Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Homemade Life

On Monday night, I finally finished Molly Wizenberg's book, A Homemade Life: stories and recipes from my kitchen table.

I was drawn in from the very first page when Molly quoted her father, Burg, as saying, "You know, we eat better at home than most people do in restaurants!"  Burg and My Hero would have gotten along marvelously. 

Jim says this same thing to me at least once a week...and usually even more often than that.  I just love it when he falls into bed at night and sighs, "Kings don't have it any better."   It makes me feel like a million bucks...because I know that he really means it.

Molly's book is a memoir written after she lost her father to cancer.  Each chapter is a different memory and concludes with a recipe associated with that memory.  

As I thought about telling you about the book, I debated with myself as to how much I liked it.  But the more I think about it (and it has taken me three days to ponder on it), the more I realize how much so. 

The stories are not all riveting or poignant.  Some are simple and some are almost 'boring' (for lack of a better word).  I have yet to try a single recipe from the book.  Most are French or gourmet, and that just isn't my style of cooking.  Even those that are somewhat universal seem to have at least one ingredient that would take a trip to a specialty store to procure.  Yet...I still enjoyed it.

I think my appeal to this book is summed up in it's title, A Homemade Life.  After all, no one's life story is always riveting or even poignant.  If it were that person would go mad from overwhelming drama and stimulation!  Either that or they exaggerated about it.  And who wants to read a memoir that is a total misrepresentation? 

No, Molly reveals herself...her family...her heritage...her life, without turning it into a caricature to keep you reading.  AKA: Homemade.

And while the recipes themselves did not inspire me to give them a try, I found that while I was reading I was motivated to try new things that did fit into our family's dining style.  I have even begun to cook 'off-recipe' from time to time.  That is HUGE in our house, people!  Jim cooks by feel...and I cook by recipe, that is just the way it has always been.  At least until now.  I even added red pepper flakes to our honey garlic pork chops the other night just because it sounded good, and it was the first time I had ever tried the recipe.  MERCY!

And who can't enjoy reading an author who, when speaking about the 80's, refers to the mullet.  "If you think about it, mullets really were a smart, well-meaning invention.  Anyone with long hair can tell you that it gets in your face sometimes.  Mullets handily took care of this by cropping the front short while leaving the back alone.  With a mullet, you got the best of both worlds: long hair without having to choke on it." 

Maybe I enjoyed the book so much because when I think back over my life I often associate certain memories with food.  My Grandma Fulton's Chocolate Fudge Frosting summons up Sunday lunches and games of Spades...My Grandma Jenkins' homemade biscuits with chocolate syrup which I still miss every time I think about mother's Green Bean Casserole with cheese that indicates the holidays have mother-in-law's homemade birthday cakes with a candle on top (even now that we are too old to put on all of the candles without catching the house on fire) sister's talent of serving appetizers from  ingredients she has on hand at a moment's brother-in-law's Memphis-style ribs which shout summer family picnics...and my sister-in-law's ability to serve our whole 'herd' simply but beautifully.

" love and be loved", that's why I cook.  Thanks for the reminder, Molly!


Robin said...

you cook to love and be loved...ok, i'm putting in my request for love...fix me a meal and come over for a girls night...I will supply the

Kelli said...

Well look-y whos getting brave with the red pepper flakes now ;)! You always make the best soups when I dont feel well. in fact i think that was my first homemade meal after both of my kids were born. Nothing like mommy taking care of me, even at 25!

Brenda said...

Robin's right you have the love of food and you really remind if a modern day Julia Child. She did love her food,spices and seasoning and cooking them...

I made me binder with all your recipes from all blogs they are so good.