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At first, it wasn't clear where this epiphany might lead. Like her long letters home describing the details of every meal and market, Molly's blog Orangette started out merely as a pleasant pastime. But it wasn't long before her writing and recipes developed an international following. Every week, devoted readers logged on to find out what Molly was cooking, eating, reading, and thinking, and it seemed she had finally found her passion. But the story wasn't over: one reader in particular, a curly-haired, food-loving composer from New York, found himself enchanted by the redhead in Seattle, and their email correspondence blossomed into a long-distance romance.
In A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, Molly Wizenberg recounts a life with the kitchen at its center. From her mother's pound cake, a staple of summer picnics during her childhood in Oklahoma, to the eggs she cooked for her father during the weeks before his death, food and memories are intimately entwined. You won't be able to decide whether to curl up and sink into the story or to head straight to the market to fill your basket with ingredients for Cider-Glazed Salmon and Pistachio Cake with Honeyed Apricots.
Explore the reading group guide for A Homemade Life.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your life since publishing A Homemade Life? Have there been any special projects, meals, or recipes? Does Seattle still feel like home for both you and Brandon?
A: It's been busy around here, to say the least! In August of 2009, Brandon and I opened a restaurant. It's called Delancey, and it's in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It's a Brooklynstyle wood-fired pizzeria, inspired by all the great pies that Brandon grew up eating in New York and New Jersey. A restaurant is probably the last thing that anyone expected of us, given that Brandon is a musician by training, and that I've written quite a bit about how much I dislike (!) working in a restaurant kitchen, but what can you do? He makes a killer pizza. I'm so proud of him.
Q: Do you still enjoy writing your blog, Orangette? Has it changed since you began it in 2004?
A: I love writing for the blog. Probably more than ever, actually. The blog is where I can be the most spontaneous in my writing, where I can really play. It's also an incredible community. I'm continually blown away by the conversations that crop up in comments, by the people that I've met, by the way it has completely reshaped my life over the past six years. It sounds cheesy, but I mean every word.
Q: At your book events or through your blog, do readers ever share their own food stories with you? Does one of these stand out in particular?
A: Absolutely. Talking with readers and hearing their stories has been my favorite part of book events. When I write, I feel as though I'm having a conversation with my readers--only, the thing is, I never actually get to see their faces or hear their voices. Book events give me that chance, and I'm so grateful for it. The fact that food gives us a common ground to meet on, that it gives us something to share--that's what it's all about. Now I'm really sounding cheesy.
Q: Does Paris continue to be a special place for you? Have you been back since the publication of your book?
A: Paris will always be a special place for me. I haven't been back since the book came out--this year was so busy!--but Brandon and I are hoping to steal away for a trip sometime in 2010. I miss it.
Q: List three items that are in your refrigerator right now, and what significance they have for you.
A: Peanut butter--it's not glamorous, but I could eat it every day. I'm pretty sure my body is at least 75 percent peanut butter.
Maple syrup--this particular jug of syrup was given to me by one of my readers. It came from her trees in upstate New York, and it's fantastic. I don't think there could possibly be a better present than maple syrup from your very own trees.
Apples from the farmers' market--one of the best parts of living in Washington! There's one stand in particular that has lots of heirloom apples, and they have the best names. Right now, I've got a couple of Black Twigs, one Gold Rush, and a couple of Waltanas.
Q: In A Homemade Life you write about both of your parents, but there seem to be more stories about your father and his outsized personality. Is there a reason for this?
A: I needed to write about my father. There were so many details and moments and stories that made up who he was to me, and I didn't want to forget. I needed to write about him to assure myself that I would remember. But I also needed to write about him so that I could start to let go of some of the harder moments of his illness and his death. In putting them down on paper, I got to take them out of my head and store them somewhere else. I didn't know it until I was deep into the book, but I still had a lot of grieving to do, and writing helped me to do it.
Q: Has your relationship with your mother changed in the years since the death of your father?
A: We were always close, and we still are. But we've become more intentional about spending time together. It's not easy, since we live far apart, but every year, the two of us go away together, just for a few days, and do lots of eating and drinking and catching up.
Q: From potato salad to Christmas cookies to Hoosier Pie, in the book you describe many recipes that are traditions in your family. Have you and Brandon created any new traditional recipes?
A: We 're still pretty fixated on Hoosier Pie, to tell you the truth! Old traditions die hard--or however the saying goes. But we're making new ones, too. Slowly but surely I've taken to making the same chocolate layer cake for our birthdays every year, and I get irrationally excited about it. I'm still working on the frosting, though. Maybe this will be my lucky year.
Q: What is your opinion of the slow food movement in this country? Do you believe it is on the rise? How do you think the current economy has or will affect it?
A: Anything that encourages people to eat more real food and less processed food, to find pleasure in cooking and sharing food, is a great thing.
Q: What are you working on now? Do you have plans to write another book?
A: Well, I'm into my third year of writing a monthly column for Bon Appétit and my sixth year at Orangette, both of which keep me busy! I'm also the de facto manager / wineglass polisher / baseboard scrubber / errand runner / CFO of Delancey, and that keeps me even busier. (Or crazier, depending on your point of view.) But I do want to write another book, and getting a start on that is my goal for 2010. Fingers crossed.
This book was very enjoyable to read. I bookmarked all the recipes and have tried several of them. It led me to her food blog, Orangette, where I found even more amazing recipes.Published 7 hours ago by SandyB
Great read! And even greater recipes! Try the chocolate cake - half pound butter, half pound chocolate, one tablespoon flour! Now that's a good cakePublished 1 day ago by Catwax
This is a wonderful memoir! I appreciated the humor and the genuine human experience within the text. I have made many of the recipes and they are all spectacular! Read morePublished 9 days ago by leamiteo
This book is filled with great recipes and a nice story line to bind it together. Try it-you will like it!!Published 22 days ago by Splash
Like the fact that the recipes come with stories of this ladies life. Very good writing. Makes me want to go check out the blog too:)Published 22 days ago by teufel
I really enjoyed this book. Not only is it an enjoyable story, but it has great recipes interwoven throughout that are a fundamental part of the book. Read morePublished 28 days ago by EverydayReader
I thought it was a very good idea for a recipe book. However, when I bought the book I didn't know it was a cookbook! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Brandi
I love to cook, so I am a sucker for such books. Plus, I heard about this author on a blog that I love called "Message in a Mason Jar. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Singer
Molly writes a great story, and many of the recipes are ones I will actually try. I also enjoy her blog so this was an enjoyable read. She has a lovely voice.Published 1 month ago by R K Vaughan