Potato Peel Pie and Other Forms Of Sustenance

Warning: This post is not really about food. A stubborn summer cold has influenced me to concentrate on other pursuits, and I'm happy to report the results of this unforeseen dalliance. My weekend, so far:

Food: Banana, handful of berries, 2 pieces dry toast, 2 cups of coffee - the second over ice. My friend Angela points out she prefers tea with a cold, and so do I actually, but I just bought the new Starbucks Pike Place Roast coffee and want to enjoy it while it is really fresh. It does not disappoint.

Friendship: Calls from Amy, Angela and Bonnie. Impending visits, parties, the promise of sunshine and laughter. Solving the worlds problems, or at least taking our usual swing at it.

The Beasts: Lucille, lounging in her place of honor on my outstretched legs. Roz snoring squeakily away on the other chair. The great gray Toby insinuating himself onto my aching chest, curling into a giant lump, wedged firmly between Lucille and the book.

The Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I picked it up on a whim at Books A Million on my thrice-annual (Birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas) trip to secure my mother a gift card. A prolific reader, she soldiers through books one after another, day in and day out. If asked what she's reading she'll seldom summon a title, rather comment "OH, it's really good, what's it called?..." or "Oh its not that good, really, just another (fill in genre) story from (fill in author). I've read all (his or her) books. It's not as good as (fill in title of author's first best seller) though."

My mother used to, once she had started a book, finish it at all costs. Even if it was the most awful dreck, she considered it her literary duty to read it from cover to cover. That habit thankfully has gone by the wayside over the years. And she won't touch a library book, she has to purchase it. Once she's done she'll gladly lend or give it away.

My own literary habit is much like my writing - I'll START any number of books, after a sniff of the cover and quick snippets from a page or two. After that, it better be good, because I've got the attention span of a gnat and I tend to fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow. And unlike my mother, if what I'm reading doesn't entertain me fully, I'll drop it like a hot potato. It's the rare book that draws me completely in, but lately I've been fueling my inner foodie with books by esteemed food writers - most notably the TOME (in the best possible sense of the word) The Art Of Eating - The Collected Gastronomical Works of M. F. K. Fisher, and Ruth Reichle's charming memoirs of growing up "at the table" and beyond - Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me With Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires.

With my taste buds in a tangle from this summer cold, the thought of reading (or writing) about food was far from appetizing. As it turns out, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is just what the doctor ordered. I devoured it heartily in two days, and wept at the conclusion - not because it was sad, but that it had to end. If in fact, as the writers surmise "there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers" this one found its perfect home with me (and millions of others - it is a New York Times Best Seller). Potato Peel Pie turns out to be the perfect accompaniment to dry toast and Pike Roast. If this is even possible, I feel at once sated and ravenous for more.


Sunday Morning ABCs

Sunday morning brings coffee, a warm croissant oozing with melted butter and orange marmalade.

Later my sister and my niece will be over for what has become a Sunday ritual - family dinner and a movie. My mother will try to replicate one of her mother's family favorite dishes from memory, without the luxury of a recipe, because our grandma never used them. This weekend it is red chile pork over rice (for which we have many great recipes in our cookbook collection, just not my grandmother's). It will taste great, but my mom will be dissapointed that it isn't as good as her mother made it, which is exactly how my grandma cooked - trying to recreate what her mother made, and always declaring the results a failure, despite the fact that they were delicious. Which brings us to the ABCs...

A - WRITE IT DOWN, PEOPLE. Whatever the recipe - if it pleases you and your family, please commit it to pen and paper, in a book, on recipe cards, or a digital recipe box that the family can access. These are the dishes of their childhood. Your memory will live on in them. Share them freely with future generations.

B - Acknowledge your own worth as a cook. Whatever the outcome, be happy with your cooking, knowing that it pleases you, your family and friends. If it's your mom's recipe, enjoy it and remember happy times at the table.

C - May your Sunday be as blessed as ours. Plenty of sunshine, our health, a roof over our heads, a loving family, and my grandmother's red chile pork.

So - what's your weekend ritual?