Title: South by southeast

Comments: 0

Date: 05.09.14

Category: 002.1 Indie Bookshop Visits

Of books, feminists, and peach tea

photoLast summer, I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, for a scouting trip for work. Luckily, my fabulously smart and stylish companion, Sandi, shares my passion for books, which meant we ate lunch on the go to save time and visit a few book shops between stops to look at the 26 houses we toured in three cities in three days (whew!). Here are a few highlights.

way cute card illustrated by Anna Kate Lister

way cute card illustrated by Anna Kate Lister

Our first stop was Heirloom Book Company, a place I’ve been dying to visit for a couple of years. The entire shop is focused on cookbooks—both new and vintage. Shop owner Carlye Dougherty exudes passion and excitement as she guided us through the treasures she’s uncovered at estate sales, thrift shops, or sometimes, they just appear heaped in a cardboard box by her shop’s front door. Alongside the book collection are equally beautiful and interesting photographs by Susan Laney. This was definitely worth the stop.

Way cute alley leading up to the shop

Darling alley leading up to the shop

heirloomfront

heirloom1

 

Sandi and shop owner Carlye looking over the books

Sandi, left, a field editor for Better Homes and Gardens and my tour guide for the week spent in the southeast, with shop owner Carlye looking through the Carlye’s collection.

 

photo 3

photo 2

bookpage

I love that Caryle calls Work Ends at Nightfall by Majorie Hillis the original Sex and the City. It is the story of these seven single women.

 

outsideshop

After leaving Charleston, Sandi and I drove down to Savannah where we had lunch at Gryphon Tea Room. The restaurant is run by students of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and was a real treat. I renewed my love for refreshing peach tea on a steamy sunny afternoon in the south.

gryphonmenu

 

gryphon

Books on view near our table at Gryphon

Later, in the evening, I stopped in The Book Lady Bookshop. So many books. So little time.

The Book Lady

The Book Lady Bookshop in Savannah

For dinner, I sat at the Soho restaurant bar and opened my Book Lady find, a biography about Rebecca West (check out this write up about her by another one of my favorite writers, Katie Roiphe).

Soho House reading

Soho House reading

 

 

Title: Cooking the Books

Comments: 3

Date: 05.27.13

Category: 097.1 Personal Libraries

FROM TOP: It’s Easy To Be A Good Cook by Jessie De Both (1951); These Entertaining People by Florence Pritchett Smith (1966); The Basic Cookbook by Marjorie Heseltine & Ula M. Dow (1933); Friends and Their Food by Virginia Safford (1969); and America Women’s Cookbook edited by Ruth Berolzheimer (1939)

FROM TOP: It’s Easy To Be A Good Cook by Jessie De Both (1951); These Entertaining People by Florence Pritchett Smith (1966); The Basic Cookbook by Marjorie Heseltine and Ula M. Dow (1933); Friends and Their Food by Virginia Safford (1969); and America Women’s Cookbook edited by Ruth Berolzheimer (1939)

I owe a HUGE THANKS to Jessica Thomas for this special post about her cookbook collection. All photos, propping, and styling are by the talented Jessica, who I work with frequently in my day job as a magazine editor. Jessica is a freelance art director and story producer. (Be sure to check out her Web site for a peek at some of her work.)

Following is a Q&A with Jessica.

Great Dinners from Life by Eleanor Graves (1969); Foods of the World The Cooking of Provincial France by M.K.Fisher and the editors of Time-Life Books (1968); and Life Picture Cookbook Foods of the World American Cooking The Eastern Heartland by José Wilson and the editors of Time-Life Books (1971)

Great Dinners from Life by Eleanor Graves (1969); Foods of the World The Cooking of Provincial France by M.K.Fisher and the editors of Time-Life Books (1968); and Life Picture Cookbook Foods of the World American Cooking The Eastern Heartland by José Wilson and the editors of Time-Life Books (1971)

Q: HOW DID YOU START YOUR COLLECTION?

I started really getting into vintage cookbooks when I was doing research for food stories I was working on I was inspired by the simplicity of the recipes and, of course, the art direction combined with photography and illustrations. My first vintage cookbook obsession was The Basic Cookbook that my mother had from her mother. Every Christmas morning she would pull it out and make Superior Waffles with real whipped cream and strawberries. The trick was to beat egg whites then fold them into the batter to make a crisp outside with a fluffy airy interior. We made them on my great grandfather’s waffle iron, which by the time I inherited it, the cloth cord was so frayed that it became a fire hazard. We continued to use it because the iron was perfectly cured and nothing ever stuck. When I moved out on my own, I begged my mother for this cookbook but she refused until about five years later, she gave it to me for a Christmas present. Of course we made Superior Waffles.

