Sunday, December 19, 2010

Holiday Fun

Okay, beloved, there are some good holiday recipes over at, and I hope you'll go. This chile tortilla eggbake is the perfect Christmas-morning breakfast; and these peppermint patties are amazing and make a terrific gift. If you have made them successfully, would you please post a comment over there? I'd love to balance out the frustration of the chocolate dippers. It is definitely a recipe that takes a bit of patience, but I think it's totally worth it. Speaking of that recipe, I did not ever end up making bar bark, like I wanted to. But I did do this:

Yowza. I think I imagined giving them away or something, but we ate them.

Another link: a strange piece of mine over at the fabulous Brain Child.

And, finally, my best holiday wishes to you and your family. May the light find you wherever you are.



  1. Catherine,
    I really enjoy your blog and especially enjoyed your Karl Marx post. My husband and I are starting up a missions program in three major cities, and we have brought our two kids (ages four and one)along on our adventures. They have seen a lot of needs in their short lives, and are developing a sharp awareness of other people, and internalizing them as only little ones can. When they are playing I hear things like, "The people in San Diego don't have stickers so we're going to bring them some and make them smile. Come on, Alyssa, let's go!"

    I love their sense of action and responsibility, and how they don't get paralyzed by all that they see, but keep their passion and sense of purpose.

    My husband and I, on the other hand struggle with how to decide which needs we can focus on in the myriad of options, and what it really looks like to "help people help themselves." Maybe this is another time when "childlike faith" wins out in the end. Maybe the innocence and transparency of kids, who are willing to truly say what they feel and give to others without thinking through all the long-term affects, could break down some of the biases and prejudices that divide our country.

    All I know is that I have a lot to learn from my kids, who seem to understand God's grace and the human condition much better than I do.

  2. That is a beautiful picture (of the kids, although the chocolate dipped Fritos look pretty beautiful too). Thanks for the link to the other article - can't wait!

  3. The Brain, Child essay is well written and very thought provoking. Thank you for posting it and having the courage to write about what a lot of us moms struggle with.

    Happy Holidays to you and yours. :)

  4. AnythingforBenBirdy12:09 AM

    I haven't read it yet but thanks so much for the link - sometimes you mention things in a ho hum sort of way and it is desperately difficult to find (yes, I'm talking to you).

    I plan to try the patties this week, I'll post if I succeed.

    Indeed Ben, things do go far when people don't eat them - see my fridge for dinner remains that will become lunch for my husband for the week.

  5. Teafortwo10:34 AM

    I read the article in "Brain, Child" yesterday afternoon. I really enjoyed it and it's true. Finn is actually offended when we make donations to those in need, so I'm afraid my husband's Libertarian impulses are very much a part of his personality.

    I made your Sweet/Salty Caramel Corn on Saturday and popped the corn I had in the pantry. It went to the birds. It was tough. I called one neighbor to see if she had plain popcorn and spoke to her 18 year old daughter. The girl had no idea you could buy popcorn that wasn't in a bag for the microwave. Sad commentary. But, my neighbor on the other side only buys it loose, and had enough to salvage the effort. Boy, is it delicious!

    I also made the Vanilla Extract for a bunch of folks, and they're amazed that's something you can "make." I'm glad I didn't get busted delivering it to Finn's teachers at school.

    Chocolate and Fritos. Yum.

  6. Anonymous10:45 AM

    Okay, first I must tell you, that you, Catherine Newman, are single-handedly responsible for me buying the board game The Settlers of Catan! No kidding! There I was, standing looking at all the board games in Target, (which is probably owned solely by Milton Bradley), and there, lo and behold, was that game! That YOU recommended to all of us! That otherwise I may have never noticed, with its ordinary normal browness, next to the electric neon colored game boxes, that practically reach out and grab you by the neck and force you to purchase theme! (oh my goodness, I just remembered Ben saying, years ago, "It's funny how being in Target makes me want to buy things that I really don't need." type comment. (yes, another example of how you are in my psyche for 7 yrs now, Catherine! lol!)

    And yes, I purchased the game. All 40 dollars of it. And I am giving it to my husband, actually, to encourage the beginning of we 4 as a family (boy and girl, ages 6 and almost 8) to play board games together regularly. I will report back to you (and ya'll) how it goes for us!

