Monday, September 8, 2014

Children`s Book Review: A Nursery Companion by Iona and Peter Opie

Title: A Nursery Companion
Authour: Compiled by Iona and Peter Opie
Publisher: Oxford University Press: 1980

"The best books for children invariably seem to be ones that parents too can enjoy; and in the early years of the nineteenth century, when gaiety and colour were admitted to the nursery, and extraordinary coming-together took place of child and adult.  Booklets were produced for the young that were of such quality that even intellectuals warmed to them; and for a while the happy state existed in which the innocent and the sophisticated could share the same literature."

In this 'celebration of an epoch' this archival of nineteenth century children's publication, or collection of booklets, is historical, colorful and fun, albeit irrelevant.  It is, I suggest, mainly for the adults, although a number of selections may entertain the more well-rounded of older children.

For instance, Peter Piper's Practical Principles of Plain and Perfect Pronunciation is a reservoir of tongue twisters representing every letter of the alphabet.  It's super fun to read and the illustrations are earthy and traditional.

My favourite entry is definitely Dame Wiggins of Lee - and her Seven Wonderful Cats. In the tradition of Old Mother Hubbard, this 'worthy old soul' doted on 'seven fine cats' of which kept her safe from mice and rats.

And yes, there is an entry entitled The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard and her Dog, as well as The Gaping, Wide-mouthed Waddling Frog, an excellent illustrative lesson on Punctuation Personified, and among others, Dame Dearlove's Ditties for the Nursery.

It's a fun, historical piece that would fit well in both a children's collection and adult library.  Look online for copies.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rustic Peach Jam

5 1/2 pounds Freestone peaches, fuzz gently rubbed off of skin
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (don't use bottled)

Cut the peaches into slice, leaving the skin on. (The skin on the peaches boosts the flavor and helps thicken it.  The peaches need to be ripe for this recipe but not too ripe as the the riper the fruit, the less pectin.)

In a large glass bowl, add the sugar to the peaches.  Cover and let stand for a minimum of 4 hours.

In the meantime, prepare canning jars and lids.

Transfer peaches and sugar to a large saucepan and add the lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the jam is thick.  It should take 15 or twenty minutes.

Ladle peach jam into hot jars. Wipe rims and seal with lids.  Process in boiling water for ten minutes.
Remove from water bath and let cool on counter.

You should hear jar lids pop when they cool and seal.