Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Alter Ego Blog ~ Cupcake Chronicles

OK, it's time to come out of the closet, as it were. For several months two friends and I, who are in a book group together, have been writing a blog about our adventures in the book and food world. You can read this blog, also linked at the left, at Cupcake Chronicles, also on Blogspot:

I've always wanted to be in a book group and we have formed a small, cozy one based on our mutual interests. You can follow our thoughts on the books we read, and other related topics. My alter ego's name is Della and I'll explain more about her another time. So grab a cup of coffee or tea and join us!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Home and Harvest


The town of Antrim, near where we live, has started a new tradition in recent years called "Home and Harvest". Held in late September, the festival celebrates the best of small town life and community and the abundance of the season. Our friends at Tenney Farm provided the spot for the chicken barbecue and fireworks as well as other activities throughout the afternoon on Saturday.



Our boys were in their first prize-winning float as ears of corn (Chris Salamy and his wife, the Tenney's daughter Krista, organized the float and run the farm with her parents). Our daughter Addie scooped ice cream at their stand on a weekend home from college and helped with the pet show judging. After the barbecue, we all enjoyed pie on the porch, care of Linda, who made a sublime apple pie. And then we watched fireworks. A great day and perfect weather.

Linda's pies had a slight flavor of lemon from the Gravenstein apples

Linda sells pies to my husband from "Three Dog Bakery", a home baker from Antrim

The Tenney's barn-turned-house, worthy of Country Home Magazine, has a screened in porch that overlooks their pastures along the banks of the Contoocook River. They can see only one house, built in recent years, and Linda has a sunny, southeastern kitchen with view of the farm and farmstand. A few days prior, Linda saw a woman in a pink outfit and beehive hairdo on her porch at 7am, on her cell phone. She sounded very retro and I thought perhaps she had landed in an alien craft that may have left a crop circle. One of life's little unsolved mysteries.


This year the Tenneys grew this tremendous variety of pumpkin which looks like a massive "Howden" or "Connecticut Field" but with a thick green stem. They are gorgeous and I had to get one for the kids. They also carved their names into some others.

The boys played all afternoon: parade, amusements, barbecue, ice cream, and fireworks were just the icing on the cake

Eric and Temple hung out and directed traffic

And their cider is flowing--the best and sweetest (and no preservatives!). Their own sweet corn is still in, too, as well as other vegetables. We just love the Tenneys and Tenney Farm.

No hometown parade is complete without Veterans of Foreign Wars

Or the local firetruck brigade...

Or fireworks, care of Atlas in nearby Jaffrey ~ a grand show!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Chef's Table ~ Raiding the Pantry

Another programming note. A Chef's Table's "Raiding the Pantry" program aired on September 15 at noon on WHYY, Channel 91 FM. I believe this is a syndicated program on National Public Radio--for someone who probably listens to too much radio and watches too much television you think I would know these things! I do know of one person who heard it live because they told my husband (at our town dump, of course, our friendly source of all local information) about it the day after I learned the program had been aired.

I will eventually link this program to my website and have just linked in the blog in the upper left column. Click on that link and just scroll down to the 9-15-07 program details and click on "Listen" (you will need RealPlayer™). I'd love to hear your thoughts.

My interview with Chef Jim Coleman, recorded in August, is about ten minutes long and leads off a program on what's in different chef's pantries. We spoke about the history of pantries in fairly good detail as well as a few of my own pantry memories (and there are many but for some reason I chose to talk about my mother's broom closet in the small, pink, post-War kitchen on Ayers Avenue in Akron, Ohio where I grew up).

It was also interesting because the program's producer, Lari Robling, is also originally from Akron, Ohio and has published a wonderful cookbook, Endangered Recipes, that I bought a few years ago. I liked it so much that I sent her a fan letter (well, a fan e-mail). It was then that we learned of our "Akron connection" and she said to let her know when The Pantry was out. So I did and she kindly booked me on this program. [We also recorded two additional pantry-related segments that may air on later shows. I'll keep you posted.]

I've decided I love radio: no pantyhose or make-up necessary. Ok, enough about me. As I've been too busy to get recent publicity updates to Ronald for my website, you have to suffer through all of this self-promotional blather from time to time. Back to canning tomato sauce and helping the boys get back into their homework! And I can't wait to make Chef Jim's Gingered Jalapeno Orange Cranberry Relish for Thanksgiving this year.