    Happy Holidays!

    Okay, I must admit, as part of our secret/not-so-secret Catherine Newman Adoration Soceity!, that when I read one of your recipe posts, I must first look at all the pics on the right, then read the story about the recipe on the left. Yes, it is a ritual. And I savor it, like a fine chocolate. (gee, I guess it would've been more grownup for me to say savor it like a fine wine, but, at age 45, I don't think I'm going to be a real grownup anytime soon!)

    That holiday photo. Those kids. Those kids who you are growin' and raisin' and nuturin' on that good food you feed 'em.

    Hugs to you all today. And to your kitty cat. And to your friend and her baby on his first holiday season.

    From 2kidslife, cuz I never remember my yahoo password info...

  7. Anonymous11:36 AM

    What a great holiday picture. Birdy is getting so grown up and absolutely beautiful!!!

  8. Anonymous3:32 PM

    I have a grammatical question. Is it proper to put a comma before the word "and" as in "Ben, and Birdy" in the xmas card?

  9. Anonymous4:03 PM

    To the anonymous recent poster (from another anonymous poster)--most of us learned that the comma before the conjunction in a series is optional, and journalists are taught not to use it, but all the college textbooks I've used in teaching for the last several years have instructed students to put it in. I think it's easier to teach students something definitive, and in some cases, it's needed for clarity or easy reading. Just in case anyone else cares about these punctuation minutiae.... :)

  10. Anonymous4:53 PM

    Happy holidays to you and your family.

  11. Anonymous11:16 PM

    I have loved your blog for YEARS now. Years--your books are a routine gift for moms to be and your words and yummy recipes a gift to me whenever you post! I have three kiddos--the first two Ben/Birdies's been fun to be on the ride with you.

    I really enjoyed your Brain, Child article. But, I have to say I was SO bummed to hear the marvelous Ben and Birdie are in private school. (Are the schools bad where you're from?) I've always thought that the cool kiddos of intellectual/lefty parents were likely tucked away in nice, well-designed private schools (cause I sure don't see many at our neighborhood school!!). Sigh. :-).

    Good for you that you can swing it, and I hope that people as brilliant and giving as you are stay involved in trying to improve the difficult (and sometimes just downright broken) public schools that many of us need send our kiddos to. We need you, your good mind, and your support! (Especially if we don't get the benefit of your super cool kids for our kids to play with!)

  12. Anonymous7:33 PM

    LOVE your work and have followed you for years. Do your kids go to Montessori or Waldorf schools?

  13. Lee-Anne8:55 PM

    Catherine - just when I thought I couldn't love you more...please let me know when you want to move your family to socialist Canada - we will make room for you in out basement. No judgement on the private school issue (waiting for superman?) I'm sorry that there aren't better public schools in the US and that teachers make a fraction of what professional athletes (and corp CEOs) make. I Love you for sharing your family and your beliefs all these years. Merry Christmas to you and yours,

  14. Love your recipes and your political postings (complete with wonderfully human and honest inconsistencies). Look how beautiful your children are!

    Wishing you happy family times over the holidays.

    --Andrea, Tim (10) and Jen (8)

  15. Anonymous12:01 PM

    thank you for the link to your essay. I loved it and read it to my husband. Sometimes I think you have to read certain things out loud so that you can get all the meaning out of it. It inspired a discussion afterward. I wish in this country we could have more of a discussion rather than sound bites and 4 minute segments. how shallow 'we' as a country have become....

    Happy New Year to you and yours.

  16. Kristen M.1:46 PM

    Happy holidays Catherine!

  17. Happy Holidays, Catherine! Love the photo of the kids...I was hoping you would post this year's. I must say that the Brain, Child essay took balls. Sorry to be vulgar about it, but I was nodding my head the whole time, and I really got a lot out of knowing someone I admire has the same struggles with right and wrong. I live in a very conservative, mostly Republican area, and everyday conversations can be so frustrating. Last, but I'm not sure least, after making buckeyes today I made the chocolate dipped Fritos...oh my! Hope you enjoy the season and that melancholy you so often mention doesn't accompany too much of the joy. I know for me it's hard this time of year!

