Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
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Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  2,620 ratings  ·  241 reviews
Share the unsurpassed pleasures of discovering, cooking, and eating good, simple food with this beloved book. Equal parts cookbook and memoir, Laurie Colwin's "Home Cooking" combines her insightful, good-humored writing style with her lifelong passion for wonderful cuisine in essays such as "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant," "Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir," and "Stuffe...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Harper Perennial (first published 1988)
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Lauren
Dec 21, 2009 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Amber Hoover, Suzanne Theberge, Amy King
Shelves: favorites
My good friend Rachel B and her mom have read Laurie Colwin for years. I always noticed a row of her novels in their home outside Cambridge, MA. Never before my visits had I seen her books, but I happened upon Clothilde (sp) from Chocolate and Zucchini mentioning Laurie Colwin's exquisite food writing. So when it came time for me to buy Rachel some presents as a "thank you for hosting me in San Francisco" gift, I knew that one item had to be the collected food writing of Laurie Colwin.

And that...more
Jeanette (Most of My Favorite Authors Are Dead)
I haven't run across much food writing that can make me laugh out loud, but this book did just that. These are chatty, revelatory, often humorous essays on cooking, entertaining, and domestic life in general. Colwin's approach is warm and accessible. You need not be a cook to enjoy the book, but it might make you want to start using your kitchen for more than just the microwave oven. There are informal recipes scattered throughout the book, and some more formal ones at the end of most of the ess...more
Chris
This was my second read on this book. While I enjoyed it, I also felt like perhaps me, as a cook, has changed. Or me as a reader has changed. Maybe I've read too many incredible food memoirs in the meantime, or my skills have improved. This time I sort of felt like I was getting advice from a 1970s earth mother in a room with a spider plant. This is not to say I didn't identify with her ("Because I am always hungry, I myself eschew hors d'oeuvres. When they come my way, I eat too many and then I...more
Jodi
Laurie Colwin, who passed away unexpectedly in 1992, was a cook for the rest of us. Although she could make gourmet meals, she typically didn't. She was interested in food, the tastes, the smells, the textures, even the visuals - not the plating like a chef would use, but how does it look when it comes together. She's not afraid of her failures and sees them for the amusement value they provide. In other words, she's not full of herself. She's full of life and joy and the pleasures of food. Ever...more
Jenny
Reading Laurie Colwin is like sitting in a friend's kitchen sharing a cup of tea. She shares favorite recipes, dining experiences and opinions on food along with stories of notable disasters. This book is the food writer's version of comfort food. The recipes are good and the cooking advice is sound. The creamed spinach with jalapenos is wonderful, the gingerbread delicious, and the potato salad very good. I enjoy rereading it every January while there is snow on the ground and think about it wh...more
Maija
This is one of my longtime favorite books, but it's never made it to my Goodreads list. I read this book last weekend for probably the third (at least?) time in one day - it will always have a spot on my bookshelf because of this & I'm not always one to re-read or keep a book once read. I find Laurie Colwin's voice so comforting and humorous. I love her pieces on what to feed guests and kitchen disasters and her early days cooking in a teeny NYC studio apt.

She obviously had a lot of influen...more
Caitlin
This collection of essays penned in the 1970s describe Colwin’s various misadventures in the kitchen, as well as her advice to novice chefs and dinner party planners. It’s her wit that really shines through and I laughed aloud several times. In a chapter on stuffing she admits, “It was years before I could come out and say how much I hated stuffing. Everyone in the world but me was fired by an elemental urge to fill up bird cavities with this and that.” She has this to say of dinner parties: “It...more
Pamela
Five stars, and I haven't even read this book!

But I used to read Colwin's warm, witty, much-loved food columns for "Gourmet" magazine, and an old and trusted friend assures me this is one of her favorite cookbooks, and it's Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the time of year that I always dig out my November, '93 issue of Gourmet--in remarkably good shape; take that Kindle and Nook, and all the rest!--and make one of my, and my family's, all-time favorite late fall, early winter desserts: Nantucket...more
Camilla
I tucked the collection of essays into my backpack on a family vacation in July and breezed through the book while I saw in a row of strangers and my husband sat with our two young sons. For anyone who has ever flown with children under the age of ten, you know what a luxury that was for me! I didn't have to field the constant chatter - "Mommy, when are they bringing the drinks?" "Mama, may I have ginger ale?" "Why does Dylan have more pretzels than peanuts in his snack bag and I have more peanu...more
Donna Jo Atwood
Dec 06, 2013 Donna Jo Atwood rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Carma Atwood
Laurie Colwin has written a deliciously opinionated book of a life invested in food. She knows what she likes (good tasting food with quality ingredients) but she is willing to stretch her taste buds around a new variation of an old favorite. Well, with perhaps an exception for the right way to make fried chicken.

