Monday, December 29, 2008


Have your holidays been marvelous? Ours have. I have hardly even noticed the wax from the menorah candles splashing onto my freshly painted windowsill and leaving colored waxy dents in the smooth white. Ahem.

But otherwise, it's been love and joy and ham around here. The ham recipe is up at wondertime over here.

Soon, we'll be taking the tree down. Sigh. But until then, we'll enjoy our family's rich and varied history. Ahem.

Love and joy to you. xoxo

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Everything to You

Dear ones, there are new columns up at wondertime: Dinner Beans, for an unphotogenically humble meal, and Maple Snow Taffy, for an outrageous winter treat.

And my favorite holiday card outtakes, below--not the weird half-shut-eye ones, but the ones that just perfectly express who the kids are.

Wishing you peace and joy, health and happiness, and a new year filled with love.


Monday, December 08, 2008


Dear ones. A very fun recipe for vanilla extract is up here, at wondertime.

Can we get a running list over there of your favorite recipes with vanilla in them? I was thinking that, for a gift, it would be fun to package the extract with a recipe.

Meanwhile, my ears are still stuffed, and all of the humor and nuance in my life seems to have drained straight into my eustachian tubes. Where there was once wit and laughter, there is now me tugging on my pinna and yawning with the kind of deranged intensity that makes people step away from you in line at the post office. Also, it's boring to talk about, as is indicated herewith.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Welcome back,

dear friends. I have written about carrot salad, here, and--if you didn't get to it last week--about cranberry upside-down cake, here. I am loving this change to food and recipes, but I am sad that it leaves me frankly no occasion to tell you about what happened on Friday when I applied a neti pot to my clogged sinuses. All I will say is that Michael, who was in the bathroom with me when it happened, cried, "Holy cow!" as an entire universe slid out my nose and down the drain.

I am also finding little excuse to talk with you about how nine turns out to be the age of ages. Do you know what I mean? Does it last, this golden time? Oh, I want it to.

Love to you and yours.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Veggies and Dip

Wouldn't it be funny to put out a huge bowl of whole root vegetables with your dish of dip? Just to see what people would do? No? Oh. For some reason, it seems hilarious to me. Then again, I was once arranging lodging for an especially difficult and prickly visiting poet who had requested an elaborate fruit bowl, and the idea of leaving her a whole watermelon with a plastic spork kept me entertained for nearly a week.

Anyways, the new food column is fancy holiday veggies and dip, and even if it might usually be enough to tear open a bag of baby carrots and bloop out a dish of ranch dressing, please go check it out. Oheveteli has already suggested that it's "not the sexiest topic" but oh, the possibilities are endless. Don't make me post the dirty dip photos.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sweets for the Sweet

Okay, so I can't resist telling you that in the print edition of December's Wondertime magazine, there are seven of my best holiday-giving recipes--seven!--including, but not limited to, Salted Caramel Popcorn (to die for), Macaroon Marshmallows (to die for), and Lemon Rosemary Shortbread (to die for). Plus, 3 chocolate things and salty-sweet-spicy nuts (to die for). I'm sorry not to be more modest.

And thank you for responding so sweetly to my piece in this month's O magazine.


Monday, November 10, 2008

I just spent 17 or so minutes trying to photoshop this picture so that it would look like I was on a wild ride with Barack Obama, because I am high-larious like that. But then, you know what? My expression here is the next best thing to a high-tech collage. Because that's how I feel, that face. I feel just exactly like that, all the time. Although I was a bit disappointed after I heard he was making thank-you calls on Wednesday; I waited by the phone and everything. But still. The bumper cars face.

Anyways, that's not why you're here. You're here for gingerbread, as well you should be. The recipe is here, and you should make it because it's delicious. That's how I feel.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Hello! Thank you all for your ongoing support, even those of you who are offering it only grudgingly or with great, sighing crankiness. I will take it however it comes.

Meanwhile, I am having a ball trying to take pictures of our dinner that don't look like bad family reunion snapshots from the seventies. Maybe its my children's Leif Garrett hairstyle? Not sure. (Oh dear, when I went to Wikipedia good old heartthrobby Leif, the only picture they have is a balding mugshot from one of his multiple arrests in later life. Feathered hair would be the least of his problems these days. Oy.)

