Friday, March 6, 2009

In Praise of A Homemade Life

It is a funny thing to finish a book only to immediately go back to the beginning and begin rereading it all over again. That is what I have just done with A Homemade Life, the delightful debut book by Molly Wizenberg. I really should just stop rereading and go directly into the kitchen to try out every recipe in the book, for both the prose and the recipes are absolutely scrumptious.

Molly is the creator of Orangette, my favorite food blog, and it was her writing which inspired me to create Kitchen Fiddler six months ago. What I immediately loved so much about Orangette was that her posts weren't just recipes with a bit of photo documentation. Instead, Molly invites you in, making you feel that you are a dear friend to whom she is writing enthusiastic letters about her various culinary discoveries and kitchen adventures. She writes with such freshness and vitality, and she approaches food in such a way that resonates deeply within me. I think there are many of us who feel that even the simplest of meals are threaded with memories and people, all of which shape us and help remind us of who we are.

I can't think of the last time I looked forward to a new book with such anticipation. A Homemade Life was due to hit the stores this Monday, and I cannot tell you what a thrill it was for me to see this volume on the tables at Barnes&Noble. "It's here, it's really here!" I thought. I had to force myself not to tear through my copy in one sitting. In fact, each time I put the book down and came back to it, I always started reading several chapters earlier than where I had last left off, just to stretch that first reading out as long as possible!

This is not primarily a cookbook as much as it is a series of very personal vignettes about a loving family who are bonded by their mutual love for being in the kitchen and the memories they created there. Molly's stories are heartwarming, filled with passion and compassion with a good dash of humor, and each essay is aligned with a mouth-watering recipe.

Her description of a Tarte Tatine ("like a housewife in stilettos") had me laughing out loud, and I immediately began mentally planning a dinner party as an excuse to make this caramelized apple tart for dessert. I can't wait to try Molly's recipe for coconut macaroons, and the almost-flourless "Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake" has my name all over it. I'm very curious about the cider-glazed salmon, and the Sliced Spring Salad With Avocado and Feta looks like something I could eat every day for weeks on end. I want to make the Butternut Soup with Pear Cider and Vanilla Bean, as well as the Tomato&Two Fennel Soup, and the Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots, and the Dutch Baby pancakes, and and and......

Treat yourself to a copy of this book. I am sure you will be as charmed by it as I am.

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