While unpacking boxes of old family books recently, Elizabeth Gilbert rediscovered a dusty, yellowed hardcover called At Home on the Range, originally written by her great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter. Having only been peripherally aware of the volume, Gilbert dug in with some curiosity, and soon found that she had stumbled upon a book far ahead of its time. Part scholar and part crusader for a more open food conversation, Potter espoused the importance of farmer’s markets and ethnic food (Italian, Jewish, and German), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and generally celebrated a devotion to epicurean adventures. Reading this practical and humorous cookbook, it’s not hard to see that Gilbert inherited her great-grandmother’s love of food and her warm, infectious prose.
About Margaret Yardley Potter
Margaret Yardley Potter’s book is culled from a lifetime of cooking and entertaining in her home, from the 1920s through World War II. In addition to being a cooking columnist for the Wilmington Star, she also painted, sold dresses, assisted in the birth of four grandchildren, and took up swing piano.
Elizabeth Gilbert is the bestselling author of numerous books, including Eat, Pray, Love, now a major motion picture. In 2008, Time magazine named Elizabeth as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“When first published in 1947, At Home on the Range, by Margaret Yardley Potter, must have seemed a shockingly non-girly truth-talking cookbook and life guide. Read today–as introduced in a McSweeney’s edition by Potter’s great-granddaughter, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert–it is both artifact and artfully useful. Choice bit: Potter who died in 1955 at age 62, liked to invite guests not for dinner but rather for breakfast–’en neglige.’ We’re not surprised that Gilbert, who celebrates her ‘Gima’ throughout, comes from such feisty stock.” - Sara Nelson, Oprah Magazine
“Author Elizabeth Gilbert (A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage) does a wonderful service by bringing back the opinionated, modern-for-its-time cookbook of her eccentric great-grandmother “Gima” Yardley Potter, first published in 1947… Chapters are devoted lovingly to what foods best to bring hospitalized friends, mastering cocktails, and organizing emergency meals and effortless entertaining. In her bright, determined tone (“Is your cigarette finished? Let’s go”), Yardley Potter assures us a generation before Julia Child that we can tackle bouillabaisse, preserves, bread, and grandmother’s sacred sponge cake.” - Publisher’s Weekly
Book review: ‘At Home on the Range’ by Margaret Yardley Potter
The Los Angeles Times Book Review – May 13, 2012 (Excerpt)
You’ve probably never seen the fine art of bread-making broken down quite like this in a recipe: “Now relax. Sit down, light a cigarette, write a letter or make your own plans for the next fifteen minutes while the dough ‘tightens up’ as we bakers say.
“Is your cigarette finished? Let’s go. This is fun.”
So writes Margaret Yardley Potter in her cookbook “At Home on the Range.” Never heard of Potter? You’re not alone. Potter was a one-time food columnist for the Wilmington Star in Wilmington, Delaware, whose cookbook, published in 1947, went through exactly one edition. Until now.
Potter’s more well-known descendant, writer Elizabeth Gilbert, reintroduces her great-grandmother to readers in a forward to this new release. At once delightfully humorous and remarkably insightful, “At Home on the Range” is written both for — and ahead of — its time. Recipes aren’t rigidly structured, but flow like a casual kitchen conversation between close friends, various dishes woven together with stories and motherly advice, relayed with a wit that apparently runs in the family.
Gilbert (“Eat Pray Love” and, more recently, “Committed”) shares some of Potter’s history in her forward, revealing a life that was not easy. Raised in a wealthy and refined family, Potter’s finances dwindled over the course of her marriage. She struggled with alcoholism, which contributed to her death in 1955. Through it all, Potter apparently found a way to make the best of any situation, with a rather bohemian sensibility. She was, Gilbert notes, “not the first or last woman in the history of female hardship to take refuge in food.” [Read the full article...]
THE SABRINA STRONG SERIES by LORELEI BELL