When it comes to eating utensils, spoons reign supreme.
I’ve always loved them more than knives or forks, with their aggressive blades and tines, slices and stabs.
Spoons are friendlier, nurturing. Their rounded bowls invite you to dip, sip, and slurp. The word “spoon,” with its fun-to-pronounce double ‘o,’ has a charm all its own. Say it now:
See how your lips gently touch like a soft kiss? Adorable.
For most of us, spoons came first. Our hungry baby mouths opened wide for rice cereal, puréed peaches and strained peas. And when some of the food missed its target, the edge of the spoon magically corraled any oozy bits from chin and cheek. So accommodating!
And what about Spoon’s most important function?
SOUP! Ah, soup . . .
I was delighted to discover Joan Logghe’s “Ode to Spoons” recently. Love how she celebrates the divine in the everyday. I was happy to learn she shares my love for Maira Kalman, for whom ordinary objects also take on extraordinary significance when viewed through the lens of history, heart, memory.
ODE TO SPOONS by Joan Logghe
Look at your face in a spoon.
See your ridiculous short life
stretch sideways to contain its
story in silver. I once knew
a woman with no spoons that matched.
She was a wild muttering song.
Her tea spoons were from all
the countries of the earth and
she tried to drink her soup
of each of the fifty states.
One spoon floated spectral.
so white that blue became
an excuse for beauty. Virtuous
spoons raise broth to the lips
of the dying. And navigate
through the flailing
arms of the baby, reflected
above his silver highchair tray.
My daughter received a spoon
with her own name, Hope, etched
into the sterling bowl.
Dated one hundred years
before her life, it revealed
the history of love
and of appetite in one face.
Shape of my mother wedged between
three sisters. The spoon of Ida,
the spoons of Ethel and Pearl.
As their death approaches
by simple fact of the waving night
they continue to shine like fine Hungarian
flatware, tiny lost ancestral dessert spoons.
The spoon is the yes
of the fork’s no. The spoon
is the girl to the fork’s
boy. Even silverware behaves
in this gendered manner.
And so the word spooning
was coined in the mouth
of the lover.
I love you, spoons,
for you feed myself
to me each day. I praise
your edge and your handle
that causes my hand to close
around you. I thank spoons
for rhyming with all
the predictable and
in thanking, I become myself
a sort of spoon
to scoop up praise.
~ from Written with a Spoon: A Poet’s Cookbook, edited by Nancy Fay & Judith Rafaela (Sherman Asher Publishing, 2002). Posted by permission of the author.
Joan: I love writing odes, focusing on praise and I think many of us are inspired by Pablo Neruda’s Elemental Odes or Odes to Common Things. I have written odes to many things, the world offers an endless opportunity for praise. I find that after I write an ode, I feel an increased tenderness and appreciation for the object or emotion.
PoemHolders was a project that emerged during Joan’s tenure as Santa Fe Poet Laureate. It combined her love of quilts with her secret mission to sneak poetry into everyday life. Email Joan directly to order ($25 each + shipping) — joanlogghe (at) gmail (dot) com. No two alike. Love them!
Enjoy the official book trailer for Joan’s book, The Singing Bowl:
Today we’re all about cookies with our yummy baker’s dozen of favorite cookie picture books. Mmmm! Can you smell the rich buttery goodness of these lovingly baked stories? These chewy charmers are flavored with a good measure of humor, mystery, suspense, excitement, wisdom, and whimsy for a satisfying read any time.
Whether it involves gingerbread boys, kangaroos, monkeys, cats, cows, ducklings or detectives, we see how this favorite childhood treat can be smart and tough, with crumble-proof narratives to hit the spot. So grab a cold glass of milk, settle in your favorite chair, and reach right into the cookie jar. Happy story-nibbling!
Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar? by George Shannon and Julie Paschkis (Henry Holt, 2013). With buoyant rhyming text and gorgeous folkloric illustrations, Shannon and Paschkis beautifully show how it takes many hands working together to produce the cookies we all enjoy. With enthusiastic nods to those who grow the wheat, milk the cows, churn the butter, feed the hens, harvest the sugar cane, truck the goods, stock the shelves, and mix the dough, this book celebrates our industrious multicultural world community and reminds us that each job and worker counts — even the steelmaker who makes the cookie sheets and the seamstress who sews the oven mitts. Many hands put the cookies in the jar, so one hand can take a cookie out. Delicious, informative and thought provoking. *Includes a recipe for Sugar Cookies.
Bad Boys Get Cookie!by Margie Palatini and Henry Cole (HarperCollins, 2006). Wily and wolfish bad, bad boys Willy and Wally are back with insatiable sweet tooths in this rollicking mash-up of The Gingerbread Boy, The Three Pigs and Hansel and Gretel. When the baker calls for help in capturing his runaway gingerbread cookie, Willy and Wally pose as detectives, licking their chops as they go out on a limb, disguise themselves and set out a honey trap. But none of their ploys can hold a candle to the smarts of the sassy, taunting Cookie, who outruns and outwits them at every turn. When a hungry croc eyes up their cute little snack, these bad boys set their sights on a more substantial meal. Lots of action, slapstick, puns, toothy grins, empty cookie boxes and candy wrappers to keep munchkins engaged in this funny fairy tale feast.
Tough Cookie by David Wisniewski (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1999). In this hilarious and clever crime caper spoof, stale and chocolate chip pock-marked veteran Tough Cookie learns that the notorious Fingers has snatched his old partner Chips. Complete with Bogart-esque staccato dialog, tongue-in-cheek pathos and witty wordplay, this toothsome tale is set in a multi-leveled cookie jar, where living status is determined by freshness and sell-by date. When Tough Cookie (once a crackerjack cop who with Chips busted the Ginger Snaps and broke up the Macaroons), braves a trip from the bottom of the jar to the top to help his friend, he’s cheered on by blonde bombshell Pecan Sandy and aided by thousands of grateful Crumbs who attack Fingers. Wisniewski’s masterful cut paper collages effectively amplify the film noir tone while depicting Tough Cookie’s hard edges.
Ginger Bear by Mini Grey (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004). It’s hard not to love this sweet story about a resourceful gingerbread bear who successfully finds a way to escape being eaten. Young Horace bakes Ginger Bear but for a variety of reasons never gets around to eating him. He places the cookie in a little tin on his pillow, and while he’s fast asleep, Ginger Bear awakes and decides to bake a batch of friends to play with. After decorating them with multi-colored icings, sprinkles, candied peels, glacé cherries, and little silver balls, Ginger Bear rounds them up for his very own circus. Oh the thrill of seeing the acrobats tossing and tumbling, the Strongbear raising the rolling pin, the Aeronaut being fired from the ketchup bottle! Luckily, Ginger Bear manages to “clamber to safety” just in time when cookie-loving Bongo the Dog abruptly ends their fun. Ginger Bear proves to be the smartest cookie of all when he finds a new career in a bake shop window display. Adorable illustrations with plenty of delectable details make for an irresistible adventure.
Sugar Cookies: Sweet Little Lessons on Loveby Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Jane Dyer and Brooke Dyer (HarperCollins, 2009). The third book in this truly delightful series contains illustrated definitions of important concepts explained in terms of baking, eating and sharing cookies. “ADORE means, I think you’re simply delicious. Oh I could just gobble you up.” “CONSIDERATE means, I waited until you got home so we could lick the bowl together.” “SELFLESS means, No, really, please, I want you to have the last cookie.” Love the diverse characters who peacefully co-exist with fully clothed animals in encounters that are sweet, tender, sensitive and comforting. The double page spread for CONNECTED, showing two mice baking together, is beyond adorable. *Includes a recipe for Sugar Cookies. ** See also Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons, Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons, and One Smart Cookie: Bite-Size Lessons for the School Year and Beyond.