    P.S. My word verification is "vorse" so I'm imagining you speaking Slavically..."eet ees only going to get vorse." :P

  18. Wow. The Brain Child piece. I loved and hated it. Life is so hard. Sigh.

  19. Anonymous9:31 PM

    Ok. LOVED the article! I totally understand the struggle. We see what's wrong, we see how it could be better. We know that there is ENOUGH to go around... yet we live in such an incredibly consuming culture. Like what Ben said once abut Target, "It makes me want things I don't even want!" How do we fight against that pull? I totally get it.
    Thank you so much for sharing that. It makes me like you that much more...and I like you a lot.
    Never posted but have been a faithful reader since babycenter :)

  20. lahdidah7:55 PM

    our family is playing a round robin of mancala right now and it's really perfect. it caught my eye because my son collects gems and crystals but we all love it. thanks for the tip!

    off to brain, child. i'm intrigued!

  21. Anonymous9:53 AM

    Catherine - I am a huge fan and long time follower. Loved the holiday recipes and the Brain, Child piece. But.... I have to join the chorus of surprise that you send your kids to private school. It doesn't seem to square with you (or at least your written persona). Is this a New England thing? (everyone bound for prep school?). Maybe it's none of our business, but - since you brought it up - what's the story?

  22. Anonymous2:46 PM

    I made your sparkling cranberries for our centerpiece at Christmas dinner and I immediately became addicted to them. Totally awesome! Not many other people ate them which was fine with me.

    Chocolate dipped fritos?? I am intrigued.

  23. Anonymous11:59 PM

    I've been reading you since the BabyCenter days (beginning in 2002, I think). And while I'm a very rare with the commenting, I have to after reading the article in Brain, Child.
    That is an amazing piece that resonates both with my husband and with me. Thank you so much for writing it. You are voicing thoughts that so many of us have. By the way, absolutely no judgment, only another "I hear you, sister!"

  24. Anonymous4:59 PM

    Loved the game recommendations - now could you give some book recommendations? Need something good to read on a cozy winter night.

  25. catherine,
    your honesty and humor and beautiful struggle are what inspired me to start blogging.
    i was neither shocked nor horrified that ben & birdy attend a private school, and i wish that we lived in a world where you didn't have to type, erase, and re-type the admission. you have nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about. you so obviously do what is best for your kids, and education is a very personal, kid-specific thing.
    you rock.
    stacey z

  26. Anonymous3:20 AM

    Lovely, lovely, lovely.

    I guess I am alone in this, but I've assumed for a while that Ben and Birdy went to a private school, because the little gorgeous snippets of their lives there (the slippers, the books, the kind of learning) sound so nurturing and homey. A little piece of me maybe hoped that there was a corner of NE with public schools like that, but I didn't really believe it--but this is coming from a homeschooler who still feels wistful not to be engaging in the public school, no judgement here.

  27. Cheryl12:15 PM

    Your Brain, Child piece has provided me with much food for thought over the past week, especially as I spend so much time teaching my 2 year old the concept of sharing. I have seen many a kid at the park during playgroups NOT sharing beloved toys and surprisingly not corrected by their parents, and the overall effect is not very pleasant. I've observed these kids running around, ferociously guarding their toys, and screaming at peers to stay away; and sadly, they do stay away. Social groups, by their very nature, have a "socialistic" dynamic, and those who refuse to be contributing members of the group often have difficulty making friendships and developing social skills.

    I also teach middle school (in a low income public school) and have had the opportunity to observe the long-term benefits of kids who share. Despite the capitalistic nature of our society, the average classroom is undeniably communistic, with the masses sharing what little there is to go around and one or two individuals maintaining tight control over the availability of goods and how they will be allocated. It is important for our kids to be able to function in this type of setting for at least 13 years - primarily for their own education, but also for our sanity as we help them survive the school experience.

    (And btw, I understand the public school/private school struggle. I am strongly committed to working in needy schools with challenging students. But as a parent, I'm torn about making martyrs of my own kids and deliberately throwing them into settings that have less with which to meet their needs and more obstacles to overcome, just to make a point. It is a debate about which I am very passionate and in which I am deeply invested on both sides, so I don't know the answer.)

