Summer Reading-Recipe for Disaster, Stacey Ballis



Confession time-I have an addiction to renovation shows. My current favourite is Fixer Upper but truly, I love them all. I also love cooking shows, not so much the contest ones but following a home cook in their own kitchen. Pioneer Woman is particularly fascinating because I understand that she started with a food blog just like me. Recently I found a book that combines both my loves. Recipe for Disaster is the story of Anneke as she is forced (due to a lost job and a break up with her chef boyfriend) to live in as she renovates a historic home in Chicago. I was on my way to Chicago so it was serendipitous. As she is demolishing the kitchen she finds the notes and recipes of the house cook that was once employed in the grand old home. She uses the culinary journal to teach herself how to cook. She also relies on the diary to provide practical advice concerning her complicated life. I found this aspect of the novel to be a wee bit hooky, but because I was dawn to both subject matters, overall I enjoyed the read a great deal. Here are a couple of culinary excerpts:

At the end of the day, the difference between being a cook and just cooking is your ability to assess your resources, and make something out of nothing. Any fool can follow a recipe and end up with something edible. But until you can open the larder and see a dish come together in your head, till you have an innate sense of what flavours are good friends, you are just cooking. You cannot call yourself a true cook. Page 240 Used without permission.

I whole heartedly agree with this notion. I feel like a bona fide cook each time I prepare a dish that we call Refrigerator Soup in our house. I typically start with a mire proix, add some stock and then start chopping and throwing things into the pot.

Bread is the staff of life. If you can take, water, yeast, salt and flour and make it into bread, you will never starve. And if you find some skill with it, a loaf and a lump of sweet butter, maybe a jar of preserves, that is a feast worthy of any king. You can be a very good cook without serious skills in pastry art, as long as you can throw together a simple biscuit or cake to end a meal sweetly. There are quality goods in cans and jars available for sale or trade with neighbours, so if you don’t need to stock a cellar for survivial, you don’t necessarily need to can or preserve. But you cannot be a good cook if you cannot put forth a decent loaf of bread. Sometimes, when the stomach is tender, bread is all one can manage to eat, and sometimes when the heart is, it is all one can manage to cook. Page 299 Used without permission.

My Momma patiently taught me how to make bread- a tradition that I hope to pass along to my girls.

I understand that Ballis has a number of culinary themed novels under her belt. Stay tuned, as I read through the collection and mark the pages of some exceptionally fun quotes.

Kath’s quote: “I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.”
Stacey Ballis

New York 15-Isla 16 301

Love never fails.


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