Archives for posts with tag: cooking

benjamas suwanmanee licensed
The Fallback Plan
by Jay Passer

my niece moved to Santa Cruz
to attend the University there.

for her birthday I gave her a nice
chef’s knife, cutting board, and
a clean bar towel.

she was delighted, but perplexed
by the bar towel.

what’s this for?

2 functions, I said. wet it a little
as an anchor for the cutting board,
so it doesn’t slip around while
you’re using the knife.

she pursed her lips and nodded.
and the other?

to practice flipping pizza pie,
of course.
just pretend the towel is the dough.

I showed her how.
she was tickled, but flummoxed.

why would I ever need to know
how to do that?

her major is astrophysics.

you never know, I said,
keeping that Cheshire smile to myself.

Photo by Benjamas Suwanmanee, used by permission.

towel toss

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was a pizza cook for several years, and in the beginning cheated a bit by using a damp bar towel to simulate a pizza dough in order to practice twirling. If the dough is proofed properly, it’s not absolutely necessary to twirl (although the centrifugal force does quicken the expansion process), but if you’re working in an exhibition kitchen it’s definitely worth it because the kids love it.

PHOTO: Still from youtube video Pizza Toss 101 with Carl Penrow. Watch the video here.


Jay Passer’s poetry and prose have appeared online and in print, in anthologies, chapbooks, and a few full length volumes, since 1988. He lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth.

Gastronomical Archive
by Jennifer Lagier

Mother uses her black cookbook
with a broken spine
as a portable file
for historical treasure.
Here cioppino recipes
cohabitate with obituaries,
expired coupons and cards
for religious novenas.
When I die, she says,
I give my jewelry
to your sister.
But for you, I have
saved something precious

Between Betty Crocker’s
scorned printed pages,
my inheritance nestles,
yellowed cooking instructions
written with a leaky pen,
on Sunday offering envelopes.
Secrets reside inside
this bulging cover
bound with rubber bands,
a hidden, tantalizing feast
of delectable pleasures.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I took this photo of my mother’s cookbook.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Mom’s cookbook is a treasured kitchen icon and family legend.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 12 books and in literary magazines, taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, and helps coordinate Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Her newest books are Scene of the Crime (Evening Street Press) and Harbingers (Blue Light Press), and her forthcoming chapbook is Camille Abroad (FutureCycle). Visit her at

Author photo by Laura Bayless. 

Beach Food
by Steve Klepetar

My mother baked a cake
and stood
by the edge of the sea.

Too sweet, too dry,
my father said,
flinging his slice into the rusty

waves. She offered a peach,
its pit removed
and stuffed with Parisian cream,

a basket filled with sandwiches
on little, soft rolls.
My father swam out with his

hunger, past the buoys, ignoring
the lifeguard’s whistle
and call. When he returned, it was night

and fires blazed along the beach.
We headed for the car as meat sizzled
and gray smoke rushed toward the vacant sky

IMAGE: “Interrupted Picnic” by Jack Yerka (2006).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While I admit that this memory has been embellished a bit, food was an important component of my family’s beach experience. My parents sometimes disagreed about the menu. I remember how we always left, much to my salivating regret, as the rest of our family tossed steaks on the barbecue.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Chiron, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). sRecent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press. His full-length collection Family Reunion is forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Here I am on the beach at Cozumel last December. I’ve just hurled a slice of cake into the sea.

masterchef australia
by Sheikha A.

A cage of silk is weaved over
a spoon — sugar transformed.

People over a stove are
what magic is made from.

My only skill of knowing
the coldness of a kitchen is

not knowing how the whites
of an egg is turned to lace
on a bed of yolk

and cryptic letters of power
that become edible commodities.

My flair at recipes remain
carvings on old caves —

battling a spoon in a bowl.

I watch cooks master a plate;
imagine myself primly poised

over a steam of slow-cooking
fantasies; serving a fleet

from scraps; I see vapours
become aromas

while all I can do is look
through the glass,

write a ballad
on how I couldn’t
feed hunger.

PHOTO: MasterChef Australia Season 7 (2015) winner Billie McKay (left) and finalist Georgia Barnes.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem watching MasterChef Australia, a program I think that is sheer poetry on a plate! The creation process of food bedazzles me, for never having cooked beyond simple dishes that suffice to fill the stomach on a hungry day, and from never having tested my hands at creating a boastful dish, I envy cooks and their ability to walk into a kitchen and see possibilities, while all I feel is anxiety for not knowing the names of simple ingredients!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in over 80 literary venues so far, including several anthologies by different presses. She edits poetry for eFiction India. More about her can be accessed on her blog

lockie bride

Humble Pie
by Ellaraine Lockie

I imagined being a gourmet cook when I was newlywed and made Julia Child’s recipe for “Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic.” Packed the garlic between and over the poultry pieces in my roasting pan. Popped it in the oven. A perfect company dinner on an afternoon errand day. Julia clearly a practical cook.

