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Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  6,168 ratings  ·  629 reviews
Weaving together memories, recipes, and wild tales of years spent in the kitchen, "Home Cooking "is Laurie Colwin's manifesto on the joys of sharing food and entertaining. From the humble hotplate of her one-room apartment to the crowded kitchens of bustling parties, Colwin regales us with tales of meals gone both magnificently well and disastrously wrong. Hilarious, perso ...more
Paperback, 193 pages
Published October 4th 2012 by Fig Tree (first published 1988)
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Arimathea Possibly, though not every cookbook needs to have someone cook their way through it.

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Average rating 4.16  · 
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Jun 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
First Second Books
I gave my mom a copy of Lucy Knisley's RELISH, and in turn she pointed me to Laurie Colwin, who pioneered the food-and-recipe-driven essay style that Lucy so deftly reinvented in the graphic novel format. I read most of this book on my iphone, in the dark, between the hours of 2 and 5am, awake with a 3-week-old baby. It was exactly what I needed then - comforting and funny and nostalgic, sending me on a pleasant, hazy, remembrance of my own early childhood in Boulder in the 1980s when arugula wa ...more
Jun 12, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culinary
I haven't read this author at all -- I just happened to see the cover online and want to track down the book and find out who painted it.

Jeanette (Again)
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
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
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Christine PNW
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laurie Colwin died very young.

I discovered her when I was in law school - a friend of mine had picked up her last book A Big Storm Knocked It Over: A Novel and pressed it on me with the fervor of an evangelical, telling me that this book, this book was everything to her. I didn't know it then, but Laurie Colwin was already dead of a heart attack.

I read A Big Storm Knocked It Over, and then went on to read Happy All the Time, a book that I still own, that I left out in the rain and has a cover t
Beth Bonini
I was thinking about "comfort reading" (for #bookstagram purposes) and this is one of the first books that came to mind. It's impossible to even guess how many times I have read this dear, dear friend. In her foreword to this collection of essays on food, Colwin shares this oft-quoted philosophy: "One of the delights of life is eating with friends; second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends." I wo ...more
Carol Bakker
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, cozy, food, essays
Laurie Colwin is plain winsome. Her (writing) voice is capable, soothing, wry, funny, unassuming. I moseyed my way through her comfort-filled chapters. I'm conflicted about the decision to keep or release this book. It's reassuring reading you could pick up, read a random chapter, and set down again.

I do not believe you have to spend a lot of money to eat well: it is hard to beat a plain old baked potato.

A long time ago it occurred to me that when people are tired and hungry, which in adult lif
Holly R W
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading so many accolades about Laurie Colwin and her book, "Home Cooking", I wanted to experience it for myself. She holds legendary status in the field of food writing. Sadly, she died in her early forties.

Now I understand why her readers and fellow writers adored her. Colwin's writing is lively, opinionated and fun. Reading her is like talking with a good friend. As she writes of her food adventures, bits of her personal life are shared. I would call "Home Cooking" a food memoir rather
Julie  Durnell
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cookbook, non-fiction
A treasure of both essay-type memoirs and recipes! I've not read any of Laurie Colwin before but this was a great one to start with. The "Kitchen Horrors" chapter is laugh out loud funny and there are many amusing moments-some aimed at her and some at others. Her recipes are down-home, tried and true with a hint of gourmet to shake it up! Can't wait to read the second book, More Home Cooking! ...more
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking, non-fiction
From the essay "The Same Old Things:"

Many of my closest friends are sick of my baked chicken, and even when I point out that I know a million variations on this theme, they rightly point out that they have had them all, and more than once.

But when the chips are down, the spirit is exhausted and the body hungry, the same old thing is a great consolation. When people who must provide meals are too tired to think of what to cook, those old standbys come to the rescue. These are things a person can
Jun 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first 120 pages, I really detested Colwin. Such smug superiority! I put this down a lot.

