Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dearest Ones,

Even as I write this, poor Ben is nearby doing his pre-back-to-school fifth-grade homework. "Morose" does not even begin to capture his mood. "Maybe school will burn down!" I offered, and his face brightened, but only briefly. There is just nobody who hates going back to school like our Ben. Sigh.

I am in late-August mode: dead-heading the black-eyed Susans; comforting mopey children with buttered toast and sliced-up peaches and card games; canning wild grape jam and pickled green beans; reading this fantastic book; taking down our SUMMER doorway garland; scrambling to finish work that I didn't finish because I wasn't working because we were on vacation. 

Of course, I have been cooking a lot some too. I made:
My friend Daniel was unimpressed with that last recipe. "What's next?" he asked. "Buttered bread?" But I'll tell you: sometimes I feel like what I have to offer is a concept--a way to think about dinner, or what dinner could be. Dinner could be mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, with some bread on the side. It doesn't have to be some big production or some cooked something or a serving platter with meat on it, you know? That's all. So yes, maybe buttered bread next week!

Oh, but I have so much more to tell you. . . 

So much more. . . 

More soon. I hope you are happy and thriving. xo


  1. Does the last picture mean what I think it means? OMG!!! I was thinking about you today. How weird! You don't even know me, but I think of you as a friend.
    Poor Ben. My son likes school for his friends, but the 5 year old entering kindergarten is already complaining. And he hasn't even started.

  2. No!!!!! You didn't just go to Paris with your family!!!! No!!!! Well, I hope that when my sons are your kids' age in two years that we'll go too. Yes, I do hope that with all my heart.

    Please, o pretty please, do tell us more! We'll eat you up, we love you so.

    P.S. I get bonus points because this summer I gave your book to my friend as a gift. Nice, no? ;-)

  3. I'm still planning to make your summer salad...must put that on the menu asap! We've been eating our weight in tomato-basil-mozzarella as well, as evidenced by it's constant appearance (with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar) in the Saturday Lunch feature on my blog:

    My almost 11 year old is less than thrilled with the start of school today, although his almost 10 year old sister is in giggly bliss to be back with her bff's. :) They are so funny. I hope Ben finds something about school to help the days pass happily, or at least not unhappily.

  4. I can't wait to hear more about your adventure! Should I feel badly that the pastry picture was the one I was most excited about? Perhaps I just need to find myself a sweet snack.

    Oh, and basil has definitely become one of my favorite smells. I can't believe that just a few years ago, I was struggling to figure out which green, leafy herb even was basil.

  5. Anonymous10:12 PM you read minds over the internet is beyond me. In the midst of a CA heatwave and 'all day sickness' only vegetarian dishes/salads sound good. I've had Mozza/Basil/Heirlooms for dinner LOTS of times. :)

    And how delightful that you & Michael got to share Paris with the little ones who are not so little. How can Ben from 'Bringing up Ben' possibly be a 5th grader!?

    Hally of Silicon Valley, CA

  6. There really are a lot of good books for fifth graders, does that help, Ben?

  7. Anonymous11:07 AM

    I feel just like Yamile! "You don't even know me, but I think of you as a friend" is how I feel too! I kept clicking everyday on your blog, thinking "Man, she is so busy she hasn't been posting, she is probably having such a great summer!.... and then "Wait, why am I on here, I should be off the computer, not checking for her latest blog entry!" haha!

    Catherine Newman! You can NOT just post a sideways photo of the Eiffel Tower and then leave us hanging here! haha!

    Ben. I love love love his self confidence in his hair length, and letting any and all comments from strangers on your "2 beautiful daughters" just roll off his back. (referring to your recipe post) I want to instill that kind of "I am who I am" confidence in my own boy and girl, Catherine.

    I miss you! Is that silly or wierd or stalker-ish? No, must maybe the norm for we Catherine Newman Writing Fans. Hugs to you. (P.S. I am equally morose, like badddddd saddddd morose, about my babies BOTH being in school full-time first time. I can relate to Ben.)(from me, 2kidslife)

  8. You were in Paris! B-but that's only two hours from London! I would totally have come over just to say hello (not that you know me, but you know we all think you're our friend). Just don't tell me if you were actually in London...

  9. Wow, we've been waiting and waiting, knowing that you were busy and all and vacations etc....but Paris!! cool. hope everyone had a good time. We started school yesterday and my son came home and said he liked his 2nd grade teacher and that she was nice...was very relieved. :)

  10. Oh my gosh, I totally knew from the first shot of Ben on the ferris wheel that you guys were in Paris! I have a picture of myself on that very same ride!

