by Kate Heyhoe
When I got into the food business, I had no idea how many charming, generous, and caring people I would meet. This isn't surprising though, when you consider that cooking is all about nurturing and giving, and that folks who love to cook also love to share. Of course, not everyone in this industry is warm and wonderful, but the ones who are definitely tip the scales.
Recently, two authors of whom I'm very fond released new books that reflect the same warmth and goodness that they naturally project in person. And throughout these books, the authors share not just food and recipes, but memories, a compassion for others, and love stories about their husbands, children, parents, and friends. This is not hip, in-your-face, jerk-the-camera-around, naked-celebrity-chef food. It's casual, warm and comforting: home cooking just right for loved ones.
Lora Brody, known for her bread machine products and author of 22 award-winning and acclaimed cookbooks, now brings us to her Cape Cod Table. Living in Southern California, I'm about as far away from Cape Cod as one can get and still be on the same continent. Even the beaches here are as similar to the sandy dunes of New England as the Sonora desert is to the Colorado Rockies. But in Cape Cod Table, Lora takes us on a mini-vacation to the quaint neighborhoods of New England's famous vacation spot. She fills the book with evocative photos and recipes, and open-door invitations to join Lora and her extended family for a breakfast of Dirt Bombs (sinful cinnamon muffins), a cranberry martini at sunset, or a classic clambake on the beach.
Leslie Revsin, the first woman chef at the Waldorf Astoria (two decades ago), left the frenzy of the restaurant kitchen a few years back and has since become a very good food writer. Her first book, Great Fish, Quick, was a Julia Child Cookbook Award finalist. Now, she invites us over to her house with her new book, Come for Dinner: Memorable Meals to Share with Friends. I urge you to accept her invitation, for her style is so un-restaurant chef (in a good way) that you're guaranteed to be pampered without pretense. Leslie's book is a love affair with home cooking, but one with a goal: to be welcoming, comforting, casual, and entertaining, all at the same time. Tastes of her Roast Pork with Black Forest Mushrooms or her Cheese Mashed Potatoes prove just how well she succeeds.
Here's what I like most about both of these books: They make you feel as if the authors are right there in the room with you, or rather, that you're right there in the room with them, and everyone is having a good time.
In Lora's case, that would be in a wainscoted kitchen of her Cape Cod dream house "which sits high on a wind-blown hill, and from which you can see the bay, the sweeping dunes, and the ocean..." Thirty-six years before this, on their first date, Lora's husband-to-be introduced her to the Cape Cod he had known as a child, with seagulls on salt air and hermit crabs in tide pools. "And so I began to fall in love with both this man," she writes, "who had driven me several hundred miles to see if I shared his passion for the sea and this isolated place of water, sand, and wind." Clearly, she did. Today, she and her husband split the year between their homes in Cape Cod and Boston, but it's the bounty of the cape's rugged peninsula and its inhabitants that now seem to feed Lora's mood with passion and inspiration.
In Leslie's case, the kitchen could be anywhere, but it's far and away from the professional kitchens of her restaurants. As she describes it, "Now in my kitchen I have a well-used and well-built 30-year-old refrigerator, regular home gas range that sits across from a perfectly fine, but nothing fancy, refrigerator. Lots of old ceramic bowls run around a narrow shelf, which juts out a ways below the ceiling and encircles much of the room. Pots and pans hang everywhere, and jars of dried mushrooms, chiles, beans, and assorted rices and spices, as well as a pair of ancient electric mixers, cover the counters. My husband says, "There are no surfaces left in this house!" Which is true. But I like my worn kitchen with all its stuff because good things happen there." and that, I believe, is what makes home cooking great cooking.
Put on your most comfortable clothes. Pull out the plates and set the glasses on the table. It's time for dinner with friends.
Kate's Global Kitchen for October 2003:
10/03/03 May I See the Beer List, Please?
10/10/03 Cozy Dinners with Lora and Leslie
10/17/03 Rub Me Tender
10/24/03 A Kinder, Gentler Halloween
10/31/03 I Ain't No Vampire ('Cause Garlic Tastes Good to Me)
Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created October 2003
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