TV Land

What has happened to this month?? I can't believe it is already September 19 and soon to be officially autumn, even though the days in New England have been fall-like for a while now. I have been busy getting the boys back to school and trying to get back on track with work and writing from my home office (while trying to pack for our new home in Kentucky). Summer was long enough and now that the transition is over, I'm glad that the days are shortening and I can hunker down and focus more inwardly and work on some new writing projects and other lingering things.

Yesterday I was interviewed for HouseSmarts™ with Lou Manfredini, a syndicated home design program. One regular segment is The Bookshelf, a several minute interview with a design book author. I was honored to be selected, although a bit nervous (more excited than anxious) about being on television. Fortunately, it was a taped segment that will be edited.

I have never actually seen the program but just discovered via our Direct TV search function that HouseSmarts™ will be on WBZ-Boston (Channel 4) out of Boston on September 29 at 5:30am (but not the episode I just taped). I understand the program is in 60% of the cable market nationwide and also on stations like WNBC in New York.

My husband and I drove down to southern New York and stayed just north of the New Jersey town where the production company tapes many of the segments. Lou Manfredini, a likable guy from Chicago who runs his own hardware business and is a contractor (and has written a series of books), flew in for several days of taping. The program will air sometime in December and I'll try to post the information here and on my website well in advance [my website is already out of date, so stay with me...]. Eventually you will be able to click on the segment via the HouseSmarts™ website.

Fortunately, I was happy with my outfit--as were they--but brought an additional one at their request, just in case. [You certainly don't want to clash with the set or the host!] A silk Italian scarf from Coldwater Creek was a great purchase last week and fortunately everyone agreed. [Sorry, from the looks of their website, I may have bought the last one. Anyway, I can't say enough great things about this clothing company.] And I wore pantyhose...the first time in years (but I'll spare you those details).

Perhaps the best part was having my hair "done" (and it held its shape and curl for hours because of whatever was glopped in and sprayed on) and the entire makeup/dress up. I had just bought some great mineral-based product at my trusty beauty spa at home, just in case (another thing I hardly ever wear--except lipstick) [Thank you to the amazing Sandy at European Esthetics and Jane Iredale cosmetics.]

However, I was needlessly self-armed as TV requires the full artillery unit. I was air brushed with foundation (literally sprayed on), eyes done, blush, lips. When I was "ready for my close-up" I was brought into the set, had a nice chat with the host (whom I hadn't yet met), and perched on a stool. Oh yes, and wired with a mike, further fluffed and untousled and arranged (and believe me, tousled is my usual get-up). The makeup woman even dabbed my brow when I started to bead up just a bit. [Fortunately the set was cool.]

Amazing, too, were the amount of people involved. There was a set decorator whose primary concern that day seemed to be arranging each author's book on the table for each segment (four authors were taped). A clothing stylist. A director and assistant director. Several camera men. The producer, who booked me for the segment. Another woman who seemed like an apprentice. And the host.

Everyone put me at ease, we were able to banter and talk before the taping began, and during the interview we spoke conversationally. It was over in a few minutes and we were on our way back home. I don't know if I'll be able to watch the segment when it comes out as I don't like to be photographed. But we'll see. Of course, we barely even touched on the book and I don't recall anything I said! But it was great fun all the same.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Flower Show


I just had to blog and brag about my friend Linda Tenney who won a blue ribbon--and the New Hampshire Federation of Garden Club's "LadyBug Novice Designer Award"--at yesterday's Peterborough Garden Club Show held in Dublin, New Hampshire. Her entry was in a group of table settings with floral arrangements as part of the "From a Painter's Palette" theme. She used some of her collection of bold Polish pottery with its predominantly blue tones and it made for a lovely display. There were several other categories and individual entries too, including a particularly grand leaf of the "Sum and Substance" hosta, also a blue ribbon winner.

I would have brought my camera but Linda didn't want me to for fear I might jinx things, perhaps. But I did manage to take some pics after the show and she even gave me the floral arrangement that she used on the table. Garden clubs have reputations for fierce competition so I am very proud of her win!

