Friday, January 22, 2010

Hello! I have wanted to write with the links to new recipes on

But then Birdy was home sick all week. The poor girl had to spend all day every day with her cat. Misery all around.

Oh right. But the recipes.

These, for instance. Which are, apparently, lemon *squares*, not lemon bars (thank you for your corrective emails). In my cookbook, the recipe is in my mother's handwriting but is called "Robert's Lemon Bars." My brother works 16 hours a day and still finds time to make lemon bars. You do the math.

And this. Which is rated NC-Carnivore, if you catch my drift, you vegetarian sweethearts out there. But I cried again a little, just now, looking at the pictures.

And this. Which might seem silly--who needs a recipe for hot chocolate? But if you aren't making it with real chocolate, I encourage you to try it. I don't even really like hot chocolate? But this I like.

A couple other things. Books. Who recommended Without a Map here? Man that was a killer good book. And I am about to finish Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, which is about Haiti and Paul Farmer, and which is so good I wake up at 4 in the morning to read a few chapters. If you are in need of inspiration, I can't think of a better way to get it.

Randomly, some PR people sent me a giant box of Cabot cheese and a giant box of Olivia's Organics salads. I don't usually do promotional pitches here, but I had to laugh because we already buy and eat both Cabot cheese and Olivia's Organics salads. So I thought I'd say: they're both good. There. Now I can gorge guiltlessly on cheddar and arugula.

Enjoy your weekend. And please keep the book recommendations coming. There's no better midwinter tonic than a great read.


  1. I know everyone is talking about it, so this is far from original, but have you read The Help by Katheryn Stockett yet? I can't stop thinking about that book. I loved it.

    Also, I really, really love your recipes and your writing over at The Other Place, but I can NEVER comment without major sweating, racking my brain for weird passwords that I don't remember making etc.

    I read it though. Every word. In fact, I've been proudly blog-stalking you since the beginning of Bringing up Ben. Don't worry, I'm harmless. ;)

  2. elsimom10:12 AM

    I haven't read The Help yet, but lots of people whose book opinions I respect have positive things to say. It's on my list. I just read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson - very enjoyable read. Right now, though - I'm all about the HBO versions of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency books. Loved the books - love the show - such beautiful shots of Africa.

  3. Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. It is excellent, and based on a very amazing true story. If you ever wanted to read about Bombay slums, fighting in Afghanistan against Russia, and a heroin addict breaking out of prison, this is the book for you! Actually, it is incredibly inspirational and beautiful.

  4. Your popovers have become our eight-year old's specialty of the house. Last weekend she made them for breakfast and served them with powdered sugar. Mmmmm....

  5. A recommendation for another non-novel for you: When Everything Changed by Gail Collins. I remember hearing about it when it came out last year and thinking it sounded interesting but probably not necessary. "I'm already a feminist, those anecdotes sound vaguely familiar, I have lots of other things on my reading list..." but then someone gave it to me for Christmas and MAN is it good. Great writing, fascinating story-telling... I really appreciate the context it gives for the way our society is structured today. Parenting, work, the division of labor (both in the home and in society at large) between genders. The role of women in the civil rights movement and of minorities in the women's movement. Lots of sweeping history and then personal anecdotes to ground that history in something. So good.

    p.s. WOW is that Birdy looking like a grown up girl or what?? Hope she's feeling better now...

  6. Anonymous3:03 PM

    Yum, yum, and my kids used to make that exact hot chocolate, except in the microwave in individual cups and they were called, for some reason I never understood, submarinos. They claimed it was an Argentinian delicacy and who knows, perhaps it is!

  7. Good books... got those! The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison will leave you savoring every single drop of every moment you have with your kids while they are still (sort of) yours. It's a beautiful, thoughtful memoir. Also, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann is a wonderful novel. And then there is Dawn Light by Diane Ackerman. Morning will never be the same. There's nothing like a good book on a dark winter's day!

  8. Chris3:55 PM

    Just read The Help and loooved it,
    also The Book Thief. Very unique book.

  9. Anonymous6:26 PM

    It's a 'young adult' book and the theme may seem incredibly troubling but do not be put off. Pick up The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It's amazing and difficult and unputdownable, if you know what I mean. It's a fast read and will leave you thinking and thinking.

  10. Oh Catherine, have you read A Gate at the Stairs (Lorrie Moore's new one) yet? It will break your heart with sadness and beauty.
    But that is not why I started to post this comment. It is to say: Birdy! I remember her in her little backpack, little bird. I saw that first picture and thought, "she looks just like Michael!" And then the second picture...she's gotten so pretty in a big girl way; she looks so sophisticated. Eek! Where does the time go (for some reason I mark a lot of time by Birdy in that backpack).

  11. Anonymous6:39 PM

    If you live in the upper Midwest, you call them "bars", so no need for apologies here!

  12. Isn't that poor, dear Birdy always sick this time of year? She and that kitty look mighty smitten with one another. :)

    I must say, this whole swapping of book recommendations makes this nerd very, very induces a good burst of the warm and fuzzies.

