Saturday, 3 August 2019

Martha Stewart She Certainly Ain't!!

"You should read this, Mum" said Liz. She was absolutely right [as usual] In between stifled giggles over the antics of other train travellers, this was great entertainment for 3 hours on a train on Monday.
First published in the USA 30 years ago, it was printed in the UK in 2012. Laurie Colwin died suddenly in 1992,aged just 48. A prolific writer, she contributed to many magazines and published various collections of short stories.
"Home Cooking" is a glorious collection of anecdotes about the joys of cooking and home entertaining, interspersed with recipes and surprising non-recipes.
Forget the Martha Stewart Counsel of Perfection, where everything must be just right, made with the correct tools and the perfect ingredients, and served at the optimum temperature to your carefully chosen, well-matched dinner guests. Ignore Martha's rules about pristine white linen, sparkling sets of crystal, china and silverware.  Just relax and enjoy!
Her chapter titles alone make the book a delight, here are some of them...

  • Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant
  • Feeding the Fussy
  • How to Disguise Vegetables
  • The Same Old Thing
  • How to Avoid Grilling
  • English Food
  • Stuffing: A Confession
  • Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir
  • Stuffed Breast Of Veal: A Bad Idea
  • Black Cake

She shares her favourite recipes and generously credits those who have passed them on to her. Some of these I am hoping to try out over the summer. She delights with stories about abysmal failures in the kitchen, as when "quivering pieces of red matting with the texture of socks were offered to guests."  "One of my pies was so odd looking that my husband took a picture of it" [remember this was written pre Instagram - I have no idea what she would say about the popular habit of photographing everything you eat] 
She declares that some of her best dinner parties were those where the shoe leather meat and soapy greenish potato salad being left untouched, and one guest saying "Let's leave all this and go out to a hamburger joint!"
Jewish by birth [but one who did not 'keep kosher' in the kitchen] she talks about many traditional recipes and her ways of serving them - and wonders about the rest of us ["Is it in the genes of Episcopalians to want to barbecue?" ] She loves Trad English food - and also Scottish stuff like Neeps and Tatties. Her description of eating her first haggis is wonderful.
She talks about her involvement in the kitchensd of a Manhattan Project for Homeless Women and the amazing cooks who produced fantastic meals for huge numbers with minimal resources.
This lovely article sums up Laurie's style much better than I could.She had such a liberating approach to life in the kitchen and the joy of eating with friends
But do beg, borrow or buy this book, I give it a resounding *****  Thank you Liz for lending it to me.
The final paragraph of her first chapter, written in New York in 1987, ends with words which sadly still ring true. 
"These essays were written at a time when it was becoming increasingly clear that many of our fellow citizens are going  hungry in the streets if our richest cities. It is impossible to write about food and not think about that. I hope that those who are lucky to be well fed will find this book useful in feeding family and friends."


  1. Brilliant. I have a few friends who I think would enjoy this

  2. Sounds like a fun cook book!

  3. I'm reading 'The Second Worst Restaurant in France' by Alexander Mccall Smith who I shall be seeing at the Edinburgh Book Festival (but not actually in Edinburgh but an extension to the festival in a local seaside town which is dead handy!). The book is about an author of food books who is as far removed from Martha Stewart as you can get! (Anyway, she wasn't that perfect, she did time!!). Have a great and relaxing weekend, Angela.xx

  4. Ah, this sounds brilliant!!!!


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