Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Homemade Life

A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen TableA Homemade Life
Mollie Wizenberg
Simon & Schuster (2010)
ISBN 1416551069

Since I've been an Orangette reader off and on for several years, A Homemade Life was a fun read. It was nice to get to know Molly a bit better. And many recipe pages are adorned with stickies, so that corner of the book looks a bit like a pink hedgehog.

Family cooking. This was the most appealing part of the story for me. Molly grew up in a family where food was appreciated and cooking was done with love. Sadly her father died much too early, and the book could be considered a tribute to him, bits of memoir interspersed with recipes.

Reading the book made me think a bit more about food and cooking and what we learn from our parents. My mother was not a bad cook, but she got no joy from food, not from the cooking, not from the eating. When we were a family, we ate well enough with my mother doing most of the cooking since my father was frequently away from home. I was lucky that as kids we were exposed to all kinds of food. We knew not only Tex-Mex from Papa's home state, but all sorts of international cuisines since my father travelled as part of his work. At that time, I don't remember my father doing much cooking besides steaks on the grill and hand-cranked ice cream, but he did teach me to enjoy food. Somewhere along the line with his second family, he started cooking more seriously and when I visited in later years, I always looked forward to the food.

Thus, I was inspired by this book to cook a meal in honor of my father. I chose one recipe I thought he might have liked, one I "inherited" from him, and one he recommended. Luckily the weather held out so we could eat al fresco, and enjoy a bit of time with Papa.

We started with Moroccan Zucchini Salad. This is not to say my father was a veggie man, but I think he would have enjoyed this salad, zucchini lightly cooked with garlic, paprika, ras al hanout, and cayenne and topped with lemon juice and parsley. Fresh and tasty, this salad can be eaten warm or cold. I've made it several times this summer to help use up the garden bounty.

For a main, there was Papa's Posole, using up the hominy I cooked and froze earlier in the year. This is a recipe I got from my father, who got it from who knows where. Not one I follow to the letter, but then recipes aren't made to be followed to the letter, are they? Was it especially good this time because I finally got hold of some Mexican oregano or because it was a lovely fall evening with thoughts of my father around us?

We ended with Crème Caramel. I've always thought the crème caramel was food from heaven, and my father swore that MFK Fisher's recipe in The Cooking of Provincial France (part of the Time-Life Foods of the World Series) was the best there is. This was the first time I've tried it and I think he may be right.

Bon appetit! And thanks to Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for hosting this month's reading/cooking challenge.


  1. What a great way to honor your father. This looks like a meal made with love.

  2. What a wonderful, delicious meal from start to finish and such a great tribute too.

    I am glad you enjoyed the book! Thanks for joining in this round of Cook the Books. ;-)

  3. How lovely, Kaye. My mother was a decent cook, but like yours, she has never really enjoyed cooking. Dad was the one who really enjoyed food. Later in life he also cooked but only from recipes, he never got the hang of making it up as he went along or adapting recipes. So here's to our fathers and what they taught us!

  4. I like your meal's design, from a recipe from the book, from your memories of him and one you thought he'd like. I bet he's smiling down on you. Thanks for joining us at Cook the Books this round.

  5. Every course sounds lovely and perfect together, totally in the spirit of Molly's book.

  6. A beautiful meal and great tribute to your father. VEry nice post.

  7. YUMMY CREME CARAMEL! Oh I was drooling over the post. I can't wait to try these.