Anyways, the new recipe column is up here.

And thank you to anonymous, who posted the link to the chewy granola bar recipe on the King Arthur website. I have already made them, and we loved them, though at first the recipe seemed like it was going to produce only a panful of crumbs. They set up a great deal as they cool. It would help, however, if I used the right kind of oats and/or remembered to add the water they call for. Duh. Still, we used chocolate chips, dried cherries, and pecans, and they were quite heavenly. Perfect lunchbox treats.

Blah blah blah granola bars blah when do we vote already. I know. Tell me about it. I'm just trying to keep myself busy until I can go mark my ballot. Bring your kids to the booth: it's a great opportunity to show them the opposite of cynicism. Which is, I suppose, hope.

yours hopefully, xo, Catherine

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More News from the Campaign Trenches

Birdy: "Instead of the whole big election, couldn't they just do eeny meeny miny moe?"

Meanwhile, while you're waiting--hopeful or panicking or some combination--why not make a big soothing panful of granola? The recipe is up here now.

Three bags of it have gone out to the comment-sweepstakes winners. I have a growing fear that I packed it while it was still warm and so what will arrive in the mail is a Ziploc full of soggy condensation, but surely you'll be too polite to say.

Also, I should mention, Ben turned 9. Nine years old. Which is halfway to eighteen, if you catch my drift. When I sighed aloud over this fact, Ben said, "Don't worry, Mama, I'm totally not going to college anyways." So phew.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And the Winner Is. . .

corrie71, who wrote simply, "My cats inspire me to relax and enjoy life more."

No. I'm kidding.

It was a grueling process, complicated by the fact that many of you quested heroically towards leaving a comment on achieving any tangible success. Alas. And thank you. I counted your noble efforts.

In the end, there was a bowlful of comments to be sifted.

And pulled from.

And the winners are (I picked three):

laura (whose comments starts, "As lauri wrote. . .")
anonymous (whose comment starts, "Ok, it's done. Disney just loves to make us pay in every way. . .")
and imnoddin.

Write me to pick your prize: a gallon bag of homemade granola, an apple print t-shirt personalized with your name, or a year's subscription to Wondertime magazine.

Let me say here how dreadfully sorry I felt for Stacey, who was not able to post from Italy. Doubtless, you cried all the way to the trattoria, and then all the way through your gnocchi with gorgonzola and your giant glass of Chianti. Terrible, terrible.

Okay, today's new food column is here, and I apologize in advance for the photographs. Any and all tips welcome. . . Keep posting over there if you can. It is, as they say where I come from, good for the Jews.

xo Catherine

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thank You

You guys are the best. Truly. I knew I could count on you, but really. . . Especially given that so many of you are, it turns out, less than interested in food and cooking. Who knew? But I should mention here that the Dalai Mama columns will continue to appear in Wondertime magazine, the print edition. If you don't have a subscription, I really can't recommend that magazine to you enough (she wrote, with full, solemn objectivity). Seriously.

The sweepstakes is ending at midnight EST tonight, Sunday. I will announce the prize tomorrow. What will it be? A framed shard of the boob pinata? A collection of old nursing pads? Some numbingly boring something else? We'll see.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Dear ones, as some of you may have already noticed, my Dalai Mama column over at is shifting from a bare-all chronicle of nipple hair and urinating mice to a bare-all chronicle of dinner. I promise there will be useful recipes, even though yes, it's true, I did once make a 5-gallon jar of sauerkraut that bubbled fragrantly in our pantry for yeasty, fermented months on end. . . but trust me. Everyday dinners, wholesome and delicious cooking, seasonal, earth-friendly, budget-friendly, kid-friendly approaches--it's going to be all that! And more. And more Catherine Newman than Gourmet, if you know what I'm saying here. And what I'm saying is that I don't know how to take pictures of meat. But I'm also saying that the parenting stuff will be in there--you might just have to look harder for it.

