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!



  1. I bet your zucchini cake was LOVELY. If I was eating baked goods from anyone on the Internet, it likely would be a Beck/Janet tie, so it was probably marvelous. And I don't even care for zucchini.

  2. Mmmn cake! You are a brave girl to camp in the rain. I cannot believe how big the kids are getting.

    Enjoy the rest of the summer.

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  4. I am *so* relieved to know that anyone---ANYONE! Even *I*!---can build a tub-style mechanical chicken plucker! For under $500, no less! I've been feeling a little insecure about my plucker-building skills, but thanks to this book, my insecurity is no more.

    Seriously, though, I'm so glad you had a great time, even with all the rain, and glad the zucchini recipes worked out so well!

  5. Indeed, such a prize exists. Every year, Bookseller has The Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year. The book you found should definitely be suggested for consideration! Check out Wikipedia or for more information about it.

  6. I miss camping.
    Since moving to Virginia we haven't been. We now have woods, a firepit and hiking close by so we haven't felt the need to pull the camper out.

    Zucchini cake rocks! Great going "Mom of the year." I've been in a rutt and have only made break and bake cookies lately.

  7. mmmm zucchini cake, scallops and is that cliff pond there in the background?

    heaven....all of it

  8. My dad has that chicken plucker book. It does indeed seem fairly straightforward to build one's own mechanical chicken plucker.

    I'm glad that you liked the hybrid cake!

  9. You are too funny! I love the book title. Might make the perfect b day gift for my step father;)

  10. That picture is the epitome of summer. Lovely.

  11. Oh! That book! Hysterical.

    I'm enjoying camping more and more as the kids get a little older and more independent.

    Love the picture of the kids! So carefree and joyful!

  12. just read today's wondertime...i think i might have summer fever.

  13. What a great photo! I'm sure the camping was lovely, thunderstorms included.

  14. Anonymous6:06 PM

    I guess "mechanical tub-style chicken pluckers for dummies" just doesn't have the right ring.

  15. you got me....the chicken plucker. yes, that made me laugh even though I am on my 9th straight hour of Thomas and Friends with a barfy 2 year old.

    and can i say, stop already with the becky home ecky stuff, you make the rest of us look, well plain. though I have to say I am addicted to buttermilk powder because of you.

    there is a small cultish group of neighborhood women that mill their own wheat and bake all their goods. They let me peek into their world briefly before I went off the deep end and had another baby.

  16. As someone who has plucked chickens in her day, the book seems not so outrageous. Although $500 seems steep to make the plucker. Hmm.

    Someone else commented "and can i say, stop already with the becky home ecky stuff, you make the rest of us look, well plain," I heartily disagree. Us native Yanks thrive on this stuff. Why, just this morning I was spinning wool from my sheep to make sweater yarn for my toddler, started bread dough from scratch (it's rising now), and caught and doctored one of my sheep who had a slight limp. All that before breakfast. I'm not kidding.

    Northwestern MA, represent!

  17. Yum! Foil pouches are amazing, and no clean-up! I wonder if there is a way to do that on a stove-top...or maybe I need to find a restaurant in Brooklyn that cooks all it's food in foil pouches. I think that would be very popular.

  18. I want to go camping now just to have cook sliced squash over a campfire. Sounds lovely.

    I see that Whizbang Books also publishes the bestseller, "Anyone can build a chicken scalder" I wonder if it is part of a trilogy series?

  19. Anonymous9:00 PM

    You have to come to Ohio to see the actual Lehman's store! It's full of stuff you never even thought of and in the middle of lovely Amish country.

  20. Anonymous11:36 PM

    shamelessly, I'm really excited to see that you tried my zucc. "recipe" ... I'm glad you guys enjoyed it. We modified it this year, since we now have a 7 month old. I did all the prep work (slicing & dicing) & nuked the veggies before we left, then packed them in foil. All we had to do once we were ready to "cook" was warm them over the fire (with a grate) or on the Coleman porto-grill. It meant I could nap with the baby after our hike, while others who didn't hike fixed dinner. :-) Also, for Janah, it works well to do all the same prep & bake in the oven (not stove-top, but still) for about 45 minutes at 250-300 degrees (depending on your oven). Again, glad you enjoyed & really excited to get a mention in/on your blog!

