You have all had that moment (I hope) while reading a book, memoir or fiction, where you stop and start taking stock of your life. Not in a bad way, not to look at your life and say that it is not good enough or nitpicking all the faults. But in the good way, in the way that makes you look in every corner for your potential. This is what reading "A Homemade Life" does for me. Reading about Wizenberg’s life, from her childhood through her college years, a studio apartment in Paris, a long distance relationship started with a fan of her blog, and settling down in Seattle, all I think is that I want to know her.
I tend to embrace anything that makes me take stock of life, and when you have your eyes open most things probably do. The breeze as you walk down a city street, a certain song playing at a certain time, a good bookmoviephotographmusician. The sun hitting me in just the right spot on the back of my neck that made me decide to ask my husband to marry me (I promise to tell you more another day). So you see, I was happy to chat with you again about A Homemade Life.
This time around I chose not to re-read it, though I found myself taking quick little bites as I flipped through trying to decide which recipe to do. How do you pick between all these recipes?
Wizenberg on tomatoes:
“They were fleshy and deep red, with edges crinkled like smocking on a child’s dress. When we bit into them, they shot rich, vermilion juice across the table. We were sold.”
Wizenberg on getting married:
“First, when you get engaged, a few things happen. You agree to marry someone, for starters. Also, your head sort of explodes. Third, you are handed a ticket--rather sneakily, I should note, with no warning at all-- to an amusement park ride known as THE WEDDING.”
Wizenberg on trying new recipes:
“I have a lot of cookbooks, and they demand my attention. You wouldn’t believe how pushy they are. They lie next to my bed like fat, lazy dogs. They stretch and yawn all over my lap.”
I don’t know if I picked the best sentences, but do you see what I mean? You want to read more don’t you? I hope you do, and you should. Please come back when you are done so we can chat about it. Which recipes did you try, which could you already taste before you had even finished the page? Why sections made you cry, did she make you want to live in France? Enjoy!
Trying to pick between the recipes is fruitless, I want to try them all, and so I have placated myself by saying that eventually I will try most of them I just need to pick one for today. Okay maybe two.
If you remember I recently posted about having trouble with the heat in Sacramento when I am so ready for fall to start. I have countered my feelings by picking all the incredible fruits and produce that California has to offer and canning them. Well not all, but a lot (you will read all about it in the next week or so) figs, peppers, plums and, thanks to A Homemade Life, carrots and grapes. Grapes? That’s right, pickled grapes. And I am sure glad I did.
The quotes and recipes are directly from Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life
Spicy Pickled Carrots with Garlic and Thyme
from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
2 cups apple cider vinegar plus more 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
for topping jars heaping 1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 cups water, plus more for topping jars heaping 2 teaspoons brown mustard
¼ cup granulated sugar seeds
6 (5-6 inch) sprigs fresh thyme 1 ½ pounds small (finger sized)
5 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced carrots, or standard-sized carrots,
1 ½ teaspoons black peppercorns cut into sticks about ½ inch wide
cracked and 3 inches long
In a medium saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar, water, sugar thyme, garlic, black peppercorns, red pepper flakes, salt and mustard seeds. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining ½ cup of vinegar.
Put the carrots in a large, heatproof bowl, and pour the warm brine over them. Cool to room temperature.
While the carrots cool, wash 2 quart-sized canning jars and their lids in warm, soapy water.
When the carrots and brine are cool, distribute the carrots evenly among the jars, arranging them snugly. (Hands and fingers work best for this tongs make a mess.) Using a ladle, divide the brine evenly among the jars. The carrots should be covered completely by brine. If they are not, add a mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water to cover.
Seal firmly and refrigerate for at least 3 days, or, preferably, a week; carrots are dense and take time to absorb the brine.
Note: Covered and refrigerated, pickled carrots will, in theory, last indefinitely, but we try to eat them within a month or two.
Yield: 2 quarts
Pickled Grapes with Cinnamon and Black Pepper
from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg Adapted from Susan Kaplan
1 pound red or black grapes, 1½ teaspoons brown mustard seeds
preferably seedless 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 cup white wine vinegar 1 (2½ inch) cinnamon stick
1 cup granulated sugar ¼ teaspoon salt
Rinse and dry the grapes, and pull them off carefully from the their stems. Using a small, sharp knife, trim away the “belly button” at the stem end of the grape, exposing a bit of the flesh inside. Put the grapes into a medium bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium- high heat, then pour the mixture over the grapes. Stir to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
While the grapes cool, wash 2 pint-sized canning jars and their lids in warm, soapy water. When the grapes are cool, ladle them into the jars. Chill for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Yield: about 3 cups
(Wizneberg recommends eating these in the first few days, though she mentions that others have really enjoyed them after a week or two)
If you would like to read about the last time I read A Homemade Life and tried the recipe for Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon and Sugar you can check it out here.
To read the other blog posts from this months book group, or to join this great little collection of bloggers come on over to the Cook the Books Club
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