In the High Peaks

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A New Cookbook and Other Pursuits

The piano tuner arrived today to save me from the piano's rapid descent into out-of-tune-ness. He reminded me, urgently, to purchase a humidifier immediately, and I absolutely will. He told me to never put a cup full of coffee or  tea on the convenient resting places  on the piano, and I have obeyed him unreservedly. I wouldn't dare go against his dictates, truly! After he left, I played for a couple of hours, almost entirely holiday-inspired music. Sandy adores the piano. She sleeps on a dog bed by the piano's side whenever I play. Isn't it wonderful to have some tranquil moments in yet another crazy year?

Books!  I am in the final minutes of listening to Home Work: My Years in Hollywood by Julie Andrews, knitting alongside throughout. I have enjoyed it, but I must say that I most appreciated the chapters that discussed everything about the 1960s movies she starred in and the stories from that decade.

I had the most wonderful time visiting two bookstores last Friday when I had to travel to Albany for a  medical appointment. I will tell you honestly: I enjoyed having the opportunity to gift myself as well as others. Most likely this is because I haven't had the chance to shop in a bookstore for over three months. And I do hope I'm not the only one who does this in December. Do confess if you find yourself plucking up gifts for yourself as you do the rounds! 
I was at The Book House in Albany, an independent bookstore, and found two extraordinary nature titles for my collection. I also purchased the brand new The Joy of Cooking (2019). This was a big gift for me. This new edition is amazing! It's the product of John Becker and his wife Megan Scott. John Becker is the great-grandson of the original author Irma Rombauer. And for the very first time this team tested every recipe published in the book!
I remember how shocked I was to learn, many years ago now, that the authors of The Joy of Cooking , in various editions, even in the first one, did not test every recipe. What?!? How could that be?
I still have the 1974 edition (not the first), which I used a great deal in my twenties and thirties (still feel attached to it), and I have the one published in the late 1990s. And now the 2019 edition, which I love!! Lots of new recipes and loads of totally revised older recipes that reflect ingredients and cooking styles available today. It is huge--a compendium--at nearly 1200 pages. Lots and lots of international recipes. 
I've made a vow to cook two new recipes each week going forward, not necessarily out of this cookbook, but in general.
Are you cooking during the holiday, by any chance? Please let us know.

I have not been reading books. And I must. Going forward, I must. I need to. I need to start a book that interests me, set aside time to read (doesn't have to be a long time), and stick to it. I have countless, yes countless books in the house that I want to read, so tomorrow, Wednesday, I will indeed set aside 45 minutes to just  sit and read a book I've been wanting to read.  DONE! I will let you know very, very soon which book I've chosen.


  1. I also am a fan of The Joy of Cooking. I think that the 1974 edition is the most popular one that is out there. Romnauer was kind of snooty but was very readable. I might pick up the new edition..

    Visiting bookstores is one of the great joys in life.

    1. Hi Brian,
      I agree that the 1974 Joy of Cooking was a great edition. As some of my other friends have said, "Know Your Ingredients" is my favorite chapter in that book.
      And I'm so glad you agree about visiting bookstores. Most of my books I order online. That's because the nearest bookstore of any description (Barnes and Noble)is 57 miles away. Because I don't get to one often, I go on a vast SPLURGE when I do finally make it to one. My last visit before last Friday's was to the incomparable independent bookstore in Lake Placid in mid-September. I think I spent $120 there happily, knowing I didn't gift myself on my birthday. I felt happy giving the only independent bookstore in the Adirondacks the business, but it is an incredible bookstore, I think. If you are up north, you'll agree, I'm sure.

  2. I love The Book House! A trip to Albany is not complete without a visit. In fact, it's a treat to visit independent bookstores wherever we go!

    Two new recipes each week is very ambitious - even in the best of times I rarely try more than one. We are still finalizing holiday menus... will wait until the girls arrive for their stamps of approval. Hope you share some of your successes!

    1. Hi JoAnn,
      I'm so glad to hear you share a fondness for The Book House. I have to limit the amount of time I spend within its doors because I could very easily impulse-purchase the whole store! Such knowledgeable and friendly booksellers, too.
      As for recipes: I stick to the easier ones most of the time. For instance, this week I tried an oven-baked "fried" haddock dish, based on a recipe in Joy and incorporating a few new ingredients to my standard baked "fried" white fish dish. Ken and I appreciated the additions. So I'm counting that, you see, which is not such a big deal.
      I'm trying their suggestions for a Quiche Lorraine tomorrow night. I've made it before, but I will try Joy's ideas and a few hints from a great cook in North Creek, all of which I haven't tried yet. I have made this quiche before, but never with a puff pastry, which I will try.

  3. It is very hard to enter any book story with out buying at least SOMETHING. I have been successful at this before but it doesn't happen too often!

    I am not much of a cook. I did just get my oven fixed, however, so I have done some baking which I do enjoy when I get round to it. I think mostly I like baking because I like eating the results so much (sweet tooth here).

    1. Hi Ruthiella,
      I'm so glad your oven is working again. Baking is a delight. I haven't baked anything since last Christmas. But I will be baking in the next few days. I bake Ken's favorite cookies and I hope to bake a French apple cake that I made last year OR maybe a partially chocolate cake of some sort. Hmmm...haven't decided. Maybe a chocolate cake with whipped cream.
      Speaking of sweet tooths, Ken's is enormous, but somehow or other I've lost mine over the years. How did that happen?