Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Tag Archives: Cooking

Silken Softness

My mom, Charlotte,
grew up in Iowa.
Council Bluffs, to be exact.

Recession, then Depression
brought the town to its knees,
at least until corn season.

Mom said Grandma Blanche
could make anything
from corn in a skillet:

Corn cakes, corn pone,
corn bread, but the best was
corn alone.

In the field, the poor were
allowed to glean from
Old Man Jones’ field.

Yanking from stalks,
home to shuck the ears.
Corn silk was, for Charlotte,

a miracle, a treasure. She said,
“I hope someday my wedding dress
will be as soft as this corn silk.”

Blanche marveled at
how her girl could always
make magic from simple things.

It’s a Laughlin tradition,
passed from Blanche to Charlotte,
from Charlotte to lucky me.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Poets United, my favorite site, asked for food-inspired, home-grown tales. Can’t get more “down home” than this!


GRASS

To legalize or not to legalize pot?
That is the question I was sort of
pondering while preparing a
killer omelette this morning after
imbibing my usual cup of coffee that’s
so strong you can stand a spoon up in it.

Now, the secret of my omelettes
is in the herbs…. when they’ve been dried
you toss them in after the chopped onion
and garlic are just beginning to sizzle and
that opens up their flavor, their savor,
and their real power.

Then the rest, the squash, the whatever is
residing in your crisper and not all
squishy and globbed from the humidity
man it is hot outside and even the A.C.
won’t keep the molecular damp from
seeping through the cracks and crevices and

oh, yeah, the omelette. So last thing, you add your
favorite cheese, but what really turns my creation
into a work of art is not the presentation because
it usually falls apart before it hits the plate, and
I’m like, you’re just gonna chew it up anyway,
what’s the big deal about presentation?

Cheese. Cheeeeeese. Oh yeah. Wisconsin aged
cheddar we get at the co-op, so dry it crumbles.
But if you get off on brie or swiss, like the song says,
Love the One You’re With.

So anyway, I finished my omelette and booted up
the puter and the Poets United prompt was GRASS!
How fortuitous! Coincidence?
I THINK NOT. It was simply the universe
whispering in my ear about
sharing my love of creative cooking!

What a grooved-out day to daydream (too!) about my
lovely brunch (I got up pretty late today) and
the secret of its blissful herbalicious goodness…

Bon appétit. Buen provecho. Happy eating, y’all!

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


Damp Laundry

Mom and damp laundry
Despite new products, incensed:
The skid marks remained

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Three Word Wednesday:  Damp, Incensed, Skid

…and your second helping (hope you already ate dinner!):

Rank

The new apartment was spotless:
Creamy carpets calming, yet daring any mud
to tread or trespass.

Spacious closets; bathroom, a religious experience.
We moved in, delighted to have found
a small space offering big comfort.

Then I stepped into the hallway
shared by a dozen apartment front doors.
Smacked in the schnozz by a complicated, rank odor.

Some good:  Spices, worthy chefs working ethnic magic.
Much more body odor… culturally acceptable
where the bodies originated, harking back to my East Side days.

Worst – cigarette smoke sneaking out to play hookie,
curling, wending its way from under some front doors.
Lingering like a London pea-souper, toxic fog.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
ABC Wednesday – R, and Poetic Asides, “Telling it like it is.” Also at my poetic home-away-from-blog, Poets United!


One last poem before they shut off the Net access and I welcome the movers. This meditation is one three days without my Lex smiling at me across the dinner table; it’s also a remembrance of days before his loving help in the kitchen.

A SOLITARY PLACE SETTING

Dinner for one
Single chicken breast pounded, powdered with
a bit of flour, salt, pepper
No flourishes here; no guest to impress

Olive oil flashes as poultry meets
onion-green pepper-garlic melange,
the Holy Trinity of kitchen worship
A lonely head of broccoli pipes up, steaming

I sip Pinot Noir from a jelly jar
Finer glasses sit on the shelf
waiting for someone who will one day join me
chatting over chopping of veggies
as he compliments my talent
for producing perfect brown rice

The table is set now
One placemat, one napkin in its ring
One cat mrrrowing that it’s his suppertime, too

Swirling a second helped of wine, I wonder
when the Fates will serve me up
someone for whom presentation is everything
and dessert doesn’t come from the oven, but
the slow cooking of romance

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


IN PRAISE OF SLOW COOKING (for De and Justin Jackson)

Lex minces garlic
and chops onion on a small cutting board
We love the sound of the knife
thunking the wood.

I brown the chicken in olive oil,
nudging the cutlets, easing in
a bit of broth after the first turn,
poaching with herbs from my potted garden,
a splurch of wine, a pinch of pepper.

Now we divvy veggie duty:
He, the mushroom expert,
peels, washes, slices thin
with a knife we wish was
up to the quality of our endeavor.

I’m the Carrot Queen, the
Broccoli Barlow Baby.
Rice is already on,
scented with saffron.

Whatever the meal, we cook
together. Slowly.
We need only the kitchen,
time, talk, and the bumping of butts
as we faux-fight over space.

Cooking is only half the fun.
Then comes enjoying
a slow-cooked meal
with family and friends.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil


At Big Tent Poetry, we were asked to think long and hard about our dwellings… then write about a favorite place. I knew right away where my heart lay.

OUR KITCHEN (for Lex)

In times long passed,
the kitchen hearth was
the heart of every home.
Scent of drying herbs
a potpourri of potted and garden delights.
Fresh-baked bread beckoning.

Perhaps a rocking chair for Gram
as she sat and choreographed
the preparation of the evening meal.
And always, a pot of coffee.

Our own kitchen is quite small,
but the walls, tomato red, stir appetites.
We collaborate on meals:
Here’s the wooden board, I’ll chop veggies
while you brown the chicken.
You, the king of piecrust, rule the rolling pin
while I slice apples and stir in spices.
Occasionally, we bump butts, laughing.
Small space, but a romantic place.

Our kitchen is the heart of our home.
Rented, but ours, still
because we’ve made it so.
The cat watches longingly from his perch
awaiting his shre.
We cook, bake, talk, share
and pray over the meal we prepare,
for patience, for love to loom large
over the rest of the world. As for me and mine,
we are at peace.

© 2010 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil