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Laurie Colwin favorites


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The demise of Gourmet made me think of Laurie Colwin, who used to write a monthly column until she died, tragically early. She was primarily a fiction writer who loved to cook. After the news that Gourmet was no more, I pulled my dusty 'More Home Cooking' from the bookshelf and cuddled up in bed with it. I have been reading several chapters a night and I sleep better for it. Laurie is an essayist with some wonderful eclectic recipes. No one today writes like her and her recipes are true. I have made several in the past and they are just perfect.

There is no one like her.

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I still have the gingerbread article I clipped a zillion years ago. Every time I make her recipe for Damp Gingerbread I read the whole article. She's got rhythm. And it's the absolute best gingerbread on earth: no molasses, just Lyle's Golden Syrup. Damp it is. Her words and the experience of this cake are a perfect package. Love you, Laurie Colwin.

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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I feel the same way. I loved the first Home Cooking and always intended to write to her, although I rarely send letters to authors of any kind. Her writing touched something inside that made her seem like a friend.

Then I picked up More Home Cooking in my local book store and saw that the copyright was to her estate.

I felt like I had missed a chance and a light had gone out somewhere in the world.

I made her Black Cake recipe, partly because I loved the story about it.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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another laurie colwin fan here. i have lost track of the number of copies of both books i've given as gifts, and while it always pains me a little to see them on the "bargain shelf" at a bookstore, i never fail to pick them up. there's always someone new to introduce to her. i recall reading in gourmet some time back that her daughter is a writer, too. (in fact, i believe i had a letter to the editor published in the following issue, applauding and thanking gourmet for republishing the article.) i think i'll pour a nice glass of syrah, and snuggle in with "more home cooking" tonight. cheers, laurie and laurie lovers.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Her essay (I think it's in More Home Cooking) on bad dinner parties is one of the best pieces of writing about food that I've ever read. As is her essay about her first kitchen.

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These all sound like excellent recommendations. Did she generally include recipes in with her essays, generally? I love food writing that does, it gives me a feeling of being able to play along with the writer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's great to see that there are lots of Laurie Colwin fans out there. I have purchased many copies of Home Cooking and More Home Cooking for friends and family. She reads like an old friend and, I too, adore her Damp Gingerbread recipe. I always laugh at her roasted chicken essay.

Several years ago I lost both copies of her books during a flood but, thankfully, I was able to repurchase them. Plus I have found copies on amazon.com.

Tonight would be an excellent night to cuddle up under my blankie with these two favorite books.

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I do the same thing sometimes- curl up with the set and just page through, even though I've read them so many times before. When people ask about a recipe that came from one of the volumes, my instinct is to say that it came from a friend rather than a book.

Nakji, sometimes she will include specific recipes in prose style....but often she talks of techniques, methods or dishes without specific measurements. I think this is part of the beauty of her writing- her tone shows an appreciation for the nebulous process and personal stories behind the end result as much as anything.

Several dishes I still make that are rooted in her writing are:

-sauteed zucchini nesting a poached egg on top

-tomato pie

-boiled beef

-lentil soup

-UNTRUSSED roast chicken :wink:

-baked chicken with polenta and broccoli rabe

-chocolate cake (I think it came from her friend Karen? One from the collection of chocolate cake recipes, it's the one with lots of cocoa...and the essay taught be about how cocoa's flavor needs to bloom with time in order to taste most chocolatey.)

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I have four books that are always on the nightstand.

My Enemy the Queen by Victoria Holt

A Woman of Independant Means by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey

and both Laurie Colwin Home Cooking/More Home Cooking books.

I vividly remember the day I received the Gourmet issue that told of her death, and that she had submitted all her essays for the coming year in advance. It was always the first thing I turned to in the magazine and when the columns stopped, the magazine lost a little luster for me. I may not touch the novels for months, years even; but I am always able to pick up and read a few essays before turning off the light and feeling like I have had a conversation with an old, dear friend. I've used so many of her recipes/ideas....

Funny thing that I've never read her other works, though. Maybe I should ...

Edited by JeanneCake (log)
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I bought 'Home Cooking' at Bonnie Slotnick cookbooks in New York.

After being inspired by her rapturous description of black cake at the end of the book, we made it ourselves. We liked it so much that we made our own black cake for our wedding cake.

Thanks, Laurie

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The front page of the "New York Tines" is always studded with bad news, but the only time it made me sob was when I read about Laurie Colwin's death. Her food writing was superb --and I've recommended and gifted my friends with "Home Cooking" more times than I can remember. She was a distinctive food writer par excellence.

I'm putting in a plug here for her novels and short stories. "Family Happiness." "Passion and Affect." and many others. She was a great writer period paragraph. and food was present in all her fiction.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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  • 3 weeks later...

These all sound like excellent recommendations. Did she generally include recipes in with her essays, generally? I love food writing that does, it gives me a feeling of being able to play along with the writer.

She often includes a recipe, or at least some instructions on how to make the dish she's talking about. I'd be careful about following them, though -- they often seem to be off in major ways. For instance, for some reason she seems to think that anything with beef -- soup, stew or braised pot roast -- needs no salt. If you already know your way around the kitchen, you could figure out what needs to be done to make the recipes work, but those who don't should steer clear. Read her essays, skip the recipes.

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  • 2 months later...

The demise of Gourmet made me think of Laurie Colwin, who used to write a monthly column until she died, tragically early. She was primarily a fiction writer who loved to cook. After the news that Gourmet was no more, I pulled my dusty 'More Home Cooking' from the bookshelf and cuddled up in bed with it. I have been reading several chapters a night and I sleep better for it. Laurie is an essayist with some wonderful eclectic recipes. No one today writes like her and her recipes are true. I have made several in the past and they are just perfect.

There is no one like her.

Is Laurie Colwin's books available in the Bookstores? I would love to read her recipe books to gather pertinent information and make it as a reference for my essay writing project. My essay is about writing recipes even though I do not have the talent in cooking...that's why I am willing to learn this time.

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They are available through Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Home-Cooking-Kitchen-Laurie-Colwin/dp/0060955309

or here: http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?S=R&wauth=Laurie+Colwin&siteID=1JSk6CbYEf0-Twurg2F4zxwmzMqB65ixvg

or ABE bookshttp://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Laurie+Colwin&bi=0&bx=off&ds=30&recentlyadded=all&sortby=17&sts=t&tn=Home+cooking&x=0&y=0

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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  • 11 years later...

Vintage and Harper Perennial are reissuing her work, including “Home Cooking,” “More Home Cooking,” and all her fiction. I cut out all her Gourmet articles when I pitched my collection. New Yorker October 11, 2021 quote reflecting her honesty: Colwin’s fans often gush about her anti-perfectionism in the kitchen. And it is true that Colwin is a generous apologist for gloppy casseroles and grainy fondues. She recalls an evening when she made a pasta so gluey that even her husband’s stoned friend noticed something was off. “Wouldn’t it be groovy if we could dump this whatever it is in the garbage and go out for dinner?” he wondered. (Colwin agreed.)  

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"Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant," from the same-named compendium of essays, was the first piece I read of hers. 

Edited by Alex (log)
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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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