For Christmas this past year, I gave myself Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life. It is a memoir/cookbook. The year Reichl is referring to is the year after Condé Nast closed the iconic Gourmet magazine. I just finished reading her Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir about her career at the magazine. She is a fascinating woman and has had a great career combining writing and cooking- the two best things in the world in my opinion. Reichl was a food critic in NYC and LA before becoming editor in chief for ten years at Gourmet magazine. She has written several books which have all been fun to read. There are always recipes in her books which I think is delightful.
The staff at Gourmet was not expecting the magazine to close when it did. They were in the process of changing some key positions, but no one really thought the situation was as dire as it was. It was during the Great Recession or The Crash of ‘08 as we refer to it at my house. Lots of publications and lives were crashing during that time. Reichl’s life was one of them. Food and community around the table can be healing, and so My Kitchen Year tells that story along with fabulous recipes. The very first recipe I tried was Buttermilk Potatoes with Brown Butter. I mean, who wouldn’t?
I really relate to what Reichl writes in My Kitchen Year, “And so I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened: I disappeared into the kitchen…I still believe, to the core of my being, that when you pay attention, cooking becomes a kind of meditation…I learned the secret of life is finding joy in ordinary things.” Amen to that, Ruth! This is especially true these days with so many of us home due to the Coronavirus. I just read a great quote by Mike A. Lancaster: “In extraordinary times, the ordinary takes on a glow and wonder all of its own.”
So curl up with a cup of tea with either book, or better- both books and let your creative juices flow as you ponder her recipes. The photography in My Kitchen Year is superb, thanks to Mikkel Vang. It isn’t slick and styled. It’s real. Real food on Ruth’s real table. It’s refreshing. Read and then rattle some pots and pans!