Meanwhile, our husbands went off to Fort Ticonderoga for a Revolutionary battle reenactment with my two boys and Linda's oldest grandson. So I visited Linda's flower show and we had a great take-out dinner later on her porch overlooking their farm. Five fat barn spiders poked their way down each of their screens along the porch while we talked. The air was humid and waiting for more rain. We looked at some cookbooks and magazines and enjoyed a salmon Caesar salad and shared a fig tart and a slice of pineapple updside down cake, all from Fish Tales in Peterborough.

Linda is a librarian for the local school system and also runs Tenney Farm, a local produce farm in Antrim, New Hampshire, along with her family. She told me that each couple in each marriage for which she has done flowers has stayed together. After her daughter was off to college, Linda also got her degree in counseling psychology. In her "retirement" she wants to study pastry making more intensely, or perhaps different kinds of flower arranging or judge flower shows. Something tells me, however, that Linda will never be retired from anything.

Bravo, Linda!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Boys, Trucks and Yard Sales

Dick Kemp's Mack museum in Hillsborough, NH

On the way home from the Hopkinton Fair on Sunday we stopped at a yard sale that we'd missed on the way in. Held in and outside of a large old red New England barn in Contoocook (that's with an emphasis on the second syllable), Woody Roberts has these large barn sales on each holiday weekend of the summer season. We had never been.



We weren't there long when Charlie, Judy and Cody drove in the drive. It soon became an old Home Day of sorts as Charlie knew Woody and Sheldon Rich, who, as it turns out, was an old acquaintance of Temple's, too.

Naughty Judy and the Limericks

Judy and I browsed and I picked up a few old magazines and she got a book of naughty limericks (some of which go back several centuries). Judy can be a bad influence on me--earlier at the fair we got temporary tattoos.


I won't tell you where mine is but hers is on her ankle (we wanted to stir up friends at the Labor Day cookout the next day but only one bought it--for a moment). Needless to say, it was a lot of fun but I've never blushed so much in my life.

Judy found this great ad, so appropriate to the day (but we didn't buy it--good girls)

A tag on an old Hoosier in the barn (another "no buy" as there's "no room")

Sheldon Rich

Henry in rapt attention listening to the conversation

A bunch of old guys sitting around talking


My husband loves to visit and share stories




After our stop at the yard sale, the boys wanted to drive by Dick Kemp's Mack museum in Hillsborough, and have a look. Dick, another mutual friend of Charlie and Temple's, has been in the hospital and we wish him a full recovery. He has collected old vehicles for years and has an outdoor truck museum of sorts. I've discovered boys (and their dads) love "tired iron" so I've learned to live with this and even have come to appreciate "the machine in the garden" aspect of our lives.

Boys Love Trucks~Charlie and his grandson Cody

Charlie is a Sterling Truck collector and has one of the largest collections in the country of Sterling-related ephemera. On his 60th birthday this spring, Judy had a Sterling-themed party and invited some of his Sterling friends from all over the country.

We all headed home with a stop at Tenney Farms for ice cream. A perfect ending to a perfect day.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New Passion for a Pantry


Barbara Coles of New Hampshire Magazine has written a fine article on the book and I enjoyed her interview with me. This magazine is a stylish, well-written production each month and covers a variety of people, places and issues in the Granite state. You can link to the full article here (which does not include all of the photographs in the two-page article): New Passion for a Pantry

I have realized through the amazing finesse of Google Analytics that not many people glance at my website (where I have a Pantry Press page with updates) so I thought because of the new, easy-to-use template functions in Google that I would also start linking press on The Pantry here in my blog. [But you are always welcome to stop by at where I have to say is in an overdue need of updating on the Pantry Press and Home page, where I will always include appearances, lectures etc. So I will try to have those parts of the site updated within the week, with thanks to the amazing Ronald Gehrmann at Metaglyph], whom I highly recommend for any website design or Mac trouble-shooting. He is brilliant, affordable, and fun!

[I think even Ronald would agree that I have overdone the blog link feature in this posting so I will stop now!]

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Country Fair ~ Something to Savor


Sometimes I have found that the best things in life are spontaneous. Yesterday we arrived home from Kentucky, a bit road weary, and this morning woke up to bags to unpack, a cookout to prepare for tomorrow, a garden to weed, more pickles to make. So what did we do? We took the boys to the Hopkinton State Fair. [Actually, the night before we had heard a rumor that the Fabulous Judy and her husband Charlie were taking their grandson Cody to the fair. Charlie has been coming every year since he was a little boy.]