Colwin doesn't just share bits and pieces of her life and her culinary history. She shares recipes along with the tips on how the reader can make them her own. Many of the recipes are m...more
Linda Blake
What a refreshing little book. It is such a nice respite from murder, mayhem, and other weighty matters I have been reading about. As the title so simply says, the book is about home cooking and the delights of preparing food and sharing with those you love. It's also about the sharing of good recipes and good cooking tips. From the forward: "No one who cooks cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice of menus of cooks pre...more
Rachel
"Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir" is the funniest essay on bad food ever written. When I was 11, this was better than Monty Python in terms of absurdist genius.

Here is the intro, although it doesn't do justice to the hilarity that comes after:

"There is something triumphant about a really disgusting meal. It lingers in the memory with a lurid glow, just as something exalted is remembered with a kind of mellow brilliance. I am not thinking of kitchen disasters--chewy pasta, burnt brownies, curdled sau...more
Melinda
I adore this book and its follow-up, More Home Cooking. It's a collection of essays by novelist and food writer Laurie Colwin. When I read these essays I feel cozy and warm and comforted. Colwin is so good at evoking a particular sense of place and time. One of my favourite essays is "Alone in the Kitchen With An Eggplant," which I've included in readings packages for my lit students. Anyone who's ever lived in a tiny, imperfect first apartment that they loved anyway will enjoy that piece. Can't...more
Mollie Glick
When I was a kid and couldn't sleep, my mom gave me cookbooks with great narratives to read, our favorite being Margaret Fox's Cafe Beaujolais cookbook. So when I told her Braxton Hicks contractions were keeping me up at night lately she overnighted me this from Amazon. And it's delightful. Funny and warm and cynical all at once. She's already sent me the second one, but I'm saving it for my hospital stay so I'll have some mom time even when my mom is all the way across the country.
Margaret McCamant
Rereading this, and not for the first time, with great pleasure. I got the book out to look for the Black Cake recipe, for which, if I am making it for Christmas, I need to start marinating fruit in wine and rum now, in October.

As much as I have enjoyed Laurie Colwin's fiction, this book and its companion, More Home Cooking, are my favorites. I feel as though she is a good friend, a realization that is always poignant since she died in 1992.
Betty
I just revisited this book as an audio edition, and was as delighted with it as I was with my first reading of the book years ago. Now I am hoping that there is an audio edition of the follow up book, More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen, in the offing!
Linda
This little collection of essays written in 1987 took me by surprise: each one made me want to know the author (not to mention, be invited to one of her cozy dinners). She was not and did not pretend to be a fancy cook but she is a competent cook who loves to eat and talk. Each essay includes at least one recipe, usually for simple, homely things like a foolproof loaf of bread (when you are convinced that your previous bread baking efforts are near failures), a hearty but exceptionally tasty bee...more
Sheri
The late, lovely, Laurie Colwin writes like a cross between Jane Austen, Woody Allen, and Julia Child. Her essay "Regrettable Dinners" is one of my all-time favorites.
Leigh
I read this when I was pregnant and it was fabulous! It has recipes and writings about food and it makes you hungry.
Lormac
A classic. If you love to cook, or read, or eat!
Tabitha Blankenbiller
The concept of a food memoir has become popular recently, and as a nonfiction writer and food blogger, it seems an obvious route for me to take. Still, I’m not convinced that the food memoir can be done well, or should be done at all, and Corwin’s Home Cooking stirs the pot against it.