This morning I picked her book of essays again in perhaps a more forgiving mood. I reasoned, that even though she comes off quite snobbish, at least she does share her screw-ups in the kitchen. Not many cooks own up to that fact - cooking is a learning process and one makes a few mistakes along the way. Colwin also shares that sometimes, recipes just do not turn out the way you expect. I liked that.

Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-read
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
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There's nothing like a Laurie Colwin book and this is one of the best. She's a lovely and wonderful friend in my head and reading her is just pure comfort and joy. Her outlook on life makes me so happy. Read this! Read everything by her and, when you're done, read it again. ...more
This isn't really a cookbook in the traditional sense. It is a collection of essays on food, dining,life experiences that happen to center around food. I tucked into this read with true relish. And I enjoyed every word. Before I knew it, I was done! What to do? Find more from this author right away! ...more
Caroline O'Donoghue
This is a three star cookbook, and five star collection of essays. A friend gave this to me in 2015 with the inscription "Caroline– you don't cook, but when you do, start here". At first I thought this was bad advice, because the recipes are extremely American, the measurements are vague, the ingredients not very easy to find. Some the recipes are dated. There's a heavy preoccupation with stews and casseroles, which – even now, that i can cook – I don't ever make. The reason you read this book b ...more
Mona Nomura
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, favorites
'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, engaging, honest, and witty, 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 carry either 'Home Cooking' or 'More Home Cooking' (the follow-up) with me everywhere I go.

*it was originally published by Knop
Feb 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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! ...more
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen is a delightful, albeit slightly dated (published in 1988), collection of essays on home cooking and entertaining. Colwin is at her funniest when describing dinner parties and dishes gone horribly awry, but the tone of the whole is engaging and personal. Her voice is both self-deprecating and assured. If you like to cook, this is definitely worth the read.
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ADORE this book. This is the most accessible and enjoyable food writing I have ever read. She maintains a down-to-earth tone and made me actually giggle with her honest reflections on cooking and eating. Love, love, love.
Rachel B
4.5 stars

This is essentially comfort reading. It's not fluffy, but not too taxing on the brain, either. Colwin is funny and relatable; she loves to cook, but doesn't do so professionally, so that reading her book is like listening to a friend - an average cook with her share of food blunders.

Like a friend, the author expresses some strong opinions that I disagree with, but it didn't bother me in this book the way it might in others. Since it was published in 1988, there are a few outdated nutrit
reading is my hustle

The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.
-Laurie Colwin 

sunday supper is my favorite meal of the week. it's always felt like an ideal day to try new recipes or cook more complicated ones. Laurie Colwin's collection of food essays read like sunday supper. most of the essays are about food, friendship, & the pleasure of sharing both. her re
Most of these essays made me laugh out loud at some point or another. The author has some strong opinions about food, cooking and pretty much most things but I’d happily accept an invitation to dinner at her home.
layla  :)
Laurie Colwins writing is engaging,witty,and hilarious in this collection of essays ranging from making a good salad to "kitchen horrors". I especially loved "English Food" and "Alone in the Kitchen with An Eggplant." ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore Laurie Colwin and want to read all of her work.
This is such a lovely book. I had never even heard of this author so was not at all sure what to expect, but I was quickly charmed by her writing: alternately witty, gritty, hilarious, or poignant; always a joy and always with something of value to take away.
I will be watching for a copy of my own.

A few favorite quotes:

“I was once romantically aligned with a young man who I now realize was crazy, but at the time he seemed...romantic.” (This is the first time the book made me laugh, but certainly
Mike Coleman
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only thing worse than reading a book and loving it and then finding out that it's the only book a writer has produced so far … is reading a book and loving it and then finding out that the author passed away hideously young. Reading the biography at the end of the book – and I'm glad it was at the end and not the beginning – came like a bolt from the blue: never saw it coming. Suddenly all the loving stories of her daughter made me want to cry.

Such is, I'm afraid, the case with 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.

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