Old Reliable

I didn’t learn to cook until I was in college. In my sophomore year, I signed up to bake for the Hungry Newt, a student-run coffee joint in the basement of one of the old frat houses.

I quickly realized that I had no idea what I was doing. Despite being the granddaughter and daughter of very competent cooks, I had absorbed nothing. I needed help. I needed a guide to the mystic culinary arts. I bought this:


I wish I’d gotten a first edition, which features Saint Martha of Bethany slaying the dragon of kitchen drudgery (I kid you not):

Back, beast!

I read large portions of it like a novel, finally grasping the nuts and bolts of cooking. Because of my baking gig, I ran through the cookies section first. I began to see patterns – with cookies, for example, you usually start by creaming butter and sugar together (this was a revelation at the time). It was one part chemistry, one part Potions.

While I have become pretty confident in the kitchen, I still refer to the Joy of Cooking. At Christmas, I sought its advice on roasting a whole beef tenderloin. And last Sunday, I checked how long an egg needed to poach:


I love the language – “Swirl the water into a mad vortex”! Delightful.

This book will always have a place on my shelf.


Nom nom nom.


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One response to “Old Reliable

  1. Lisa

    I received that cookbook as a wedding gift, but it seemed rather intimidating, perhaps because of its size. Maybe I’ll go back now and try it again. I, too, want knowledge such as “swirling the water into a mad vortex”!

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