|Dowdy Corners Cookbook Club|
Holly and Wendy (second from left in photo above) stopped by our porch during the town's July 4th parade and Wendy was very enthusiastic about the cookbook club and encouraged me and Marianne (left in photo above) to join. Suddenly it made sense to me. I love cooking (sometimes). It is one of the few things that really gets my attention these days, and I want to learn more about it, I want to get better. I even want to go back and get a degree in baking, though I doubt I will do that. So I said yes. And then I did it. I actually signed up on line and bought the current selection, Ripe by Nigel Slater. In fact, I actually bought a different Ripe first--amazed that it was so much less expensive at Jessica's Biscuits than on Amazon--not noticing that it was a different price because it had a different author. Both books are pictured above.
I think of Slater's book as a non-recipe book. It is a beautiful book--inspiring pictures, luscious words, and simple instructions. Sort of, wash a peach and eat it. But I used it (and Cheryl Sternman Rule's book) for many dishes (his blueberry pancakes made with ricotta cheese are excellent, and once I made them with glutton-free flour and they might have been even better than the first round which were also delicious) and felt that both books had something to offer. But when I went to the pot luck last week I was amazed at how wonderful the meal was--how every dish enhanced the other. Nothing was too sweet. Everything tasted fresh and satisfying. I think the other people (Melanie is 2nd from right, and Tamara is on the right) all felt the same. Maybe this book (Slater's) has more to it than I gave him credit for. I can't wait to read Holly's evaluation on the blog. By the way, she encourages people from other areas to join, and to start their own group for potlucks. I love the idea of communities of cooks gathering together all over the country comparing dishes they made from the same book.
I often don't spend money on anything except the monthly bills (boring and annoyingly regular) but I do spend money on food shopping and books. For awhile now I have managed not to buy books--and the Kimball Library here in Randolph is fantastic about getting books that are requested (and the staff are super excellent)--but I admit that a perk of joining the club is that I now can legitimately buy cookbooks. I have to--library loan just won't do for something like this (so I say). You should see my wish lists on various sites (but I think I made them private).
I had a visitor the other day who had some questions about fiber processes and during the discussion I pulled out my copy of Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric by Mildred Constantine and Jack Lenor Larsen. Most of you know this was the first definitive book on fiber art. I have looked at this book hundreds of times. Some works, like Susan Weitzman's HUM, have always left me breathless. She is one of those mysterious artists who made such an impact on people but who removed herself from the spotlight, something else drew her attention. But what she contributed has withstood the decades of change since she made that work. It still pulls me in and holds my attention. Other works are just invisible to my eyes and sensibilities, though I recognize their ambition and creativity.
But I must say, this is a time to pull that book off your shelves again and look through it. It is full of the most amazing work, by artists who truly were pioneers, working with materials in ways no one had thought of before and in a scale that is, even now, mind-boggling. I have just put a few details of works above, pieces that have great subtlety, simplicity, imagination, and skill. None of them tell stories per se. They are not the works that would have attracted me (except Weitzman's) when I first saw the book. But WOW--they sure look interesting to me today. And of course, the great tragedy, in this current time of anything goes--where fiber seems to be the material of choice for many young artists--the works in this book are not known. So pull that book off your shelves and start showing it to everyone you know who says they are interested in art. It really is a book that has retained its relevancy.
|Nomad (Panels 1, 2 and 3) by Bhakti Ziek, 2010|
|Nomad (Panels 4, 5 and 6) by Bhakti Ziek, 2010|