It is a really good feeling when you learn a new skill and produce something from it that people actually want to eat. I can remember when I first mastered making a chocolate cake so gooey and delicious that it beat my favourite shop bought one hands down. It makes you feel really proud and, for foodies and cooks at least, there is nothing more pleasing than serving friends and family and seeing the looks on their faces as they tuck into food you have prepared from scratch. I can only imagine what Jennifer Reese’s guests must have thought the first time she presented them with home aged cheeses and cured bacon. I wonder if they have come to expect it?
She is keen to point out in the afterword that, in her opinion, food companies flatter us by telling us how busy we are and while convincing us that we are helpless. You only have to look at the array of processed, ready-made meals in the supermarkets to see that she is right. I am busy, I know I am not helpless but from time to time I do enjoy the convenience of a ready-made pizza or lasagne even if I do know, in my heart of hearts, that I could do better myself but this book never set out to make anyone of its readers feel guilty about doing that. Its agenda was to show that you can, if you want, make almost anything you like from scratch at home.
She [the author] is happy to admit that this project didn’t save her any money. The cooking part did but any savings were eaten up by the husbandry involved in keeping chickens, goats and other living things. Incidentally, they also ate up most of the garden.
Her final recipe is Skippy’ Apricot Cake. A cake beloved by the family, made by her mother and name sake of a great-aunt. I loved this final recipe because, while great-aunt Skippy got the credit Reese is fairly confident it was created by the Duncan Hines company and actually does involve a bought mix to make it.! Sometimes the best loved foods are not strictly home-made after all.
What will we remember from this book?
Natalie: Aside from “weiner bean pot” which is still making me laugh, I personally enjoyed her tales of keeping chickens and ducks. For years I have wanted my own chickens and had romantic ideas of popping out in the garden each morning for fresh eggs, then sitting down to breakfast at my kitchen table watching them peck up worms and be free. Now I don’t. I don’t think that I could deal with the distruction of my garden and as for ducks; I never knew they could be so vicious. I think I will stick to cats (as pets, not for breakfast). I loved the last recipe as it reminded me of Pheobes (Friends) grandmothers recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies that turned out to be made by Nestle Tollhouse.
Christina: I have to agree, the duck section was also the most memorable for me–for a few reasons. First, it was hilarious. The entire book was well spiced with humor, but this section made me laugh out loud–literally, and more than once:“…the ducks waddled in lock-step formation around the yard, wing to wing, all day, every day, muttering. They were like Hare Krishnas, always chanting in a gang.” Priceless! The other reason I appreciated this section is that the Duck Egg Ravioli recipe gave me the final piece to my ricotta, spinach, and egg ravioli recipe I had been puzzling over–how long to simmer the ravioli in order to cook the pasta without hardcooking the eggs.
Tweets and Interactions
Natalie: Our hashtag (#ediblebooks) got tangled up in another discussion between some college kids who were messing around with book names (I assume as part of a prank) and giving them edible ones. Some of which were really good – Perks of Being a Wall Flour for one, Lord of the Onion Rings and Big MacBeth – they really made me giggle. But all of the interaction has been lovely and much appreciated. I hope it increases with our next book.
Christina: I’m just so pleased with the first month of Edible Books and how interactive it already is. In the last thirty days, we went from two followers (that would be ourselves!) to many really thoughtful, funny, and interesting tweets and comments from readers around the world. To me, one of the most interesting twitter debates of the last month was about slaughtering one’s own meat. Can’t wait to see what the next month brings!
Our Next Book
November’s book choice White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelby is, we hope, going to provoke some interesting discussion topics and interactions, some being provided by the author herself.
If you are new to book club and want to know more then take a look at our participation guidelines. Join our delicious discussion next month on Twitter, don’t forget to use the #ediblebooks hashtag.