I returned rounding the cul-de-sac corner to a reek rivaling the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Garlic gone hysterical in my house a half block away. I tamed the traumatic aromatics with watering eyes and open doors. Barely before guests arrived to dine on a disappeared chicken.

We finally found the bantam buried in a garlic grave. Last rites representing culinary miscalculation. Julia of course incorrect.

Twelve dollars of garlic tossed down the garbage. Garnished with Julia. Where she remained rotting in my opinion. Until Betty Crocker rescued her with a string of semantics. Reeled her right out, clinging to the difference between a clove and a bulb. My culinary conceit decomposed.

PHOTO: Bridal Portrait of Ellaraine Lockie in Bozeman, Montana.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  When I was first married, I imagined I was a cook, although I’d never cooked a meal. Instead, I spent the summer before my wedding reading books about cooking, thinking that everything can be learned through reading. I knew it all! This poem portrays one of the many fiascos that taught me otherwise. I did finally become proficient with the culinary art, and next year my kitchen companion and recipe book for lactose intolerant people will be published by St. Johann Press.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ellaraine Lockie’s eleventh chapbook, Where the Meadowlark Sings, won the 2014 Encircle Publication’s Chapbook Contest. Her newest collection, Love Me Tender in Midlife, has been released as an internal chapbook in IDES from Silver Birch Press. Other work has received the Women’s National Book Association’s Poetry Prize, Best Individual Collection from Purple Patch magazine in England for Stroking David’s Leg and the San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest win for Red for the Funeral. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher.

nigella lawson
Imaginary Chef
by Robbi Nester

In my fantasies, I have the knife skills of a ninja,
carving radishes into netsuke.
Beneath my fingers they emerge
as men or beasts, crane or tortoise,
in every attitude of life.
In my kitchen, gleaming copper saucepans wink,
my mise-en-place a thing of wonder,
the cupboards perfectly arranged.
I taste the world, recognize ripeness by scent,
by the way the skin gives under my thumbnail.
Striding through fields of lavender,
or teasing out saffron with the tips of my fingers
from the throats of reluctant poppies,
I am master of every ingredient.
The earth’s simplest offerings,
onions, potatoes, garlic,
sweetening for weeks beneath the earth,
yield up their secrets to my sauce,
its splash of cream spreading
like a cloud on a blue ceramic sky.
The world is my palette,
colors capable of endless combination,
the simple act of nourishment my gift.

PHOTO: Celebrity British chef Nigella Lawson (photo by Charles Birchmore, BBC, all rights reserved).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester likes to cook, sometimes spending days attempting interesting new recipes and watching Top Chef and Chopped obsessively, but she is no great chef. However, she can dream….In between attempting new dishes, she writes poems in Southern California and is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), and editor of an anthology, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It (Nine Toes, 2014).

Brown Gold
by Massimo Soranzio

Do you remember when our old grocer
took out the jar from under the counter
and opened it with great care, like fearing
the brown cream might escape?

Do you remember the way he slathered
the smooth, glossy dark substance on a sheet
of the same paper he used to wrap cheese
in, or red Parma ham?

Do you remember all the hazelnuts
we stealthily picked in our neighbour’s field,
to mix with melted chocolate at home,
like little alchemists?

Do you remember how our teacher used
to point to the door each time we returned
after the break, faces smeared brown,
still licking our fingers?

Do you remember how, when we found out
we were a young man and a young woman,
our first kisses tasted of the sweet cream
we shared behind your house?

Do you remember how on our first night
we made our white bodies brown, and sticky,
and we would not stop licking each other
till they were white again?

Why should you wonder then if every time
we fight, and you won’t look at me, or speak,
I mix flour, eggs and milk, and make crêpes
for you, filled with brown cream?

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I couldn’t find a Nutella-related picture, but in this one, I was probably four – the number of candles I’m blowing indicates it was very probably my elder sister’s birthday cake.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: If you google “Nutella + poem,” you will find hundreds of odes dedicated to one of Italy’s best loved exports. When I was a child, in the 1960s, grocers used to sell it out of big jars or pots, just like they sold suet, or soft cheeses. There were no little individual jars then, as far as I remember. That’s my first memory of Nutella, the beginning of a long-lasting love story. At least twice a month now, as I sit down on the sofa to relax in the afternoon, my wife will tell our little daughter: “Ask daddy to make some Nutella crêpes for you” – and I can never say no to my daughter, of course…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and at present he’s enjoying a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on He posts some of his poetry on his blog,


by BAM

When I’d moved to Nagoya, had a sweet tooth. Wanted something, which defined the culture of Nihon in each bite. Found three skewered sticky rice balls, each a different color. My taste bud’s desires were fulfilled. Problem, I couldn’t read Japanese, so no dice on the name.

