Chilled zucchini soup

My mother shared this as a good recipe to make ahead for sweltering days. The official Julia Child version seems to involve cucumber, but I always remember mom making this with zucchini. It is especially good for using up those giant zucchini that magically appear in the garden one day when you swear you checked under every leaf just the day before. (If you do use a monster squash, discard the seeds before cooking. You may also want to peel it if the skin seems tough.)


1 small onion, diced
1 t butter
1 box chicken broth (32 oz)
2-3 small zucchini or one large, chunks
1 t cider vinegar
4 T couscous
1 T fresh tarragon or dill (or try 1 t dried)
salt to taste
2 cups milk

Couscous, squash (I added a summer squash), and tarragon


1. Sauté the onion in butter until tender and glassy.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer 20-25 minutes.

3. Let cool slightly. Place 2-3 cups at a time in a blender and puree.

4. Chill. When serving, stir in half a cup of cold milk to each bowl. Serves 4.

A simple explanation

The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty will probably be a little quieter than usual in the coming months for a very happy reason--we have a new family member! These feet and their owner came into the world on a Tuesday afternoon, and we are all totally smitten.

I'm not going to get into the birth details, but if you like birth stories in general, I recommend a few links. One is Progressive Pioneer, the other is Design Mom. These are both fantastic blogs about many topics, but both bloggers were expecting this year and decided to celebrate by posting birth stories from all sorts of contributors. When I was pregnant, I found reading these very comforting--reminding myself how each birth is beautiful and unique and surprising. These blogged stories seem like a new take on word-of-mouth wisdom passing from woman to woman. True, I read them online, on my own and never met the people involved, but these stories definitely helped me prepare for my own birthing and mothering journey.

Another fantastic birth story is Kelle Hampton's story of the birth of her daughter Nella Cordelia. Check it out on her blog Enjoying the Small Things (her blog plays music so adjust your speakers accordingly).

Blooming Summer

It's a quiet Monday. I'm just lying low and trying to conserve energy. A discovery about our giant air conditioner--it can also be set on "dehumidify." In my fantasies, this does not use as much electricity as actual air conditioning. Yet it still cools our bedroom quite nicely.

I've been getting magazines out of the library since I have a very short attention span (I can't read whole books), but also can't afford actual magazine subscriptions. The ones I choose to amuse me are mostly about cooking, home remodeling and/or celebrities. A recent issue of Real Simple tells me that it's good for you to have a bouquet of flowers in your home where you can see it first thing in the morning. What do you know--I had just put one in our bathroom last night!

Daisies cut from the garden--sprigs of oregano blossoms in the back.

Another welcome discovery is that one of my favorite flowers, lisianthus, is coming into bloom in our front garden. I LOVE lisianthus. (I also love nasturtiums. And roses.)

I bought a mix-pack in the spring and am thrilled to find some plants are pink!

Pure white with that lovely dusty green. Just like I had in my wedding crown.

The twisted buds of the lisanthus are so gorgeous.
It reminds me of Dylan Thomas: "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/drives my green age..."

Cold meals on hot days

Summer came upon me quickly. One week there were showers with some warm days sprinkled in. We bought 2 modest box fans to move air around in the bedrooms. The next week it was 97 degrees out and hella humid. We panicked and bought a gigantic "portable" air conditioner.

It kinda looks like a Flight of the Conchords robot to me.

When weather is this hot and oppressive, a major question is: what to cook? I have yet to find a meal that does not involve any heating at all. (OK, I guess one obvious choice would be a salad, but I am not big on salad for dinner.) However I try to cook things in batches or early in the morning, then have everything ready for a cold, refreshing dinner outside under our favorite maple tree in the evening. One recent concoction was a pasta salad with peas and bell pepper, plus grilled-then-chilled chicken.

With tomato season underway now, this dinner is also pretty classic:

fresh mozzarella with tomato slices and pesto on toasted sourdough slices

We have also been drinking lots of lemonade and seltzer and even... WATER to stay hydrated.

If you're in the heat like us, take care of yourself! And also I'd love to know--what are some cold dishes you like to make/eat when it's hot out?


It's berry time. Late strawberries are still to be found, early blueberries are starting up, and raspberries are in full swing. It is like the trifecta of berries. I really only like super fresh fruit, and berries best of all, so I am very happy. Above, the blueberries and strawberries are from the Brattleboro Farmer's market. The raspberries are from Grandma's garden, we have been getting them fresh-picked all week and they're AMAZING!

Here's what I do with berries:
  • garnish cereal, ice cream, yogurt
  • eat them plain by the handful
  • dole them out in small containers as healthy snacks
  • accept them doled out in small containers by others
  • have them with shortcake and whipped cream (strawberries in particular)
  • arrange them on waffles, mini cheesecakes or other baked desserts
Here's what I don't do with berries:
  • cook them
  • mash them
  • freeze them
  • make syrup
These are all perfectly acceptable, but berries don't last long enough around me for them to be accomplished.

More good news: peaches are also showing up at the farmer's market, as well as Sungold tomatoes. Oh yum!