Thursday, June 26, 2014

Hard Times, Good Times & Great Home Cooking

Some people read cookbooks for the fun of it. They read recipes and think about the ingredients. They may never cook an egg but they like to read about them. How they are cracked and what it means to sizzle bacon or stir lemon sauce. Let's face it, cooking is fascinating. And a book like Alice Kolb's is an invitation to muse on all aspects of process in the kitchen -- and even out of it, on camp-outs, picnics, and road trips. There is something so American about all of this, too, which Alice Long Kolb's easy, family-oriented prose brings out. You can relax into a book like this and read it cover-to-cover for, as I was saying, the fun of it. Or you can really dig into it and make food for your whole family as Alice's mom did back in the 40s, 50s, 60s and then some. This is as much a history of what America in the Southwest (think Texas) was eating as it is a story of Alice's initiation into the family style of cooking that she has become known for. A quilter and lecturer by profession, she also shares her wide knowledge of cooking secrets from paying attention to what Mom did when she didn't have the money to cook lavishly or luxuriantly -- still, as Alice points out, the Longs always had room for two more, or three more, neighbors. That is part of the style and grace of this book. It lets you in on the best secret of the best chefs -- share! For in sharing, there is love. And in love there comes the most delicious food imaginable. Remember Uncle Joe's chile? He made it with love. Love of beans, love of chile,  love of family and friends. As a professional food tester for a natural gas company in Texas, as well as a teacher of "home economics" as we used to call it, Alice cannot be beaten, but her eggs can, and you will enjoy every mouthful of her writing-recipe-goodness. Herein is poetry of phrase about the only range there is -- the one in your kitchen.

Recipes by Alice Long Kolb
Illustrations by Alice Long Kolb
Published by Irie Books
Available from, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million and Ingram 

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