Thursday, February 08, 2007

Nothing Makes Me Feel More Like My Own Grandma

than when one of my kids complains of a stomach ache and I hear myself say, "Maybe you need to use the bathroom." All that's missing is the Russian accent. Also the expression "move your bowels." "You khev to move your bowls?" That would be more like it. And maybe the diagnosis: "Too much stuffed cabbage."

I have columns here and also here.

And I don't think I actually can reprint that NYT bread recipe here, but I swear it's worth the $4.95. I swear it. And you guys? The ones who said that it sounds like too much work? It's not. I actually put up some dough on the weekend, but then around the time I should have been baking it, made a plan with my friend Nicole to take the kids to a concert. So she--she, goddess of breadmaking--said, "Bring it with you. We can bake it at my house later." And so it sat in my car in the arctic morning for 5 hours. And then it sat in her house for another 3. And then, after its allotted rise time, was found mysteriously smashed flat with fingerprints matching those of her rascal two-year-old. And then her oven wouldn't turn on--not even after several whackings with a wrench and/or screwdriver. And then I finally dumped it back in its (dirty) bowl and drove it back home, like a yeasty hostage. And you know what? I baked it and it was fantastic. Don't you love a dough story with a happy ending?


  1. Anonymous5:30 PM

    Yes I DO love a dough story with a happy ending! In fact, today while "grocery shopping" (I live in Cuba, come on it's not like real shopping) I found sliced whole wheat bread! What a treat. I even called some friends so they too could hoard some sliced bread. Amazing how such little things can be so exciting! Thanks for the fantastic articles Catherine.

  2. Anonymous6:50 PM

    LOL. That's a bread to love.
    PK (again with the lazy not signing in)

  3. Anonymous6:58 PM

    That dough has certainly been places! But did you get a stomach ache after eating dirty bread and khev to move your bowels? :)

  4. Anonymous7:12 PM

    That bread definitely sounds worth the price of maybe I *will* shell out the $4.95. :)

  5. I like bread dough stories because they can be so easily turned into Life Analogies. For example-- That recipe is like Children Themselves: things don't go as we planned, we do some things too much or too little, some things don't happen at the right time, we think the whole thing is going to turn out wrong--but then in the end it turns out great. Awesome, huh? I'll bet we could do the same thing comparing it to marriage, or to life or whatever. Bread dough = excellent for analogies.

  6. Swistle, that's *totally* the recipe! Awesome!

    I use 2 cups white flour, 1/2 cup wheat, and 1/2 cup rye. I bake it in a very large Le Creuset Dutch oven (I try not to think about how the handle isn't supposed to be in an oven so hot), but also have baked it in a large, lidded Corningware-type casserole.

    I love how Betty Crocker this is all getting! You'll have to write back with your notes.

  7. Anonymous10:38 PM

    Catherine, your photography is really coming along. The photos of Ben and Birdy are amazing.

    Of course, they are photogenic children ANYway, but you are really capturing some delicious moments. I could just eat those two up -- those cheeks! Gorgeous, snuggly children and the yummy smell of warm could life be better?

  8. Anonymous11:45 PM

    I posted the link on the last blog entry. Just google "no-knead bread new york times" and it will take you right to the article. It's not in the paid-only part of the archives, apparently--it's just sitting there.

    I am waiting until after the baby comes next month to try it. With gestational diabetes, I won't be able to eat nearly as much of it as I want to, and I'm too selfish to make it for the rest of the family if I can't have it.

  9. Anonymous1:52 AM

    No knead to pay $4.95 (ba-da-boom). Yhe recipe can be googled easily.

