The New York Times Book Review
At Home on the Rangeby Margaret Yardley Potter, Elizabeth Gilbert
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Recently, while moving into a new house, Elizabeth Gilbert unpacked some boxes of family books that had been sitting in her mother's attic for decades. Among the old, dusty hardcovers was a book called At Home on the Range (or, How To Make Friends with Your Stove) by Gilbert's great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter. Having only been peripherally aware of the volume, Gilbert dug in with some curiosity, and soon found that she had stumbled upon a book far ahead of its time. In her workaday cookbook, Potter espoused the importance of farmer's markets and ethnic food (Italian, Jewish, and German), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and generally celebrated a devotion to seeking out new epicurean adventures. Potter takes car trips out to Pennsylvania Dutch country to eat pickled pork products, and during World War II she cajoles local poultry farmers into saving buckets of coxcombs for her so she can try to cook them in the French manner. She takes trips to the eastern shore of Maryland, where she learns to catch and prepare eels so delicious, she says, they must be "devoured in a silence almost devout." Part scholarshe includes a great recipe from 1848 for boiled sheep headand part crusader for a more open food conversation than currently existed, it's not hard to see from where Elizabeth Gilbert inherited both her love of food, and her warm, infectious prose.
Featuring a comprehensive and moving introduction from Potter's great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Gilbert, At Home on the Range is an eminently usable and humorous cookbook. But it's also more than that: it's an heirloom, an into-the-wee-hours dinner with relatives and ancestors, a perfect gift for anybody with a stove or a mother.
The New York Times Book Review
“She could have drunk and smoked Elizabeth David, M.F.K. Fisher and probably even Dorothy Parker under the table.” The New York Times
“A cookbook for modern times and modern cooks, full of sassy jokes and smartly written recipes.” Bon Appetit
“Delightfully humorous and remarkably insightful.” Los Angeles Times
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Meet the Author
Margaret Yardley Potter's book is culled from a lifetime of cooking and entertaining in her home, from the 1920s through World War II. In addition to being a cooking columnist for the Wilmington Star, she also painted, sold dresses, assisted in the birth of four grandchildren, and took up swing piano.
Elizabeth Gilbert is the bestselling author of numerous books, including Eat, Pray, Love, now a major motion picture. In 2008, Time magazine named Elizabeth as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
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What a treasure! How many times do we miss the dishes that were our favorites during our youth? The hands that prepared them are gone and too often they never wrote down the "secret formulas" that made them so wonderful. Thank goodness that Elizabeth Gilbert's family has a genetic gift for recording the truly meaningful adventures in their lives! A good lesson for all of us.
Very interesting reading re. cooking in the "old days."