I've been revisiting Gladys Taber after a 15+ year absence. When I was housebound in the winter with young children, her nature descriptions were a breath of fresh air, the second best thing to being outside myself.
It's funny that when you read a book a second time, many years later, you see it from a whole different perspective. This time around, the author's opinions on cooking and food and hospitality are standing out. Gladys has definite and strong opinions:
"I deplore a dinner where the hostess leaps in and out during the whole meal. Genuine conversation is impossible. And, after all, it is the talk that should nourish the spirit, no matter what is on the platter."
Homey recipes are sprinkled throughout the book, substantial Yankee food to be cooked in cast iron with fresh ingredients. "My Dutch oven is my best friend," she says. I smiled at what she had to say about Julia Child, who was her contemporary:
". . .I listen to Julia Child. By the time the hour is over, I am exhausted just watching her dice and slice and knead and roll and throw things around in a kind of Olympian abandon. Julia is the most vigorous cook I have ever observed. . .The only thing we have in common is that both of us have written cookbooks. . ."Even though her recipes are dated---heavy by today's standards---her substantial offerings are infused with love. Her unhurried preparations remind me of my Mother-in-law, who always hummed while she peeled the potatoes. I've honed my cooking skills through the years, and although I enjoy an occasional gourmet meal, I tend more toward "Gladys style" than "Julia style" cooking. But I think the highest compliment any cook can receive is to have her family or guests taste the secret ingredient: love.