At Home on the Range by Margaret Yeardley Potter

gimaThis is going to be my last review of the year and it’s kind of crazy that I finished this in July and am writing about it on December 30.  Since July I have thought about this book many, many times, and have considered what I might write about it, too.  I’ve referred to Gima in the kitchen often, and contemplated how I might write a modern equivalent.

Who is Gima? Well, this book was written a very long time ago by Margaret Potter, the great-grandmother of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Now, despite a dear friend’s absolute adoration for Elizabeth Gilbert, it’s no secret that I have a pooh-pooh attitude toward her and at first was all, “oh, sure, just because it’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s grandmother’s diary she can publish it and make more money”. But I stand corrected because I’m so glad she did republish this. Gima, author and Gilber’s grandmother (grandmother? great-grandmother? who can remember?) was a feisty, strong, economical, lady. Probably not unlike many women of her generation who had to make do, had alcohol problems in the family, had lots of kids, and were able whip up large meals at a moment’s notice.

First of all, I love reading vintage cookbooks and really anything about housekeeping, cooking, and entertaining. The recipes and meals they came up with were often so different from what we eat today. Such as organ meats. Or presenting things I might consider condiments as healthy side dishes. Her style of writing was casual and wonderful.  Paul was eager to try a recipe, though I forget what it was. And for a time afterward I kept referring to Gima as I did my own meal planning. For example, this exchange via email with Paul on July 30: “I’m hard cooking eggs for his science experiment and went ahead and did 4 so you could have some for lunch breakfast. And because Gima says so.” Indeed, Gima says it’s always good to have hard cooked eggs on hand. You know, in the olden days it seemed like people often popped in unexpectedly at meal times and you would have to stretch your meal.

By the way, here is Paul’s review that he put up in a more timely fashion than me (he read it first, also he includes more details in his reviews, so while I have the emotional response, I’ll be he lists some specific fascinating recipes for you. Go ahead, read his next!) http://ijustreadaboutthat.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/elizabeth-gilbert-margaret-yardley-potter-at-home-on-the-range-a-cookbook-presented-by-elizabeth-gilberth-by-her-great-grandmother-margaret-yardley-potter-1947-new-material-2012/

So, I read this halfway through the year, I’m writing about it at the end of the year, and it’s definitely one of the books I read this year that has stayed with me and made an impression.  I’m always impressed by women of other generations and Gima is a delightful example.  I think all modern housewives could take a few tips from her. But maybe not so much about scrubbing the tripe like a bath towel!

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