[An aside to readers of The Pantry-Its History and Modern Uses: Judy's pantries are in Chapter Six with the pastel LuRay collection in the white Hoosier and the pantry-in-the-wall (on pages 84-85). The image of Judy's Hoosier, along with most in the book, was shot by principal photographers Susan Daley and Steve Gross (who have recently published the excellent Creole Houses on the architecture of Old Louisiana). Her Hoosier has become one of the most requested images of editors for magazine articles on the book. Judy also found a fitting ad from a yard sale on the way home, depicted above. It was the kind of day where even a yard sale find seemed in sync with the universe!]

We used to take the kids to the Cheshire Fair every August but got out of the habit and we were long overdue for midway rides and fair food. So last night I suggested to my husband that we should go to the fair today, especially when I heard that the day would be dry, warm and not humid. So off we went this morning with our beds unmade and bags still unpacked (and piles of laundry to do). The boys had no idea where we were going so that made it even more fun. Even though I have grown up in New Hampshire, I had ever been to the Hopkinton State Fair, held each year in Contoocook over Labor Day weekend. [Temple had been many times before but not in years.]


We arrived by late morning, early enough so that the crowds were still thin and by mid-afternoon the entire fair was bustling. There was a clear blue sky and a hint of fall in the air.

This cow had the color and sheen of an Ohio buckeye

This beguiling cow had much personality, although her owner was upset by her frisky demeanor and poor performance in the ring


We were pleased to find this to be a predominantly agricultural fair. There is the usual honky tonk and carney atmosphere, yes, but 4-H, the Grange and other organizations have large exhibition barns and events.

Blue Ribbon garlic from Jennifer Hopkins of Canterbury, NH

I was especially impressed with the prize-winning garlic and thought of my friend Edie Powell, who is starting an organic garlic enterprise in Dublin, New Hampshire at Bee's Wing Farm. [She was busy at home today starting raised beds for upcoming plantings for next season's harvest.]


Our husbands Charlie and Temple looked absolutely thrilled to be in the Home Arts Building, while Judy and I ogled prize preserves

So we spent most of the time looking at oxen, cows, pigs and other animals, prize vegetables, and a requisite visit to the Home Arts building to see the prize-winning baked goods and preserves. The atmosphere felt like that of the classic country fair portrayed in E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, a beloved favorite of our entire family and read to each of our children over the years.



Along the way we did run into Judy and family and chummed around the rest of the day. [My daughter was also there with her boyfriend and we saw them briefly and we even ran into some old friends from Jaffrey whom I had not seen in years. The world seemed to pleasantly center at the Hopkinton State Fair today.]


The atmosphere was fun and festive: the boys went on some rides (I rode the Tilt-a-Whirl with Henry, a favorite ride of mine since childhood), we had some great fair food (including fresh squeezed lemonade and a corn dog and we all tried maple cotton candy, made with 100% pure New Hampshire maple syrup), ate at the 4-H chicken barbecue, and savored the sights, sounds and festivities of the afternoon.




There is something about a good old-fashioned country fair that just seems so happy and rousing. To see children exhibiting their animals with pride, to watch our boys enjoying themselves, to have my own reminiscences of childhood, and to connect with great friends just made the day so worthwhile. I usually avoid crowds but this was fun and manageable (our state fair is tiny compared to the vast Midwestern variety).

Clinton entourage eating apple crisp • President Clinton at Hopkinton State Fair, Contoocook, NH • September 2, 2007 • © Catherine Seiberlng Pond,

On the way out near our gate, I just had to have some apple crisp from a stand I'd noticed earlier. There was a great clamor and commotion and at first I thought someone had been injured. Then I saw what looked like security or Secret Service. Yes to both.

President Clinton at Hopkinton State Fair, Contoocook, NH • September 2, 2007 • © Catherine Seiberlng Pond,

It was President Clinton and Senator Clinton on an unannounced visit with Governor Lynch. They were chomping on some apple crisp (I never did get any!) and meeting and greeting. While I was snapping pictures (and trying to avoid being pushed over by the traveling press corps), my husband Temple and the boys shook President Clinton's hand and he spent some time talking with our son Henry about the Red Sox (Henry was wearing a Sox cap).

President Clinton seemed more frail and aged than I expected--but looked good in pink gingham--and Hillary was glowing and attractive up close (and she seems to have an excellent stylist, too).