    However, what was most apparent while I was reading the article is how important the socialistic ideals are within a functioning family. I don't care how successful the most capitalistic CEO may be in our society, if he (or she) cannot come home and occasionally lend the Mercedes to his or her spouse, there won't be much success at home. Perhaps the most important reason we teach these principles that are sometimes not practiced in a capitalistic society, is because it helps our children to grow up and be better people, spouses, parents, and friends. And no amount of money or financial success can provide the same happiness and feeling of well-being, that comes from being a contributing member of a happy, healthy family that freely shares its toys and its love.

  28. Anonymous6:23 PM

    Ok, Catherine, you have officially Gone Too Far. I am now in tears, having read something you published in 2002, which is just pathetic. I just re-read "I do. Not." from The Bitch in the House (a recent Christmas present), and am crying like an idiot. Over your beautiful, flawed, romantic, peevish attachment to Michael (and yes, I get the irony that you're now married because, *not* being a gay couple, you had no choice); and over my similarly non-story-book but wouldn't change-it-for-the-world marriage to James, with whom I just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary yesterday by eating pizza and cursing at the the ineptness of the Eagles against the Vikings. (Romantic, no?) Anyway, even in our differences (yours and mine, that is), I find profound similarities between us, Catherine, and if I ever get tired of living in Westchester, NY, I think I might have to move us to Western Mass., on the off chance that you and I could meet, because I have this completely unrealistic, adolescent conviction that if you knew me, we would be friends. And, no, I promise I will not stalk you or anything, but if I ever happen to run into you in Whole Foods some day, is it ok if I say hi?
    I hope your groovy, interfaith holiday season was as lovely as ours, and that 2011 brings you peace, joy, and more inspired recipes and stories to share.
    Thank you again for the amazing gift that is your writing.
    Love, Allyson (a.k.a Al, et al., because I am a fellow Latin geek.)

  29. Teafortwo10:11 PM

    Maybe I should write this tomorrow AFTER I've had the Green Chile Eggbake for breakfast, but what the heck. I happened to have green chiles in the freezer because I happened upon a bin of Hatch (NM) Green Chiles this fall at the Whole Foods for 99 cents a pound and pounced, and roasted and froze. I also had Monterrey Jack in the freezer that I needed to use up, so this may prove to be the best freezer clearing recipe of late.

    So, Happy New Year!

  30. Happy new year to you and yours Catherine!

  31. Elena2:02 PM

    the scandinavian countries have what we do not have the will to practice here in the US, namely the wealth redistribution via the tax code. This is how they can afford health care, maternity leave and other social programs. Collective ownership of means of production is not the only way to go :) (I grew up in Russia, really, you will have to take my word for it that it is NOT the way to go at all)

    I gave "Modern Art" as a gift to my FIL, and we have had several nights of quality game play - kids were not interested at all.

    I also gave my daughter a "Guess who" game and my husband almost killed me because we were roped into playing endless rounds of it until we were ready to throw it into the fire. I think that we "forgot" it at my in-laws (or at least I hope so).

    We are yet to break out the "vonderfool goot" game because we proceeded to get terribly sick (and not just of playing "guess who", antibiotics kind of sick). It looks most promising.

    Thank you for your recommendations and for the article. I think that Ben and Birdy would love "Click clack moo" if you do not already have it.


  32. Catherine, I LOVED the Chili Tortilla Eggbake. So delicious and sure to be a new holiday tradition for us. Enjoyed your Brain Child piece. The photo of Ben & Birdy is lovely and I cannot believe how much older they are looking.

    All the best to you in the new year.

  33. Sorry for the typo ... I meant chile not chili. :) Making chili today and have it on the brain I guess.

  34. What a gorgeous picture of your children!
    Thanks for the wonderful links, dear Catherine. I'm trying to catch up on my reading after being completely disconnected for a solid month, while we were in Argentina visiting my family. Boy was that a learning experience for my kids! We've come back home grateful for being able to appreciate the cultural wealth of other countries and our own. How grateful we are for the many privileges we enjoy and that sometimes we take for granted (hello running water during the day!). I've missed you during these weeks that I haven't read your blog. I hope you guys had a wonderful holiday season.

  35. When I stay in Texas we had a tortilla eggbake for breakfast. I had completely forgotten about it until reminiscing with an old friend. It spurred me on to find a good recipe, where I came across this site. so glad I found this recipe.