Cook the Books Clubs current featured book is A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.
Molly really spoke to me. I read this book and I felt I was having a conversation with her. Some bits were like reading a letter from someone I knew well, someone who poured out their heart and feelings. She is so much younger than I am but I sure could relate to so many things she wrote about. From the unresolved feelings regarding her father’s death to the cautious delight of falling in love with her soul mate. The calm and focus that creeps in when you are immersed in preparing food for people you love and her unapologetic Francophile side. (seems so many are determined to hate the French these days…)
In the beginning of the book she talks about the clean-as-you-go rule (I always do, it’s just easier) and warns to read recipes all the way through before you start. Oh, how I wish I could adhere to that golden rule! I always have the intent but…ya know, there are just too many times I started a recipe and found I was missing a key ingredient. This causes undue swearing and sometimes, an extra trip to the market.
Integrated into her story are recipes. The recipes are like a timeline of her life – the eye-rolling, teenaged viewpoint of her father as he declares, “You know, we eat better at home than most people do in restaurants,” but realizing the importance of “the steady rhythm of meeting in the kitchen every night, sitting down at the table, and sharing a meal.”
There are so many good recipes it's difficult to choose one so...I'll show you what all I tried so far.
I have made the Ed Fretwell Soup as this was an important recipe to honor her friend Ed, and to push on people at the Grief counseling. It was cathartic for Molly to be involved in the preparation of dish she associated with grief and her father…and healing.
I made the Spring Salad with Endive, Avocado and Goat Cheese after reading that uber romantic way Brandon proposed – with those confiscated special diamonds!
I made Cornbread with the creamy middle because this chapter described her revelation that girls do sometimes marry their fathers..hahaha…
The Dutch Baby Pancake, well…I really like pancakes and this was the soufflé of pancakes !
Since the coffee maker was acting up (and we were awaiting a hot cuppa to enjoy along with our meal) we ate this Dutch Baby barely warm...but it's delicious.
It’s in the works to make the wedding cake or, as she calls it, The cake of Winning Hearts and Minds as well as the French-Style Yogurt cake with lemon.
My plan, which went spectacularly off course, was to start with the Yogurt Cake because this was the recipe which brought Molly and Brandon together. If it were not for that cake, he wouldn’t have written to Molly. And of course you just have to end the post (which I am having an epic fail here) with the wedding cake. It’s the start of Molly and Brandon’s life together. Plus it’s a wicked looking recipe which promises (I just know it!) a decadently rich chocolatey slice of a fine cake.
So, one of my favorites, so far...if I have to pick one is this Spring Salad with Avocado.....wow!
Fresh ingredients such as avocado, radishes, endive and creamy goat cheese, how could you go wrong.
One of my favorite quotes is from the introduction:
“When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers, and mothers and kitchen tables and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been and who we want to be. When my father sat down to the dinner table, he saw more than what was on his plate. He saw his childhood as the son of two Polish immigrants; his youth in a working class neighborhood in the 1930s………..”
And this paragraph goes on to describe his life. When Molly walked into her kitchen, she brought all this with her.
If you haven’t read this book, this memoir, it is one I recommend. I enjoyed it enough to stop checking it out of the library and purchase a copy. For the memories, for the food, for a good story.
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