I treated myself to a copy of Molly's new book A Homemade Life recently and devoured it with simple joy and delight within days of it arriving. It is, I have to say, the cookbook/food book I've often dreamed of writing (or one of them anyway). For me recipes are stories. And, I hope I don't come off as crazy by saying that there are many recipes that I cook while repeating a story in my head, almost as though I'm trying to ensure I don't forget its origin, retelling a tale in my head in the oral tradition. My handwritten recipe journal of scraps of paper printed out from the web, handwritten notes, recipes copies from and by friends and newspaper clippings often has notes along these lines as well. Everything from a recipe for black bean soup that came to me via a beloved friend I've now lost touch with (she got it from another friend of hers, who she knew in grad school and the recipe has side notes tracing its origin), to "Mom's souffle" recipe, to the recipe for carrot/cauliflower veloute that my parents had on their kind-of-a-honeymoon in Switzerland. The recipes I've created or acquired as an adult all have similar stories attached to them. Stories that for the most part I keep in my own head, repeating subconsciously each time I cook them to myself.
But this isn't about my neurosis, it's about Molly's lovely book, worthy of much praise. Her stories and life journey, held together with recipes and food meditations offers the reader a little mental journey into someone's life. A life filled with the ups and downs of life, family, joy and tragedy, adventures in Paris, romance and the quotidienne of everyday life. Somewhat ridiculously, I can't speak to any of the recipes as I lent the book out to friend shortly after finishing it, but I regularly use many of Molly's recipes from Orangette (they feature heavily in my scraps of printed out and annotated recipes) and have always enjoyed reading her stories as I add her recipes to my own repetoire. (If you have never made any of Molly's recipes I suggest you start with her Chocolate Apricot Cookie recipe. I can almost guarantee it will win you over and you'll be back for more.)