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Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Cook and the Gardener


Lately I've run out of ideas. I don't know if it's that spring slump (sick of winter food, but local produce isn't yet in full swing) or what, but my last attempt at market basket cooking resulted in a grayish fennel bulb, anasazi bean, soba noodle salad no one here wanted to eat. I need reinforcements. It's time to start using recipes again.

I mentioned the other day that my birthday actually lasts for a month; welcome to May, also known as Adriana Month. Oh the joys -- for everyone! I've already gotten myself a birthday treat, a copy of The Cook and the Gardener, by Amanda Hesser.

Hesser enjoyed a spectacularly successful early career as a food writer. After culinary school and France, a stint as a personal chef in the South of France and another in Mexico, and them BOOM, she's a food editor at the New York Times. Some of you may remember her charming column in the NY Times Magazine.

By the time her second book, Cooking for Mr. Latte (Mr. Latte is her husband, New Yorker writer Tad Friend), was published there was a bit of a Hesser backlash going on. I'm sure some of it was professional jealousy. Certainly an article about her and Tad testing out Segways through Paris didn't help (Amanda, please, not in Paris!) Some thought Mr. Latte, though culled from her Times Magazine column, was too focused on Hesser's own celebrity-hood, too filled with name-dropping and high-end dining. I wouldn't know -- I never read it, and I admit, I was dissuaded from reading it by the negative reviews.

In fact, I'd quite forgotten about her until I heard the news recently that she was leaving the Times, though she is still writing "Recipe Redux" articles for the magazine and will have two new Times-related books out soon. Oh yeah, and she's starting an Internet "digital aggregator" business and has twins. All this to say I suddenly pulled my head out of the veggie drawer and said, "oh yeah, wasn't I going to read that Cook and Gardener book someday? That would really come in handy about now."

It's a gorgeous book, by the way, with lovely illustrations, and organized by season, of course. I already love it for her crisp, clear recipes and just-right recipes. The other night I made a potato tart and a watercress and lettuce soup. Both were delicious, not too time-consuming, and perfect for spring. So that's going to be my bible for the foreseeable future -- I'm cooking from that book as much as possible.

By the way, my laptop has been mended and is on its way home! You will soon see pictures of dinner on my blog again -- for better or worse.

2 comments:

MissGinsu said...

Ugh. I just tried out a random recipe that sounded suspicious and, sadly, the result was very sad-making. Should've listened to my intuition. Good for you for finding some fresh inspiration that's paying off.

sylvia/ticklethepear said...

I read it. It was OK - a little too self-conscious for me. Yes, we know you're lucky to be young, well-off, educated, and happily employed in NYC.