27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Laurie Colwin was a talented writer and had a real feel for the essential qualities of great food. Though not a chef or professional cook, she used her writing skills to delve into the mysteries of what makes good food great. And she did that with some of the funniest, sharpest, best writing since M.F.K. Fisher.
Alas, Laurie died in 1992, much too young, so you have to savor every scrap of writing she left us, in essays for Gourmet Magazine, and these, in her Home Cooking volumes. Colwin wrote some novels as well, but really, her food writing is what I appreciate the most.as
Colwin's writing is opinionated and passionate: she goes into raptures over things most 7 year olds (and quite a few adults) would gag over; succotash, beets, goat's milk yogurt. Yet her sense of what makes food essentially wonderful will have even the most confirmed vegetable-a-phobe at least thinking about trying her succotash recipe or maybe even looking at a raw beetroot with calm impartiality. In case you are certain you will still shun beets and lima beans, at least read her description of how to roast a duck. It's splendid.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
'More Home Cooking' by Laurie Colwin is the kind of book that really makes you wish you could become friends with the author. Unfortunately, the author is no longer with us and I believe this volume was published posthumously, so there is a lot more than the usual barrier between celebrity and mere mortal between reader and writer.
Like the first volume, 'Home Cooking', chapters in the book are essays composed of both culinary and autobiographical material, although the book is not a memoir a la Ruth Reichl's two books. It is also not culinary criticism or exposition in the style of John Thorne. It is most similar to the kind of essays written by M.F.K. Fisher and Elizabeth David, one of the author's heroes.
In one of her essays, Ms. Colwin puts her finger on a reason for the popularity of cookbooks and cooking shows in the face of what some people claim to be the disappearance of home cooking. Reading about cooking is simply very comforting and reassuring. I find that I may not learn a whole lot from a particular Ina Garten or Paula Deen or Sara Moulton show on the Food Network, but it is certainly reassuring to watch, if even for the fourteenth time, how Ina cooks salmon so she can have it at two different meals with her guests being none the wiser regarding the doubling up on the effort.
Ms. Colwin gained this insight by reading Elizabeth David's 'Italian Food' while under the influence of a particularly acute hangover. And, her admiration of David's style is well demonstrated in the way Ms. Colwin writes recipes. There is none of the formal list of ingredients at the top with neatly laid out prep instructions so one can do their mise en place in true French brigade fashion. This is straight from Elizabeth David's spare recipe writing style done at a time when home cooks knew a lot more about cooking than they do today, or that at least is the patter among the Cassandras of modern culinary journalism.
Fortunately, Ms. Colwin's writing is less about cooking technique than it is about how we do and should think about cooking and food. It is to culinary journalism much like the editorial pages are to political journalism.
Like all very good culinary journalism such as that done by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman, this is stuff you can read and reread on rainy March afternoons. It is doubly good in that Ms. Colwin is speaking from a quarter she knows well, the slightly atypical American housewife.
Very highly recommended culinary reading. Recipes are more for inspiration than real life cooking, unless you just love to deconstruct Elizabeth David recipes.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2000
I think I've read every book Laurie Colwin has written, and I miss her. I refer to both her food books frequently-- both for recipes and for her down-home wisdom about what's good (if not necessarily good for you. Her strong opinions are not necessarily mine-- I still haven't acquired a taste for paprika, and she uses way too much butter, but her gingerbread recipe is the one comfort food I turn to on snowy days, and her essays on roasting chicken are a treasure. Having this book (both of them, actually) is like having a really good friend who loves to cook and eat as much as you do.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 1999
As a graduate student writing my thesis on urban health care issues, I must say this book is a gem! Laurie Kaye Abraham makes the most compelling arguments for health care reform in this book while walking the fine line of objectivity at the same time. Now I know I can truly say that I understand why many urban areas suffer from some of the same public health woes as third-world countries. Thank you, Ms. Abraham for inspiring me and thanks to the Banes family for allowing us into their lives.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2004
It's been many years since I've actually indulged my love for cooking. My food preparation had long been limited to two choices: (1)add Lawry's seasoning salt and bake/fry/broil, and (2)fast food. Recently, I became reacquanited with my inner chef and became obsessed with cookbooks and books about food. I came across More Home Cooking during one of my recent trips to the local bookstore. I was intrigued by the tag, "A Writer Returns to the Kitchen." (I love good writing and I love good food.) The chapter titles sounded promising: Why I Love Cookbooks; The Case of the Mysterious Flatbread; How to Cook Like an American; Turkey Angst...Plus, the book had recipes! This was clearly a writer who had more than a passing interest in food; this was a true believer. So, what of this book? It's simply wonderful. It's not a book you rush through all at once, but rather one you can carry with you and savor in those brief windows of time throughout your day: during lunch break, while waiting in a line, in the car wash...Colwin's writing is so well-done it seems effortless and comes across as a conversation with an articulate friend who loves to talk about food. She's opinionated, good-humored, and honest in her essays