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Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food

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From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at making pesto, taught her children how to make their favorite potatoes, found hope in her daughter’s omelet after a divorce, and fell in love again—with both her husband and his foolproof chicken stock. Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few). In “Carbonara Quest,” searching for the perfect spaghetti helped her cope with lonely nights as a flight attendant. In the award-winning essay The Golden Silver Palate, she recounts the history of her fail-safe dinner party recipe for Chicken Marbella—and how it did fail her when she was falling in love. Hood’s simple, comforting recipes also include her mother’s famous meatballs, hearty Italian Beef Stew, classic Indiana Fried Chicken, the perfect grilled cheese, and a deliciously summery peach pie. With Hood’s signature humor and tenderness, Kitchen Yarns spills tales of loss and starting from scratch, family love and feasts with friends, and how the perfect meal is one that tastes like home.


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From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at making pesto, taught her children how to make their favorite potatoes, found hope in her daughter’s omelet after a divorce, and fell in love again—with both her husband and his foolproof chicken stock. Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few). In “Carbonara Quest,” searching for the perfect spaghetti helped her cope with lonely nights as a flight attendant. In the award-winning essay The Golden Silver Palate, she recounts the history of her fail-safe dinner party recipe for Chicken Marbella—and how it did fail her when she was falling in love. Hood’s simple, comforting recipes also include her mother’s famous meatballs, hearty Italian Beef Stew, classic Indiana Fried Chicken, the perfect grilled cheese, and a deliciously summery peach pie. With Hood’s signature humor and tenderness, Kitchen Yarns spills tales of loss and starting from scratch, family love and feasts with friends, and how the perfect meal is one that tastes like home.

30 review for Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food

  1. 5 out of 5

    Larry H

    "First we eat, then we do everything else." —M.F.K. Fisher Like music, food often has such an indelible role in our memories. Many of us can remember where and when (and in some cases, with whom) we first tried certain foods, and some of us can even remember the meals or dishes we'd consider best-ever (or even worst-ever). Some turn to food for comfort, for celebration, for companionship, while some even have a complicated relationship with food. But no matter what, we can't deny the place food ha "First we eat, then we do everything else." —M.F.K. Fisher Like music, food often has such an indelible role in our memories. Many of us can remember where and when (and in some cases, with whom) we first tried certain foods, and some of us can even remember the meals or dishes we'd consider best-ever (or even worst-ever). Some turn to food for comfort, for celebration, for companionship, while some even have a complicated relationship with food. But no matter what, we can't deny the place food has in our lives beyond simple nourishment. In her new book, Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food , Ann Hood reflects upon the connection between certain dishes and specific memories or times in her life. There are the pleasant memories of family, her first job as a flight attendant for TWA, dishes associated with her children. Then there are those dishes which remind her of times she was struggling, with grief, loneliness, despair, anger. And then there are the nostalgic recipes, which came from cookbooks that are heavily stained or have fallen apart through years of use. Each essay marks a particular time or memory, and each is accompanied by at least one recipe. "When I write an essay about food, I am really uncovering something deeper in my life—loss, family, confusion, growing up, growing away from what I knew, returning, grief, joy, and, yes, love." There's the never-fail Chicken Marbella recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook , which only failed her one time, when she was falling in love. There are the potato recipes enjoyed by two of her children, and the baked potato recipe from her new husband, the one which made her actually enjoy baked potatoes. Whether it's the blueberry muffins which remind her of the department store where she worked as a teenage model, or the various dishes her Italian grandmother and her mother afterward filled the days and nights of her childhood with, this book captures the warmth, the feeling of connection cooking brings. You know, this is why everyone winds up in the kitchen during a dinner party! This book hit so many special notes for me. I love to cook and love to read recipes, but despite my struggles with liking food far too much (especially those dastardly carbohydrates), food has such a special place in my memories. I remember the dishes taught to me by my mother and grandmothers, those I learned in culinary school, those I tried to recreate after being wowed by a certain dish in a restaurant, and the foods I turned to during difficult times. There's a reason that when families in the Jewish religion mourn so much food is served—food truly can bring comfort, albeit temporary, as well as fellowship. "That even in grief, we must take tentative steps back into the world. That even in grief, we must eat. And that when we share that food with others, we are reclaiming those broken bits of our lives, holding them out as if to say, I am still here. Comfort me. As if with each bite, we remember how it is to live." I have been a big fan of Hood's storytelling (I loved The Obituary Writer and Somewhere Off the Coast of Maine ), but her writing in this book just dazzled me. I could see the ripe tomatoes in the tomato pies, taste the richness of the cassoulet, hear the crunch of her father's Indiana fried chicken. Needless to say, my stomach growled the entire day as I read this, and I cannot wait to try so many of the recipes she included in the book. Kitchen Yarns will whet your appetite and wet your eyes from time to time. I think this is the perfect book to give as a gift to those with whom you've shared recipes, meals, and memories related to food. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 As with music, I'm sure many of can remember when a particular song was played, food and meals can bring about the same type of memories. Favorite foods from our childhood, comfort food we still crave to this day, maybe even struggling to learn how to cook. Ann takes us through her life, associating food with her different memories. What a fantastic way to get to know a person, an author, up close and personal. She takes us through her young years, growing up in an Itslian family, always a po 3.5 As with music, I'm sure many of can remember when a particular song was played, food and meals can bring about the same type of memories. Favorite foods from our childhood, comfort food we still crave to this day, maybe even struggling to learn how to cook. Ann takes us through her life, associating food with her different memories. What a fantastic way to get to know a person, an author, up close and personal. She takes us through her young years, growing up in an Itslian family, always a pot of red sauce, called gravy, simmering on the stove. Dinner parties her mother hosted, dinner parties she later threw on her own. Learning to cook, her favorite, simple fried chicken recipe, her marriage, children, her divorce and later her second marriage, all associated with different foods, meals. Just a wonderful book, simply written, reminding me of all the meals I can remember, failures and successes to do with food and cooking. Recipes are included, and I'm so darn suggestible I went and ordered the cookbook she mentions more than once, from Amazon. ARC from Edelweiss.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    Perfect light reading for a busy time. Essays on the importance of food, family and friends. With recipes, none of which are fancy or complicated. I intend to try the tomato pie very soon.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Toni

