Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Life That we Make or A Homemade Life

As I recently mentioned I joined an online book group and handily the book this month was by one of my favorite bloggers Molly Wizenberg, author of the endearing food blog Orangette.  I read her book, A Homemade Life, for the first time a few years ago and rereading it now has proven to me yet again that there can be great pleasure found in reading a book at different stages of your life.  In the time since I last read her book, I have not only moved across the country, but I also got married.  Somewhere in these events my way of relating to Molly in, A Homemade Life, has changed.  Though I  thoroughly enjoyed the book the first time around I found myself skimming certain sections that at the time I thought were kind of boring and now I know I was just not at the point in my life to relate properly to what I was reading. 

I found in both readings that Molly Wizenberg is a very open writer, making it very easy to relate not only to her life but also her stories and “characters”.  By giving you quick peeks into so many different parts of her life, from her family, her years living in France, meeting a man through the comment pages of her blog, Wizneberg grabs onto the readers attention.   I found, A Homemade Life, to be a perfect book to curl up with a cup of tea and read a day away, surfacing once in a while driven by her food descriptions to go scavenge in the fridge.  At the end of each chapter the reader is rewarded with some incredible sounding recipes, such as: Fresh Ginger Cake with Caramelized Pears, Butternut Soup with Pear, Cider and Vanilla Bean, Caramelized Cauliflower with Salsa Verde and Custard filled Corn Bread.  If those recipes don’t make you want to pick up this book I don’t know what will.  I will say, now that I have read the book twice, that I think I am currently at the perfect stage in my life to get as much as possible from this book.  I am very curious to see if others felt the same way.

At first trying to decide which recipe to do for the blog was almost impossible and with each chapter I read my decision changed.  The descriptions and recipe choices featured in this book are all really tempting and I doubt you will get through the book without marking at least a few. Timing worked out on my side and I finished the book right before my New York House guests arrived.  As Rob was working on their first morning here breakfast was on me and I immediately thought of

Molly’s recipe for Dutch Baby Pancakes.  Not only did I have all the ingredients but it seemed the perfect breakfast for two people suffering from jet lag and awakening to their first California morning.  The only changes I made were to use 5 eggs, because mine were small, and to use a 12-inch cast iron skillet because that is the size that I have.  Though the recipe says it serves 2 the three of us had plenty with Sausage and berries along side. I am happy to report that both guest really enjoyed their breakfast and I think it was a pretty great way to kick of a vacation.

To read the other group member reviews and see which recipes they tried out go to the group site This Book Makes me Cook.

I also highly recommend checking out Molly’s blog Orangette where you can see even more of her recipes and read more about her life since, A Homemade Life was published.  According to her most recent blog

post she has another book in the works which I am really looking forward to. 


Here is the recipe straight from the book, if you would like to see it on her blog along with her writing to go with it you can click here.

Dutch Baby Pancakes With Lemon and Sugar              
From A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

For the pancakes
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup half-and-half
¼ teaspoon salt

For the Topping
freshly squeezed lemon juice
powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 425F
  • Put the butter in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet and place over low heat.
  • Alternatively, put the butter in a similarly sized cake pan or pie plate, and place in the preheated oven for a few minutes.  As the butter melts, use a pastry brush to coax it up the sides of the skillet.
  • Meanwhile, in a blender, mix together the eggs, flour, half-and-half, and salt until well blended.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the warmed skillet.  Slide into the oven, and bake for 18 to 25 minutes. 
  • The mixture will rise and puff around the edges, like a bowl-shaped soufflĂ©.  The Dutch Baby is ready when the center looks set and the edges are nicely risen and golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven.  Drizzle-or splash, really; abundance is good here- with lemon juice and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 servings


  1. I can attest that the dutch baby pancakes were delicious!!! They were a very nice treat for my first morning in California and a great start to my wonderful vacation! Your grateful New York guest, Cyndy

  2. Isn't this the most sinful recipe in the whole book. Just perfect after a vacation :)

    Welcome to the club!

  3. Those pancakes look gorgeous. Have always held back from baking them though because of the number of eggs in them.
    Welcome to our book club and hope you enjoy being here.

  4. A great review. I enjoyed the book too although haven't really sat sown to do a post. Love what the book inspired you to make. Welcome to the book club!

  5. She is one of my favorite authors too!!! I used her as part of my inspiration for my thesis. She has such an amazing control of language and the way she connects food with life is wonderful. Glad to see a fellow fan.

  6. Glad you all liked the review, I will say that the pancakes are well worth any calorie or health concerns! Maybe not on a regular basis, but they are great for a special occasion.
    Mikaela I am curious what your thesis was on?

  7. Jess, these look fantastic and not too heavy. I'm going to try them out on guests at B&B. I'll let you know the results.

  8. Looks delish! So true about books having different meanings depending on where you're at in your life. I've also found this with a couple of other books.

  9. Jessica - My thesis was a short story collection. The linking theme was food, as each of my stories were accompanied by a recipe. (Sorry, I had no idea you responded until now).