It’s not that Corwin is a bad writer. She was an accomplished writer before her very early death in the early 1990s, and flashes of brilliance can be found in nearly every chapter. I enjoyed her understated sense...more
^
Jan 07, 2014 ^ rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Those who enjoy eating.
Home Cooking. What happens, or what should happen, behind every front door in the land. Laurie Colwin’s discourse on ingredients, recipes, and feeding family and guests, exemplifies good cooking and eating as the most unconsciously natural activity in the world. Which is exactly as it should be! The sub-plot of this book, brimming with whimsical and good natured humour, reassures that good eating really does require no more effort than a modicum of curiosity and intelligence in learning how to c...more
Jill
Fun and easy read about cooking adventures with a few recipes thrown in for good measure. I liked that she put in whole chapters on cooking disasters of various sorts. I may have to borrow it from my mom occasionally to try some of the recipes. I think they might be good, but they might be that disappointing sort of thing where the easy recipes really do taste like easy recipes you got out of a novel about cooking. Either way, good book for curling up with when you go to bed or when lounging in...more
Luke
Read it for the stories and the snark, not necessarily for the recipes themselves (which offer great ideas but tend to be short on detailed instructions).

The best chapters (self-contained essays, really) are laugh-out-loud-funny descriptions of BAD cooking: one on kitchen disasters, hers and those of her acquaintances ("I myself have never made a spinach pie, and therefore have never had the thrilling experience to see one catch on fire. Therefore I have never watched my husband place his large...more
Shareen
This is a very cozy book to settle in and enjoy on a winter day. I, for one, often enjoy reading about cooking and people who cook more than I do actually cooking. Each chapter has a theme with some thoughts and stories on the theme, and then often followed by a recipe or two. Most of the recipes I couldn't possibly attempt. This, for example, is her instructions for Polenta: "cook the polenta in the usual manner". I'm afraid I have no usual manner for cooking polenta. I am inspired to try her r...more
Sarah
This book has both essays and recipes, although the recipes are often very general. As you might expect from the title, the author isn't interested in fancy food, but rather in traditional fare. In fact, many of the memorable stories come from her time living in a New York City apartment so small that it didn't have a kitchen, only a bathroom sink and one plug-in burner. Colwin also has good advice for entertaining: don't be afraid to have a few dishes you know you do well and make them over and...more
Rebecca
Ahhh. I'd not read this for at least 10 years. I remember loving it the first time and still did. It's definately a product of its time and if some of what she is writing seems a "little" outdated it was written in the early to late 80's and some of her attitudes are a reflection of that time. OTOH she was definately ahead of the curve in recommending local sourcing of food, grass fed beef and uncaged chicken, spicy condiments and comfort food. As most of these chapters were written for a magazi...more
Kristen
This is one of my favorite books of all time. Reading it was like sitting down to a cup of tea in the author's kitchen. It had short chapters, which made it perfect for before-bed reading!
Mel and I read this, and we decided to try one of the recipes she included. This was good in theory, but unfortunately, she didn't really give instructions just ingredients for some things, so...we went through a lot of eggs and oil...then consulted Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything...to be successful with...more
Jan
Finally. I have long wanted to read this foodie classic by Laurie Colwin. It is delightful, combining wonderful anecdotes with wonderful recipes--the very definition of a first rate food memoir. Now I am jonesing for a piece of Black Cake.
Darby
I really enjoyed this book. It had warm engaging stories combined with recipes. But the recipes weren't written like recipes you find in cook books. They are not organized by type of dish or anything it is little stories and recipes to go with the story. She talks of birthdays and then shares the birthday cake recipe that goes with that birthday story. She also doesn't always spell the recipes out like cookbooks. Some recipes it is the author just telling what did...how she made a dish. Many rec...more
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Laurie Colwin is the author of five novels: Happy All the Time, Family Happiness, Goodbye Without Leaving, Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object, and A Big Storm Knocked It Over; three collections of short stories: Passion and Affect, Another Marvelous Thing, and The Lone Pilgrim; and two collections of essays: Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. She died in 1992.
More about Laurie Colwin...
Happy All the Time More Home Cooking: A Writer Returns to the Kitchen A Big Storm Knocked It Over Family Happiness Goodbye Without Leaving

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“The old days were slower. People buttered their bread without guilt and sat down to dinner en famille.” 9 likes
“For the socially timid, the kitchen is the place to be. At least, it is a place to start.” 3 likes
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