    Yummy Cozy 4.5 rounded up to 5 Stars Kitchen Yarns is a casual memoir with food. Ann Hood recounts her life through its phases of learning to cook and relationships connected to those times. It’s chatty and fun, as if you and she were sitting in her family room in two big cozy chairs, each with a glass of wine, something delicious to munch on and sharing stories of your lives. She starts out describing her Italian Grandma Rose, constantly cooking heavenly, fresh meals, but never once letting Ann Yummy Cozy 4.5 rounded up to 5 Stars Kitchen Yarns is a casual memoir with food. Ann Hood recounts her life through its phases of learning to cook and relationships connected to those times. It’s chatty and fun, as if you and she were sitting in her family room in two big cozy chairs, each with a glass of wine, something delicious to munch on and sharing stories of your lives. She starts out describing her Italian Grandma Rose, constantly cooking heavenly, fresh meals, but never once letting Ann or the other kids into her tiny kitchen. The result, Ann never learned to cook any of these meals! (I on the hand, watched and learned everything my mother made; but did not become a writer or a chef.) Ann moves on to college trying out a few meals to impress a few boys. After college she lands a job as a flight attendant for TWA (remember them?!), flies everywhere and shares an apartment in Boston with five roommates. No one cooks anything, ever. Eventually she has her first serious relationship and decides to follow a recipe, changing one key ingredient. What follows is a disastrous pesto meal for an understanding boyfriend. (Great story.) She moves on, thankfully, to the memorable, “Silver Palate” cookbook, super popular in the 1980’s. Of course, Ann marries, has two children who stand on stools and cook with her almost every day. Here is where our walk “down the yellow-brick road” ends. At five years old, her daughter, Grace dies suddenly, from a severe case of strep throat. (yes, they did everything.) Life is not the same for a long time. I’ve read most of Ann’s books, but this is the first time she can really talk about the pain and grief she went through losing a child. She worked through it, as mothers do, with seven-year-old Tommy, still at home to raise. The family was living in an old, restored, Victorian house in Providence, RI, not far from Ann’s hometown. She talks a lot about her neighborhood. Before that marriage ended, they adopted one-year-old, Annabelle from China, which brought new challenges and new joy to the family. Currently, Annabelle is fourteen years old living with the happily remarried Ann and her “sweetie” (her word), writer and chef, Michael Ruelman. Ann’s book is sprinkled with humor and many of her favorite recipes. Look for Ann’s book Dec. 4, 2018 and wish her a Happy Birthday on Dec 9th! Thank you NetGalley, W.W. Norton, and Ann Hood