  21. Anonymous11:21 PM

    pmrMy comment has no relevance to your actual post, I just wanted to say I am so so happy to have found your blog! I used to follow you on baby centre, (Im from new zealand) I read all about ben and birdy as I was busy growing my own two babies, loving reading about the similarities between your kids and mine, the quirkiness and humour, the joy in daily moments that only a parent can "get". I have so missed reading your updates! (drifted from babyentre for a while and didnt know you'd left) and having read this post got such a shock when I realised just how long its been. Ben and Birdy have grown so much, and are still just as gorgeous as I remember :) (I bet you're proud!) I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of joy catching up on lost time reading your blog.

  22. YES! I *do* feel encouraged AND included.

    I remember when you were camping with Birdy in your belly...

  23. Anonymous2:12 PM

    chicken plucker

  24. I love the camping posts! My family just returned from a wonderful week of Cape Cod camping and it just keeps getting better! We were lucky to only have after bedtime thunder showers with the sun returning in the morning and holding on all day.

  25. I am with you on the canning and pickling -- only it's from my own garden which seems to be overproducing. I am not complaining; I am just stating a fact. My daily decisions are such that I must decide whether to cook and eat the okra tonight, freeze it for the winter, or pickle it. (Who am I kidding -- I live in Florida. There is no WINTER. The okra will probably survive until next summer.)

    The zucchini has grown itself out (thank God), but the cucumbers are threatening to overtake us at any moment. My kitchen is full of Ball jars of pickles. We'll still be eating them in 2021. I may never plant them again!

    Love the column. Keep up the good work (please).

  26. Chicken plucker - tee hee! That's a funny word combo, makes me think of an obscene old lady saying something like, "Get out of my yard you foolish chicken plucker!!" Only she wouldn't be saying "plucker."

    Okay, I got a total of 4 zucchini from my garden this year before the deluge of rain destroyed my plants. I'm so sad to not be able to make and freeze several loaves of zucchini bread! I do have giant, white patty pan squash that look like flying-saucers. I may try to substitute that for zucchini in my recipes. I'll let you know how it turns out.

  27. Anonymous12:58 PM

    I don't have the recipe here at work with me (shh, don't tell the boss I'm not working!), but if you slice or shred some zucchini and saute it with some onions and then add/build your usual marinara on top of that along with some black pepper, it's freakin awesome, especially with angel hair pasta. If you want to add some protein, put in a couple of cups of ricotta cheese-- SO creamy good, I was eating this sauce by the spoonful last night. My kids liked it, too, because I put it in the blender (before adding ricotta-- I don't know why) so they wouldn't know they were eating healthy, then threw it in the oven with the pasta and some mozzarella on top to make like a baked ziti type thing. Mmm...

  28. Anonymous8:12 PM

    Sometimes the internet makes me all buzzed, and wired, and tired, but when I read your posts all is good in the world again.

    So glad Ben is happily swimming. Same thing happened to my oldest this spring. All of a sudden, she was a confident swimmer.

    So fun to see Ava all grown up!! And of course, your kids, too.

    God I love peach season. Blueberry and peaches are in season at the same time and I have memories of eating them together as a kid and pouring milk over them for breakfast.

  29. Anonymous8:29 AM

    Hey Hi, my name´s Ben Birdy, acutally that´s my artist name (use it since 8 years or somthing)

    Reason why I´m writing you is, because always when I google my name I get your search result first. It`s funny seems you named your kids ben and birdy.

    So. anyway, I wanted to connect you in order to make a feature maybe.

    I am acutally a musician, normaly I make music with german texts, so i considered to make a "Ben and Birdy" Song for your children eventually, to promote my stuff and yours at the same time.

    Of course the Text would be in english.

    Please let me know what you think about the idea.

    You can contact me on

    Have a nice day


  30. My zucchini muffins are blushing over here. :)

    I could actually use the chicken plucker book! We have two chickens living in a little coop in our backyard, happily producing smooth brown eggs for us to consume. But winter is coming. And the coop is not insulated. *insert scary music here*

    On second though, I think we'll outsource the plucking to some local Mennonites.

  31. Anonymous9:25 PM

    I have not left a comment in so very long but I have taken the time to look through the comments tonight and I realized how amazing it is such a community that you have created Catherine. Thank you for creating a place that I look forward to visiting...And please help me in this strange kindergarten transition!?