Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Current Reading: Kitchen Yarns by Ann Hood


Introduction
I grew up eating. A lot. As the great food writer M.F.K. Fisher said, "First we eat, then we do everything else." That describes my childhood home. In my mind, my Italian grandmother, Mama Rose, was always cooking. We lived with her in the house she moved to with her parents when they came from Conca Della Compania, a small, mountainous town an hour and a world away from Naples, Italy, to West Warwick, Rhode Island. When I was young, Mama Rose and her mother Nonna, kept an enormous garden in the backyard, and they would sit on summer afternoons and snap the ends off string beans (served cold with garlic and mint), press tomatoes into sauce, pickle red and green peppers for the Christmas antipasto. We had fruit trees - Seckel pear, cherry, apple, fig - and blueberry and raspberry bushes.  They raised rabbits and chickens too. More than once a beloved white bunny - Snowball, Snowflake, Snowy - disappeared from its cage only for us to have funny-tasting "chicken" that night at dinner.

Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food
by Ann Hood

After discovering Ann Hood earlier this winter through her nonfiction book, Morningstar: Growing Up With Books, I couldn't wait to read her newest title... especially after several blogging friends rated it highly. My library hold finally arrived and I started reading last night. This is already shaping up to be another winner.

Here's the goodreads summary:
From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at making pesto, taught her children how to make their favorite potatoes, found hope in her daughter’s omelet after a divorce, and fell in love again—with both her husband and his foolproof chicken stock. 
Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few). In “Carbonara Quest,” searching for the perfect spaghetti helped her cope with lonely nights as a flight attendant. In the award-winning essay The Golden Silver Palate, she recounts the history of her fail-safe dinner party recipe for Chicken Marbella—and how it did fail her when she was falling in love. Hood’s simple, comforting recipes also include her mother’s famous meatballs, hearty Italian Beef Stew, classic Indiana Fried Chicken, the perfect grilled cheese, and a deliciously summery peach pie. 
With Hood’s signature humor and tenderness, Kitchen Yarns spills tales of loss and starting from scratch, family love and feasts with friends, and how the perfect meal is one that tastes like home.

What do you think? Are you tempted to continue?


First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intro is hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach.



32 comments:

  1. I have this one on my list. I love Ann Hood's writing. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - This is my second nonfiction by Hood, but I haven't tried her novels yet.

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  2. I'm going to give this one a go. Thanks! Will you be bringing this on over to Books You Loved; April? Cheers from carole's chatter

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  3. I'm guessing this is the type of book to have with a treat or two next to you! Cute cover too.

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    1. Iliana - Think I'll pull some banana bread out of the freezer. Thanks for the suggestion ;-)

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  4. I just got an email today letting me know it's waiting for me at the library.

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  5. I think you'll enjoy it! I hope so!

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  6. JoAnn,
    I would definitely pick this one up. Though I do wish Ken were a more enthusiastic eater of new dishes. I keep wanting to try a Carbonara, and he does a thumbs-down. You know, I should just make it one day, adding an ingredient or two that might make it more tempting for him. (Anyway, this sounds like a fantastic book.)

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    1. Judith - I'm very lucky in that respect... my husband will try any recipe once. The book is very good so far.

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  7. I'll come back and read this after I've read the book. I requested it from the library via ILL, but they decided to buy a copy, and I will be the first reader!

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    1. Nan - Lucky you! I think you'll enjoy this one, too.

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  8. I have this from the library, and I really need to read it, because I don't think they're going to let me renew it. (The story of my library life.)

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    1. Lisa - How well I understand that problem! I had the physical book about a month ago and couldn't get to it in time... this time it's the ebook ;-)

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  9. I like the writing style in the opening paragraph. I hope you continue to enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by Girl Who Reads.

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    1. Girl Who Reads - Seems like my kind of book so far.

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  10. I've seen this book around. It looks good.

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  11. Read it, loved it, blogged about it. It's a keeper!

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    1. Les - You're one of those "blogging friends" mentioned above! ;-)

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  12. For sure. I am adding this to my list. My mother was a horrible cook but my grandmother, who was really a monster to me in all honestly, could cook her butt off when it came to Italian Sunday "gravy". I got all my cooking skills from her even though she was hardly around me.

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    1. Ti - My Italian grandparents have been gone for many years, but my family still continues the Sunday dinner tradition. I'm still doing a modified version here in Florida :)

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  13. This sounds like an interesting read. I love foodie books but it's been so long since I read any.

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    1. Katherine - I like foodie books, too, and it seems like a long time since I read one.

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  14. OMG...I am so tempted...going to the library right now to find it...I am so sold that I might have to buy it! I didn’t know you were of Italian ancestry! So am I ! My Italian grandma’s house had two kitchens...one in the basement that opened up to an arbor and a huge Italian outdoor oven! Everyone would sit outside and eat her Sunday dinners! I loved it!

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    1. Patty - This book is so you! I'm half Italian and my Italian-immigrant grandparent's home had two kitchen, too. We called one the "back room"... when I was a girl, their whole backyard was a garden. Tomatoes, peppers, beans, herbs.... even grape vines! No outdoor ovens though. My family up in NY continues the Sunday dinner tradition. When we are in FL, I still do a variation of it, but it's rarely pasta and sauce. We have my FIL and any visiting relatives for what we started out calling Farmer's Market dinner, but now it's pretty much whatever I decide to cook;-)

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  15. Oh yes, this is a book I want to read. Off to look for a copy!

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    1. Deb - Hope you can find it... seems well worth the read!

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  16. I really liked this collection -- it was good on audio too. Some of it was repetitious, but that's because it was a collection of essays, not a memoir.

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    1. Beth F - I'm just reading now, but will check to see if the audio is available at my library. Thanks for the tip!

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