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Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  3,696 ratings  ·  315 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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Food-Related Non-Fiction
29th out of 698 books — 1,341 voters
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Culinary Goodness
5th out of 114 books — 37 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
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
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
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
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
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
If you are looking for a cookbook with basically recipes and a bit of introduction, this one is not for you. But if you are looking for a cookbook written with delicious humor by a cook you can identify with, one that made many of the same bonehead mistakes along the way to becoming queen of her kitchen, this one IS for you. In a sea of cookbooks, it shines. I enjoyed reading Laurie’s humorous approach to providing easy tips and cooking techniques of simple foods like chicken, potato salad, brea ...more
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
For two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I am obsessed with the meal... to brine or not to brine, twice baked or mashed, how many sides, will four pies suffice, etc. Never mind the logistics of fitting everyone around the table or what time dinner should be served.

As I fussed with recipes, shopping, and planning, Laurie Colwin was like an old friend whose quiet presence reassured me it would all turn out just fine. During this time, I was too preoccupied to read much, but her short essays were
Mike Coleman
With apologies to Irma Rombauer, THIS is the book that should have been titled "The Joy of Cooking." It's clear in Laurie Colwin's novels that she loved the romantic side of life, and clear in this lovely collection of essays about cooking and casual entertaining that she loved her romance with food, too--not just eating it, but preparing it, talking about it, writing about it.

Some cooks can be downright imperious about food, its sourcing and preparation, but Colwin believes it is a medium to un
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
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
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
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
Mona Nomura
'Home Cooking' was published in 1988* so I assumed I would not be able to relate. Boy was I wrong: I was smiling through most of the book. Colwin's writing style is so charming, her stories are timeless. This was the most delightful book I've read in a long time. How Laurie Colwin managed to escape my bookshelves for so long is beyond me. I am now seeking her novels in softcover before resorting to the digital formats. Tough task in Tokyo.

*it was originally published by Knopf Doubleday
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
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
"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
The chapter about soup almost made me cry.
Melinda Worfolk
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
Such a refreshing, light, funny, relatable read!
Stanley Trice
Laurie Colwin filled Home Cooking not only with easy to make recipes, but with confident humor, firm wit, and opinionated satire. She throws out to the reader that cooking is fraught with wild successes, painful mistakes, and the enjoyment of eating. Mostly, she gives the reader a look at her life living and raising a family in New York City.

The book is a series of short essays about her life from alone in the kitchen eating eggplant to building Friday night dinners with her family and ending “t
Would recommend: YES

Molly Wizenberg cites Laurie Colwin as one of her favorite authors, and I totally see why. I love her, too! Her tone is funny and frank, and I love her straight-forward approach to food. The recipes are hardly detailed; she already assumes you know how to blanch things, for example. I'm sure I'll hunt down my own copy soon enough, since I could not stop laughing or copying down lines. Here are some of my favorites:

"When people enter the kitchen, they often drag their childho
Devoured this in the car yesterday. She writes about food in the casual, yet passionate way that I love to read. Published in 1987, I thought it would be more dated than it was. In fact, for a person of my parents' generation, she seems to be ahead of her times in terms of seeking out quality, organic ingredients and enjoying simple, real food. Her voice is quick, sharp, and welcoming. Recipes here I would like to return to, and added encouragement to start entertaining more with food.
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.
I just revisited this for the first time in many years. I discovered Laurie Colwin via her columns in Gourmet magazine (which make up most of this book) as a young married in New York City. Her writing made me feel like she was someone I could easily be friends with--opinionated but unpretentious and always willing to share her insight or experience, especially when it was based on personal mishaps or lapses in cooking judgment. Her untimely death at just that moment made each month's column bit ...more
Neha Pol
This book came highly recommended and I kind of knew that I would love it. I love food, reasonable love to cook from scratch most of the time. However, food does form the center point in the author's life, and it comes through while writing. And that is something I found a bit hard to relate to. My life generally does not revolve around food (barring coffee and chocolate), and hence I tend to not give too much thought to it, on a day to day basis. What I am trying to say is, so much of food talk ...more
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.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I want to hang out at Laurie Colwin's house. I want to chat in the kitchen while she cooks dinner. This book is a fast and light-hearted read with chapters such as "How to Fry Chicken", "Feeding the Fussy", "Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir" and "Easy Cooking for Exhausted People". She's funny and someone I'd like to be friends with. I loved her novel as well so this non-fiction works cements her place in the "Authors I'll read anything by".
I think all these essays about food and cooking are in our archive of Gourmets in the attic, but this collection is so much more convenient.
Her take on food is an amateur's - an aficionado of good home cooking with an appreciation of then-exotic ingredients and cuisines. It's interesting as a historical read; you can see coverage of certain foods emerge, as in her piece on Black Cake.
Enjoyed rereading Laurie Colwin.
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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 Family Happiness A Big Storm Knocked It Over 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.” 10 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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