No More Cookies! by Paeony Lewis and Brita Granström (Scholastic, 2005). A cute story about how pre-schooler Florence and her plush monkey Arnold try to convince Florence’s mom to give them just one more cookie. Mom has decreed that Florence and Arnold are not to have any more cookies for an entire week because they polished off all the cookies in the tin. The desperate duo dreams up several ploys to get their sugar fix (pretending they’re tooth fairies, nurse and injured monkey, famous chef and assistant), but Mom counters every one with wise responses (cookies are bad for teeth, “injured monkeys need medicine and bandages, not cookies”). Eventually Mom comes up with a good, albeit healthier alternative — instead of more cookies, they can make Magic Monkey Bananas! The fun, imaginative play and oversize drawings brim with kid appeal, and of course the desire for just one more cookie resonates with everyone. *Complete with lick-worthy cookie endpapers and a recipe for Magic Monkey Bananas.
The Cow Loves Cookiesby Karma Wilson and Marcellus Hall (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010). In this rhyming barnyard romp, we follow the Farmer as he makes the rounds to feed all his animals. As one would expect, the horse loves hay, the chickens their feed, the geese, sweet corn, the pigs, their slop, and the dog his treats. But the cow? He loves cookies! Won’t eat anything else! We eventually learn why the cow loves cookies so much: she and the farmer share a picnic lunch every day. The farmer brings the cookies and the cow provides the milk for dunking. This one begs to be read aloud with its “But Cow loves cookies” refrain, repetition and cumulative structure. What child can resist farmyard animals? Moo!
Who Ate All the Cookie Dough? by Karen Beaumont and Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt, 2008). A fun, rhythmic who-dunnit featuring Kanga, who tries to answer the titular question. “Eeny, meeny, miney, moe!/Who ate all the cookie dough?” He questions Lion, Zebra, Llama, Cheetah, Hippo, and Monkey, but they all deny eating the cookie dough. They’re totally baffled by the mystery, but are pleasantly surprised when they finally discover the culprit. The simple repetitive text and appealing animals make for an enjoyable read aloud with a delightful ending that’s as much fun for the characters as the reader.
The Baker’s Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale retold by Aaron Shepard and illustrated by Wendy Edelson (Atheneum, 1995). This retelling of the old Colonial American legend features a baker from Albany, New York, named Van Amsterdam. He’s very honest and his goods are eagerly snapped up by the villagers, especially the St. Nicholas cookies he bakes every December. One day, an old woman comes into the shop and asks for a dozen St. Nicholas cookies. He gives her twelve, but she insists a dozen is thirteen. He is, if nothing else, exacting, and gives her twelve and only twelve. Before she leaves, the woman chastises him for being stingy. From then on, everything he bakes is a disaster, and he gradually loses all his customers. Bereft, he asks St. Nicholas for help. He has a wondrous dream that night that convinces him to “give more.” When word gets out that Van Amsterdam considers thirteen to be a dozen, customers flock to his bakery. Edelson’s exquisitely detailed watercolor illustrations immerse the reader in an Old World setting and capture the spirit of the holidays. A wonderful seasonal tale about the joy of giving, the rewards of generosity, and the origin of the baker’s dozen.
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems (Hyperion, 2012). In this 7th book of the wildly popular series, Pigeon is a little more than distraught when he learns Duckling got a cookie just by asking (politely). To add insult to injury, it’s a cookie with nuts! Pigeon then mentions many things he’s asked for (walrus, candy, hot dog, hug, to drive a bus), and DIDN’T get. After this rant he declares it’s totally unfair and begins to feel sorry for himself. Once again, he asks Duckling, “Why did YOU get that cookie!?!” Quite a surprise when Duckling replies, “So I could give it to you.” Told wholly in Willem’s high octane dialog, the story is actually a sweet lesson in politeness, sharing, and expressing gratitude. Nice contrast between overwrought Pigeon and soft spoken Duckling. Big lesson in a small space. Fun!