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    In the postpartum haze after my daughter was born when I began to pick up books again between diaper changes and during nursing sessions, I found a book called The Obituary Writer.  Though all I wanted to do was sleep and eat uninterrupted, I couldn't put the book down and chose to read in those few minutes I had to myself.  I made a mental note of the author so I could look for more of her books. When Ann Hood's food memoir Kitchen Yarns recently appeared on NetGalley, I couldn't click the reque In the postpartum haze after my daughter was born when I began to pick up books again between diaper changes and during nursing sessions, I found a book called The Obituary Writer.  Though all I wanted to do was sleep and eat uninterrupted, I couldn't put the book down and chose to read in those few minutes I had to myself.  I made a mental note of the author so I could look for more of her books. When Ann Hood's food memoir Kitchen Yarns recently appeared on NetGalley, I couldn't click the request button fast enough.  I love a good food memoir and was thrilled to have the opportunity to read more of Hood's work. "Fisher said, writing about food is really writing about love. When I write an essay about food, I am really uncovering something deeper in my life -- loss, family, confusion, growing up, growing away from what I knew, returning, grief, joy, and, yes, love." Growing up in an Italian American family, Ann Hood remembers her grandmother's tiny kitchen and how there was always something simmering, usually a tomato sauce that they called gravy; an all purpose sauce to smother bread in for an after school snack or to cover pasta. Her dad's military career meant moving often, which was especially hard on her mother who was raised in a close-knit family.  Hood has many fond memories centering around food with her family, from her dad's simple fried chicken to her mom's fancy sandwiches for PTA meetings and elaborate school lunches. "My mother built lunches the way some people build skyscrapers or monuments. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized they were her Taj Mahal-- all of that glorious food jammed into a brown paper bag, made only for me." Each essay is full of nostalgia and accompanied by comforting recipes that represent a certain time period in her life.  She isn't ashamed to admit she loves American cheese because it reminds her of her dad (a cook who didn't realize he couldn't cook well), and she recounts the history of her fail proof dinner party dish Chicken Marbella and how it factored in to her adult life and marriage. Suffering multiple tragedies over the course of her life from the sudden and unexpected deaths of her aunt, brother, and then her five year old daughter, Ann Hood uses food and memory as catharsis. With charming descriptions, funny observations, and heartbreaking honesty, Kitchen Yarns chronicles a life of family, home, love, and loss and its one constant comfort:  food. Thanks to W.W. Norton Company and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food is scheduled for release on December 4, 2018. * Quotes included are from an advance readers copy and are subject to change upon final publication. For more full reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    A gem. Thoroughly enjoyed the stories and want to try each and every recipe some day.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ren

    This book has been bringing equal parts joy and tears to my eyes and I’m sad I finished it (although I already made her/Laurie Colwin’s tomato pie, which closes the book in the most lovely, poignant story and also helps to heal what ails you). I never would have appreciated her writing and her simply but wonderfully, beautifully told little life lessons when I was younger so I’m very grateful to have discovered Ann Hood’s writing when I did. This book is the essay equivalent of comfort food, suc This book has been bringing equal parts joy and tears to my eyes and I’m sad I finished it (although I already made her/Laurie Colwin’s tomato pie, which closes the book in the most lovely, poignant story and also helps to heal what ails you). I never would have appreciated her writing and her simply but wonderfully, beautifully told little life lessons when I was younger so I’m very grateful to have discovered Ann Hood’s writing when I did. This book is the essay equivalent of comfort food, such a treasure. 4.5/5

