Family Gone Wild: Foraging, Puttering and Living it up in Maine

08.25.11 Leo is: perfecting his loon call


We’re on vacation with my folks in Maine, where Leo is demonstrating the full extent to which toddlers, as Harvey Karp claims in his book The Happiest Toddler on the Block, resemble cave men. Standing on a rock in the lake pretending to be a fireman, Leo screams “my hose is so big, I’m going to spray you!” Bouncing along ahead on a hike, he holds a large rock in one hand and a long stick in the other. And when the kid hits a berry patch, watch out. He’s a hunter-gatherer by nature, and it’s wonderful to release him in the wild.

Domesticity, however, seems to have lost its appeal. When our farmer friends gifted us with a great big jar of fresh cream from their cows, I was so excited to make butter as I remember doing in preschool. I seem to recall shaking cream in a mayonnaise jar for the better part of a day, and loving the experience. Leo had no interest in giving the jar even one shake, and as the magic happened and the ivory cream suddenly separated into gorgeous golden butter and milky blue whey, he barely looked up from his little John Deere mower.

He did devour the muffins we made with the assorted berries that actually made it into his big red bucket (barely enough to cover the bottom, since he ate most of them). I also used buttermilk I had cultured from the whey that our butter left behind, and incredible eggs from our farmer friends. Cooking here is always a treat.

I have to say, making butter by shaking a jar for 10 minutes was definitely one of the most productive, and satisfying, things I’ve done this week. Unless you count lying in a row boat with my hat over my eyes, reading on the couch or helping Leo with an ice cream cone. A person could get used to all this.

Recipe: Berry Muffins

Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.