  13. Teafortwo8:36 PM

    I never thought I'd ever say, "I'm really enjoying this book about the Plague," but my friend Tracy (who reads more than anyone else I know), recommended "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks. And I'm enjoying a book about the Plague. I've also finished "Children of Noisy Village," and my almost-four year old already wants to hear it again. I saw the comment about having clementines as a side dish in the winter, and I can't agree more. Yum! If you have an abundance of arugula, I learned of a tasty salad from Whole Foods that's arugula, roasted beets, walnuts, and goat cheese, tossed with a dressing made with vinegar, walnut oil, olive oil, dijon, a touch of honey and salt & pepper. Very tasty.

  14. Anonymous9:55 PM

    Was totally knocked off my feet by Songs for the Butcher's Daughter. Only problem was I couldn't put it down.

  15. I too sympathize with Marie Green about posting at THE OTHER PLACE. Our bookclub just finished The Help and it went over fairly well *I admit to not finishing it*.

    I loved 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It was an enjoyable light read.

  16. Submarinos ARE an Argentine delicacy. I know because I haven't had one of those beauties in over 12 years, and I miss them so! Next Christmas when I go back to Argentina I'll have a submarino even if it's 110 degrees.
    The Book Thief is an incredible book. It starts out really weird and slow, but it becomes addictive. I've read it 3 times in the last year, and I don't re-read back to back since there's so many things I want to read and I don't have a lot of time (who does?).
    This is my words is another excellent book.
    And The Hunger Games? I can't wait until September for the third and final installment to come out. So if you're a very impatient reader, don't read the 1st until after the 3rd comes out. Otherwise you'll be tortured for months to know what happens next.
    Great pictures and recipes like always. Today I made the beef stew (again) and the bread (like every day). Thanks for so much goodness Catherine! I hope Birdie is already feeling better.

  17. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Have you read "Shadow of the Wind"? It takes place in 1940s Barcelona and the descriptions are beautiful. The writing, lyrical. It involves booksellers, writers and the Cemetary of Forgotten Books. One of the most captivating books I've read in a long, long time.

  18. Anonymous8:54 AM

    "Shadow of the Wind" girl again -- just wanted to add, Catherine, that I loved your article on vanilla in the new O magazine. I laughed out loud (literally) when I read the line about librarians. So unexpected, and so funny!! Thanks for the smile during a particularly tough week. You made this chocolate-lover think twice about vanilla, too.

  19. The Book Thief is a must read. It's in the young adult section but read it anyway! It's fantastic!

  20. Tina G10:12 PM

    Catherine,I LOVED the book Eat,Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and I am 3/4 through her new one- Committment which I think you may find the topic familiar given your musings about marriage in the past.

  21. Tina G10:14 PM

    OOps- the title of that last one is really: Committed. Birdy and the kitty are an adorable pair!

  22. I can relate to clementines being "veggies" at times (per your pork recipe-yum!). We've been eating a lot of gala apples with, after, and/or instead of dinner lately!

  23. Feel better Miss Birdy! We had little girls home sick last week in our house too...minus the cat though. I was just having a quick read of the latest recipes and I can't wait to try the beef stew.

  24. Oh no, no, no. I'm from Minnesota, and the entire state says BARS. Not squares. BARS. :)

  25. Catherine, you are a goddess of food. I'm not the primary cook in my house, but I made the bread recipe and was an instant superstar for it. Everyone loved it! Thanks for the great recipes and fabulous writing as always.

  26. Virginia1:00 PM

    Ok first off, the second photo of your cat - pee your pants HYSTERICAL! Second, Stew was great. Third, lemon bars might just be the perfect thing to make on this crappy rainy day here in Northern MA.

  27. I second the Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks recommendation and would like to add to it:
    Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
    A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul
    The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
    The Island of the Blue Dolphins
    My Antonia
    Who Will Run the Frog Hospital
    The Interpreter of Maladies

    I also second Virginia's reaction to the cat photo. I spit-taked coffee onto my poor keyboard.

  28. Anonymous12:27 PM

    Follow up The Glass Castle with Half Broke Horses. Jeannette Walls is such an amazing storyteller!

  29. That poor little Birdy! Hope she's well soon.

    Just finished reading Jonathan Tropper's How to Talk to a Widower and This is Where I Leave You. Both were insanely funny, sad and difficult to put down. Also, getting ready to start Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed. Looking forward to it! And I agree with "JoJo" that Lorrie Moore's A Gate At the Stairs is a must read!

  30. It doesn't seem to fit with the theme here, but I highly recommend Where Men Win Glory, by Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air). It's an interesting look into Pat Tillman's life and the situation in Afghanistan.

  31. I second Claudia's suggestion of Katrina Kenison's "Gift of an Ordinary Day." Her first book, "Mitten Strings for God," was life-changing for me, and it's one of those books I reread every so often to remember to live and parent mindfully.

    Also, you might check out "The Happiness Project," by Gretchen Rubin. Fantastic look at all the little (and big) theories about what makes us happy. Well researched, insightful and a delight to read. And I'm not normally a self-help book kind of gal. (Not that I don't need help. Oh, I need lots.)

