Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cherries in Winter

Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times (Vintage)When magazine writer Suzan Colon lost her job as the economic crisis came to a head, she found something even more wonderful to replace it: a beautiful life, and a brilliant and thoughtful idea for a book: Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times.

The book--a quick read with print large enough even for those of us who just might be starting to need bifocals--revolves around how Colon's family history sustained her and inspired her through times of trouble.  While they cooked classic family recipes, Colon's mother told her stories about her family's past.  And then Suzan found the writings and recipes of her "Nana" Matilda, who created a life during the Great Depression and WWII years with strength and verve.  The lesson that Suzan Colon uncovered from her family allowed her to recognize her own ability to weather the storms occuring in her own life.

Cherries in Winter is a lovely and relaxing book--but it isn't the perfect read in all circumstances.  Clearly, it is not a political or analytical discussion of the economic crisis.  Neither will it make much sense to anyone who has struggled with any real poverty or hunger.  She and her family have plenty to live a comfortable life--just not the upscale life they had led before.  The book will most appeal to those of us who have been required to cut back on our luxuries but are still doing fine--and those of us who have chosen a simpler life during this time (or before the economic crisis began).

But at the same time, the changes for Colon's family were very real.  As the author says, "I used to tell my parents they'd never have to worry about their old age, that I would take care of them.  Can I say that now?"

The title of the book, Cherries in Winter, is the author's articulation, handed down from the matriarchs of her family, of the idea that very occasional and very special treats can help us maintain a sense of balance: the importance of "spending extra, just once in a while, where there is no extra to be spent.  Because."  Why?  "It's a deep breath reminding us not to become miserly in spirit.  We may be broke but we're not poor."

What is your extravagance, your "cherries in winter"?

In the end, Colon recognizes her bounty: "It wasn't at all bad--sometimes what looked at first like more rotten luck turned out to be fate's little crooked smile."

I highly recommend this light but thoughtful book as the thing to pick up as you relax with a cup of tea in front of the fire--or as you sit under the leaves falling in your backyard on a warm autumn day like today.

(This review is an update of a post I put up on my knitting/gardening/personal blog when the book was released in hardback.  In order to celebrate its publication in paperback,  the publisher was kind enough to send me a review copy.)

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Check out other great "weekend cooking" posts at Beth Fish Reads.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Menu Plan for the week of Oct 24, 2010

Sunday:
Beef Tenderloin w/ clean-out-the-fridge ragout of autumn vegetables
Homegrown Butternut Squash

Monday:
Green Salad
Greek Pasta w/ chickpeas, Swiss chard, artichoke hearts, pesto, and feta cheese
sprinkled with black olives

Tuesday:
Roast Chicken
Sauteed Kohlrabi Greens
Roasted Kohlrabi Root
Peanut Pumpkin Pie

Wednesday:
Quiche with whatever veggies we have on hand from the CSA
Green Salad

Thursday:
out (for Ethiopian? for burritos?) after violin group class

Friday:
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti w/ tomato-veggie sauce
Green Salad

Saturday:
Roast Leg of Lamb
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Brussels sprouts

See other great meal plans over at Meal Plan Monday.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Menu Plan for the week of Oct 17, 2010

Sunday:
Chinese-Style Peanut Noodles
Green Salad
Roasted Pears

Monday:
Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onions
Homegrown Butternut Squash
Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Tuesday:
Cauliflower and Spinach Gratin
Green Salad
Pumpkin Muffins

Wednesday:
Pigeon Peas with Onions, Carrots, and Kale
Brown Rice
Whole Wheat Molasses Bread

Thursday:
Out after Violin Group Class

Friday:
Roast Chicken
Roasted Potatoes
Veggies from the Garden (mostly greens, probably)

Saturday:
Crockpot Veggie Chili (after a day at the Ren Fair)


See other great meal plans over at Meal Plan Monday.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Menu Plan for the week of Oct 10, 2010

Sunday:
Moroccan-Style Stuffed Acorn Squash
Steamed Broccoli

Monday:
Lentil Soup with CSA Carrots and Homegrown Kale
Whole Wheat Molasses Bread

Tuesday:
Gado Gado

Wednesday:
Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini
Steamed Green Beans

Thursday:
Cauliflower Gratin
Pumpkin Muffins
Green Salad

Friday:
11yo son cooks--details soon

Saturday:
Spicy Squash Tacos


See other great meal plans over at Meal Plan Monday.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Menu Plan for the week of Oct 3, 2010

Sunday:
Canned Salmon Sauteed with Onions and Homegrown Angled Gourd
Brown Rice
Roasted Homegrown String Beans and CSA Tomatoes

Monday:
Middle Eastern Chicken with Dried Fruits
Whole-Wheat Couscous
Broccoli with Walnut Oil
Dessert: The first pomegranate of the year!

Tuesday:
Split Peas with CSA Carrots over Brown Rice
Homegrown Butternut Squash
Roasted Homegrown String Beans

Wednesday:
Homegrown Spaghetti Squash
with Pesto, Artichoke Hearts, and Parmesan Cheese

Thursday:
Freezer-Burned Bison Brisket with tomatoes
Roasted Homegrown Kohlrabi
Sauteed Homegrown Kohlrabi Leaves and Dinosaur Kale

Friday:
11yo son cooks--details soon

Saturday:
Homemade Mushroom Pizza topped with Arugula Salad


See other great meal plans over at Meal Plan Monday.