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lesa

    Ah, Ann Hood. I know she's written other books, and I've read other ones, but I identified with her memoir/essay collection Morningstar: Growing Up with Books. Now, she has given us a memoir about another essential part of her life. Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food includes recipes, but it's a book about those moments in her life when those recipes were essential. Hood turns to food for comfort, in grief, in loss of a marriage, in joy. Her memoir is not in consecutive order. It's in Ah, Ann Hood. I know she's written other books, and I've read other ones, but I identified with her memoir/essay collection Morningstar: Growing Up with Books. Now, she has given us a memoir about another essential part of her life. Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food includes recipes, but it's a book about those moments in her life when those recipes were essential. Hood turns to food for comfort, in grief, in loss of a marriage, in joy. Her memoir is not in consecutive order. It's in order by memories of the heart. No one in Ann Hood's family actually taught her to cook. Her grandmother, Mama Rose, didn't want anyone in her small kitchen. Hood's mother worked while her father was stationed at various places in the navy. It wasn't until she was an adult, working as a flight attendant, that she taught herself to cook with the help of various cookbooks. She turned herself into what she refers to as a "good home cook" by the time she was married and raising a family. M.F.K. Fisher is quoted as saying, "Writing about food is really writing about love." That's exactly what Hood does in this latest book. Yes, she writes about her father's fried chicken, her grandmother's Italian cooking, the potatoes her children made. But, mixed in with those accounts are the stories of living with her grandmother while her father was gone, the loss of her daughter, Hood's divorce, her marriage to the man she loves (a man who knows and writes of food). She shares all of those stories with the reader, allowing us to glimpse her life, her grief, her love of food and family. I mentioned that I identified with Hood's book Morningstar. I don't share that same feeling with Kitchen Yarns. I'm not from an Italian family. My father wasn't career military. I didn't have any of the same career or marriage or family experiences Hood did. But, Ann Hood and I are the same age, and there are moments of familiarity when she talks of television or fads or books, and, even at times, food. There were moments when I teared up because of that familiarity. Throughout the book, Hood mentions the authors who are touchstones of food writing, M.F.K. Fisher, Laurie Colwin, Ruth Reichl. Hood brings the reader into the "home" in home cooking, though. She says, "Each essay stands alone, but taken as a while, they make a life - mine." Hood's new book about family and home, loss and love, and food, "is really writing about love", and her book is a gift of love to every reader.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I wanted to read this book via #NetGalley but I was not approved -- nonetheless, here is my review from a purchased copy. #yourloss :-) From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it. In this warm collection of personal essays and recipes, best-selling author Ann Hood nourishes both our bodies and our souls. From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer I wanted to read this book via #NetGalley but I was not approved -- nonetheless, here is my review from a purchased copy. #yourloss :-) From the publisher, as I do not regurgitate the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it. In this warm collection of personal essays and recipes, best-selling author Ann Hood nourishes both our bodies and our souls. From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at making pesto, taught her children how to make their favorite potatoes, found hope in her daughter’s omelet after a divorce, and fell in love again—with both her husband and his foolproof chicken stock. Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few). In “Carbonara Quest,” searching for the perfect spaghetti helped her cope with lonely nights as a flight attendant. In the award-winning essay “The Golden Silver Palate,” she recounts the history of her fail-safe dinner party recipe for Chicken Marbella—and how it did fail her when she was falling in love. Hood’s simple, comforting recipes also include her mother’s famous meatballs, hearty Italian Beef Stew, classic Indiana Fried Chicken, the perfect grilled cheese, and a deliciously summery peach pie. With Hood’s signature humour and tenderness, Kitchen Yarns spills tales of loss and starting from scratch, family love and feasts with friends, and how the perfect meal is one that tastes like home. About the Author: Ann Hood is the author of eight previous books, including the best-selling memoir Comfort: A Journey Through Grief and best-selling novels The Book That Matters Most and The Knitting Circle. I LOVED this book ... I just wish that I could have shared my love on #netgalley. The stories were warm and personal and the recipes look amazing: I cannot wait to make that peach pie! I laughed, I cried, I made notes, I am so foisting this on my bookclubs ... there are eight groups that I run and chose the books for, so lots of $ales$ Five definite 📚 📚📚📚📚 ... this is a beautiful and wonderful book that would delight even the NON-cook in hour life!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ginny

    Love, love, loved this book of essays that try and sum up the life and memories that make up Ann Hoods life. Growing up in a Catholic, Italian family in the east, Hood brings you into all the things that made her the writer she is today. The good, the bad, the sad and all the happiness in between, and recipes in each chapter that make you want to cook and be a part of it all. She tells the story of her life from a young girl, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a friend, losing people she loved and tr Love, love, loved this book of essays that try and sum up the life and memories that make up Ann Hoods life. Growing up in a Catholic, Italian family in the east, Hood brings you into all the things that made her the writer she is today. The good, the bad, the sad and all the happiness in between, and recipes in each chapter that make you want to cook and be a part of it all. She tells the story of her life from a young girl, a wife, a daughter, a mother, a friend, losing people she loved and trying to find herself after grief robs her of life, being divorced, finding love again, and all that happens as we try to live. One of my favorite quotes: that even in grief, we must eat. And that when we share the food with others, we are reclaiming those broken bits of our lives, holding them out as if to say, I am still here. Comfort me. As if with each bite, we remember how it is to live. ❤️ Thanks for comforting me Ann.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I was fortunate to read a very early copy of this and absolutely loved it. It's a fabulous companion to her previous book, MORNINGSTAR: Growing Up With Books. More review to come. Publishing date: December 2018 Thanks to WW Norton for the advanced reading copy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review. Anyone who gets nostalgia for a favorite childhood meal, or who remembers events largely by what they ate, will find good company in Ann Hood's memoir. Chapters are set to memories of the meals most important to her, and she has a way with the words that describe these meals, the company she ate them with, the place they had in her life. The stories are a bit repetitive, but there are some that are u Thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review. Anyone who gets nostalgia for a favorite childhood meal, or who remembers events largely by what they ate, will find good company in Ann Hood's memoir. Chapters are set to memories of the meals most important to her, and she has a way with the words that describe these meals, the company she ate them with, the place they had in her life. The stories are a bit repetitive, but there are some that are uniquely moving.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily Goenner