  32. Catherine,

    I haven't had a chance to thank you for the bread recipe because I can't stop making and eating bread long enough to type the note!! The homemade bread has been a great compliment to all the soups and stews that are cooking up around here. In fact, it passed muster at a local soup/sandwich spot. I had brought some in for a friend at work and she picked up some soup to go with it at a popular spot in town that makes their own bread and soups. When asked if she wanted bread to go with her soup, my friend explained that no, she had some that a friend had made and showed it to the woman who worked there who said it looked really good, not too dry, nice crust! I don't know if I'm tootin' my own horn (I am, I know), but much credit goes to you for the awesome recipe! Thanks!


    ps: I think I'm driving my kids crazy EVERY afternoon when I say "Look how light it is!! Its 4:30 and just last month our holidays would come on at this time and it would be dark. The days are getting longer". Enjoy that dusky late afternoon light!

  33. That should have read "holiday lights" in the ps. Oops!

  34. Jotting down book names giddily here. What a group of well-read fans you have Catherine.

    Thank you as always for your stunning writing. I always feel good (for total lack of better word choice) after reading your recipe columns, even if I'll never make lemon bars, or squares as it were.

    Thank you.

  35. YAY! I recommended Without a Map! And you read it even though I said I didn't love The Glass Castle in the very same comment:) It is a beautiful book, don't you think? The words flow like music, and there is something in it that just beats to my mothering heart.

    I just finished The Financial Lives of Poets-- Hilarious and sort-of-not-hilarious all at once (did I mention you'll want the protagonist to sell pot? And be good at it?) If you want to laugh now, go get that one.

    okay-- off to seek out recipes now. Hope that beautiful Birdy is feeling all better. Also, leaving wishing we were in the same real life bookclub. Cause we'd drink and eat and laugh a lot.

  36. Jill M.4:10 PM

    Since I am currently reading YOUR book for the 900th time I can't really recommend a book, but just had to say how lovely Birdy looks cuddled up with her catty. Also wanted to thank you for the word quef for skewer. It's our new favorite word around here. :)

  37. I love the book recommendations! I liked The Help, then LOVED Mudbound (Hillary...Jordan? maybe?). Similar racial issues but darker and realer and harder to read but soooo good.

  38. I've been stuck on Malcolm Gladwell lately. His stuff is so cerebral that it takes me a little while to get through it, but all of his work is interesting and more importantly, thought provoking.

  39. Reyna8:42 PM

    The Keep by Jennifer Egan
    American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
    Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris (so so funny)
    Ms. Hempel Chronicles by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
    City of Thieves by David Benioff

    For kids: Louise Erdrich has these fantastic books about an Ojibwe family living in the Minnesota area in the 1840s. The first one is called "The Birchbark House." It's in the 9-12 yr old range.

    In the same age range, my daughter loved "The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate."

  40. You should know that you have introduced a whole new beast to this household. This shredded pork, this sweet, savory delectable meat of the gods leaves me nearly speechless. Even better, though, is that my kids LOVE it. My kids who don't really like meat much at all could not stop themselves. And I hadn't even served it for dinner! It was prepped tonight for dinner tomorrow and there it was, finishing up in the pot and we just couldn't keep our forks out of it. I have never made pork this good. WOW. THANK YOU. Also, thank you for carrot salad, dinner beans, donut cake, black bean dip, butter fried tofu, and probably some others. Woo hoo!

  41. Walnut Orange Cake... it sounds delish! Wondertime won't let me click on it (last night & this morning as well.) Now I'm REALLY curious!!
    ~Kathy (MI)

  42. I'm making your Pork that is so good that can make you cry (in spite of the determination not to eat any more pork), and when I saw the reference to the Cuban-Chinese pork I thought of this book. I don't think it has a single reference to pork, but it talks about the Chinese influence in Cuba. The book is The Island of Eternal Love by Daina Chavino. A.W.E.S.O.M.E!
    Another one I've gone back to re-read just because it's so beautiful. Disclaimer: I read it in Spanish, so I hope the translation makes it justice.

  43. Well, I am currently reading Candy Freak by Steve Almond (great name!) It's a memoir type thing about his love of candy for his whole life.

    Just finished Zeitoun by Dave Eggers which is a horribly true story of what happened to an Arab American after Katrina hit N.O. Everyone should read this - it's truly scary in it's profiling... but it is a brilliant read.

    My 10 year old made me read The Lightening Thief and I am glad I did... it's fun and now, I too, am excited to see the movie.

  44. I blogged about you and bread, with love. Thanks, as always, for the inspiration.

  45. Teafortwo1:17 PM

    I'm cooling the lemon bars at this moment and can't wait to sneak one. My younger son's preschool has an open house tomorrow night and they have us supply all the treats with the note that box-made just won't do. My kitchen smells heavenly.

  46. Anonymous7:43 AM

    pitching my tent....anita diamant, just finished it... loved it!