters who live there, some beneficial to the plants, others harmful.

The basic principles of organic farming and the marvelous interplay of nature are seamlessly interwoven with Molly’s activities, all gorgeously brought to life with Trina Hunner’s stunning illustrations. We learn about composting, companion planting, crop rotation, beneficial bugs and animal helpers, the importance of buying locally and the wonderful sense of community that’s established among those who share an interest in growing and eating healthy foods in a way that is gentle on the environment.

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friday feast: what’s in the garden? by marianne berkes and cris arbo

What could be better than a book brimming with delicious rhyming verse?

A book of taste-tempting riddle poems with gorgeous art, yummy recipes, food for thought, and gardening tips, of course!

In What’s in the Garden? (Dawn Publications, 2013), Marianne Berkes and Cris Arbo celebrate the joys of growing and eating twelve familiar fruits and veggies with a cast of adorable, happily-engaged multiethnic kids.

This delightfully fun, interactive feast is served up in a clever format: children are asked to guess which fruit or vegetable is described in each of the catchy four-line poems, then turn the page for the answer, where they’ll find an easy recipe featuring the produce to stimulate their appetites.

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happy 70th birthday, paul!

Paul with daughters Stella and Mary (photo © 2011 Mary McCartney)

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a dreamy 12-year-old listening to the radio in my bedroom with the pink curtains and wall-to-wall Beatles pictures, it was inconceivable that any of the Fab Four would ever age.

Well, it seems Sir Paul has decided to turn 70 today and I can’t think of any other classic rocker who’s managed to age quite so well. Still has his boyish good looks and charm, still writes, records, performs and tours, still the idol of millions all over the world. Whenever I see him, I still feel like that innocent middle schooler watching the Ed Sullivan Show, so lucky to have witnessed that watershed moment in history when popular music changed forever.

You probably know Paul is a longtime vegetarian, who, with his daughters Stella and Mary, launched the Meatfree Monday campaign in London back in 2009. Last fall they published The Meat Free Monday Cookbook (Kyle Books, 2011).  I just purchased the American edition (released March 2012), and decided to make one of the recipes to celebrate Paul’s birthday.

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farm market walkabout

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month!

Have you been to your local farmer’s market yet?

Here’s what we saw on a recent trip to Reston Farm Market:

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A Few Take-aways:

  • Flower vendors are kind and seem to smile more. Bunches of lavender = a dream of Provence.
  • Giant zucchini prove that bigger is not always better.
  • Clowns making balloon animals do not like to be photographed when they are coughing.
  • Eek, leeks!
  • My love is like a red, red raspberry.
  • 100 Bowls of Soup! Ginger carrot is quite refreshing.
  • Squash multiply like rabbits. It is highly likely they will take over the world.
  • Hooray for samples: salsa, cherries, cucumber, strawberries, tomatoes!
  • I don’t care what you say. Cucumbers standing up are obscene.
  • Rubbery green beans. Boing!
  • Mmmm, whoopie pies! Pause to worship at the altar of baked goods.
  • Lettuce entertain you.

So what did we buy? Basil, rosemary and parsley plants. Ravishing raspberries. Cranberry orange scones, apricot linzer cookies, triple chocolate rockies. Vine ripened tomatoes, blushing with vibrant color and oozing summer flavor.

Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you.

Brought home these babies and had a little Insalata Caprese for lunch. So easy to prepare, wholly satisfying, and quintessentially summer: sliced tomatoes at their peak ripeness, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves seasoned with Fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper, extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top. Magnificent in its simplicity, laid back and luscious, with each unadorned flavor taking center stage without an ounce of competition. Ti amo! Ti desidero!

*kisses bunched fingertips*

Delizioso! Squisito!

What summer fruits and veggies are you most looking forward to eating?

Buon Appetito!

*swoons and dreams of tooling around Capri on a Vespa with Al Pacino.*


This post is linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share food-related posts (fiction/nonfiction/cookbook/movie reviews, recipes, musings, photos). Put on your bibs and join the fun!


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

going natural with april pulley sayre

#2 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2012.

April’s new picture book will be out in May.

Happy Poetry Month, and three big cheers for our first guest poet, Geisel Honor winner April Pulley Sayre!

Once again we’re calling upon an author named April to kick off our Potluck. You can see she’s pretty excited about Go, Go, Grapes!: A Fruit Chant  (Beach Lane Books, 2012), which is a companion book to her wildly popular Rah, Rah, Radishes!:A Vegetable Chant, released last year. Do I love a poet who gets kids excited about their fruits and veggies? You bet!

Many of you know that April and her husband Jeff are ardent, adventure-loving, world-traveling naturalists. April is so fond of vegetables, she’s been known “to clap with joy upon discovering a ripe tomato in her garden!”

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