    So, it's printed out and on my plan for Sunday. You see, the trouble is, you've got to be someone who actually knows what they want to cook/bake 48 hours in advance, and that person is usually not me, but I'm trying. I went out and bought two great vegetarian cookbooks today and instead of fondly remembering all that healhy food my mom used to make, I am finally stepping up to the plate, trying to BE my mom. When I was little my family was vegetarian and I protested, "I"m not a vegetairan." Now it's my daughter saying, "I want to be a vegetarian." And I actually asked for and got a yogurt maker for Christmas. As a kid, I could never understand the point of making yogurt out of yogurt and I still don't exactly, but it gives me comfort. Next thing you know I'll be growing that awful wheat grass that my mom used to grow and drink the juice of. The stench. Bad.

  10. Martha has put up the same recipe, gratis, at her site.;jsessionid=C5A3BWJUXYFCJWCKUUXCGWWYJKSS0JO0?type=content&id=recipe5560020&layout=martha&rsc=012907_hpslot93_E

  11. Love the Wondertime posts, of course. I am the guy at party who didn't want to go in the first place but, probably has the best time of everyone.

    Bread eh? I think I am a great person if I make muffins and have never made bread before. Since you recommended it I will try, I promise.

    Hubby nearly fainted when I had the car warmed up and the snow cleared off this morning, I can't imagine his reaction to bread.

    As much as I am enjoying the cold weather I am a bit over it already. Every morning I say don't rub against the van and every morning they do...lovely, salty, little coats in our house.

    Have a great weekend Catherine.

  12. Oh how I love you carbo-licious bread! I am :SO: making that this weekend!! It's too easy.

    Ok, back to faxing hubby a bunch of crap fr our tax returns. Like I have nothing better to do at work....I'm trying to catch up with Catherine......

  13. Thanks for the link, Swistle! And thanks for your baking details, Catherine. I wonder if my brother-in-law would be able to make it with spelt flour...

  14. How many times did you have to say your grandmother's question outloud to perfect the typing of it? I read it aloud and it sounded pretty spot-on I'd imagine. :)

    I have never made bread, ever...but hearing what your dough lived through? It kind of makes me want to. Because I now have great respect for the dough.

  15. Awesome. That so sounds like something that would happen to my gf and I when we get together with just us 2 and all 7 kids. Always chaos. But always fun. GOTTA send her that recipe, 'cause it's right up her alley.

    BTW: Thanks again for more poignant columns. And oh! The grandma quote! My grannys were both Southern, so just put a bit of twang in there, and I'm home!

  16. That recipe IS cool. I used to be so scared of yeasted doughs - I thought there was some special magic to them, and my many, many failed loaves of bread seemed to suggest that there was something lacking in me. But I overcame it and cheerfully throw yeast into everything now and that little jewel of a recipe has me cranking out SO much homemade bread that my five year old son has started complaining that there is fresh bread again and he's just SICK of it. Magic, I tells you!

  17. Anonymous1:19 PM

    I made that bread at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and one other time... and then one time it was like Catherine's, and I couldn't even make it into bread. It was not dough; it was liquid sludge. And I kept wondering if maybe after all that fermenting something really dangerous wasn't growing there. So after 3 amazing successes and one failure I stopped. Seeing all your e-mail makes me want to try again, though!

  18. Anonymous1:45 PM

    Oh man, I totally say that to my kids all the time, to the point where now they tell me, "My tummy hurts, but I DON'T HAVE TO POOP Mom." I didn't have the Russian Grandma, though, mine was Scottish and too proper to talk of poo.

    There is nothing better today than a happy dough ending. :)

  19. Anonymous2:03 PM

    I had to tell you that I think your latest entries are completely wonderful. Some of your best ever and I love all your writing. I just loved "Everything is Sacred", "Worrywart" and "Resolute". How do you do it - how is it that you can know what I am feeling and put my thoughts to words so eloquently. "Antcipation of grief" ... so perfectly describes my state of mind. "Motherly sighs" ... I know these too well. Thank you!!

    I also love reading all the posts from everyone else, seems like such a great group of women. Still trying to figure out posting at Wondertime. Wouldn't it be great to have a grand gathering of Catherine Newman fans. A big potluck with Chex Mix and luscious breads and conversation. Perhaps to kick off a tour for your next book ... which we all hope is in the near future.