Fortune Cookie Fortunes by Grace Lin (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004). Everyone knows fortune cookies are the best part of a Chinese meal, but do fortunes really come true? The young girl who narrates this charming story certainly thinks so! Ma-Ma’s fortune says “Attention and care will make great things happen.” How else to explain how well her garden is growing (giant fruit and vegetable plants!). Or what about older sister Jie-Jie creating a roomful of beautiful origami animals (“Your imagination will create many friends”)? When younger sister Mei-Mei refills the bird feeder, a beautiful flock of colorful birds arrives (“Your smallest action will attract many”). Our narrator then wonders about her own fortune (“You will see the world in a different way”), and cheerfully realizes that she sees the world in fortune cookie fortunes! Gorgeously illustrated in bold colors, this gem celebrates the magical way children perceive the things around them. *Includes a note about the origin of fortune cookies.
The Cookie-Store Cat by Cynthia Rylant (Blue Sky Press, 1999). A purrrfectly endearing cookie confection about a pampered ginger-colored cat who was found as a stray and adopted by a trio of cuddly bakers. He has his own little gray bed at the back of the bake shop, and every morning the bakers kiss him hello, telling him he is “prettier than marzipan” and a “gumdrop gem.” The cat then goes out to greet each of the shop owners on his street, and then returns to the bakery to nap beneath a sunny window. Every Monday he’s visited by Father Eugene, who chats with the cat over a cup of Irish coffee and three Scotch chewies. After school, when the kids come by for their treats, they cuddle and cradle him and scratch the top of his head. What a life! And so it goes through the seasons, every day with sweet tender moments and reciprocated affection. This feel good kitty charmer comes with 7 cookie recipes mentioned in the story. Me-wow!
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
During these trying times, each of us finds a way to cope. The response I’m hearing most often from my author and illustrator friends is, “Make Something Beautiful.”
The simple act of creating something new is not only life affirming — it affords the creator the calm that comes with total immersion in a project. Writers often talk about “being in flow,” when you lose all sense of time and place, and the only thing that matters is the work.
I liken “being in flow” with mindfulness. When we are fully present there is no worry over future events or regret about the past.
Of course one need not be an “artist” to reap the benefits of this practice. As we move through our days, we can choose to live each moment as fully as possible, whether we are painting a picture or washing the dishes.
I’ve found that baking is especially therapeutic. I like the scientific accuracy of measurement, of scooping out flour and leveling it with my butter knife. I like the rhythmic chopping of nuts, scraping batter around the edges of my mixing bowl with my favorite spatula, seeing ingredients come together to make something delicious.
And I like the zen of cooking eggs as described in Karen Greenbaum-Maya’sbeautiful recipe poem. It is reassuring to hear the gentle voice, to slow down and appreciate each step in the process.
Today I’m grateful for the little world of this poem, feasting mindfully, this healing moment.
EGGS SATORI by Karen Greenbaum-Maya
Take an egg for each eater,
another for the pan.
The eggshells should be opaque,
too bright to look at if white, freckled matte if brown.
Crack the eggs into a generous bowl.
Use your entire arm, wrist hand forearm shoulder as one.
Achieve a decisive snap that strikes the shell cleanly
at the bowl’s edge.
Empty each eggshell of its little world.
Heat the frying pan, only just enough
to melt a lump of butter the size of a nut, any nut.
Float the pan off the stove.
While the pan cools, whisk the eggs
as mildly as wind ruffles grass.
No bubbles. No froth. A slosh of cream does no harm.
Pockets of egg white will bob to the surface.
Accept this. Add salt.
When you can pat the underside of the pan
as you would pat a friend’s shoulder,
return the pan to a gentle heat.
Quietly, pour in the beaten eggs. Now, leave them.
Chop some fresh tarragon, or a small ripe tomato.
Bring this to your eggs.
Let them all get acquainted in their own time.
Drag a fork languidly through the eggs,
where a small buffer is starting to thicken.
Let your lungs fill and subside without effort. Release the breath.
Gently tour the rest of the pan.
Drag the fork around the edge again.
Now the eggs will start to yield large curds.
Observe this without urgency. Low heat. No bubbles.
Bring drifts of egg to the center,
slowly enough to feel their mute resistance
to the pull of the fork. So slight, the weight.
If curds break into pieces, you are working too hard.
You have been dragged off-center.
Stop. Get over yourself.
Let the eggs cook alone for a moment.
Honor how little they require from you.
