The Hungry Reader: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table

3 Feb

Orangette is one of my favourite food blogs, written by a Seattle-based academic-turned-food writer (sound familiar) named Molly Wizenberg. Molly’s work is incredibly inspiring – concise and clear, but inviting and warm, too. It’s also insightful without being solipsistic. So I’m ashamed to admit that I only got around to reading her 2009 memoir A Homemade Life a few days ago.

A Homemade Life recounts Molly’s biography so far through a culinary lens. It ranges from her first trip to France, to her father’s death from cancer in her early twenties, starting her blog, then meeting her husband through her writing. Simple but delicious recipes intertwine with her stories and illuminate the quiet but significant relationships food has with home, family, and memory. The recipes include chocolate and French yogurt cakes which are on my to-bake list, and a very tasty-looking version of chana masala.

I most related to Molly’s thoughts on experimentation, and her conflicted relationship with it. She describes herself as “a baker by nature: precise, obedient, and fiercely devoted to my digital scale…I find a deep abiding satisfaction in following instructions.” To which I respond: “Amen, sister!” For me, cooking appeals as a detail-oriented activity, one that rewards care and attention.

That isn’t to say I’m totally inflexible – I can adjust recipes as I go along, adding a little more cumin to chili or reducing the liquid in a stew, if I want things to turn out in a different way. But I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cooked by the seat of my pants. This is the thing that stops me from considering writing my own cookbook; I have the skills and knowledge to interpret recipes, but I lack much of the boldness I would need to be truly creative. But you know, it’s just how I am, and I’m OK with that.

I strongly recommend both Orangette and A Homemade Life if you want to immerse yourself in great recipes and engrossing writing. Check it out!


One Response to “The Hungry Reader: A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my Kitchen Table

  1. Erin February 3, 2012 at 11:43 AM #

    Would you not say that there is a difference between experimenting with baking and experimenting with savoury cooking (stews, for example)? I must confess that I never follow savoury recipes as closely as I follow those for baking. With baking, I think you have to have made the cake (or whatever it is) a few times before you feel truly comfortable with just throwing extra stuff in, whereas with the pan of savoury loveliness that is a soup or a stew, it is much easier to taste it and chuck in a random ingredient to take the flavour where you want it to go. Having said that, a certain amount of skill for flavours is needed – I think, in particular, of my work colleague who tried (without success) adding ketchup to bolognaise sauce. Definitely don’t try that at home!!

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