Welcome to my blog. I am Miriam Downey, the Cyberlibrarian. I am a retired librarian and a lifelong reader. I read and review books in four major genres: fiction, non-fiction, memoir and spiritual. My goal is to relate what I read to my life experience. I read books culled from reviews in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Bookmarks, and The New Yorker. I also accept books from authors and publicists. I am having a great time.
Hope you will join me on the journey.
We love entertaining. We have a huge family and a nice home
to entertain in, so most weeks we have guests for dinner at some time or other.
In the summer with a pool and a grill, we can expect to see family and friends
nearly every day. The kids have come to expect chocolate chip cookies and
lemonade after their swim, and the adults know where to find beer and sodas. My
husband loves that the house and pool are being used, and I love seeing my
grandchildren and their friends.
Nothing we do matches the entertaining that celebrity
Cornelia Guest does, but I loved reading her beautiful book, Simple Pleasures,
and trying out the vegan recipes that fills its pages. For those of us who read
cookbooks for pleasure, this one is a delight; the commentary is charmingly
egocentric, the recipes are delicious, and the photos are wonderful.
My first clue that I was going to enjoy Simple Pleasures
came from the cover. There is a picture of tulips arranged in an old silver
polo trophy. Not that I have any old polo trophies lying around, but it
reminded me that I had a beautiful old silver vase from my grandmother. I seldom ever use it because it takes so much polishing—but wait—the trophy on the cover was
tarnished. AHA! I brought out my tarnished but graceful vase and filled it with
flowers from the farmer’s market. If Cornelia Guest can do it, so can I.
And then, I loved the commentary. Here are some of my
favorite lines: “Our house was always filled with extraordinary people, from
the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Rudulf Nureyev, from Truman Capote to Yves
Saint Laurent.” (I wonder if they would have liked my chocolate chip cookies
and my pool-soaked grandchildren.) And then: “When I made my debut…” (Probably
they didn’t serve salsa and chips like I do.), and finally: “Though my parents
didn’t cook, I grew up spending time in the kitchen, where I watched their
French chef, Roger, prepare wonderful food.” (Did she lick her fingers with
every dollop of frosting like my 9-year-old granddaughter?)
Interspersed throughout the recipes is commentary and notes
from her influential friends as well as advice about vegan eating, and animal
rights, which are some of Cornelia Guest’s causes. The photographs are
striking, utilizing serving pieces from her family home, Templeton, as well as
cute pictures of her dogs.
Most of all, I enjoyed the recipes, which are divided
by seasons and use seasonal fresh vegetables. There are suggested menus, and
all the recipes are vegan. One of our favorites was asparagus slaw (p. 141). We
live right in the middle of asparagus country so our springs are filled with
farm-fresh asparagus. I am always looking for new ways to fix it. We will make
this recipe frequently. You will be able to find the recipe for Asparagus Slaw at the end of this
posting. Tonight we are having bulgur roast vegetables (p. 111) to use up some
of the pounds of zucchini that I bought at the farmer’s market last Saturday.
I would give Simple Pleasures as a hostess gift, to a vegan friend,
or to anyone who enjoys farm fresh cookbooks or celebrity books. I read Linda
Evan’s celebrity cookbook, Recipes for Life, which is much more memoir than it
is cookbook. Simple Pleasures is pretentious and simple all at once and really
fun to read.
By Cornelia Guest,
Author of Cornelia Guest's Simple Pleasures: Healthy Seasonal Cooking
and Easy Entertaining
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes