January 17, 2011

Last week, I had the rare pleasure of hearing Amanda Hesser speak about her new book, The Essential New York Times Cookbook. You may be familiar with her from when she wrote a food column in the Times, or in her movie debut in Julie and Julia, as herself. (As an aside, the fantastic organization that brought Ms. Hesser in is called Book Smart Tulsa, which brings in authors once a month for free book signings and lectures. I have also met Molly Wizenberg and Jonathan Saffron Foer. Check them out.)

Ms. Hesser’s new book is a comprehensive cookbook covering a plethora of recipes, chronicled from the New York Times, dating back before the 1900’s. She spent six years testing recipes and sifting through archives, in order to bring us, the home cooks, the most complete collection of recipes. It seems like something of a masterpiece, and it a behemoth of a book.

I am sorry to say I have not yet cooked from the book, though it has been an excellent before bed reading companion, as it is full of story, humor, and history. However, Ms. Hesser signed my book “For Abi – Hope this becomes stained and tattered” – and I hope she is right.

Her newest project is the food52 website, which is a great compiling of recipes from home cooks – the blog to end all blogs. She shares a lovely list of why it is important to cook. And I will leave with that –

If you cook, your family will eat dinner together.
If you cook, you will naturally have a more sustainable household.
If you cook, you’ll set a lifelong example for your children.
If you cook, you’ll understand what goes into food and will eat more healthily.
If you cook, you’ll make your home an important place in your life.v
If you cook, you’ll make others happy.
If you cook, people will remember you.
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