Cooking Up Stories: Brand-New Bubbe Plus a Recipe and a Prompt

Oct 7, 2022 | Food & Friends, Jewish Voices

Food and Friends: Cooking Up Stories with Padma Venkatraman and Chef Amanda

We love it when Chef Amanda and author Padma Venkatraman pair up to share a recipe and writing prompt for our Highlights Foundation family! Padma creates the prompts based on a book from one of our Highlights Foundation faculty, and Chef Amanda shares a recipe from the kitchen at the Barn.

BRAND-NEW BUBBE, written by Sarah Aronson, illustrated by Ariel Land

In her brand-new picture book, BRAND-NEW BUBBE, author Sarah Aronson introduces us to a delightfully irritated child and her wonderful grandmothers.

Jillian loves her mom and her stepdad… she just isn’t all that keen on her newest grandmother, Bubbe! There’s sticky “red kissy-lips” kisses, and new holidays, and so much more! Bubbe is out to win Jillian’s heart, just as much as Jillian is willing to withhold it. Things heat up – quite literally – when Bubbe sets out to make some soup. Will Jillian’s annoyance turn to boiling anger, or will latent love bubble up at last?

Cover of Brand New Bubbe

Writing Prompt

One of my favorite sentences from BRAND-NEW BUBBE is: “The kitchen smelled like a delicious trip around the world.” I wonder, how wide is your protagonist’s world? How well-traveled is your protagonist?

Reading BRAND-NEW BUBBE, a charming testament to found family, makes me consider the vastness of what family means. What about with your own characters? Think of characters who aren’t related to your protagonist by blood, but love (or care). Who are they? Where are they from? Have they traveled widely in their minds, if not in the flesh? How does their familiarity with the geography of our world influence your protagonist?

Enjoy writing and then, enjoy Chef Amanda’s delicious soup recipe!

Recipe: Butternut Apple Soup

1 butternut squash, seeded and peeled
Olive oil
Nutmeg, salt and pepper (to season squash with)
3 large apples, peeled, cored and chopped. Granny Smith apples work great because they are nice and tart, but any variety will do just fine!
1 small sweet onion, diced
3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 cup apple cider

Begin by peeling the squash, cutting it in half, and removing the seeds. Place on a baking sheet and season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

While the squash is roasting, sauté the onion in the soup pot with olive oil or butter. Add the apple and sauté for a few minutes. Add stock and apple cider to the pot. Add the roasted butternut squash to pot and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Use a stick blender to purée soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

About the authors–and the chef!

Padma Venkatraman is the award-winning author of five novels for young people: Climbing the Stairs, Island’s End, A Time to Dance, The Bridge Home, and most recently, Born Behind Bars (a companion novel to The Bridge Home). Born Behind Bars is a Parents Magazine Book of the Month book club pick and Junior Library Guild selection. It was released to starred reviews last fall, and is on Kirkus, SLJ, and other best book of the year lists. The New York Times Book Review described Venkatraman’s writing as a “confidently stripped down, crystalline style…Borrowing elements of fable” and the Providence Journal called Born Behind Bars a “tale of hardship and hope, capable of making a grown person cry.” in addition to her novels, Padma’s poetry has been published in literary journals such as Mobius, Snowy Egret, Parnassus, The Delhi London Poetry Quarterly and most notably Poetry magazine; and she is the founder of Diverse Verse. Follow Padma on twitter (@padmatv), visit her website, or meet her on ig/fb (@venkatraman.padma).

Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published the following books for kids and teens: Brand New Bubbe (Charlesbridge), Head Case, Beyond Lucky, and Believe; a young MG series, The Wish List as well as Just Like Rube Goldberg (Beach Lane Books), illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Forthcoming books include a picture book biography of Bella Abzug, Abzuglutely! (Calkins Creek, Boyds Mills & Kane). Sarah loves making soup – and is as sincerely kind, charming, affectionate, and generous as Bubbe. One of the most giving writing teachers we’ve ever met.

Amanda Richards is the executive chef at the Highlights Foundation. Although her scholastic background is in elementary education, she has always had a love of cooking and apprenticed under chef Marcia Dunsmore here at the Retreat Center. She’s a Food Network devotee and grew up watching Julia Child

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