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Comfort food and books for comfort

Christina Stock Photo Italian Minestrone, is a soup that has a deep tradition in the cuisine of Italy, ever since the first tomatoes were brought in from the Americas.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record


and authors Kathy Barco and Melanie Borski-Howard

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Last week, I wrote about the Ligurian coast and featured a pasta recipe. More often than not, I cook too much pasta. It is too much to eat and not enough for a full portion or two. The Italians came up with a perfect way to use leftover pasta: Toss it into a soup — and Minestrone soup was invented. Minestrone originally was a Ligurian specialty without tomatoes, instead its base was pesto. However, it’s tomato season, so I grabbed everything that is in season to cook.

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Last week’s recipe had pesto as a sauce base, so I didn’t need to add anything else. While Minestrone originally is a vegetable soup, I still had ham leftover and added that. Here is the recipe:


Serves 4


1 eggplant, cubed

1 yellow squash, cubed

1 zucchini, cubed

1 onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

5 large tomatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cups leftover pasta with pesto and peas

1 cup ham, diced

2 cubes of chicken stock

1 cube of beef stock

6 cups of water

2 Tbsp Italian seasoning

Pepper and salt

Grated parmesan cheese


Bring the water to a boil and put in the stock cubes. Stir until dissolved. Add eggplant, onion, garlic, tomatoes and seasoning. Simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and the ham. Cook another 15 minutes until zucchini and squash are al dente. Taste if it needs more seasoning.

Serve with fresh bread and top with the grated parmesan cheese.

Submitted Photo
Author Kathy Barco is seen here with her book “Storytime and Beyond — Having Fun with Early Literacy,” which she wrote with Melanie Borski-Howard.

Books for comfort

This time, it is not a fiction I recommend, but a book with helpful tips to make reading interesting — it’s a book for educators, librarians and family members:

“Storytime and Beyond: Having Fun with Early Literacy”

“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild …

“To pick up a book and read to a child!” — Dr. Seuss

“Storytime and Beyond: Having Fun with Early Literacy” was written by Kathy Barco and Melanie Borski-Howard.

The book has six chapters that are packed full of information that are easy to digest and follow: “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from ABC Books,” “Literacy Doodads: Not just Letter Magnets on the Refrigerator Anymore,” “Dynamic Displays: Minimum Work, Maximum Impact,” “Musical Storytimes Build Literacy Skills,” “Themed Storytimes and Scripts” and “Outreach Storytimes. Additionally, a conclusion section is the final chapter of the book.

The target audience includes children’s librarians, teachers, parents or caregivers of children who are ready to read, or older youngsters and even adults who need literacy motivation. Barco wrote the first three chapters and Borski-Howard wrote the last three.

The introduction is an extended one, describing what each chapter offers so the educator/storyteller can easily jump to what is needed at the time and not having to read everything in order.

Whimsical ways to learn, such as with food, are part of it. “On the menu are alphabet cookies, alphabet soup, alphabet cereal and alphabet pasta.”

Barco reviewed 250 ABC books to draw from, and she lists the ones that stood out and why, of course, in alphabetical order from A is for Art, K is for Strikeout to Q for Quilt and taking it further until X is for eXercise.

There is a lot of hands-on advice and examples for new librarians, such as in chapter three, which covers displays in the library and its benefits. The author points out that there are subtle ways to teach without the viewer noticing that learning is taking place, which is the goal. If reading is fun, Barco points out, it should be painless. What works for a librarian is easily transferrable to family members teaching or just encouraging children to dive into the world of letters and adventures in books.

Especially creative is the chapter about literacy “doodads,” including an explanation what today’s doodads are. There are many examples in this chapter to make reading interactions between parent/teacher and the student enjoyable for both. It is no longer just the alphabet letter magnets on the refrigerator. Something as simple as a shoelace at a doctor’s office can entertain and teach a kid about the different shapes of letters, for example.

In the chapter about musical storytimes, Borski-Howard writes, “I have children in my storytime that speak other languages and many that are just developing those words to communicate. Music and rhythm are something they all are drawn to from day one. From the beating of their mother’s heart, to the rhythms they hear every day, to the songs that fill their souls. It is nourishment — and essential for me and my passion for early literacy.”

The book is easy to read and to understand, unlike other “how to” books, it concentrates on what works for both educators.

“Storytime and Beyond: Having Fun with Early Literacy” is accompanied with photos and anecdotes, helping to understand the impact that reading has. One especially touching moment is when Barco describes her visit to the Bernalillo County Detention Facility and the people she encounters. This includes a grandmother who became motivated to read to her granddaughter.

The chapter about musical storytime includes scripts and songs for children ages 0 to 3, as well as books to accompany the songs and “doodads,” such as zoo and animal puppets. Borski-Howard has a purple dragon puppet as her sidekick when visiting classes, and at the library. She highly recommends that everyone should have a puppet sidekick.

Borski-Howard describes in one of her stories how she visited a women’s shelter where she presented storytimes once a week. What worked and didn’t work for the group of kids that ranged through all ages; and lists the books best suited for this difficult situation.

About the authors: “Barco is a freelance library consultant following her retirement as literacy coordinator at Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System. She was a children’s librarian with the ABC Library and served five years as youth services coordinator for the New Mexico State Library. She earned her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She received the Leadership Award from the New Mexico Library Association in 2006. She served two terms on the board of the New Mexico Library Foundation. She is a member of the New Mexico Library Association, the Mountain Plains Library Association, and American Library Association (ALA). Barco has coauthored three books with Valerie Nye: True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries (2012), Breakfast Santa Fe Style, and Breakfast New Mexico Style (2006, 2009). Kathy’s book READiscover New Mexico: A Tri-Lingual Adventure in Literacy (2007) won a 2008 New Mexico Book Award.

Borski-Howard has been working in bookstores and libraries for more than 25 years. She currently works at the Boulder Public Library as a youth services specialist. She has been reading stories to children for over 15 years and currently presents four to five storytimes per week. She has also taught creative writing to teens and run several library programs. Her on-demand storytime show, “Read with Us,” is in its second season on the local TV Channel 8 in Boulder, Colorado. Borski-Howard is a member of the Colorado Library Association and CLEL (Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy).”

The book “Storytime and Beyond: Having Fun with Early Literacy” is available at abc-clio.com and at the usual online bookstores as eBook and paperback.

Submitted Photo
Author Kathy Barco is seen here with her book “Storytime and Beyond — Having Fun with Early Literacy,” which she wrote with Melanie Borski-Howard.
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