    Thank you Catherine!

  20. My family never, ever made the tummy ache/bowel connection, and I was absolutely mortified when my husband responded not only to tummy aches but to every, umm, noticeable passing of wind, with encouragement to visit the bathroom. (Also, "visit the bathroom" meand "move ones bowels" specifically to him, and "go potty" means "urinate" specifically.) There really should be a communication questionnaire to clarify these things before we commit to long-term relationships.

  21. Anonymous11:52 AM

    I would so come to a "fans of Catherine Newman" party! I get so much from reading your articles (have just noticed, myself, that middle age has arrived on my own face) - I am so grateful that you continue writing.

  22. I had a feeling after reading the bread recipe, you oh eater of tofu and organic pumpkins, would jazz it up with some whole wheat.

    There is a small cult like group of women I know that actually mill their own wheat at home to bake all the baked goods for their families.

    I dabbled it in a bit. (all depending on the age of my kids) By grinding some wheat at the whole foods.

  23. Anonymous11:29 PM

    This bread recipe is all the rage on the web, it seems. It has me intrigued, so I may have to try it too.

    And, completely off topic, but something I was wondering about...The source of the wondering is a book group/parenting class I went to recently where we discussed the connection between how we were parented and our own parenting. So, I guess I have a request. Not sure if you "take requests" as you not a pianist with a tip jar...But could you reflect on your parents sometime?

    Thanks for all of your lovely words.

  24. Maybe this is a recipe even I, killer of all baked-things-rising, can make?? I'm willing to give it a try...

    Great, wintery-warm piece this week, Catherine! I have to admit that I, winter-complainer-of-the-world award winner last 3 years running, have even enjoyed the colder weather the last couple of weeks, too. We took Gretta down to the farmer's market this afternoon and the river was so icy and noisy and beautiful I almost didn't want to leave. Almost. :)

    p.s. I just finished my new Wondertime and you were nowhere to be found?

  25. Since we here in the Pacific Northwest had colder-than-usual temperatures and more snow than normal this year I, for one am welcoming the warming weather with wide open arms. And, Oh My God, 9.5 feet of snow in upstate New York?! Perfect weather to hole up in the kitchen with a pot of "No Knead Bread."

  26. Anonymous12:57 AM

    My mom used to make her own noodles. So every time I do something in the kitchen that smacks of "Yankee Frugality" (like cooking for a change) my Deep South hubby teasingly suggests I make my own noodles. I guess they used to cost more than a dollar a package? Can there be joy found in making noodles? Maybe I should try it... Are Yankees really cheap? I like to think of it as not wasteful. :) And so y'all don't waste 5 bucks, I'm here to tell you that you can get get login info for NY Times' web site at Put that 5 bucks to better use friends.

  27. We did make The Bread this weekend, and it is wonderful!

    Thanks, again, Catherine, for sharing your days and your recipes with us.

  28. Ah, you've done it again! Am I on candid camera? How is it that we are checking the same videos out of the library? And feeling the same pangs of apprehension about letting our children watch them? My son is equally affected by especially emotional or "scary" scenes in movies - having to run into the living room and peer around the corner til it's over, or call my husband or me in to figuratively "hold his hand" til it's over.
    Lovely post, thank you again for resonationg to the very heart of me!

  29. I was so inspired by the talk of this bread recipe that I decided to make it with my almost 3 year old last weekend. He had a blast spooning flour into the measuring cup, tap tap tapping it off with a butter knife and pouring it into the big mixing bowl. We then scooped off all that 'tapped off' flour and put it in a tiny bowl to use for dusting. Sometime while I was in the corner taxing my brain to figure that 5/8 is actually one half of a cup + another 1/8(ug - math) my lovey son was also dumping all of that extra flour into the mixing bowl - this I did not realize until after we mixed all the water in. - Well - it turned out beautifully ! Even better than the 'spare' loaf that I mixed up to recipe while he wasn't looking (just in case) He either has a true gift for bread or this is truly the most forgiving recipe of all time. His loaf was so lovely that I think I am posting a picture of it. Thank you for the recipe!