One of my favorite shots in The Four Seasons cookbook. It reminds me of a René Magritte painting.

One of my favorite shots in The Four Seasons cookbook. It reminds me of a René Magritte painting.

Carnegie Treasures Cookbook, a rare collection of menus, recipes and settings for special occasions from the Museum of Art. Carnegie Institute Forward by James Beard (1984)

Carnegie Treasures Cookbook, a rare collection of menus, recipes and settings for special occasions from the Museum of Art. Carnegie Institute Forward by James Beard (1984)

Q: WHAT BOOKS DO YOU RETURN TO OFTEN FOR RECIPES OR INSPIRATION?

It’s embarrassing to say that I have made a only handful of recipes from my collection but I do have my favorites. I have current cookbooks that I refer to and make Marcus Samuelsson’s Sweedish meatballs from the Aquavit cookbook, and I own a Better Homes and Gardens red plaid circa late 1990s that my mother gave me when I moved out. I use it for basic foundation recipes and then I modify them.

 

For inspiration, I constantly refer to the the cook books published by Time in the 60s and 70s, especially the Time Picture Cookbook and the Foods of the World series. They are beautifully written and photographed. The Four Seasons cookbook is the perfect example of an art director gone wild, with conceptual photos of asparagus floating over Manhattan and plates of food propped on rocks or in a stream with live salmon, but that’s what makes it brilliant. I love that it’s so out of the box and also indicative of the 1970s aesthetic.

CLOCKWISE: The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child (1968); Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Lousette Bertholle Simone Beck, Vol. 1 (1961); and The Four Seasons Cookbook by Charlotte Adams special Consultant James Beard (1971)

CLOCKWISE: The French Chef Cookbook by Julia Child (1968); Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Lousette Bertholle Simone Beck, Vol. 1 (1961); and The Four Seasons Cookbook by Charlotte Adams special Consultant James Beard (1971)

Q: How did your collection of cookware develop?

I think all the collections started around the same time. I was concepting and art directing so many food shoots and I was always looking for inspiration. When going to used or vintage bookstores, I always beeline it to the cookbook section to see what treasures I can find. When you see Dansk and Vera featured in 1960s cookbook photography, and then you see it sitting on a shelf in a antique mall, well it has to be acquired. I was also very much influenced by some friends I had at the time who introduced me to mid-century design, and so my collections took off from there.

 

I love a good Vera tea towel, and while a purist would store them away in a drawer, I believe they need to be used. A stylist friend, Joe Maer, has a huge collection of Dansk that he uses for props in photo shoots. Once while visiting, I made Joe dinner and used my Dansk, and I remember him saying, “Oh I love that you actually use your Dansk. “It made me realize that maybe not everyone would.”

Foods of the World The Cooking of the British Isles by Adrian Bailey and the editors of Time-Life Books (1969). This is one of my favorites and is a wealth of information about the heritage of British cooking.

Foods of the World The Cooking of the British Isles by Adrian Bailey and the editors of Time-Life Books (1969). This is one of my favorites. It is a wealth of information about the heritage of British cooking.

 

Recipe card box with recipes handed down from great grandmother to grandmother to mother to me. Lee Bailey’s City Food Recipes for Good Food and Easy Living by Lee Bailey (1984) House & Gardens New Cookbook by the editors of House & Garden (1967) The World of Authority Larousse Gastronomique by Prosper Montagné (1961) Esquire Cookbook by the editors of Esquire (1955)

Recipe card box with recipes handed down from great grandmother to grandmother to mother to me. Lee Bailey’s City Food Recipes for Good Food and Easy Living by Lee Bailey (1984); House & Garden’s New Cookbook by the editors of House & Garden (1967); The World of Authority Larousse Gastronomique by Prosper Montagné (1961); and Esquire Cookbook by the editors of Esquire (1955)

Q: I LOVE YOUR FAMILY RECIPE CARDS.

