Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Homemade Life (Molly Wizenberg)

Molly Wizenberg has a blog. But Molly Wizenberg would probably not like my opening sentence because she doesn't like the word "blog." She also says

I guess you could say that having a blog is a little like the windows of a house I used to live in during my sophomore year of college. I loved opening them wide during the day, so that the smell of the eucalyptus trees outside could drift in and sweep out the rooms. But occasionally I would come home and find a squirrel on my desk. A live squirrel. He would have climbed up the tree outside and jumped in through the window, and now here he was, rifling with his tiny, scratchy claws through whatever he found, tearing up every paper and scrap. Blogging is a little like that. . . . [O]ccasionally you come home and find a squirrel on your desk, so to speak: a nasty comment, maybe, or even worse, something you wrote yourself, probably late at night, when you should have been sleeping, something that makes your cheeks hot.

In A Homemade Life, Wizenberg writes of her family, of her life, and of food. I started reading it in small pieces, right before bed, and near the beginning found myself thinking, you know, I really like the writing, but I'm not sure why this needed to be a book. It was all very nice, but didn't feel that meaningful. But that quickly changed, almost immediately between the end of one chapter, and the beginning of the next, when Wizenberg talks of her father's death from cancer. Then the small parts began to make a larger whole, and it became a great book.

Each small chapter ends with a recipe, and this is the first book I've found that combines narrative and recipes for which I really want to make (and could feasibly make) the recipes. Recipes include dishes such as slow-roasted tomatoes, a chocolate cake she calls "The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake" because it's just that good, and salmon with an apple-cider glaze.

Also, I don't think it would be fitting to write this review without giving some other important information. Molly Wizenberg is half of the duo behind Delancy, a new pizza restaurant in Seattle that has gotten some outstanding press and reviews. The other half of that duo is her husband, Brandon. She met her husband through her blog, while she was in Seattle and he was in New York. They then had a long-distance relationship until Brandon was able to move out to Seattle. Of course I do have incredible bias (given my own story of love), but I also found the story behind that relationship compelling. So, good writing, food, a love interest: what's not to like?

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