Monday, December 28, 2009


Hello, dear ones! Have your holidays been marvelous? Ours have been. Except for the overeating. I go on a clementine fast every day after dinner and it lasts all the way until morning. But somehow it's not getting the job done.

These recipes--beef stew and no-knead bread--are the least of my worries, in some ways. What with my mother's melt-in-your-coronary-artery linzer cookies. And our friend Jonathan's roasted pork. And my potato-fennel gratin that absorbed a shameless entire pint of cream. Sigh. But that stew is nice and regular, if you need a break from holiday feasting. It's not dietetic or anything (unless you serve it at a diner inside a cantaloupe half with a scoop of cottage cheese), but it's straightforward and excellent. And the bread? Try it. If you haven't tried no-knead bread before, try it. Try it even if you have. I have tinkered and tinkered, and it is a near-perfect recipe. Let me know how it goes, okay?

And thank you so much for the book recommendations. Given that a bunch of you mentioned it, I rushed out and got The Glass Castle, and it totally blew me away. I could not stop thinking or talking about it, and now Michael's reading it too--just to spare himself, I think, from my overstimulated nattering. Thank you, too, for your enthusiasm about the books I mentioned. Thanks to our dear old BillyJoe6666--who told me about it--I recommended them via an amazon account that gave me credit for your purchases, so I thought that, once they send me the credit, we could do a little give-away of favorite books here. Stay tuned!

Have a joy-filled New Year. I leave you with another holiday-card out-take. "Just go ahead get it out of your system," I said. And so they did.

And a sleepy cheers to you, from the babiest of babies:


  1. Isn't The Glass Castle just, well, whoa? One of those that breeds far too much thinking for us mushy, melancholy types!

    I love everyone sharing book recommendations. Although I'm still haunted by the mental images that accompanied reading Lynda Barry's Cruddy...

  2. The Glass Castle. I devoured it but ended up feeling completely depressed. I mean, I should have felt elated that the author went through so much and ended up so well, but MAN. I spent much of the book being angry and disgusted with the parents, and horrified about their living conditions. UGH.

    But bread! I might actually make this bread! It looks great.

  3. Hee hee! I like how Ben is pretending to pick his nose, but Birdy really is. Oh! And I got the best book for Christmas...maybe you've heard of's called "Waiting for Birdy"!?

  4. I have yet to read The Glass Castle. Mental note for the next library trip.

    But bread... I could wax poetic about Artisan Bread in Five all day. And now I am cooking my way through Healthy Bread in Five. Can't wait to try your version.

  5. I loved The Glass Castle! Almost as much as loved Eat, Pray, Love.

    I love your blog too--it's like a virtual book club:-)

  6. If you love The Glass Castle, you should read The Cape Ann. Trust me.

    About the bread...I've tried baking yeast breads several times and the dough does NOT rise. The cool temp of my kitchen (especially now)? The lack of yeast in the air? Lack of moisture? I'm determined to make it work, but I think the rest of you have magic bread baking skills.

  7. I just heard about The Glass Castle yesterday at a friend's! And as soon as I pay off my library fines I am going to check it out! Or maybe I'll buy an incredibly high-priced copy at an airport bookstore while we are on vacation...

  8. Ah, the Glass Castle. A good but depressing book. I'm currently on a Jolly Book Only binge, which means that I'm reading lots of books about moronic British peers being saved from scrapes by wise valets. And books about cats who solve mysteries.

    Christmas was good. I ate so much that I currently look like a festive Christmas ball.

  9. When did I convert to Satanism?



  10. Teafortwo8:53 PM

    I really did like "The Glass Castle." We got two books for Christmas written by friends: "Poppy's Pants", by Melissa Conroy and "Names My Sisters Call Me" by Megan Crane. The first is for the kids, and the second, for me.

    We must have been on the same bread wavelength today; I was thinking about the no-knead 5 Min. recipe from a WSJournal blog, which is the one from the NYT. I tried another one from Mother Earth, but it didn't do as well. I'm looking forward to your variation of the same. This, of course, is just making me wish I'd made jam this summer. Oh well.

  11. i made the bread and oh my goodness, it was easy and delicious...i am currently debating having another slice right now...thanks!

  12. Made your stew and bread for a party yesterday. Delicious!

  13. The bread is baking and the stew is so delicious smelling that if the bread doesn't bake a little faster I might just go ahead an forgo the bread and mashed potatoes.
    Thanks so much for your wonderful recipes! I've never tried one that didn't become a family favorite.
    I'm reading Atonement right now, and guess what, I have "The Lovely Bones" next on my to-read basket. Yeah, cause there are no enough depressing things in the news I have to go and read a book about murdered kids, impossible love, injustice...
    Go figure! But... I read The Dark Divine, by Bree Despain. It's a Young Adult, but made me think a lot.
    Also for the romantic types out there, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel pie Society is wonderful. Took me a while to get into it, but now that I finished it, I feel my heart is still in the story.
    Have a wonderful end of 2009, and may 2010 bring many blessings for you and your family!

  14. I. could. kiss. you. for the bread recipe. Because really? the words no-knead are like the heavens opening up in music just for moi.