Gather the eggs together at the center of the pan.
Coax them to turn over. Turn off the flame.
Gaze around the kitchen a moment,
take the pan from the burner.
Divide the billowy mass into portions and serve.
Eat your eggs in small voluptuous bites. Do not speak.
~ from Feast: Poetry & Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner, edited by Diane Goettel and Anneli Matheson (Black Lawrence Press, 2015). Posted by permission of the author.
Karen Greenbaum-Maya: I don’t practice Zen, but I do value it. The inspiration for the poem is a piece of MFK Fisher about how scrambled eggs, angrily made, can hurt a marriage, but scrambled eggs, made quietly and responsively, benefit everyone involved.
Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist, former German major, two-time Pushcart nominee and occasional photographer. She started cooking at six in self-defense. She has developed professional recipes. For five years, she reviewed restaurants for the Claremont Courier, sometimes in heroic couplets, sometimes in anapest, sometimes imitating Hemingway. Her photos and poems appear in anthologies and in journals such as Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Off the Coast, Blue Lyra, Measure, and Heron Tree. Her poems have received Special Merit and Honorable Mention in Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial poetry contest. She co-hosts Fourth Sundays, a poetry series in Claremont, California. Kattywompus Press publishes her two chapbooks, Burrowing Song, a collection of prose poems, and Eggs Satori. Aldrich Press publishes her full-length collection, The Book of Knots and their Untying, which can also be purchased on Amazon. For links to work on-line, visit her blog, Clouds Like Mountains.
GILMORE GIRLS COOKBOOK WINNER!
Nice to hear from so many diehard Gilmore Girls fans this past week. Truth be told, Monsieur Random Integer Generator is also a big fan. He claims to be Michel’s distant cousin, admires Emily’s fine taste in decor, and has always championed Jess’s rebellious streak.
This time, it was easy convincing M. Generator to help us pick a winner, but not before he had consumed 36 gallons of Luke’s coffee, 145 dozen donuts, 120 pizzas, and 75 dozen frosted Pop-Tarts. While roller skating backwards with Hep Alien blasting in the background, M. Generator ever-so-skillfully reached into his dapper tophat and picked:
♥ ROBYN HOOD BLACK!! ♥
Please send along your snail mail address so we can get your prize out to you lickety split.
Thanks, everyone, for all the great comments. Hope you enjoyed (or are still enjoying) the Netflix Revival!!
The lovely and talented Bridget Magee is hosting the Roundup at Wee Words for Wee Ones. Float over and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Will you be making scrambled eggs this weekend?
This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!
Happy Book Birthday to Andrea Wang! The Nian Monster (with illustrations by Alina Chau) is officially out today! This post features some awesome resources — a teacher’s guide, craft, and event kit! Also check out the other Launch Week posts for even more. Leave a comment at any of them for a chance to win a signed copy!
Xingling, the main character in THE NIAN MONSTER, is a resourceful girl. When confronted by a ravenous monster, she keeps her wits about her in order to fend Nian off. She’s not afraid to ask for help, either. Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get THE NIAN MONSTER into the hands of readers. I heard over and over how everybody loves freebies. So in addition to swag like bookmarks and magnets, I decided to offer additional book-related resources. And, like Xingling, I reached out and asked for help from my community — the wonderful kidlit community.
Here are a few of the resources that were created for my book:
A Teacher’s Guide: Arguably, not every picture book needs a teacher’s guide, especially if it’s fiction. But I felt that there were enough cultural and geographical aspects to my book that a teacher, librarian, or parent might…
1. Well, now, here’s something I haven’t done before: get my daily dose of Vitamin C from a pair of boots! Orange you just tickled by these? Certainly a fun way to brighten up a rainy day.
In case you haven’t noticed, I have a “thing” for fake food. When I visited Japan years ago, I LOVED all the fake food dishes displayed in the restaurant windows. They looked very realistic and handily solved the problem of not being able to read the menu.
Fake Food Hatanaka sells these orange boots and other accessories, along with plates and bowls of amazing deliciousness: Chinese, Japanese, or Western food, sweets, fruits, sandwiches, and drinks. They also do miniatures if you’re a dollhouse person. Get Google to translate the Japanese to English on the site, purchase via Paypal, and you’re all set!