Showed my photo around.

“Name that food.”

Some called the dessert “Mochi.”

Turned out to be a generic title.

After describing the candy to a co-worker, she said I’d eaten, “Daifuku mochi.” Wrong.

A local friend couldn’t think of the name. He claimed the pink one was made with Sakura: cherry blossoms. The green ball had been mixed in matcha. “The white one’s just a sweet rice ball,” he said.

“From the Wagashi category.”

Didn’t taste any of that. Researched to find he was correct about the class of sweet. Knowing this I felt so close I could taste the answer to: What was the most satisfying dessert in Japan called?

Last night, bought some to share with my roommate—an artist. We enjoyed the dessert together—the best way to eat the food.

“What’s this called?”

“Sanshoku dango. Three colors dango,” she said while drawing me a picture.

Mystery solved.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My roommate and artist friend Yumi Dolce drew the words. She also inspired me to write the piece after we ate the sweet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BAM graduated with a degree in English with honors, helps other writers, and has publications in many places (works have been awarded and featured) and teaches English in Japan—check out for more information.

PHOTO: “The most satisfying dessert in Japan.” Minato-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi, Japan (August 13, 2015).

by Jennifer Lagier

I’ve always hungered
for illicit thrills, the sweet forbidden,
preferred gorging on pastries
to sensible meals
of balanced proportions.

My wooden cooking spoon
whispers flirtatiously
to watering mouth, waiting hunger,
pursues tender apple slices,
grated cinnamon,
through shimmering butter.
Thick lemon custard
crooks a beckoning finger,
simmers with pungent zest,
wafts the scent
of promiscuous sugar.

Push-over dough
wants only to please you,
slithers beneath floured rolling pin,
spreads skinny pie crust.
The kitchen pulses
with erotic aromas.
I invite appetite
to pull up a chair,
settle in and feast
at my bounteous table.

AUTHOR’S CAPTION: Cookies—One of the five platters of assorted, hand-decorated cookies made for Christmas 2014.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m Italian-American. For us, food is the sacrament of love. I’ve grown up cooking and baking. Every year, I’m the designated cookie baker for my large family’s Christmas celebration. Sweets are my second language.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published nine books of poetry as well as in a variety of literary magazines. Her newest book, Where We Grew UP, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal and misfitmagazine. She also helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Visit her at

AUTHOR’S PHOTO: Jennifer Lagier at the Bayside Café in Morro Bay, June 2015.

Second Birthday
by Karen Vande Bossche

Something’s always missing:
today two eggs. I look through
cookbook substitutes, equivalents.
One medium egg equals one
fourth cup egg substitute,
as if such a thing existed
in my refrigerator.

Banana, applesauce or even tofu.
It’s more a lack of prudence
than a vegan problem.
I could lie say my high
cholesterol is the reason.
Perhaps a subconscious
sabotage of all things home
ec. Why don’t I just
go to the supermarket.

But I couldn’t sleep
last night. My class of
edgy adolescents were
their non-compliant selves.
The rain created boulevard
bedlam. I just wanted
to go home. Just wanted
to drink wine. Just wanted
to complete and put
something away.

The half-started red bowl
of butter, sugars, and
a teaspoon of vanilla,
stares blindly at me
without its yolky eyes.
I sip my wine, pause,
then tip an oxygenated pour
over the creamed landscape.
The drinking woman’s
cookbook, I say with a little
smile and open the
pantry door to possibly
find flour.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My birthday cake 60 years ago. Gotta start that sugar habit!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written because I was having a sugar fit. I don’t cook and there were no goodies in the house. As I knocked around in the cupboards, carrying my glass of wine, I realized I did not have the makings for a cookie. All the better for me to write about what would happen, rather than make and actually eat cookies. Poetry has fewer calories.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Vande Bossche is a poet and short story writer who teaches middle school to students asking questions such as, “Aren’t you too old for a tattoo?” Some of her more recent work can be found in Damfino and Damselfly and is forthcoming in Sediment (October 2015) and Straight Forward Poetry (Winter 2015). Karen was born in the Midwest, raised in Southern California, and is firmly planted now in the Pacific Northwest. She believes that writing is one of the few venues to continued sanity in today’s world where surface is overrated and depth is needed.