Please, please stay with me. And please, please log on to and leave comments, even if you need to give them your retirement account pin number and the deed to your home. I know, I swear. But that's what it's like, and I need your comments and your feedback, and I need it over there. I am trying to think of a good bribe to offer you for registering over there. How's this: register over there--it has to be over on, where the plum cake is, not on, where the column has been until now--and leave a comment, then come back here and tell me. I will put all the names in a hat, pull one, and send someone a little as-yet-to-be-determined present. Is that crazy? You'll let me know.

So, the seal-poop wondertime post is here, the weepy commencement post is here, and the plum cake is here. You know I love you so much. I do. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Common Sense

From a story on the current Times homepage: "It's not the first time the embassy has urged U.S. business travelers and tourists to stay away from Bulgarian strippers." Well, we all need a little reminder, right?

But what I really wanted to tell you was something I was going to show you--and it's our one-gallon jar of granola, full. Only I can't find the camera. I will be giving you the recipe soon, though not here, which is a kind of foreshadowing, if you know what I'm saying. Suffice it to say, the granola has more flax in it than you can shake a stick at, and my kids love it, and when I refill the jar, I just feel so happy. "It's like money in the bank," I sighed to Michael, while I was admiring it, and he laughed: “Bailout, shmailout. We got us a big giant jar of granola!”

Meanwhile, I hope you'll read my wondertime columns, which are here, here, and here.

And here's kids instead of granola.

Oh, and p.s. if you check out the comments from the last post, you will see that Brad Pedinoff, my summer camp boyfriend from 1983, wrote in. Honestly, the whole internet was worth inventing just for that.

Take care of yourselves!


Friday, September 12, 2008

Birdy's Question

"If Obama wins the selection, will she get to live in the lighthouse?"

That's what we're hoping, sweetheart.

I have columns up at wondertime here, here, and here.

And here's a picture Ben took through a piece of pink Saran Wrap. Very Seventies-Rolling-Stone-Magazine, no?

I can't believe that we were on our way to the Cape when I last wrote. And now it's school and maple leaves crunching under shoes and socks and it's wild grapes everywhere and wild grape smell and wild grape jam in everybody's yogurt. Plus, my usual fall melancholy. Sigh.

Enjoy your weekend, friends. I hope you're well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Little Column that Couldn't

Okay, it's our last hurrah: we're off to Wellfleet. If you're on the Cape, look for me, okay? I'll be the one at Moby Dick's, laughing beerily beneath my lobster bib.

New wondertime columns are here and here.

Be well and happy!


Below: Ben's "fancy drinks." Yes, he already has bartending inclinations. Yes, we bought maraschino cherries.

Monday, August 11, 2008


So there I am, just scrolling around the Lehman's (aka How to Be Laura Ingalls Wilder if She Had Been Amish) website, looking for canning supplies and imagining myself grinding our own wheat, when I come upon this, which must win "Unlikely Title for a Book," if ever such a prize existed. But I do appreciate its encouraging inclusiveness.

We are in the thick of our CSA farm share, pickling and jamming and freezing as fast as we can before it's already the next week with more produce to haul away home and manage. My odd confession is that last year we froze too many peaches. Honestly. Who freezes too many peaches? But there they are in our freezer still. The last two of the one-gallon bags, with peach season already upon us anew.

And then there are the zukes. You are loves to send your recipes, and I am using them. I baked a huge cake that was very nearly an exact cross between Beck's potluck cake and Janet's cupcakes--with the spices and buttermilk from Beck's and the extra cocoa and vanilla from Janet's plus extra salt, because that's how I am--and it was lovely. Like a cross between gingerbread and birthday cake and, well, zucchini. And while we were camping, I followed Brooke's suggestion to cook sliced squash in a foil packet (I added salt, chopped garlic, and a large knob of butter) over the campfire, and they were marvelous: tender, smoky, meltingly sweet. We did fresh Chatham scallops the same way in a separate foil pouch, and they were to die for. Not that you're likely struggling with the issue of what to do with all your scallops. But still, I just thought I'd mention.

Camping was heavenly, even with all the thunderstorms (!). I like it more and more each year, as the children become more capable and independent. Plus, I miss the babies but not the swim diapers. Here's a shot of B and B with their best friends Ava and Harry. If you can see past the hair.