    A good 3.5 stars for this book--I enjoyed it. I like food memoirs and this one was like sitting down with a friend, sharing stories, repeating each other, identifying with struggles and sharing recipes, all over a cup of tea. Often, food memoirs are pretentious and so "foodie" they are inaccessible to me, but this book surprised me with a great combination of homey food (pie with pudding as filling!), traditional recipes, and more elevated fare. A warm and cozy book, it was a nice way to start t A good 3.5 stars for this book--I enjoyed it. I like food memoirs and this one was like sitting down with a friend, sharing stories, repeating each other, identifying with struggles and sharing recipes, all over a cup of tea. Often, food memoirs are pretentious and so "foodie" they are inaccessible to me, but this book surprised me with a great combination of homey food (pie with pudding as filling!), traditional recipes, and more elevated fare. A warm and cozy book, it was a nice way to start the year, and included several recipes I'd like to try.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie Howey

    The book comprises a series of essays about the author's life and the foods associated with that time period in her life. She taught herself to cook but grew up close to an Italian grandmother whose specialty was gravy (otherwise known as sauce) and gravy was a staple of most of her meals. Readers of a certain age will readily identify with some of the recipes in this book (think chicken Marbella) and their own memories from those times. The author has suffered great losses in her life, however t The book comprises a series of essays about the author's life and the foods associated with that time period in her life. She taught herself to cook but grew up close to an Italian grandmother whose specialty was gravy (otherwise known as sauce) and gravy was a staple of most of her meals. Readers of a certain age will readily identify with some of the recipes in this book (think chicken Marbella) and their own memories from those times. The author has suffered great losses in her life, however the book is not sad, but rather filled with hope. This is a good book for reading on a cold winter weekend and if you get inspired, try out some of her recipes.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kate TerHaar

    What powerful memories food evokes. I loved reading Ann's stories about some of the food and recipes that meant so much to her. Each chapter ends with the recipe that the story refers to. Some of these recipes stirred up my own memories of growing up and made me smile and realize the link between food and family.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Very quick and easy read. Ann tells stories of being a child/college student/mom/author, and the foods that accompany these memories. Each short piece is followed by the recipe(s), all fairly simple and mostly what I would call comfort foods. Her style of writing is warm and makes me want to get into the kitchen. (Can't forgive her for the misquote from Charlotte's Web.)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Crystal King

    I'm a sucker for any book about food and this one was no exception. Hood's latest is a dip into her life and her loves and this collection of essays and recipes will be sure to warm your soul. Make sure you don't read on an empty stomach or you'll come away from the page with a deep abiding hunger and a need to run to the kitchen and whip up a bunch of meatballs. Delizioso!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Ubbing

    A warm hearted book - and quick read. Finished it in one day in front of the fire!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

    I wanted to like this book more, but it needs a good editor. It definitely reads like individual essays that have been slapped together in one volume. How many times do we need to be told that her son’s name is Sam? Or that she worked as an air hostess in First Class and wore Ralph Lauren? But, I have to admit that I saved several recipes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Downey

