5th February, 2014
Last night I completed the 100th recipe from your ‘Kitchen’ cookbook. Actually, I completed the 98th, 99th and 100th recipe – but that is beside the point.
For the last two years, I have been slowly working my way through your cookbook – not chronologically – but as the occasion required and my mood (and pantry) dictated.
I don’t pretend to know you well. But I have your book and have so appreciated your work there-in – and now feel I know the book quite well!
I don’t know of any other cookbook on my shelf (apart from one of Anna Del Conte’s whose work you recommend*) that consistently and reliably delivers excellent results. I have found no errors or missing instructions and, more importantly, your recipes have never failed – giving me continued confidence to cook each new recipe. Your occasional reassuring comments along the way have also kept me company on this culinary adventure.
In time I intend to cook all the recipes in the book, but wanted to write to you on this auspicious occasion. Last night, your ‘Sherry-glazed Chorizo’, ‘Texas Brisket’ and ‘Rice Krispie Brownies’ (an unusual menu, I admit) were enjoyed by five guests at my table – one of them the Australian Ambassador to this fine country. They were delighted to be part of the ‘milestone’ event and asked that I send their greetings and expressions of appreciation!
In my work as the Women’s Minister in a local church, a great deal of my time with women is spent around my dining table and coffee table. I believe whole-heartedly in the importance of modelling simple hospitality to women who often feel daunted by the prospect. This particular cookbook of yours has suited perfectly as a companion in this cause.
For an ‘intergenerational soiree’ – the ‘Lemon Polenta Cake’; for a table of widows and older single women – the ‘Greek Lamb Chops with Lemon and Potato’; for three young medical students – the ‘Mexican Lasagne’; for two women undergoing breast cancer treatment and unable to cook for their families – tubs of ‘Barbecue Beef Mince’, ‘Cheesy Chilli’ and a pot of ‘Spring Chicken’; for a few of the countless one-to-one meals I’ve had in order to get to know the 130 (or so) women in the church – the ‘Indian-rubbed Lamb Chops’, ‘Roast Duck Legs and Potatoes, ‘Sweet Potato Supper’ and ‘Lamb with Rosemary and Port’; for two gatherings of women in the workplace – the ‘Venetian Lasagne’ and ‘Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic’. Each of the 100 recipes I’ve cooked represent significant encounters with women and the highs and lows of their lives.
At one stage in the process, personally, I had cause to cook your ‘Date Steak’, only to be later faced with reality of taking solace in your ‘Lone Linguine’. In the midst of these and many other changes, I’ve found comfort in the unending and unfailing love of God. But, alongside that, I want to encourage you that your recipes have been a constant companion and comfort to me as they have created meaningful (and tasty!) spaces to connect with women facing their own challenges.
With much appreciation,
* I’ve cooked 50 of Anna’s 75 ‘Classic Italian Recipes’ – and will write to her anon!