At Home on the Range by Margaret Yardley Potter

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Recipes aren't rigidly structured, but flow like a casual kitchen conversation between close friends, various dishes woven together with stories and motherly advice, relayed with a wit that apparently runs in the family.
-LA Times

Synopsis

Recently, while moving into a new house, Elizabeth Gilbert unpacked some boxes of family books that had been sitting in her mother's attic for decades. Among the old, dusty hardcovers was a book called At Home on the Range (or, How To Make Friends with Your Stove) by Gilbert's great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter. Having only been peripherally aware of the volume, Gilbert dug in with some curiosity, and soon found that she had stumbled upon a book far ahead of its time. In her workaday cookbook, Potter espoused the importance of farmer's markets and ethnic food (Italian, Jewish, and German), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and generally celebrated a devotion to seeking out new epicurean adventures. Potter takes car trips out to Pennsylvania Dutch country to eat pickled pork products, and during World War II she cajoles local poultry farmers into saving buckets of coxcombs for her so she can try to cook them in the French manner. She takes trips to the eastern shore of Maryland, where she learns to catch and prepare eels so delicious, she says, they must be "devoured in a silence almost devout." Part scholar—she includes a great recipe from 1848 for boiled sheep head—and part crusader for a more open food conversation than currently existed, it's not hard to see from where Elizabeth Gilbert inherited both her love of food, and her warm, infectious prose.

Featuring a comprehensive and moving introduction from Potter's great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Gilbert, At Home on the Range is an eminently usable and humorous cookbook. But it's also more than that: it's an heirloom, an into-the-wee-hours dinner with relatives and ancestors, a perfect gift for anybody with a stove or a mother.
 

About Margaret Yardley Potter

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Margaret Yardley Potter's book is culled from a lifetime of cooking and entertaining in her home, from the 1920s through World War II. In addition to being a cooking columnist for the Wilmington Star, she also painted, sold dresses, assisted in the birth of four grandchildren, and took up swing piano.Elizabeth Gilbert is the bestselling author of numerous books, including Eat, Pray, Love, now a major motion picture. In 2008, Time magazine named Elizabeth as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
 
Published April 17, 2012 by McSweeney's. 240 pages
Genres: History, Cooking, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for At Home on the Range
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Noelle Carter on May 13 2012

She dispenses similar advice — on ingredients, recipes and life — throughout the book. When an expensive ingredient can be substituted for a cheaper alternative, Potter heartily endorses it...

Read Full Review of At Home on the Range | See more reviews from LA Times

LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Noelle Carter on May 11 2012

Recipes aren't rigidly structured, but flow like a casual kitchen conversation between close friends, various dishes woven together with stories and motherly advice, relayed with a wit that apparently runs in the family.

Read Full Review of At Home on the Range | See more reviews from LA Times

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85%

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