    Why is it that sometimes you just need a book that you can read without fuss or anxiety or excitement—just a book that comforts. Ann Hood’s Kitchen Yarns is just that. I began this book of personal essays just before I started preparations for Christmas, and it made me look again at the food I was cooking with an eye toward why I was cooking it. Why do I always want wild rice casserole and frozen yum yum for Christmas dinner? Because there is a story behind each of those dishes. In Kitchen Yarns, Why is it that sometimes you just need a book that you can read without fuss or anxiety or excitement—just a book that comforts. Ann Hood’s Kitchen Yarns is just that. I began this book of personal essays just before I started preparations for Christmas, and it made me look again at the food I was cooking with an eye toward why I was cooking it. Why do I always want wild rice casserole and frozen yum yum for Christmas dinner? Because there is a story behind each of those dishes. In Kitchen Yarns, Hood does exactly that. She tells the story of her life—from her happy childhood, through failed marriages, the death of her brother, and then of her young child, Grace, until her current happy marriage and her career as an author. Each essay, each story is told through the lens of a dish or a meal. She understands the power of a good meal and the power of a good story. The reviewer in People Magazine says, “perfect holiday-season fare. . .you’ll want to keep both kitchen and Kleenex close at hand.” The stories brought me peace, because I also believe that meals, properly prepared or even just thrown together, bind us, inspire us, and comfort us. Hood says, “I always believed in food as the greatest comfort. Food can’t heal, but it can soothe and comfort us. “ I am leaving on Tuesday to go to the funeral of the 104-year-old mother of my oldest friend. Of course, my friend and her siblings are planning meals for guests that will warm their hearts and their souls. This is the major gift of Ann Hood’s book—food and the joy that it brings. But—the recipes are good too. True to Hood’s style, the recipes are, for the most part, uncomplicated, filling, delightful. I really want to try the tomato pie and the Chicken Marbella. The Kirkus reviewer suggests that some of the recipes are marginal, but I think that is part of the value of the book. Some of our best food memories are of the memory rather than the food. Ann Hood speaks my language. I first met her when I read, The Book that Matters Most a couple of years ago. I came to realize that Hood fashioned the character Maggie after her own struggles following a divorce. You will really enjoy both of these books..

  21. 5 out of 5

    Literary Soirée

    I was thrilled to receive a NetGalley ARC for Ann Hood’s Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food. I adore her writing, warmth and big-heartedness, and have followed her story since the tragic death of her daughter Grace at age five from a virulent form of strep. The Publisher’s Note is perfect, so I’ll let it spin the rest of KITCHEN YARNS’ yarn, except to say I’m raising a glass of chianti as I sup on Ann’s perfect recipe for Chicken Marbella, while awarding this beauty of a meal-infused m I was thrilled to receive a NetGalley ARC for Ann Hood’s Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food. I adore her writing, warmth and big-heartedness, and have followed her story since the tragic death of her daughter Grace at age five from a virulent form of strep. The Publisher’s Note is perfect, so I’ll let it spin the rest of KITCHEN YARNS’ yarn, except to say I’m raising a glass of chianti as I sup on Ann’s perfect recipe for Chicken Marbella, while awarding this beauty of a meal-infused memoir with a hearty 5/5! From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at making pesto, taught her children how to make their favorite potatoes, found hope in her daughter’s omelet after a divorce, and fell in love again—with both her husband and his foolproof chicken stock. Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few). In “Carbonara Quest,” searching for the perfect spaghetti helped her cope with lonely nights as a flight attendant. In the award-winning essay “The Golden Silver Palate,” she recounts the history of her fail-safe dinner party recipe for Chicken Marbella—and how it did fail her when she was falling in love. Hood’s simple, comforting recipes also include her mother’s famous meatballs, hearty Italian Beef Stew, classic Indiana Fried Chicken, the perfect grilled cheese, and a deliciously summery peach pie. With Hood’s signature humor and tenderness, Kitchen Yarns spills tales of loss and starting from scratch, family love and feasts with friends, and how the perfect meal is one that tastes like home. Pub Date 04 Dec 2018 Thanks to W. W. Norton & Company and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are fully mine. #KitchenYarns #NetGalley

  22. 5 out of 5

    Cheryle Fisher

    From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal. Growing up, she tasted love in her grandmother’s tomato sauce and dreamed of her mother’s special-occasion Fancy Lady Sandwiches. Later, the kitchen became the heart of Hood’s own home. She cooked pork roast to warm her first apartment, used two cups of dried basil for her first attempt at making pesto, taught her children how to make their favorite potatoes, found hope in her daughter’s omelet after a divorce, and fell in love again—with both her husband and his foolproof chicken stock. Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few). In “Carbonara Quest,” searching for the perfect spaghetti helped her cope with lonely nights as a flight attendant. In the award-winning essay The Golden Silver Palate, she recounts the history of her fail-safe dinner party recipe for Chicken Marbella—and how it did fail her when she was falling in love. Hood’s simple, comforting recipes also include her mother’s famous meatballs, hearty Italian Beef Stew, classic Indiana Fried Chicken, the perfect grilled cheese, and a deliciously summery peach pie. With Hood’s signature humor and tenderness, Kitchen Yarns spills tales of loss and starting from scratch, family love and feasts with friends, and how the perfect meal is one that tastes like home.

