March 26, 2016

Saturday Beans & Sunday Suppers

Saturday Beans & Sunday Suppers: Kitchen Stories from Mary's Farm by Edie Clark
Nonfiction - Essays
2007 Powersbridge Press
Finished on December 7, 2015
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it... and then the richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied... and it is all one. ~ M.F.K. Fisher

Publisher's Blurb:

Life-saving iced tea, Indian pudding "as it should be," dandelion wine made in the days when flowers mean peace, roast lamb on an Icelandic farm, baked beans from those who know best, cod cheeks and ale. Take this journey from the early 1960s all the way to the present and visit all kinds of kitchens on the way through the decades. In Saturday Beans & Sunday Suppers, you'll discover a delicious collection of thoughts, memories and recipes, all about food, written by one of New England's most treasured writers. Here, food is not just sustenance but life and spirit and communion all in one. Guaranteed to inspire an appetite, for life and for good food, happily prepared.

What a delightful book! I enjoyed each and every chapter. My dear friend, Nan, gave me this book several years ago and I decided to give it a try, starting on the day before Thanksgiving. It was the perfect sort of book to read during the busy holiday season and I read one or two chapters each night. Each chapter includes a recipe and I marked all but one or two to try. Here's a list, just for fun:

Not Aunt Peg's Fish Chowder
Aunt Peg's Iced Tea (with lemons and oranges)
French Onion Soup
Vinegar Cake (chocolate cake, from The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken)
Indian Pudding (cornmeal, molasses, milk & eggs)
Mushrooms Provencale
Vermont Baked Beans
Chicken and Dumplings (I already have a wonderful recipe, but I'd like to try this one since it's meant to be cooked in a crockpot)
Beef Stew
Cold Cucumber Soup
Orange Couscous

Nothing fancy or elaborate, but her remarks about these recipes made me eager to try them. 

On food and memory:

When I sat down to write this book, I believed I was going to write about some favorite New England foods and include the recipes for each. But as the book progressed, I realized that food cannot be separated from place and memory, family and events from the past. In a way, then, there is no more powerful memoir than the food itself, a sensory cue strong enough to conjure the past as present, the present as past.  Aromas and touch can bring back the pageant of what came before.


Food, made by our own hands or passed to us from loved ones, is, without parallel and without guise, our lifeblood. It is what creates us, mind and body and spirit. Some food is simply nourishment, passed to us through a window of a fast-food chain and eaten from our laps as we navigate traffic. This is hardly food, only fuel, and even that is questionable nourishment. Food created by us and for us is our substance, the essence of love and reminiscence.

Final Thoughts:

I knew nothing about Edie Clark before reading this culinary delight and now I'm curious about The Place He Made, her memoir about her husband's death from cancer, as well as The View from Mary's Farm, an earlier collection of her essays. She has that writing style of familiarity, reminding me of a cozy afternoon spent with a good friend, sharing a cup of hot tea and meaningful conversation. Highly recommend!

Food is an adventure, food is communion, food is comfort, food is love. Food is a very big way that we live our lives. We might as well make it good. ~ Edie Clark

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  1. This sounds wonderful! Happy Easter!

    1. It was really very good, Kathy!

      Hope you had a lovely Easter.

  2. I too am new to Edie Clark -- I think I would love to read her memories for each recipe. I also like the idea that these are family and regional recipes. I hoe my library has copies

    1. I hope your library has a copy of one or two of her books. Her writing is so approachable and I know this is one I'll pick up again, not just for the recipes, but her thoughts on life, as well.

  3. So many of our family memories took place around the dinner table. I'm sure I would enjoy this book as much for the recipes as for the personal essays.

    1. I'm a big advocate for family meals at the dinner table. Now that it's just the two of us, we really need to make an effort to sit at the table and not in front of the TV.

      Thanks for stopping by, Molly. I see you don't live too far from me. We love visiting Kansas City!

  4. I've never participated in Weekend Cooking because I'm definitely not a cook - I let my husband do the cooking :) But that's so true about how cooking and food cannot be separated from memory. I may try to participate in this one of these days. Happy Easter!

    1. Iliana, I hope you decide to participate. As far as I can tell, Weekend Cooking can be about just about anything food-related. And we all have to eat, right?! :)

      P.S. You're lucky that your husband does the cooking. Sometimes I wish mine knew how to do more than just eggs.


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