  30. I just googled "NYT no-bake bread" or something like that and I found the recipe. Of course, I haven't made it yet.

    I love your last post at wondertime about violence--your conundrum is basically the theme of my blog, mother that I am of two little boys.

    By the way, I love love love you and everything that you write. Waiting For Birdy is my all time favorite book on mothering.


  31. Anonymous10:31 PM

    Did you know that Linda S. wrote on her blog (called Purple is a Fruit) that she is reading your book and loves it?

    Check it out...

    Just thought you might like to see that. Have a good week!

  32. Anonymous3:25 AM

    Yep.. I've had my share of was-puffy-now-flat bread... always came out delicious though. But I have to wonder.. how come when I cut it it ends up so F-L-A-T and HOW THE HECK do the big guys cut theirs and have it keep it's beautiful shape??

    And... on another note, I'm like 8mo behind on things. I was catching up on Bringing up Ben and Birdy the other day and nearly dropped to the floor when I read that it was ending. Oh no! It couldn't BE! I've followed religiously (sometimes almost fanatically...) since the beginning. My husband has heard me either cracking up, or been forced to listen as I read aloud, more times than I can count. So glad you left the link. Your hilarious take on the mundane leaves me rolling. And... life with little kids IS tediously, monotonously, tear-inducingly boring. They warned us about up all night, they warned us about crying and diapers, power struggles, blah blah blah. No one said that I'd morph into some sexless, bland version of myself that's a cross between Mother Theresa and a fishwife. And no one warned me that that some days I'd want to hop in the car, and chase down my pre-marriage days' freedom. But no one ever warned me that this particular journey, this particular hill we're all climbing, would feature some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen. No one told me that my kids would be the absolute best (and sometimes the worst) that my husband has to offer. So please do not feel that you have to apologize for saying that your life is boring. It's not YOU LIFE I read this for(no offense), it's your hilarious take on it, your frank honesty. I'll keep following (from a completely safe distance =) ) your delicious articles. In a world of people constantly pretending everything is FINE it's refreshing to hear that there really ARE parents just like the rest of us. Thanks more than I can tell you.

  33. I found myself telling my 3-1/2 year old son that same thing "if your tummy hurts so bad maybe you have to go to the bathroom". It turned out that he was just hungry! Go figure. It was 2 hours past his normal dinner time and he had already pooped an hour earlier. Duh!

  34. Anonymous9:14 AM

    Oh, the violence in cartoons. We are right there with you, Catherine. We've got the 6 yr old who--up until this year--has only ever seen gentle, peaceful shows, and the 3 yr old who fears nothing and craves a little explosion now and then...

    We have entered the land of Looney Toons.

    It's like being in some bizarre mix-up land. I'd forgotten about the violence in these cartoons, remembering only the funny. And I'm so used to gentle PBS fare, that the reality of a cartoon character pulling out a gun and blowing off another character's head was a complete and utter shock. I mean, what the hell??

    But, oddly enough, I didn't ban the Looney Toons. The old me would have done it, and switched right over to Caillou (sp?), but we're in a new land now--somehow.

    Instead, I skip over the "gun ones" (as the kids call them) on the DVD, and go straight for the easier-to-swallow anvil to the head scenarios and the coyotes off a cliff situations. Because those are freakin' funny. Caillou is not funny, and apparently, we are ready for funny.

    Oh, Mr. did we ever out-grow you? I miss the tender sweetness, but the kids find you unbelievably boring. I never really thought we'd get to this point...


  35. Anonymous3:35 PM

    Love the Feb 12th column in wondertime. It is SO disappointing that kids can't seem to be taught or entertained anymore without scrubbing every speck of potential controversy out of the program. Remember when it we sung "christmas carols" in elementary, instead of the now "winter carols"? Barf.

