The Kinfolk Table

UnknownHello there– I don’t know why I haven’t written about this book before.  I’ve had it for over a year and like to keep it out on the table– so I can browse through to get the nudge to sit down with friends for a simple, tasteful, convivial meal together.

Produced out of the quarterly Kinfolk journal, it’s not truly a cookbook, but more the stories of 45 cooks or farmers or artisans from Brooklyn to Portland, from England to Copenhagen,  who prepare and offer food with love and ever stylish care.  And there’s recipes along the way.  The photography is spare and beautiful–  of rustic farmhouses and well scrubbed pine tables, of lush gardens and people with bicycles.  It’s about a pot of soup for a tableful, or a quiet tea for two, or a sandwich perfectly made for a picnic alone– always artfully served.

So it seems to be more of a lifestyle book, the antithesis of so practical Joy of Cooking.  And I have no hopes of being as stylish or having a table so perfectly yet subtly designed, as the people in this book.  Some reviewers find the whole thing pretentious, too hip.  But I just think it great fun to pour over, for the way “entertaining” is reduced to summoning up simple food to set it on the table for the nurture of people we care about.   It’s beautiful page after page– I think you’d enjoy it.

Cooking with the Grand-girls

IMG_8444 Hello there– There’s been a lot of cooking going on around here.  And most days I can lure one of the grand-girls in to be my assistant to stir up bunch of muffins or to cut up fruit for dinner.  They are enthusiastic mixers and surprised me that they can pretty well crack eggs into a cake all  on their own (well, most of the time).  I’ll just say it’s been loads of fun!

IMG_9295     IMG_9277Charlotte specializes in cutting up fruit and making it “fancy” on the plate.

IMG_9811     IMG_8468Maryann spreads the pizza dough.  Says it’s just like using play dough. (Notice how elegantly she cooks in her princess dress that plays Cinderella music with a touch to her jewels! )  And even Joby contributes, mixing up the muffins with a firm stir.

So I’ve found out 5 and 7 year olds can chop potatoes, trim string beans, mix up muffins and cakes, spread frosting, cut up fruit, help prepare pizza dough and set the table.  I think we have some fine little cooks on our hands…

Cooking with Care

thanksgivingHi there friends–  Last Saturday we had a morning wedding shower for adorable Sally.  She is a graphic artist.  So we decided that each of the 6 hostesses would pick an art piece and use it to launch into a bit of friendly advice for a new bride. I chose “Thanksgiving” by Doris Lee (painted 1935, presently hanging in the Chicago Art Institute).  Here’s a bit of what was said:

…Laurie Colwin wrote–“No one who cooks, cooks alone.  Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

As you start cooking in your married kitchen, with all these new pans and dishes we get to “shower” on you, Im hoping you’ll feel a kinship with all those cooks who’ve fed you and taught you along the way.

I can imagine you cooking with/for Scott in the months and years ahead…

Thomas Wolfe wrote, “There is no spectacle more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”

And Julia Child said, “I think careful cooking is love, don’t you?  The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you, is about as nice a valentine as you can give.”

Quiet meals talking together, simple of special occasion meals, are times that knit you together.  It’s time to talk through your day, to share the joy of good food with each other across the table.

And it seems, Sally, that you are a girl with many, many dear friends, so I have a feeling you’ll be feeding more people that just Scott!

Ted Allen said, “Cooking for people is an enormously significant expression of generosity and soulfulness, and entertaining is a way to be both generous and creative. You’re sharing your life with people.”

There will be dinner parties and bar-b-ques, picnics and take out food in front of football games, fancy deserts and bowls of chili.  Shared with friends, these all taste better…

The first famous food writer, M.F.K. Fisher wrote, “I am more modest now, but I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a new stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.”

So I do see plenty of cooking ahead in your future Sally– for Scott, for family, for friends.  There’s a whole of of nurturing going on as you set our those plates and lay the food on the table for people you love.

And one last word of advice from Julia Child, “A party without cake is just a meeting.”

So here’s to cake and good times around your table for years to come…

Cooking

“No one who cooks, cooks alone.  Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”       –Laurie Colwin (author)

I love this thought.  When I’m stirring up a banana bread for friends, I’m pulling up my mother’s old recipe, one that my daughters use as well.  And oh– there’s my Grandma Rose’s version too.   I draw from favorite blogging cooks and pour over old church cookbooks, as well as the latest issue of Bon Apetit.  I’m not cooking alone and I’m joining cooks from far and wide (from Australia to Zambia) in caring for people they love by setting good food in front of them.  Cooking.

thank you guru mommy.com for the drawing

My Life in France

Hi there reading friends–  This is the book I packed along for our Paris trip this summer.  A whole lot of eating/cooking inspiration on these pages!  It’s part memoir, part culinary history written by Julia Child with her grand-nephew Alex Prud’homme.

From her first memorable meal in Rouen– Sole Menuniere, perfectly browned in butter with a sprinkle of parsley, Julia falls in love with the people and food of France.  She called it. “the most exciting meal of my life.”

Ever pragmatic yet extravagant, she studies French cuisine and eventually produces the definitive French cookbook for American kitchens, through her great exuberance and dogged determination to test and retest every recipe.  There are records of meals shared with friends across France and a lovely picture of Paul and Julia’s devoted marriage.  More than a book about food, it’s a book about life.  It invokes the sights, smells and tastes of a France from another era.   A worthwhile look into Julia’s life, richly lived.