My Book and Thanksgiving

My Book and Thanksgiving

My publisher says I need to overcome my polite tendencies and be more aggressive about promoting my new book. Don't get me wrong: I am very proud of it. But I figured giving a toot or two on the home page of plus several mentions of it in this newsletter is already quite forward. Not enough, I was told.

So before turning to Thanksgiving, the third rail of American home cooking, here are a few words about my upcoming book.

The City Cook: Big City, Small Kitchen. Limitless Ingredients, No Time will be released this coming Tuesday, November 16. For those of you in New York, I will be speaking and doing a signing at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 17 at Borders Columbus Circle, Borders' flagship store at the Time Warner Center -- and please come. I'm both excited and anxious about it all (who wouldn't be?) and have no idea what to expect from either that event or the coming weeks.

The book's butter-yellow hard cover is friendly, covered in little cooking and city icons -- like martini glasses, carrots, fire hydrants, frying pans, pears, forks, and shopping bags. There are no clichéd images of angry graffiti, steam-belching streets, or dented taxis because who wants that in your kitchen?

The inside pages are all black and white, including 31 photographs that are documentary-like, almost snapshots that we might take with our phones -- images that capture the real people, experiences, and feelings of city living. There are no photos of plated food, often called food porn. This is partly due to budget (first time authors don't usually get color photos) but also principle: I think it's rare for our cooking results to resemble that of food stylists and while a great food shot can motivate us to cook, it can also discourage us when in the end, it doesn't look the same even if we love its taste.

I've included 92 recipes, each of which was tested at least twice by home cooks, working at a range of skill levels. Some of the recipes had, at some point, appeared on, and they're organized into 7 chapters:

The back of the book has a list of some of America's best food merchants; I did the New York City and online lists but the other cities -- Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle -- were contributed by friends who live and cook in these cities. There's also a list of organizations that can help teach you more about the changing world of food shopping (co-ops, CSAs, farmers' markets, urban farming) plus a glossary for the new terminology that's now so casually, and often confusingly, tossed around.

The front of the book is a combination of mini-memoir and coaching. The memoir part shares how over a couple of decades I gradually figured out how to put daily home cooking into a miniscule kitchen and frantically busy life. The coaching part is what I do to make it all come together.

Above all, I wanted this book to be practical, candid, and priced within easy reach ($20, hard cover). I often complain that as cooking has become entertainment and ingredients treated as a prop, it's hard to find answers for the very real challenges of home cooking: time, costs, and cravings. So it was important as I wrote my book to create something that could be as easily put into the hands of a new cook as one who is skilled but has simply lost interest in, and thus the habit of, cooking.

Whether I have succeeded in doing all this will be up to you to decide. Wish me luck.

My Thanksgiving Dinner

These past months have been taxing and only the demands of feeding the website version of The City Cook have kept me from cooking the same three or four dishes over and over again (you can ask my husband; I know he's often been bored with dinner and too kind to complain….). But with deadlines met, I've been back in my kitchen with more imagination and time, and I'm relishing the chance to make Thanksgiving dinner.

This year there will be five of us, including friends who live in Zurich, Switzerland. One of them is an American with an appetite for all things traditional, including sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top. But since I consider that dessert, it won't be on my menu. Here's my plan thus far:

A few reminders as you finalize your menus --



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