Friday, November 4, 2016

In November

In November, the air grows cold,the earth and all of its creatures prepare for winter. Animals seek food and shelter. People gather together to celebrate their blessings with family and friends. Cynthia Rylant's lyrical language and Jill Kastner's rich, cozy paintings capture the cherished moments of this autumn month in a short picture book. 

Rylant describes different aspects of what happens during the month of November, from the birds flying south, to families getting together to share a feast. The book epitomizes Fall. It's a great resource for teachers and parents to help develop the concepts of Fall, and the month of November specifically for 5-7 age group.

Rylant uses a combination of similes and metaphors to capture the reader/listener and draw them into the book. Jill Kastner's paintings blend colors to give a striking contrast on each page that grabs the eyes of the audience to pull them into the text. The realistic activities and traditions depicted in the story are brought to life by the rhythm of the text. Each page is filled with words to ponder, reflect, relate and to write about.

A favorite quote from the book-
“In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures. The bed is white and silent, and much life can hide beneath its blankets.” 

With the arrival of crisp, cool weather we often crave comfort foods. Here's Huffington Post take on The Best Top 25 Comfort Foods published (1-31-14)
1. Grilled Cheese
2.Mashed Potatoes
3. Mac and Cheese
4. Cheap unauthentic tacos
5. Pizza
6. Dumpling
7. Baked Ziti
8. Tomato Soup
9. Cheeseburger
10. Chocolate Pudding
11. Chicken Soup
12. Pie
13. French Onion Soup 
14. Gravy
15. French Fries
16. Shrimp Grits
17. Fried Chicken
18. Chicken Pot Pie
19. Spaghetti and Meatballs
20. Ice-cream
21. Peanut butter
22. Roast Chicken
23. Creamed Spinach
24. Ratatouille
25. Tuna Melts

Any surprises? For me not so much the foods included in the list but it was the order that surprised me. I would have thought mac and cheese would be #1  followed by pizza.

#18 Comfort Food: Ever Ready Puff Pastry Chicken Pot Pie (photo below) just happens to be the featured recipe on this November day.
Ever Ready Chicken Pot Pie
Cook's notes: Chicken and tuna frozen pot pies were staple foods at our house when I was growing up. Remember these Swansons pies served in little tins?
Well not exactly one of my favorite meals having had them for many years so I decided to create my own pot pies. I've seen recipes that use puff pastry for top crusts which seemed like a good alternative to standard pie crust. I also wanted a filling that was not too time consuming to make. The result was a savory pot pie chocked with veggies. It was quite tasty and certainly a recipe keeper.
This recipe serves 4.  Advance preparation: cut celery, onions and carrots and refrigerate until needed. Use rotisserie chicken for easier prep.

  • 1 package (17.3 oz. ) Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, 2 sheets, thawed
  • 3 Tb. butter
  • 1 cup each diced carrots, celery, peas, potatoes and mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3-1/4 cups chicken broth (low sodium-fat free)
  • 1 TB. Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. herbs de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup each white wine and heavy cream
  • Grease 4 ramekins (8 oz. each) or 1 quart size ramekin. 
  • In a large fry pan melt 3 TB. butter. Add in carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes and onions. Sprinkle spices over the mixture and stir fry for 8-10 minutes until carrots and potatoes are tender-crisp. 
  • Add in 1/3 cup flour and stir for 3 minutes until flour is golden. Slowly add in chicken broth and stir until it boils and thickens. Whisk in mustard.
  • Add in chicken, peas, wine and cream. Cook on low for 6-8 minutes. 
  • On a lightly floured wax paper surface, unfold pastry sheets and roll to 1/4 inch thickness. 
  • Use the ramekin as a template. Cut out 4 pastry tops for pies or 1 large one. Use a pizza cutter to cut puff pastry tops. Make sure filling is cooled before placing the top on. Pinch the crust around the rim so as to form a seal.
  • Whisk one egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the puff pastry tops with egg wash and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Make an x in the center for vents.

  • Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Watch carefully the last 5 minutes so it doesn't get too brown. 


  1. Like you, I thought mac and cheese would have been number one. But grilled cheese (with tomato soup) works for me, too.

    Cynthia Rylant's book looks delightful, except for the mouse on the cover.

  2. The book has a simplistic approach but with precise word choices the imagery is quite engaging.