Home Cooking (Book Review)

Home Cooking (Book Review)

Home Cooking Book Review

This is a book of essays, or a memoir of sorts, and not a cookbook, although it does have some recipes. I got it from a long ago library sale after someone told me that the writing was engaging, and they were totally right.

I’m doing a good job trying to read through my “to be read” shelf on my “no buy” year, where this little book from 1988 had been languishing for quite a while. This was perfect before bed reading, with short amusing chapters, written with a wry humor. This is why I collect books recommended by others; it is a gem.

Here are the recommendations I tabbed:

  • Classic English cookbooks: Consuming Passions, by Phillippa Pullar; An Englishman’s Food, by Drummond and Wilbraham, as well as Food in England, and Lost Country Life, by Dorothy Hartley. Also read English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David with American notes by Karen Hess (which changed her life).
  • Some things worth spending money on, “like a beautiful handbag or wonderful shoes that make everything else look better”: sweet butter and really good olive oil, high quality vinegar (her favorite is sherry vinegar from Spain), sea salt, fresh pepper, and fresh herbs. She uses “raw sugar, which tastes like sugar to me and not like some super sweet chemical.” At holiday time she springs for smoked salmon.
  • First rate organic flour: Walnut Acres (it is now a cool foundation: see here).
  • Harrods food hall (I hope to go there in the fall)

Here are the recipes I tabbed to try:

  • green sauce for steamed veggies
  • potato pancakes
  • zucchini fritters
  • vegetable fritters
  • rich broccoli pasta sauce
  • cod in green almond sauce
  • ginger salad dressing
  • easy homemade curry
  • gingerbread “one of life’s greatest delights and a cheap luxury”

“What you want is an enormous return on a small investment. Almost the only situation in which this is possible is cooking.”

There is meat discussed, which I either skipped or ignored. However, with chapters titled things like “How to disguise vegetables,” “Kitchen horrors,” How to give a party,” “How to avoid grilling,” “Food without salt,” “Repulsive dinners,” and “Easy cooking for exhausted people,” there is something here for everyone.

Laurie Colwin has written many books, but the person that recommended Home Cooking to me (now republished with a new cover in 2010) said it was the best, maybe because it was her first. I can’t comment on that, but I’ll gladly give this one five stars for all her turn of phrase that had me laughing at the end of long days.  I noticed that in 2000, she wrote a follow-up book More Home Cooking, which I’ve put on my wishlist. I’ll see how as the seasoned cook she compares to her earlier, jovial, novice one. If you are at all interested in cooking, or merely want to be, I recommend this slim, funny volume.



I work to amplify good wherever I find it. I love color, texture, beauty, great ideas, nature, metaphor, deliciousness, genuine spirituality, and exploring new territory. I encourage authenticity, nurture creativity, champion sustainability, promote peace, and hope to foster a new renaissance where we all are free to be our most fulfilled, multifaceted, and terrific selves. Read more here.


  1. Dilys 1 month ago

    Harrods food hall is amazing, a spectacle to behold, though I haven’t been there recently I have to admit. However, the prices are spectacular too.
    Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly also has an amazing food department. There are some really posh shops in that area. Plenty to “window shop”!
    The book sounds interesting. X

    • Author
      Polly Castor 1 month ago

      Thanks! I’ll add it to the list.

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