The latest wondertime columns are here and here.

Have fun and take good care of yourselves!


Saturday, July 26, 2008


Dear ones, I knew I could count on you! I am compiling your recipes, and will report back as I try them. All those casseroles are always so appealing to me, the ones that are topped with a couple grated pounds of cheddar. Mmmmm. Seriously.

Okay, Michael turned 40, there's loads to tell you and ask you about, and we are leaving to camp on the Cape, oh, approximately minus 20 minutes ago. . . but I didn't want to leave without thanking you and telling you that new columns at wondertime are here and here.

Have a wonderful week! And think of us every time you hear a crack of thunder.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

On t-shirt skirts, not being a control freak, etc.

Hello, dear friends out there! I hope you are well and that your stems are strong in this wilty heat that has all our tomatoes keeling over to the ground like drunks.

Speaking of--here's what every photograph of me in Virginia looks like:

Except the ones where you can't see me because I'm inside a bag of potato chips or leaning out of the frame to get a bite of someone's hot dog. We had a wonderful time--especially after I gave myself over to the chaos of it. Eight cousins is a lot of cousins, and you would definitely not have walked into our condo and thought, "Oh, by mistake I have entered a silent meditation retreat." It was noisy and wild and really, really fun. Also, I kick serious ass at Beyond Balderdash, even if Michael's brother David did actually beat me.

Here's what Ben looked like in sultry, historical Virginia:

And here's Birdy, looking more like an exhausted little Viking than a Colonial somebody:

The column that will post next Monday tells more about the trip, including Ben's critique of Jamestown's peculiar style of Colonial propaganda. (Have I piqued your curiosity? No?)
Meanwhile, please if you get a chance do read my other new wondertime columns here, here, and here.

And, onto the important matter of the Alabama Stitch Book skirt. I have sewed many of them, though I only have photos of Birdy's and mine. All have been made out of t-shirts thrifted from the Salvation Army.

The process is called "reverse applique," where you stitch around your design, then cut out the top layer to reveal the layer below. I am addicted to it. If there were photos of me at home, it would look like the top one, only the hand that wasn't holding the beer would be sewing. (Also, please note that in real life, I do not actually look like I have a pair of wee clementines hot-glued where a regular bosom should be.)

Okay. Take care, and send me your zucchini recipes. (Do you like how I sprang that on you right at the end?)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Putting the "pill" back in "pilgrim". . .

Hello, dear friends!

I'm mad, because I wanted to write a long, languorous post about all the delightful books I've been reading and the yum-summer recipes I've been making. Only I waited too long and now we're leaving to drive to Williamsburg, VA to meet up with Michael's family. Which me 20 hours of road-trip luck and 20 hours of road-trip food happiness and 4 days of contented Colonial bafflement. I'll let you know. I only wish I'd written with enough time to ask for advice. . .

Ben and Birdy already got a little taste of settlement at Ben's second-grade Colonial feast a few weeks ago. Talk about putting the "grim" back in pilgrim.

New columns are over at wondertime here, here, and here.

Take good care of yourselves!

xo Catherine

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


(Not that mine are such paragons of loveliness, but they do have something a little less Hobbit-like about them.)

Friday, May 30, 2008


My latest wondertime columns are here, here, and here.

Did you think that maybe I'd drowned in my neti pot? Do you think that every May I'm going to write about my allergies and every May you're going to recommend the neti pot to me, and we're going to get old and grey that way, groundhog-daying our way to a snout full of salt water? I swear I'll be talking about my gall bladder any second now.

I will write again here soon. Meanwhile I hope you'll check out those columns, and thank you so much, as always, for your thoughtful comments and your patient indulgence.

And I'll leave you with a picture from Ben's pedicure shop. Come by any time.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Dear ones. The only excuse I can think of for my delinquency is the fact that my body's every drop of fluid has drained into my sinus cavity. We are a tribe of lame-os, us allergy sufferers. I'm sorry if you didn't already know that about yourself, but it's true. The walking around with a wad of Kleenex clutched in your hand, the fingers pinched around the bridge of your nose, the puffing eye sockets? It's a sign of faulty character.