The recipe box is more of a keepsake than something I actually use for recipes, but I love the scrawling handwritten cards and how they have frayed and turned brown with age. It makes me smile and while I have tried to decipher the recipes, it would take a handwriting expert to make sense of some of them. I always thought it would be a great food story to take old handwritten recipes and bring them up to date and “decode” them. I love the names like “Park Cake” or “Ranger cookies.” I have made my grandmother’s zucchini bread, which brings her image baking in her kitchen for all the kids back to me every time.

This spread from the Life Picture Cookbook reminds me of a Kate Spade ad campaign

This spread from the Life Picture Cookbook (1958) reminds me of a Kate Spade ad campaign

Do you have a favorite vintage cookbook or a place to shop for them? For further inspiration, check out the following cookbook shops.

Heirloom Books, Bonnie Slotnick’s shop in NYC, and Vintage Cook Book online.


 

Title: Of books and babies

Comments: 2

Date: 05.15.13

Category: 028.1 My Bookshelf

Spencer Ryan Kegans, almost 9 months old Spencer Ryan Kegans, almost 9 months old

I’ve had a pretty long break. But I’ve had a pretty good excuse. I’m brushing up again—after more than a decade of hiatus—on baby books and building baby Spencer’s library (with more than a few of big brother Evan’s books that I clung to even though he’s now a pre-teen). Couldn’t be happier. Looking forward to restarting this blog and hitting the books again!

Title: Take me home, country roads

Comments: 3

Date: 02.11.12

Category: 011.1 Authors

It seems fitting that in the dead of winter comes a book of essays that whisks you down a country road, where the sky is clear blue and, in my mind, the grass is a just a little bit greener. Even better, the author of the aptly titled So Much SkyKaren Weir-Jimerson, lives on a farm just about 30 miles outside my hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, where she works as a freelance garden writer. Des Moines is also home to a slew of national magazines that you might recognize, including Better Homes and Gardens. Meredith Corp. used to publish Country Home, where Karen’s essays appeared on the pages every month for six years. Today, Karen’s column, “Slow Lane,” runs in Better Homes and Gardens Country Gardens magazine.
Reading Karen’s essays–first-hand accounts of living the rural life with her husband, Doug, and their two boys, renovating their 1903 farmhouse, and tending to their horses, donkeys, sheep, birds, dogs, and cats–is akin to sinking into a friend’s comfortable couch and laughing (or tearing up) over life’s simple and unexpected moments.
During a recent reading at a local bookstore, Karen shared with the audience heartwarming and often funny anecdotes of reader mail she has received over the years. One letter she recounted gave me a an idea to start at home with my son: A woman wrote that she reads Karen’s column aloud every night to her children as a bedtime story.

Photos by Mark Kegans

Karen, who earned her MA from the University of South Carolina where she did her thesis under the direction of James Dickey(!!), kindly shared a few of her favorite authors and books.
David Sedaris. Karen says “He’s funny and dark and sometimes I laugh and cry in the same essay.”
Verlyn Klinkenborg‘s essays that often appear in The New York Times. “Sometimes he says things that are so astute and so astounding. I just sit on my little green couch, green with envy.”
• For audio, “I listen to stories on ‘This American Life‘ and ‘The Moth.’ Both illustrate such amazing storytelling and wise editing choices.”
• Karen’s favorite fiction, she says, is a bit all over the place. “I love Dickens because he can weave together a cast of characters into a beautiful tapestry. And who doesn’t like spontaneous combustion as a way to get rid of a character (Bleak House)? I’m kind of partial to 19th-century British literature because I got my master’s in it–and poetics. So I like Thomas Hardy. And, of course, Jane Austen. But I like American lit as well. I’m currently working my way through Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I just read The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, which was so interesting that I read it again as soon as I finished it.

Here’s a visual glimpse into life on Karen’s farm.

Photo by Kritsada, courtesy of Country Gardens

Karen's formal garden. Photo courtesy of Karen Weir-Jimerson

Yukon photo courtesy of Karen Weir-Jimerson

Karen's farm includes a bevy of chickens. Photo courtesy of Karen Weir-Jimerson

How sweet is Archer the dog? Photo courtesy of Karen Weir-Jimerson

 

Title: Merry Christmas!

Comments: 0

Date: 12.25.11

Category: 028.1 My Bookshelf

Just a quick post to wish all my bookish friends a happy holiday. I just finished (and loved) Stephen King’s 11.22.63 and have passed it along to my husband who is devouring it, too. Next up for me is SAUL and PATSY by Charles Baxter. I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone’s reading in the new year. Cheers!

Books near my fireplace.

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