I lingered for weeks; soaking in Molly’s prose, recipes, and memories – her life. I wanted to stretch out the experience as long as possible. I dreaded the day I’d turn that last page, read that final word – the day that I’d flip to the next chapter to find the Index staring at me instead. I never thought I, lover of all things organized, would be so disappointed to find an index, but I was; I wanted the book to continue, to never end.
I read it one short chapter at a time snuggled deep into my layers of sheet and blankets and comforter. More perfect than a full wine glass to wind down from my jam-packed days. I savored and drooled and imagined. I dog-eared enticing recipes and re-read passages. These days, when I’m still new at gluten-free cooking and adaptation, I generally skip over recipes that include wheat flour, but I soon found myself, notebook at the ready, making quick notes, figuring out how to change cakes and scones and pancakes – a first for sure. I even began to daydream of the somewhat awkwardly named “Fruit-Nut Balls.”
“A Homemade Life” is the story of food and travel; but more than that, it’s the story of Molly’s relationship with a man who she loved intensely, a man whose powerful presence flows throughout each sentence and dances off the page – her father. While this memoir follows Molly’s life and evolution, her father and his memory are constant companions to her every step.
Her passion for life is well evident in the pages and recipes. The first recipe shared is for her father’s potato salad and the last for her wedding cake, aptly titled “The Winning Hearts and Minds Cake.” Unlike many food memoirs, the recipes aren’t simply tacked onto the end of the chapters. Each recipe is perfectly tied to the stories. The chapter titled “Happiness” is followed by two recipes for slow-roasted tomatoes, of which Molly says, “I’m quite certain [...] that if you looked ["happiness"] up in one of those visual dictionaries, what you’d see is a pan of slow-roasted tomatoes.” And the chapter which details how she met her husband, Brandon, is paired with the recipe that brought them together: French-Style Yogurt Cake with Lemon.
It’s easy to fall in love with Molly (and, by extension, her life) while reading her memoir. I can’t help but feel a type of kinship with her and her evolution in the world – almost as if we’re already friends, picnicking in the park on Saturdays and throwing pickling parties and hosting grilled cheese bars.
“A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table” is a deeply tender love story of life and food. As Molly writes, “What started as a simple love for food grew to have a life of its own – and a life that, in turn, has changed mine. [...] In the simple acts of cooking and eating, we are creating and continuing the stories that are our lives.”
I checked this book out from the library, but I know I’m going to end up buying it. But in the meantime, I’ll continue to read Molly’s blog, Orangette, and relish in her free and flowing prose and life. I encourage you to do the same.