Reading Challenge | Book Five

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A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

“You’re ready to marry someone, I figure, if you’re willing to go into debt with him.”

It’s time to discuss the fifth book in my reading challenge! I chose Molly Wizenberg’s first memoir, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table for the book I’ve been meaning to read. Initially, I was reading from a loaned copy but within the first 15 pages I realized I wanted to own it. My flight to California for our road trip, was a few days away, so I quickly purchased a used copy on Amazon and shipped it to where Jordan was staying!

Molly is a two-time author, food blogger at Orangette, (circa 2004!), and podcaster. During the summer of 2014, I read Delancey, Molly’s second book. Delancey follows the opening of Molly and her husband’s pizza parlor in Seattle. But let’s not digress, we’re here to chat about A Homemade Life.

“I don’t know how you can possibly eat right now,” someone said. I don’t know what I answered. “I even don’t know if I answered. I just ate. I don’t think Burg [her father] would have minded. He would have taken a bite himself, if he could.”

A Homemade Life is Molly’s love letter to Paris, chocolate cake, and her father. Molly writes openly and honestly, all while inviting you in to some of the most tender moments of her life. Her father, Burg, loved cooking and sadly passed away from cancer when she was in her early twenties. This experience shaped the path for the rest of her life.

The book is written somewhat sequentially. She steers us beginning in her childhood to young adulthood to meeting her husband and ending at their wedding. Each chapter features at least one recipe that goes with the particular story she is sharing. The personal connection to recipes and how sharing food connects us to the people in our lives is why I enjoy food memoirs!

“I don’t like being told what to do. In fact, when I see this page in a cookbook, [how to use the recipes in this book] I usually skip right over it. Of course, as a result, I’ve messed up quite a number of recipes.”

Molly’s recipes are simple, mostly seasonal and with a vegetarian bent. I’ve never seen fennel bulbs used more in a salad. I’ve never even thought about fennel bulbs, but now I want to eat them everyday.

Have you read either of Molly’s books?

12 thoughts on “Reading Challenge | Book Five”

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Catherine. This might be sort of a weird question, but I have a friend who just lost her dad. She is only 24. You mention that the author writes about losing her dad in her twenties as well. Do you think this would make a good gift with that in mind? Thanks!

  2. I love when there are personal stories and connections in food books. This book sounds like it’s very touching, and that there are a lot of great recipes. I’ve never been sure how to use fennel!

  3. I had this on my potential pre-Paris reading list, but I read the Paris cooking memoir The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry instead – it was great! But now I think I need to get back to this one… Her second book sounds great too. I don’t read much nonfiction, but if I do, this is my type!

  4. Reading Take This Bread by Sara Miles. This is a food memoir of a special Jesusy kind, centering around the Eucharist. It’s delectable. The other day I caught myself standing at the stove, ladle in one hand mindlessly stirring a soup while reading the book in the other hand. I thought it was maybe the ideal way to read it.

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