  23. 4 out of 5

    RMazin

    Kitchen Yarns is one of the best-titled books I have read. The title is reflective of the author’s memories and interactions with friends, family and food as she experienced bonds shared, strengthened, broken or lost. Each yarn/ or essay is a brief story that explores the meaning of her relationships and how they shaped who she became as a writer, mother, daughter, friend and partner. Personal anecdotes and the included recipes, propel the reader into the following chapters. The appetite is whet Kitchen Yarns is one of the best-titled books I have read. The title is reflective of the author’s memories and interactions with friends, family and food as she experienced bonds shared, strengthened, broken or lost. Each yarn/ or essay is a brief story that explores the meaning of her relationships and how they shaped who she became as a writer, mother, daughter, friend and partner. Personal anecdotes and the included recipes, propel the reader into the following chapters. The appetite is whetted for more thought and food for thought. Hood is generous by sharing so much of herself. She is also generous by sharing her family recipes and how they became part of her life. Most of the recipes seem to be easily undertaken by even a beginning cook. Some of the earlier recipes, of Hood’s childhood, may evoke a sense of memory in one’s own younger days. These are not gourmet ones, but the ones that just make you happy or nostalgic for the smells and sights of your family’s own kitchen. This book is sure to be a winner for gift-giving and book discussions – of readers’ own experiences and recipes. Recommended. Thanks to Netgalley and the author for giving me the opportunity to review this title.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Holly R W

    In "Kitchen Yarns," the author shares her favorite recipes and tips for cooking and combines them with personal memories relating to the food. I was very interested in the recipes and will try a few of them, beginning with Silver Palate Chicken Marbella. Ms. Hood shares her early attempts and kitchen disasters. She talks of the cooks who shaped her - Her dad, who was an enthusiastic, but not so good cook and her grandmother who cooked delicious dishes without real recipes. She is now married to In "Kitchen Yarns," the author shares her favorite recipes and tips for cooking and combines them with personal memories relating to the food. I was very interested in the recipes and will try a few of them, beginning with Silver Palate Chicken Marbella. Ms. Hood shares her early attempts and kitchen disasters. She talks of the cooks who shaped her - Her dad, who was an enthusiastic, but not so good cook and her grandmother who cooked delicious dishes without real recipes. She is now married to food writer Michael Ruhlman, who has further refined her thoughts on food and cooking. Ms. Hood loves to cook and even cooks full meals for herself while dining alone. Her love of food has led her to grow as a cook. Over the years, she has collected recipes that have worked for her. She is not shy about giving credit to where they come from, which I liked. Personally, I enjoyed her thoughts about making omelets. A few years back, the New York Times food section generated an amazing amount of reader responses re: how best to make scrambled eggs and omelets. I never knew that there were so many approaches to such a very simple dish. It was fun for me to read all of the opinions. Ms. Hood's recipes are well thought out and are not too difficult for an experienced home cook. Bon Appetit!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Sole-Smith

    All of Ann Hood's writing is gorgeous, and this memoir is no different. It was the perfect Christmas vacation reading -- light but full of heart and some truly hard and sad moments. I loved getting to know "GoGo," as Hood's family calls her mother, as well as her children. I would have been interested to understand more about what went wrong in her first two marriages, but can understand why she kept the boundaries in place that she did... and didn't feel the book suffered for it. As a mother of All of Ann Hood's writing is gorgeous, and this memoir is no different. It was the perfect Christmas vacation reading -- light but full of heart and some truly hard and sad moments. I loved getting to know "GoGo," as Hood's family calls her mother, as well as her children. I would have been interested to understand more about what went wrong in her first two marriages, but can understand why she kept the boundaries in place that she did... and didn't feel the book suffered for it. As a mother of small children, I sometimes marveled at how poetically Hood describes cooking elaborate dinners with her own kids (mine are far less patient with whisking and stirring!). But seen less as a how-to and more as a metaphor for family memory and connection, it absolutely works. And of course, I'm excited to try the recipes!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Connie Ciampanelli