    But the last line of the column hit it on the head: the kids were sad when the lion died. Not when the coyote was accordianed for the 1000th time. They're smarter than we want to give them credit for.

  36. Anonymous5:12 PM

    I'm not sure if it's cool to mention another publication in the wondertime comments, so I'll leave this here. There was actaully a pretty interesting article on kids and violence, gun play specifically in Mothering on the subject the issue before the current one. I only read it quickly, but it's probably on their website.

  37. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Catherine, in your latest WT blog, were you referencing my all-time favourite Looney Tunes short in which Yosemite Sam continuously bellowed "I PAID TO SEE A HIGH DIVIN' ACT...!" and wound up being said high divin' act? God, that's brilliant. Someday soon, I'll snag that on DVD and let my Sam see it. It's not like it's Itchy & Scratchy.

    Are you getting that nor'easter they screamed about on Fox News Boston last night? If so, stay snug and warm. It supposed to be a snow day for us tomorrow in my neck of the woods.

  38. I recently wrote a blog entry not long ago about how scary my toddler finds even some of the gentlest cartoons. Then a friend gave us a new one, an australian version of around the world in 80 days and the first thing that came on the screen was a bank robbery complete with a shooting gun. I was horrified by it, not just because I think its the first time he's even seen a real gun depicted but because he looked so confused and mystified.
    This is a child who gets scared when the balloons carry Curious George away, or Tigger bounces on Winnie. A gun and all the yelling was just really worrisome for him, even though no one gets hurt. Why was that in an animated for children version of a fun story?

    And yet, I can totally see sharing Loony Tunes with him when he's older, I do think there is somehow a difference between "real" cartoon violence and "cartoon" cartoon violence. You aren't expected to sympathise with Yosemite Sam or even Bugs. You don't identify with them. (well at least I don't ;) )

    In that way, I think some of the smarmy cartoons are actually scarier even if they are non-violent. You are expected to feel all that worry with Arthur, or Simba, or even Winnie and some of those feelings are pretty big for little ones.

    Seeing stuff through my child's eyes makes me think really hard about what we show our kids. Why do we stress them out so much with the shows intended for them? The violence in Loony tunes is less worrisome for me because they weren't originally intended for kids and I think they were just meant to be funny. But violence and death are scary when you are supposed to identify with the character and feel with them and the smarmy ones seem designed not so much to teach kids to be kind but rather to make them worry that they aren't already kind enough. I don't see why we can't teach the values we want with more lightness and humor and beauty and less stress.

    Wow sorry I guess I got up on my own soapbox here! Can I even make a comment this long?

  39. Anonymous12:29 PM

    just google no knead bread and you'll find it. That's what I did!

  40. Anonymous12:52 PM

    The bread recipie is truly delicious and very forgiving. I'm not sure our house ever reaches 70 degrees in February so I was worried it wouldn't rise but it did.

    As a side note - if your 3 year old is having so much fun with measuring cups and spoons that they don't want it to end - don't give them 1/2 cup of salt to play with. Especially if you plan on turning around to put things away, because they might decide to eat it. And then, after giving large drinks of water you might end up thinking that a teaspoon of salt might not be good for the little fella. Then you might google "toddler salt poisoning" and find a horrific story about a child who may have died from it. And your fantastic bread making with your son afternoon might turn into - "where is that number for poison control" stomach turning hysteria.

    For the record 2 teaspons of salt would be considered toxic for a child weighing 32 lbs.

    Thank goodness the bread takes so long to make, I couldn't eat a thing for the rest of the day anyway.....

  41. ok so i tried the bread.
    Don't ask me why...but this could only happen to me....I spilled the wheat germy stuff all over the oven....which required me to get the hand vac out...which cause some of the plastic to then I get burnt plastic and black smoking wheat germ as the bread bakes.
    I also destroyed my le creuset pot, which i thought was indestructable. oye