But my only other excuse is a related one: I cannot tear myself away from our blooming dogwood for long enough to do anything but sneeze! Never in my life have I fallen so hard for a tree. I recommend moving in wintertime, simply so that you can have this kind of spring amazement.

Other things. . . I checked this book out of the library: food porn, rated triple x. I don't exactly cook out of it, but Ben and I do lie around in bed together looking droolingly at the photos and exclaiming. "Ooh," he says. "We should hollow out grapes and fill them with cheesecloth-molded goat cheese!" And I say, "Yeah!" And then we turn the page and he says, "Ooh! Deep-fried wild-mushroom risotto balls!"

I also just finished this book, by my new friend Katherine Center, and it was so compulsively readable that I kept saying to Michael, "One more chapter. One more, and that's it. I swear this time." Until I had devoured every last one. There's one of those hunkily perfect fictional men in it that you think about leaving your own actual real-life partner for, until you remember the impracticality of having a print boyfriend.

Also, allow me to recommend the Godspell soundtrack, on the offchance you haven't listened to it since the mid-70s, when you recorded yourself singing "Day by Day" into the microphone of your tape player. It is just as good as it ever was. The song "By My Side"? Mm. When we took the kids to see it the other week, I couldn't help noticing that all of us who spent our teenaged years singing angsty versions of "Prepare Ye"? All Jews. Go figure.

Speaking of music: thank you, as always, for your advice. I was amazed by how many of you had such fresh, original suggestions for me on the piano lessons front. It was incredibly helpful. On that front, I will take any and all allergy suggestions. . .

New wondertime columns are here, here, and here.

And, finally, a picture of my own hunkily perfect nonfictional partner performing his version of marathon-as-walk-in-the-park.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ode to Dr. Seuss and Powdered Buttermilk

I don't mean to brag and I don't mean to boast, said Peter T. Hooper, but speaking of toast. . .

Okay, so maybe you don't know this book by heart? Oh, you should. It's a good one. Take my word for it. But what I was boasting about was this recipe, on wondertime, that was an appendage to a feature I wrote for the magazine on healthy snacking. Really, I can't sing my own praises enough here, because this popcorn represents the culmination of my lifelong quest to create a made-at-home snack that has that kind of tangy, addictive thing that turns your face and fingers a joyful, powdery orange if you know what I'm saying, even though this particular snack is actually white. But I mean, I practically had to buy myself an extruder so that I could make Cheetohs at home--and now I fantasize about that only very occasionally. Plus, and I'm not kidding, it's healthy. It really is super-dee-dooper-dee-booper. And it takes nothing like the air in the holes of Swiss cheese.

Do I sound a little tired? I feel a little tired.

There are new wondertime columns here, here, and here.

Happy spring, dear ones.

Edited to add: Uh oh! Not everyone shares my eggy joy, apparently. S. Spaihts-Mohns, for example, feels that "This book is mostly an excuse for Dr. Seuss to list off a variety of wild and fanciful sorts of birds." Which really does force one to consider that Seuss was maybe some kind of deranged pervert. And coolmom titles her review, "scrambled eggs definitely NOT super!" (!) Luckily "A Customer," while not quite approaching my own enthusiasm, offers some nice, tepid redemption: "This is a good book if you like made up birds and their egg [sic]."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cusp Season

Here's how I know it's the season between seasons: I wrote about posole just a mere couple of weeks ago, but by the time I saw it up on wondertime, I thought: Posole? How freakishly wintery! However, the recipe is now up--it's the middle link, below--and if you're somewhere like here, well then a grey spring day might be the perfect time to make just such a warming red stew as this. Because really--the asparagus are not exactly Pinocchio-ing out of the ground yet now, are they; you might as well go ahead and boil some pork all day.

Also linked below is the column about my five year old. You know. Who's five and everything.

I have new columns over at wondertime: here, here, and here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

2 more things

I was kidding, about 19 years. It's still only 18. That was my little joke about how long it had been since I last wrote. Har har har. Sorry.

And also this:

lest you imagined he was about to win some kind of short hair prize or anything.


Michael and I celebrated our 19th anniversary. 19! I can't believe it's been a whole year since I wrote!

