Julia's Child, published by Plume/Penguin, is a book about organic food, and growing food, and feeding food to small wiggly people who don't always appreciate it.  This blog celebrates those same things, but also green living. And coffee.  And sometimes wine with little bubbles in it.


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My Review of Lauren Myracle's Latest YA


Once again, I had the pleasure to review an excellent novel for The New York Journal of Books. Lauren Myracle's latest is THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US, a beautiful, quieter love story than Myracle's earlier work.

Ms. Myracle is famous for pushing boundaries in children’s literature. Those boundaries can be structural—she wrote a series of bestselling books (ttyl, ttfn and l8r, g8r) told entirely in the form of a long series of text messages—or content driven. Her brave novel Shine took on hate crimes, poverty and the meth culture.
By comparison, The Infinite Moment of Us is much more self contained.

Ms. Myracle is famous for pushing boundaries in children’s literature. Those boundaries can be structural—she wrote a series of bestselling books (ttyl, ttfn and l8r, g8r) told entirely in the form of a long series of text messages—or content driven. Her brave novel Shine took on hate crimes, poverty and the meth culture. By comparison, The Infinite Moment of Us is much more self contained. (Read the entire review...)




My Review of WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith

My first review for The New York Journal of Books is of the brand new young adult novel WILD AWAKE by Hilary T. Smith. 

Ms. Smith writes an amazing blog which used to be anonymous. You might know her as The Intern Spills. And now she's written a beautiful young adult novel, which is not to be missed. You can read more about it here.


Product Fail #847,656 and #847,657

Ugh! Today I inspected a jar of Skippy Natural Peanut Butter, on the off chance that it was a decent product. The second ingredient is sugar, and the third is palm oil. (Palm oil is one of the most environmentally devastating ingredients in processed foods.) Thanks, Unilever. That product stayed on the shelf, and I will continue to buy the most excellent Vermont Peanut Butter, which is sublime.

And then I accidentally bought a"taco meal kit" instead of just the taco shells. My usual spicing for taco meat is chili powder + cumin + coriander + fresh onions and minced garlic. And that works fine. But I decided to try the "spice pack" that was included with my shells. And here's what stuns me: they managed to put some partially hydrogenated soy bean oil in a simple spice pack. Why, God, why?

If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Thankfully, tossing spices into a frying pan does not a big task make.


The Most Inspiring Thing

This video is humbling and inspirational. I wish every kid having a day full of "first world problems" could see it.




Homemade Cranberry Sauce: The Easiest Dish Ever

I serve homemade cranberry sauce often, because it's such a snap to make. It's great with turkey meatballs or pan-roasted turkey breast. And of course it's excellent for the big day in November. 

Because cranberries have so much natural pectin, they will "jam up" on your stovetop with very little effort. This is a dish that will cook itself while you make dinner. And if you've been thinking about learning to make jam, this might well serve as a gateway drug. Cranberry sauce works every single time.

Note: I add very little sugar, because I like it that way. If you like a sweeter sauce, double the sugar.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

1 12 ounce package fresh or frozen cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

splash water


Wash the berries and pick out any stems or shriveled fruit. 

Put the berries in a small saucepan, with a splash of water (to 1/4 inch depth at the bottom) and pour in the sugar. Turn on the heat and stir.

Simmer on low to low/medium for twenty minutes or so. (You will hear the berries popping.) Stir occasionally. The fruit will become bright red, and then darken to a rich maroon. It's done! Cool and serve. 


When Mom Gets Out of the Way, Great Things

I have always subscribed to the idea that children should sometimes be left to (safely) fend for themselves. But I don't know that I've been very good at following through with the ideal. And then sometimes life intervenes to prove that mom should just get out of the way.

Last night I had a somewhat fussy dinner planned. (By which I mean fussy to prep and cook--not fancy on the plate.) But my first grader had other plans. "Can we carve a pumpkin?" It's a fair question. We have 30 of them piled up from this summer's garden, including volunteers from the compost pile.

But I really couldn't say yes. "Not now. I have to dice. I have to sauté." 

"Can I do it?"

Pause. "You can start. But really--that doesn't mean I can jump in and fix it if you have trouble."


We have a $4 set of plasticky pumpkin carving tools that I never would have bought had I not tried them at someone else's house, so this was a safe enough endeavor. I put his pumpkin on the counter and drew a circle around the top. Then I went back to my unpeeled garlic, my broccoli, the filleting of a turkey breast, a hot pan...

Over in the corner he labored. I sort of registered that he'd got the top off successfully. He found the compost can and began scooping pumpkin guts into it. (Therefore seeding next year's crop in the compost pile.)

"I'm going to do one of these designs," he said, holding a pumpkin face stencil book. 

"Uh huh." Sure you are. With dinner late, I thought the likelier scenario would be frustration and a meltdown. But I was busy. I'd forgotten to boil the water. I hadn't measured out my orzo. He had produced some scotch tape and scissors. He was taping bits of paper to the pumpkin. Can't hurt himself that way, I thought. But it will never work.

There were milks to pour, a pan sauce to make, and a side dish to season. Finally, I yelled "dinner's ready." And I looked at his pumpkin.

He'd done it.

He had traced around the shapes he'd cut out of the book. I don't know how he got around the tape. I don't know how he fit them all into that little space. I don't know how he cut out those eyes without tearing through to the rim. But by the time dinner hit the table, he had the eyes and nose cut out already.

"I'll do the mouth after," he said. And he did.

Without any help at all, the little man made this Jack-o-lantern. And his feelings of victory--at doing even this modest project from start to finish--were evident. "Nobody helped me," he said. "Now can I light the candle?"

Yes, honey. Yes you can. I will try not to interfere.


We Take Gardening Very Seriously Around Here


The Best Tasting Brussels Sprout Ever

This year we hauled a ton of produce out of our big (weedy) garden, and it was lovely. But I'm still a newbie, and I still make stupid mistakes. Recently I read a short story in which the main character is contemplating "the impossibly ambitious" seed catalogs which fell through her mail slot, and now I know precisely what she meant.

The weeds? They are everywhere.

"Honey! You won't believe what I found in the garden!"

Early in the season I bought a four pack of seedlings labeled "Brussels Sprouts." I hadn't seen anything on it resembling, well, Brussels Sprouts. But, hey, not every plant works out.

Last week my husband surprised both of us, by picking this Brussels Sprout:

Yeah. Go ahead and laugh. But isn't it cute?

Luckily, my husband is smarter than I am. These past two years he's done really well with organic potatoes. This year he's harvested about... 2/3 of his plants. And he's picked 86 pounds! And a half. But who's counting? This is the biggest one so far, at 2 pounds and half an ounce:

We've had potato salad twice this week. I'm sure you're surprised.

Happy October!