    And that being said, I really did not like the glass castle as much as the rest of the world. I felt like there was a lot of "poor and yet amazing" me-ness going on in that writing. And admitting that might get me crucified, but I did survive book club (barely) and back then my opinion on the book was a little more hot-headed).

    And now that I may have completely discredited myself as a reader, I would IMPLORE you (all of you) to go read Meredith Hall's memoir Without a Map. It's got gobs of crazy life in it, but was written by a poet, so its language basically sings the entire way through. Really, you will like it a whole, whole lot.

    And also, on the holly, jolly book front-- just finished Julia Child's My Life in France. If there is reincarnation and she comes back as a foodie again, I'd settle for coming back as her butter. Her outlook was pure joie de vie!

  15. I had some trouble with the Disney website but wanted to say that I just made your cracker recipe from October and can't believe how easy it was and how delicious they are. After all those posts about how hard and messy it was I was doubtful but I found it nearly mess-free, except for the sesame seeds flying everywhere, which wasn't too big a deal. I pulled the dough out very thin with my hands and just finished off with the rolling pin. This, along with Dinner Beans and the egg noodles with ham, is going to be a staple in our family for sure. Thanks!

  16. Glad you loved The Glass Castle too, even if it doesn't leave you feeling all light and warm inside.

    Happy New Year and thank you for sharing your family and your superb writing with us for the past hundred or so years (in a good way, of course, I'll be tuning in for the next century too).

  17. Cathy in KY6:11 PM

    Happy New Year Catherine!!! Thank you so much for sharing your love of food and your family with us for another year. Wishing you peace and prosperity in the new year.

  18. Thanks for the heads-up about the Amazon referral program. I didn't realize that their Associate's referrals could be so tastefully done, a subtle part of the blog rather than a blatant BUY NOW banner sort of thing.

    I've joined the program and added some selections to my blog -- at the top of my list is Waiting for Birdy, which I wishlisted and received for Xmas! Enjoying it immensely; I've read about half of it today, much of it while nursing my 6 month old. (Usually I'm sucked into old CSI episodes I've DVRed. It's too much bother to hold a book with one hand and a bulky baby boy in the other arm. But for Waiting for Birdy, I had to make an exception.)

    I'm one of those heart-thudding love/constant neurotic fear of my kids' demise moms, too. Watching too much CSI doesn't help, I suppose.

  19. Yes, The Glass Castle is just stunning. I have her new "novel" Half Broke Horses about her grandmother on my to-read list. Just finished The Red Tent and highly recommend it!!

    The bread sounds divine.

  20. oh, and have your kids ever read Goscinny's Nicholas books? Oh, my. very funny. very french. very funny. did I say that already?

  21. I made the stew and it was awesome. Except for the part where I overcooked it a bit while visiting with my very beast friend. I make the egg noodles with ham and peas a lot. I love how flexible it is, I have used chicken and broccoli with much success. I can't wait to try the bread!

  22. I so share your pain regarding the extra Christmas pounds. I had stomach flu for 2 days and even that failed to shed my excess lard-ass. Perhaps because it was chocolate induced? You're a foodie so maybe you can tell me, are chocolate fat cells more stubborn than the regular ones?

  23. ok, since this is the place for reading mothers, here's my question to you all: Is there a book that tells of motherhood/babyhood traditions around the world and throughout the ages? I'd love to read about how Eskimo babies pee, for example, with all those layers around? And how do they not get sick in the frigid cold? And what are the first foods mothers in China give there babies? I'm so fascinated to know and can't find this book anywhere. If it doesn't exist, Catherine, please write it ok? please? Also, in the same or a separate book I'd like a book of poems about babies, and maybe mothers too. Babies are the most exquisite things, and rarely do I read poems about them. I want to. Thanks friends.

  24. Anonymous2:59 AM

    Potato fennel gratin... I think I had it one tipsy night in Beirut last year and have been trying (and failing) to replicate it ever since. Aren't they kinda citrus-y, too? They weren't highlighted, so I'm wondering if the recipe isn't up.
    Yemen has caught the attention of America. Friends and family are pleading for us to come home. Amidst all of this bedlam it seems no one cares that I made Catherine Newman's borscht! It was a great success! The reviews were such: "Desperate living never tasted so good!
    But I thought you might care. After it, it's your borscht. Thanks!
    P.S. My attempts at producing a Russian accent while serving this meal were both unappreciated and mocked.

  25. Hey Teenealie--

    this isn't a book, but it is a trailer for a new movie documenting babies around the globe::

  26. I have been doing the 5 minute, no knead bread this year and it rocks! I also just wrote a post inspired by your article in Wondertime called The Unhurried Child. Thanks for the challenges there!

  27. kate, thank you, that movie looks awesome! All about babies around the world. Fascinating & exactly what I've been wanting to see!

  28. Catherine~
    Read your great post at Wondertime, but posting over there was problematic at best. :)
    Alas...we will be making those yummy lemon bars from lemons in our Silicon Valley, CA backyard.
    I wanted to write and tell you that the local farmers' market here, makes an AMAZING Meyer Lemon Turnover. Fresh and lovely and smelling of California winters.
    Happy New Year my online friend!