The subtitle for the last few weeks could be: Birdy coughs; Catherine gets up with her; Catherine stays up after Birdy falls asleep with a lollipop in her mouth and lollipop juice pooling into her hair, long into the night, starting and finishing many novels. And the sub-subtitle could be: Lynda Barry's novel Cruddy, I wish I knew how to quit you. It's like a cross between Catcher in the Rye and a David Cronenberg movie, and it so gruesomely absorbing that I'm miserable.

Michael's subtitle could be: What? I can't hear you! I'm still in the basement, vacuuming water! (Shop vac, I wish I knew how to quit you.)

And Ben's could be: Package of stick-on mustaches, I wish I knew how to quit you. (FYI, the sheriff no longer has long hair. But more on that another time.)

I have new columns here, here, and here.

Miss you guys.


Sunday, February 17, 2008


Michael and I celebrated our 18th anniversary yesterday. 18 years! As you know, or don't know and have perhaps wondered about, or revoltedly suspected, we were not married for most of them. I wrote about this particular stubbornness of ours in an esssay in the anthology The Bitch in the House. But then I took a job at Amherst College for the famously excellent benefits, balked over the insurance forms, and checked off "same-sex partner" for Michael, with "same-sex" crossed out. Doh! They called me back in immediately ("If we insured Michael, then we'd have to insure all your boyfriends, wouldn't we now?" they said, which made me feel deliciously trampy, if still underinsured). I called home in tears. "We have to get married!" I cried into the phone. "Otherwise they won't insure you." And Michael said cheerfully, "Honey--are you proposing to me?" And, in my own broke, Blue Cross way, I suppose I was. And so we were married by the town clerk, and suffice it to say, I didn't so much appreciate needing to complete a little safe-sex lecture and be tested for STDs, given that we'd skipped already through that particular leafy glade, having conceived penis-vagina type babies and all. But whatever. All that is a long way of saying that when people ask us what event it is we're celebrating on our anniversary, I hesitate. Should I mention that we used to call it our "bone-iversary"? Probably not.

New wondertime columns are here and here and because I'm so delinquent about posting, there will be yet another one up tomorrow!


Thursday, January 31, 2008


That's what I'm doing. Making pizza for a wondertime food piece I'm working on. And oh it is good pizza. But oh there is flour everywhere. And also dough in my fingernails. Plus, if I don't get a yeast infection with all the spores floating around my kitchen I will drop to the tiles and kiss them.

Anyways, I am wanting to address some questions from the comments section. One about an old column--and I knew just the one you meant. The one about how you are constantly losing the very people you love most as your children grow up and change. . . And, embarrassingly, the way I tried to find it was by Googling. And all I could find was this, which I don't think is the one you meant. But then I had to stop, because I read something about Birdy's chubby white underchin and it made me cry. Oh how I miss my babies.

Have you made that caramel cake yet? What about Ann Patchett's new book, Run? Did you read it? And finally, who recommended Half Magic to me? We are reading and loving it--thank you so much.

New wondertime columns are here and here.

Take care of yourselves!


Monday, January 14, 2008

A Whole Lot of Nothing

Hey, thanks for the excellent armchair holiday gorging. It was fabulous and fat-free! Except for all the bourbon-pecan-pie, which gave my cellulite a pang just to read about it.

It all seems so long ago now. . . what with the snow, and the snow, and the wart removing and the snow. I'm going to end up dreaming that I'm shoveling the wart off of Birdy's foot. Or else that I'm sticking one of those Dr. Scholl's pads to our driveway. But thank you for your advice, as always. We've duct-taped a banana peel over my eyes, and it's really helping me see the wart less.

A few recommendations: the caramel cake in this month's Gourmet magazine; the book The Austins for second-grade-type kids; the book Happy Little Family for 5-year-old-type kids; the CD "Firecracker" by the Wailin' Jennys.

Also this month's O Magazine, because there's a piece I wrote about Michael in it. Luckily, he read it and declared it "a total love letter." So, um, phew. Also, my friend Sam took the excellent picture of us. And by "excellent" I mean, of course, "turkey wattle neck." But it's really not his fault.

New columns are here, here, and here.