    Rhode Island's own Ann Hood, a state treasure, touches the heart with her wonderful new book, Kitchen Yarns, a collections of essays culled from myriad stages of her life. Each chapter concludes with a recipe or two, most from her Italian-American heritage and a handful of her other favorites. As always, Hood's prose is clean, clear, and emotional. She relays her memories with fondness and joy, yet does not flinch at the saddest events that have dotted her life, including the death of her five-ye Rhode Island's own Ann Hood, a state treasure, touches the heart with her wonderful new book, Kitchen Yarns, a collections of essays culled from myriad stages of her life. Each chapter concludes with a recipe or two, most from her Italian-American heritage and a handful of her other favorites. As always, Hood's prose is clean, clear, and emotional. She relays her memories with fondness and joy, yet does not flinch at the saddest events that have dotted her life, including the death of her five-year-old daughter and the dissolution of her long marriage. The beauty of Hood's reminiscences is that, while not exactly universal in scope, each is utterly relate-able by any reader. This is one to be kept at hand for dipping into from time to time, both to re-read the lovely essays and also to try one of her recipes. Or two or three.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tibbi

    Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food is Ann Hood's reflections on her life organized around essays featuring recipes that are significant in her life. While Hood might reminisce about Chicken Marbella and blueberry muffins and I might salivate over the memory of cinnamon rolls and fried perch--the feelings are universal. Food is love. This is a book that is heart-warming, comfort food for the soul. Hand this book to any reader who is feeling pressed for time, as you can read this in "sma Kitchen Yarns: Notes on Life, Love, and Food is Ann Hood's reflections on her life organized around essays featuring recipes that are significant in her life. While Hood might reminisce about Chicken Marbella and blueberry muffins and I might salivate over the memory of cinnamon rolls and fried perch--the feelings are universal. Food is love. This is a book that is heart-warming, comfort food for the soul. Hand this book to any reader who is feeling pressed for time, as you can read this in "small bites". And push this book towards readers who are weary of today's headlines and unreliable narrators--they will feel well-satisfied. Thank you to the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gloria Zak

    First, I would like to thank the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. This book was a bit confusing, I don’t know what I expected. A cookbook? A romance story? A life story? Story of life stages? Story of birth, life and death - death of parents, death of a child, death of a marriage? This book was pleasantly all of the above. Good heavens - it even included a story on the butchering of pigs, who knew! The recipes sound absolutely wonde First, I would like to thank the author and publisher for the opportunity to read this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. This book was a bit confusing, I don’t know what I expected. A cookbook? A romance story? A life story? Story of life stages? Story of birth, life and death - death of parents, death of a child, death of a marriage? This book was pleasantly all of the above. Good heavens - it even included a story on the butchering of pigs, who knew! The recipes sound absolutely wonderful and ones I probably would not personally make as they are much too fattening at this stage of my life, but who knows - maybe I will sneak one in. In any case, I could almost smell and taste the included recipes. It was an enjoyable journey through this book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cat

    Funny how food captures so many of our life moments. Some of our recipes become cherished as heirlooms to be passed on, others are our goto comfort foods. I loved this book. Ann Hood's recipes color her life , as mine do mine. Kindred spirit! Food figures at every opening , and closing chapter of my life and I enjoyed reading about her life. Pour a nice glass of wine and grab some hearty Italian food, settle down with this book and enjoy. Great book! I received a Kindle ARC from Netgalley AND an Funny how food captures so many of our life moments. Some of our recipes become cherished as heirlooms to be passed on, others are our goto comfort foods. I loved this book. Ann Hood's recipes color her life , as mine do mine. Kindred spirit! Food figures at every opening , and closing chapter of my life and I enjoyed reading about her life. Pour a nice glass of wine and grab some hearty Italian food, settle down with this book and enjoy. Great book! I received a Kindle ARC from Netgalley AND an ARC from the publisher(!) in exchange for a fair review. Thank you all!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Tarnay

    As an Ann Hood fan, I both enjoyed the insights to her life and writing as well as the food that helped shaped her life. I can't wait to try some of these recipes. I really enjoyed this warm and personal reflection on a life. I felt a sense of sisterhood with a woman who loves food and the love that comes from the people who prepare it. I am a bit puzzled how Ms. Hood does not have a weight problem based on the foods she loves. Clearly her metabolism is much better than mine. A very enjoyable ho As an Ann Hood fan, I both enjoyed the insights to her life and writing as well as the food that helped shaped her life. I can't wait to try some of these recipes. I really enjoyed this warm and personal reflection on a life. I felt a sense of sisterhood with a woman who loves food and the love that comes from the people who prepare it. I am a bit puzzled how Ms. Hood does not have a weight problem based on the foods she loves. Clearly her metabolism is much better than mine. A very enjoyable holiday read for me.

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