Home Cooking, a writer in the kitchen

A few weeks ago, we joined The Kitchen Reader/ A Food-related book club. This is our first experience in an online book club, and we received a warm welcome along with our first mission: to read and write a post about the book Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin. What does this have to do with Peruvian food, you may ask? Well, not a lot, but we like to diversify every now and then and keep surprising you! As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m book-obsessed, and even more so when it relates to cooking, so I’m sharing a bit of my world with you here. I hope you enjoy it.

So on to the review. This is not a cookbook in the strict sense of the word but a collection of essays about food and cooking. Laurie doesn´t teach techniques but gives us some recipes and some sketches of them. In addition, we have stories, anecdotes, and descriptions about funny experiences the author had sometime in her life. Written in a talkative way, it is like having an amusing conversation with your best friend, sharing laughs, and just having a good time over a cup of coffee. It´s the book equivalent of comfort food: comfort reading.

These are some of the chapters that captured my attention because they happen all the time and most people can relate to them:

Alone in the kitchen with an eggplant, narrates the adventure of living in a closet-size apartment, the social life that takes place in this tiny location, the many hilarious experiences she has there and her unconditional love for eggplants, which she tells us, is her favorite vegetable in the world. I had fun with the idea of cooking for others without a kitchen and using the bathtub as a sink.

Feeding the fussy, a humorous chapter about every host’s nightmare: people in your party who have allergies, nutritional phobias, weird dietary habits, and so on. Is it appropriate to call your guests to ask them –in the form of a survey- what they can or can´t eat?

Feeding the multitudes, where you learn that it’s not the same to cook for a small party than to cook for an army. Strangely, the author loves cooking for big crowds. It’s not easy, but with good organizational skills she’s able to prepare food for enormous amounts of people.

Red peppers. I could smell the peppers while reading this chapter –and almost taste them- because Laurie seems to love them so much that her description of the veggies and of eating them raw straight from the bag is incredibly vivid and colorful.

Kitchen horrors.Yes, all of us have had to face the inevitable havoc in the kitchen, despite our skills and talents. I couldn´t help but smile at the story about the solid brick brownie because the same happened to me, many years ago, with another dessert. It was a cornflake ring, held together with a white sugar caramel. I had brown sugar and decided to give it a try. Oh my! It turned hard as a stone, impossible to cut (or to eat). I learned to stick to the recipe and not change anything, because I didn’t have any cooking skills whatsoever.

Repulsive dinners: a memoir. Every once in a while we have to attend a dinner invitation by a cheap host, or by one who wants to use us as her guinea pigs, testing “medieval” recipes, as the author calls them, or the likes. Luckily, it’s nothing that can’t be solved with a pizza in our way back home!

The recipes: I tried Sautéed Vegetables and Poached Eggs in One Pot. Really quick, easy and delicious. You can make it as simple or complex as you want, depending on the veggies you have at hand. I also prepared the Orange Ambrosia, an old-time refreshing and light dessert that can be served as breakfast as well (without the Bourbon or Cointreau). The Baked Chicken with Polenta and Broccoli Rabe is very good too, even though it involves the prep of three recipes. I added goats cheese and herbs to the polenta, just because I like it like that.

This book was selected by Sarah of http://simplycooked.blogspot.com/

For: http://thekitchenreader.wordpress.com


  1. This sounds like a fun read – will have to put this on my list.

  2. It sounds fun. I’m attracted to the “Feeding the Fussy” chapter.

  3. “Alone in the kitchen with an eggplant” sounds like my life! But the eggplant would be replaced with pastelitos lol. Sounds like a great book. Exciting about the online book club as well!

  4. A collection of essays about food and cooking sounds divine. The chapter the captured my attention is the Peppers chapter. When I read recipes I also smell the recipes, especially if they are using spices. Thank you for introducing us to this wonderful book.

  5. An online food book club…that is fabulous.
    You guys should use the Hangout on Google+ to talk food y libros.

    The book sounds delicious.

  6. Sounds like you enjoyed the book as much as I did! Glad to have found your blog through our membership in The Kitchen Reader!

  7. I found it really funny that Colwin described her small apartment as “a little larger than the Columbia Encyclopedia“! She had some great one-liners and I found myself chuckling quite a lot.

    I agree about the veggies and poached egg recipe – easy and a perfect lunch for one!

  8. We highlighted the same chapters! I especially loved “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant.” Though I haven’t tried out any of the ideas she gave for preparing eggplant, I certainly plan to! Great review. 🙂

    • Thanks, Stephanie. It´s a good idea to try different ways to prepare eggplant. I like to roast it in the oven and sometimes make a moussaka, or a purée with tahini and spices. I love it.

  9. Hi there

    I enjoyed the book too and thought your description of it as ‘comfort reading’ summed it up perfectly!

    I have the veggies and egg recipe on my list to try too – I am usually just cooking for one during the week and that sounds a perfect quick dinner that uses whatever veg I have to hand. However I don’t remember the orange ambrosia so I’ll have to look that up again.


    • Hi Lucy. That recipe is not only easy, but fast, low fat and delicious, with crusty bread… especially for a solo dinner. And the Orange Ambrosia for dessert couldn´t be easier. Thanks for your comment.

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