  11. I am looking forward to hearing more, but for now I just want to tell you that I love that you address us as "dearest ones" when you write to us. My husband and I used that term on our wedding program for our siblings, and whenever I see it on your blog I think of my wedding, my siblings, and just how nice it is to be dear. Thank you!

  12. Buttered bread sounds fine to me Mama!!!

  13. Teafortwo7:20 AM

    I'm chuckling about the summer door decorations. I put a papier mache parrot on a perch up for a party (luau) we hosted on June 19th. The parrot remains. I think I'm going to make it a pirate costume and dress it up for Halloween. Since Finn started school (2nd grade!) on August 5th, it feels like our summer has officially ended, though the heat would indicate otherwise. My friends with fourth graders have been the ones grousing about the ramp up from 3rd to 4th. It's hard to get back into the swing of things.

  14. I like how your recipes start with "fantastic" or "stunningly beautiful"
    I made that lime, corn, zuke pasta for my mother in law and then embarrassed myself by sputtering a corn-in-my-teeth declaration of "this is so good!" with every three bites.

    Thank you for your tireless kitchen inspiration, even if you're reminding us to simply be simple.

  15. Remy might rival Ben for not wanting to return to school. In second grade there's homework & they make you read for TWENTY minutes a day & did you know he hates to read?

  16. Anonymous10:57 PM

    okay, Shari's comment about waiting and waiting makes me feel understood! at least it's not only me! hee hee. here i am only a few days later, checking in to see if you've written more yet, Catherine! um, yeah, way to live the phrase "Always leave them waiting for more!" yes, i've altered the phrase. And I can relate to the post that said "Can that really be Ben from Ben and Birdy, going in to 5th grade?!" type comment... I started reading you when my first was a baby, all those many 7 years ago. I tell ya, Catherine, you/your writing/the way you've expressed things is so much in my psyche, that I thought of you today when I was feeling all nostalgic with the waning of summer, that even a slow cricket sound seemed to be mourning, as I am with my babies getting so too much bigger and older... and thought of your many posts over the years that you've spoken of feeling melancholy at the beginning of autumn. I'm smiling knowing that you were able to go to Paris with your clan. Cool. You deserve it. Can't wait to hear what B&B thought about it all. And counting the minutes until your housemate has her baby! hee hee. We are happy loyal fans, we Catherine Newman-ites! (from 2kidslife)

  17. Lovely. Thanks for posting!

  18. Jenni Bowring2:12 PM

    Mostly I want to hear how the kids did with the jetlag, since we plan to take our son to Europe...eventually.... :-)



  19. Catherine, my kids just started school too and I was dreading it a little bit just like Ben was! End of summer means more discipline for all of us now. I'm looking forward to hearing about your Paris trip. Also, can I request some more lunchbox recipes? I know you've posted some in the past, but I am hurting for more ideas! I love your healthy (and realistic) approach to school snacks and lunches. Thank you for all the great recipes this summer (even the simplest ones -- your writing is a pleasure.)

  20. Allison7:51 PM

    Made the pasta -- delish!


  21. You must write more! Paris? Really? Sigh.

  22. Anonymous10:03 AM

    I have to admit, I had a thought similar to your friend Daniel's when I saw the tomato mozerella recipe. I chuckled a little and thought--really? what's next, buttered toast? cereal with milk? But then I reminded myself that, I would without a doubt find myself saying later "wow, this is the best buttered toast I've ever had! So simple, yet so much better when I do it this way." And let's remember, you received many requests for your iced coffee recipe. Actually, though, I agree with you that it's just as helpful to read a new concept for food than to have a recipe. Keep on doing what you're doing how you're doing it. It's all good. --Cathy K

  23. Paris? You lucky duck.

    Summer is so very, very over here. It is ten today - which is, I think, 50 for you. Or dix in France.

    Your recipes are delicious! I made a bunch of them (silently and non-commentingly) over the summer.

  24. Hey!! I love all your recipes here. I'm not usually good at cooking, but somehow your recipes works well with my talent.:-) So easy to follow and that's what I like the most.:-)Anyways, my son also hates going to school when he was in second grade. Maybe it has something to do with his classmates teasing him. But, he outgrew it and today, school is one thing that could excite him everyday.:-)

  25. Cheryl4:31 PM

    Congratulations on a great summer trip! No wonder Ben is morose about starting a new school year.

    I know that I'm a bit late posting, but I fell out of the habit of checking in everyday. (Although I have not gien up on hoping a new post is here - it's just that we got busy too!)

    Another opinion about Ben's hair: he's losing some of the sweet "little boy-ness" in his face and looking more and more like his father. (Especially noticeable in the shot of the bottom half of Michael's face.) He really doesn't look so much like a "beautiful daughter" anymore. But it sounds like he could pull the look off regardless - I admire his confidence!