about the merits of certain foods, the drawbacks of others, advice about food and living, and events from her own daily life. From her chapter entitled, In Search of Latvian Bread, regarding her attempt to replicate this bread: "The results were, to my mind, mixed. An Estonian came for supper and said it tasted exactly like the bread he had had in Moscow. I was not sure that this was a compliment. A dancer friend, also at dinner, tasted it and said he liked the other bread (miche from the greenmarket) better. My husband said that it was wonderful, but that I should have added rye flour. The Estonian said this bread would keep forever. I was not sure that this was a compliment." It's these little moments about her curiosity about food, her willingness to experiment, and her genuine fondness for food and the people it nourishes that make this book one you'll read through once and then pick up every now and again, just to enjoy a chapter or two once more. Incidentally, it wasn't until I was nearly finished with this book that I read the "About the Author" paragraph on the back cover. That's when I learned that Laurie Colwin had died in 1992; I felt a flicker of sadness. I would certainly have looked forward to future "conversations" with this engaging writer.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2000
The U.S. government would like us to think that we, being the lone superpower in the world today, have all of our own internal problems solved. Not so. There are millions of uninsured and underinsured people (many of them children) in the U.S. who struggle to meet their own basic (and more advanced) health care needs. This is often a foreign world to Americans raised with good health insurance coverage. Yet Abraham shows us that we cannot ignore the health care problems in our own backyard.
As a recent college graduate who is entering medical school this fall, I was challenged to think carefully about how I will choose to practice medicine in the coming years. Given what I now know, I feel a responsibility to help change the plight of the uninsured.
As a final word, the only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because the personal narratives, while very revealing, get a little long-winded at times. Otherwise, it is a great book, one that I anticipate referencing frequently in the coming years.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2002
I found this book to be a great resource for a description of health care coverage for the lower income bracket individuals and families. It discussed many of the loops that people have to go through in this process and how simply getting to the doctor's office is out of reach without the right resources. This was an insightful albeit incredibly difficult book to read. Health care workers should read this and get a feel for how something that seems very easy to say is almost impossible to do...this is worth the time and money!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2007
I was required to read this book for a Social Problems Analysis class. Before, I had never thought about the major problems with our health system. Unlike a reviwer before me, I don't see her as being biased. If you have ever lived in a poor urban neighborhood, then you would know, Abraham is correct. People who live in poverty, often have no access to better health care, so they take what they can get. It is easy to say these people should take responsible for their health care if you have never been in this situation. Abraham did a wonderful job staying objective, even at times, when I don't know if I could have. I would reccomend this book to anyone who has questions about how the medical system works in poor areas.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2006
another unique and interesting cookbook that is hidden inside a great read. I read this after her first book, Home Cooking, and I felt they complimented each other very well. As in the first book; the recipies are traditional but not really used anymore, sadly enough...easy enough to make, and practical in my opinion. A very very good book to curl up with.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
My friend Cindy- who is an absolute sweetheart- surprised me one day with two books she thought I should read- Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, and the aptly named followup, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen.
Colwin was a popular and prolific novelist with a loyal following, but these two collections of essays are, I suspect, even more popular than her novels. She is a writer with an easy style, and an unpretentious voice that draws you in to her world. Consider this opening to the first essay in Home Cooking:
"Unlike some people, who love to go out, I love to stay home. This may be caused by laziness, anxiety, or xenophobia, and in the days when my friends were traveling in Nepal and Bolivia, I was ashamed to admit that what I liked best was hanging around the house.
I am probably not much fun as a traveler, either. My idea of a good time abroad is to visit someone's house and hang out, poking into their cupboard if they will let me."
Colwin comes across as very much the homebody, and very much a fan of home cooking. You have to love a food writer who has chapter titles like Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir. And you can't help being captivated by a writer who explains her love of reading cookbooks by describing her discovery that good cookbooks have all the great food descriptions of a Barbara Pym novel, but without all the messy plot details. Colwin's books are full of wonderful stories of cooking and dining with friends, and recipes. They're mostly simple dishes that don't require any special technique, and that can be counted on to delight company. Some seem a bit dated now- the book came out of pieces written for Gourmet Magazine in the 80s and 90s- but they're still all good, even if a bit evocative of the spinach-dip-in-hollowed-bread era.
If your favorite social activity is dining at home with friends, if you like home style cooking rather than exotic "foodie" cooking, or if you just like reading about cooking from someone with an unpretentious enthusiasm for good, simple food, I think you'll be delighted by these books.