THE QUEEN OF PIES

A Lava Flow of a Pie

A Lava Flow of a Pie

Mother liked to say that Dad married her for her pies. And they were some pies. I know because I grew up on them. The undulating edges of Mother’s crusts were never hard. They flaked on the fork and melted on the tongue.  She used margarine and Crisco and a secret pinch of baking powder, an ingredient she never divulged when asked to share her recipe.  Mother, indeed, never passed on any of her recipes without quietly altering them in some way. “I always change something,” she’d say, with a childish sense of scandal in her voice, “and then people wonder why their pies don’t taste as good as mine.” In the eyes of my father and in those of family and friends, Mother was the Queen of Pies and of the kitchen in general, a modest source of power that she was invested in maintaining. Continue reading

Posted in blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A SANTA FE STATE OF MIND

It is late afternoon on our last day in Santa Fe, and our reunion suppers with old friends have come to an end. We have packed, tidied our rented casita, and have made one last walk to the downtown plaza.  It is 4:30, too late for lunch, too early for dinner, but we decide to eat anyway and stroll into the courtyard of La Casa Sena, an impressionist garden of greenery, of light and shade,  and of white, yellow, and tan umbrellas. The  restaurant  had been jammed at lunch the day before, and we had refused to wait the estimated forty minutes for a table, but now, miraculously, the place  is almost empty.  Is it even serving food we wonder. Yes!  We sit at a table off to the side,  partly shielded by a bush as tall as a tree, and order mushroom tamales and chicken enchiladas.

Casa Sena 3 Continue reading

Posted in blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

THE SECOND BEST PIECE OF WRITING ADVICE I EVER GOT

Tasting Home Cover ThumbnailThe best piece of writing advice I ever got came from Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott. It had to do with accepting the idea of “shitty first drafts.” The second best piece of advice came from a professor whose teaching assistant I had been in English graduate school in the 1960s.  He had struck me, when we first met, as incredibly brash, an effect that he was deliberately seeking to achieve.  He’d barge into the classroom, send the blinds crashing up or down, and lie on the desk with a cigar between his teeth. “I’m Smith,” he’d say to a wide-eyed class.  He went on to become a rock star of literary criticism, publishing countless books, writing regularly for the New York Times, becoming an internationally famous intellectual. He even appeared as a character in a well known novel.

His advice? “Always recycle.” Continue reading

Posted in blog | 16 Comments

RETURN TO DEATH VALLEY

 

Panamints

Panamints

My husband Bill and I sat in the dining room of the Furnace Creek Inn. Arched windows, heavy wooden beams, and circles of metal chandelier-—the Inn felt like the set of a 1930s movie. From our window, we looked across the stone verandah and miles of desert gravel to the Panamint Mountains. It was near sunset, and, against the rose-flushed sky, the Panamints had taken on that deep, smoky, lilac that eases you gently into a Mojave evening. Continue reading

Posted in blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

DEATH VALLEY DATE NUT BREAD: ON THE FRONTIER WITH MOTHER

Death Valley Sand Dunes

Death Valley Sand Dunes

My mother’s love of glamour began in the Mojave, not as unlikely a place for romance as it might seem. She was twenty-six when her sister Marit and her brother-in-law Ralph invited her to leave her Norwegian North Dakota home and go live with them in Death Valley Junction—the fifty person settlement where they’d found work with the Borax Company during the Depression. Continue reading

Posted in blog | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SOUR MILK BISCUITS: ON THE FRONTIER WITH DAD

Sour Milk Biscuits

Sour Milk Biscuits

My parents belonged to a generation that was on the move. Along with so many others in the 1920s and 1930s, they’d left midwestern prairie homes and migrated to California, where they grew used to unsettled territories and familial disconnections. This was especially true of Dad, whose family began life in Indiana, resettled in Oklahoma, then migrated in the early 1920s to California, where my grandfather ran a small grocery store and chicken ranch. There the world of the past evaporated like morning mist in the mild Pomona air. Continue reading

Posted in blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

TASTING HOME KINDLE GIVEAWAY DAYS JUNE 6-8.

Rhubarb PieGet the kindle edition of the award winning food memoir TASTING HOME absolutely free on June 6-8, Thursday to Saturday!  Sweet as rhubarb pie!  Visit http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPFHFKC on June 6-8/

If Julia Child had cooked Italian for a gay husband, used sugar to sweeten a sour childhood, and hosted buffets for a better world, she could have written Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen (IPPY Award for Memoir 2013) Continue reading

Posted in blog | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

CONVERSATIONS ABOUT MEMOIR

WOMEN WRITING THEIR LIVES: AUTHORS IN CONVERSATION

June 5, Books Inc., 1760 Fourth Street Berkeley, CA, 7:00 pm.
(510-525-7777)

women-writing-livesJoin two award-winning memoir writers as they read from and discuss their new books and talk about their personal writing journeys. They will touch on themes and messages in memoir, the sometimes-difficult decisions that must be made, and answer questions about their writing process.

Judith Newton, Professor Emerita, UC Davis, Women and Gender Studies
Author of Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen (She Writes Press)

Linda Joy Myers,  Founder and President of the National Association of Memoir Writers
Author of Don’t Call Me Mother (She Writes Press)

 

Roots CoverROOTS : A NEW ANTHOLOGY OF FOOD WRITING, JUNE 4! (Includes material from Tasting Home.)

Roots is a love story about food—an exploration of its rich interconnectedness with culture, memory, and discovery, penned by over forty authors and personalities from the culinary blogosphere. The anthology’s deeply personal essays serve up family history, local lore, and tantalizing stories of worlds newly discovered through food, accompanied by original photography and a collection of recipes that, no matter how far flung, taste like home. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17938134-roots

Posted in blog | Leave a comment

MOTHER’S DAY IN LONDON

Leicester Square Station

Leicester Square Station

I was to meet my daughter, Hannah, in London where she was taking  dreamy courses like “The British Museum,”  “Shakespeare,” and “Contemporary Drama” at U. C. Berkeley’s campus abroad. We were to find each other outside the Tube stop at Leicester Square and, as I approached the station, I began to look around. When she left home she’d been dressed in her uniform of jeans, polo shirt, sweatshirt, and sneakers. But the young woman I saw from a distance was wearing boots, a long black skirt, and a stylish, close-fitting, suede jacket.  Hannah? I wondered. Continue reading

Posted in blog | 2 Comments

WOMEN WRITING THEIR LIVES: A CONVERSATION WITH TWO WRITERS OF MEMOIR

Tasting Home Cover ThumbnailDAVIS, Calif.—On May 17, 7:30 pm, at the Avid Reader, 617 2nd St, Davis, CA 95616, award-winning memoir writers Linda Joy Myers and Judith Newton will read from and discuss their recently published memoirs, Don’t Call Me Mother and Tasting Home: Coming of Age in the Kitchen. Moderated by Sacramento Book Talk columnist Trina Drotar, the event will focus on the authors’ personal writing journeys, themes and messages in memoir, the sometimes-difficult decisions that must be made, and questions from the audience. Continue reading

Posted in blog | Leave a comment