After getting swatted by press corps while I was trying to get my own photos, I was able to shake Hillary's hand but probably said the dumbest thing I've ever said to anyone in my life: "I'm not paparazi, but I'd like to shake your hand." Duh. To which she said, "Well, I'm glad you wanted to shake my hand." I know my boys had a much more coherent conversation with the President. Regardless, the whole thing was was a bit of a charge for all of us at the end of the day.

Senator Hillary Clinton at Hopkinton State Fair, Contoocook, NH • September 2, 2007 • © Catherine Seiberlng Pond,

New Hampshire has long been the first Presidential primary state (although competition from other states is closing in) and we are usually besieged with politicians for at least three out of every four years, it would seem. However, this was the first time I'd actually seen any up close and personal since I shook Gerald Ford's hand in 1976 or saw former California governor Jerry Brown in his best Eddie Bauer in the early 1990s (and Vice President Al Gore's motorcade in Keene a few years ago).

[Maybe my friend Dr. Bill will blog all about this exciting event on his political reporting website, Dr. Bill Siroty's NH News Links, so I was certain to send him pics. Hey, Dr. Bill, you know I'm fairly apolitical and not a paparazzo but I was muscling right in there for you, along with the press corps.]

Yes, it was an action-packed, fun-filled, and banner day at the Hopkinton State Fair. We now know a new way we will spend every Labor Day weekend, whenever we can. [I will post more highlights of the way home, including that yard sale, in the next day or so...]

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Odd Uneven Time


Of course. The poet Sylvia Plath wrote it. I have read her journals, poetry and numerous biographies enough to have many of her words etched in my own psyche. Wanting to give credit where credit is due--and being a great fan of Plath and her mythology--here is the source of "odd, uneven time": a phrase that so aptly describes the dwindling down of August.

• From Sylvia Plath's JOURNALS [August 8, 1952]:

"Friday, 9:45pm...Three years ago, the hot sticky August rain fell big and wet as I sat listlessly on my porch at home, crying over the way summer would not come again-- never the same. The first story in print came from that 'never again' refrain beat out by the rain. August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time."

September Song


How did summer end so quickly? I always start to feel the effects of diminished light by the middle of August and then the pull of school. With our daughter in college and the boys set to go back in the middle of September (late, I know), we are entering that uneven and anticlimactic time in our household.

Being in Kentucky last week was a good way to transition but I'd forgotten that there we are within a few miles of the Central Time Zone boundary so it was still quite light at 8:30pm in late August (while still in Eastern Time). Not here. We returned to New Hampshire, a bit road-weary, where it is beautiful but cool...and dark. And I already miss those 100 degree days!

Driving home we saw lots of cars and minivans packed to the gills with college-bound students and their stuff (and sometimes their parents). It is a big weekend for many schools in the Northeast. I saw a young man in the back seat of one car, surrounded by his worldly goods in the back and to the side of him, looking perhaps a bit fearful, and his parents in the front. A big day for all. I found myself silently well-wishing the people in each college-bound car as we passed.

We pulled in the drive at home, checked on the bunnies and our dog (who had her 11th birthday while we were away!), and then unloaded the car and headed to the garden. Eli and I checked on the progress of the pumpkins and they are still green and growing. The few Sugar Baby watermelons that were walnut-sized a week ago are now almost ready to pick! Another hot/warm week should help them along. Meanwhile, there is an abundanza of zukes, summer squash and cucumbers and Judy, our friend who stayed here while we were gone, did her best to keep up with them. The gardens in Kentucky are a month ahead: they are now picking winter squash and pumpkins. Everything else has been thrown out to the cattle. It was an unusual summer and growing season for them with all of the extreme heat and drought and a severe freeze at blossom-time in the spring. [And August must be odder still for Kentuckians--perhaps more like September is for us--as the children return to school early in the month and get out in mid-May each year.]


At dusk (7:30), we heard a tremendous cackling of two V-formations of Canada geese flying overhead towards the pond down the road. I couldn't believe the number or the sound. My husband, ever the pragmatist, said, "Well, it is almost fall after all and that's what geese do." Sigh. Once I get through this "odd uneven time" (where did that phrase come from? I must Google it!) I will be fine and I'll love having the autumn of the year. This year it just seems too soon.