My Kitchen Year
136 Recipes That Saved My LifeBook - 2015
In the fall of 2009, the food world was rocked when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered by its parent company. No one was more stunned by this unexpected turn of events than its beloved editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, who suddenly faced an uncertain professional future. As she struggled to process what had seemed unthinkable, Reichl turned to the one place that had always provided sanctuary. “I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened,” she writes. “I disappeared into the kitchen.”
My Kitchen Year follows the change of seasons—and Reichl’s emotions—as she slowly heals through the simple pleasures of cooking. While working 24/7, Reichl would “throw quick meals together” for her family and friends. Now she has the time to rediscover what cooking meant to her. Imagine kale, leaves dark and inviting, sautéed with chiles and garlic; summer peaches baked into a simple cobbler; fresh oysters chilling in a box of snow; plump chickens and earthy mushrooms, fricasseed with cream. Over the course of this challenging year, each dish Reichl prepares becomes a kind of stepping stone to finding joy again in ordinary things.
The 136 recipes collected here represent a life’s passion for food: a blistering ma po tofu that shakes Reichl out of the blues; a decadent grilled cheese sandwich that accompanies a rare sighting in the woods around her home; a rhubarb sundae that signals the arrival of spring. Here, too, is Reichl’s enlivening dialogue with her Twitter followers, who become her culinary supporters and lively confidants.
Part cookbook, part memoir, part paean to the household gods, My Kitchen Year may be Ruth Reichl’s most stirring book yet—one that reveals a refreshingly vulnerable side of the world's most famous food editor as she shares treasured recipes to be returned to again and again and again.
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Job loss is stressful for anyone. When job loss happens at age 61 - 4 years before most people retire - it can be devastating: an entire career, working family, not to mention a salary – gone. When this happened to Ruth Reichl, the 61-year-old editor of the beloved magazine Gourmet which had been an institution in the industry until it closed its doors, she battled depression, anxiety and grief, and retreated from friends and family… to her kitchen.
Out of her year of grieving, however, comes an incredibly personal and beautiful cookbook. Reichl includes the recipes she developed in her year of recovery but also chronicles how her feelings led her to experimenting with different foods and palettes, giving each recipe a very intimate context to be savoured as much as the food itself. This is, in fact, a mood cookbook.
In fact the entire feel of the cookbook is one of comfort; the design trend in the publishing industry for heavy stock paper, matte-and-cloth covers and plentiful but not glossy pictures makes holding the book feel like holding a cozy blanket. And as Reichl works through her grief, the joy she feels in cooking starts trickling back into her seasonal descriptions: “Hot. Hawks dance in the air. Grass prickles. Warm peanut butter and jam on thick white bread. Summertime picnic. Feel about five.” Then, as her cookbook nears completion, her anxiety creeps back but with an air of anticipation for what comes next: “Four a.m. Can’t sleep. Motorcycle screams up the highway. Strange birds chirp. One lonely siren. Hot fudge on vanilla ice cream. Better!”
Let’s face it, we aren’t all of us prepared to tackle spice-rubbed pork cooked in banana leaves, but a diva grilled cheese, or hot fudge? Now we’re talking. Because who can be anxious in the face of hot fudge?
Find My Kitchen Year at the Stratford Public Library (and if you’re lucky, under your Christmas tree).
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