Liz and Jimmy Reed, the creators of the Cuddles and Rage webcomic, have whipped up a truly delectable picture book debut featuring the antics of competitive twin cherries who will do anything to outsweet er, outsmart one another.
For this pair of twin cherries, everything is a competition. If Girl Cherry can swing higher, Boy Cherry will boast that he can swing lower. If one is smarter, then the other is cooler. So when they enter a contest to build the best dessert ever, they immediately pit themselves against each other. But when you’re attached at the stem, there’s only so much you can do on your own. Things could be easy as pie so to speak if they put aside their differences and join forces. Will Boy Cherry and Girl Cherry cream the competition by working together or will one try to be the cherry on top?
With loveable characters and laugh-out-loud situations, Sweet Competition is the perfect addition to any child’s bookshelf.After all, there’s always room for dessert!
3. Julie Paschkis fans will be happy to know she recently created a 2017 calendar inspired by the Peaceable Kingdom (in the style of a fraktur).
It celebrates the values of the USA, are only $10 each, and 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the ACLU. Hang some loveliness on your wall while supporting a good cause. Order yours at JuliePaprika.com.
4. Looking for a cute culinary gift for a special someone? This Cupcake Boutique glass cutting board from NakedDecor will brighten up any kitchen! It’s 20″ x 28″, has non-slip rubber feet, and is dishwasher safe. Adorable, no?
5. Also from NakedDecor, check out theseQueen Dessert Plates. The 8″ melamine plates come in sets of four in a nice gift box, and are great for anglophiles or anyone who deserves to be queen for a day every day of the week! And they’re on sale! Just the thing to serve up a slice of Queen Elizabeth’s and Prince William’s favorite Chocolate Biscuit Cake.
6. Happy to see that Paddington Bear is one of four classic children’s book characters being featured by Kohl’s Cares for Kidsthis holiday season. An 11-inch plush Paddington or a Paddington Bear picture book can be yours for only $5 each.
As with other KCFK merchandise, 100% of the net profit will benefit children’s health and education initiatives in communities around the country. Other stuffed animal/book pairs: Madeline, Corduroy, and Curious George. Nice holiday gift that won’t break the bank for a good cause! Store pick-up or order online.
7. Highly recommend this blog post by Susan Branch: “We Have to Believe We Are Magic.” She speaks as a heartbroken citizen of this country, expressing some of the same fears, frustration, devastation, and shock many of us are also experiencing since the election. She mourns the way our country is so divided, by how the national discourse is dominated by hate, negativity, and misinformation, and discusses how and why she thinks this all happened — the “ruling class” (big corporations, the media, the banks, etc.) profit from our divisiveness.
It was a very difficult post to write, and you’ll see by the comments (she’s taken the time to personally reply to over 1000+ of them so far), that she’s alienated many longtime fans who are pro-Trump. This was not meant to be a political post, and if you know Susan, you know how big hearted she is, always accepting and very careful about offending anyone. Political parties aside, doesn’t matter who you voted for, some things are more important: everything we hold dear about America is being threatened. We’ve lost sight of the core values we all share: love, kindness, human decency, mutual respect, etc.
The discussion in the comments between pro-Trump and pro-Clinton women is very telling. Her post is listed as a “Cool Thing” because she had the courage to tell it true.
8. A few weeks ago, a former classmate from Hawai’i shared this photo she had taken of a display at our old high school library. Nice to see my books featured in my hometown of Wahiawa, where my first book, Dumpling Soup, takes place. Dumpling Souphas now been continuously in print for 23 years!
9. Finally, some heartwarming holiday moments with James Taylor, his wife Kim, and their twins Henry and Rufus, as they decorate their very tall Christmas tree. Love how he wants to hang the musical instrument ornaments in their own section on the tree. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is my favorite carol. Gets me every time.
It’s more important than ever to spread love, joy, and kindness this holiday season, to keep hope alive and believe in the goodness of humanity.