I got to hear Ruth Reichl speak here in Pittsburgh a few months ago, touring for her new cookbook. As my friend Megan said, "I could just listen to her velvety voice all day." Megan and I were running late, but my friend Karen saved us seats on the very front of the balcony. We raced up 3 flights of stairs - no small feat considering I was 7 months pregnant - and slid into the seats just as the lights dimmed.
Despite being harried, I was quickly transported as Ms. Reichl wove the tale of her journey through food writing and then told the heartbreaking story of the closure of Gourmet. She captured all of that heartbreak in her beautiful voice - the kitchen full of moldering food, the library of every cookbook and tome Gourmet had received - almost ending up on the curb.
She mentioned that even though it was tragic and represented a form of failure, she had always wanted to write a fiction book, and wandering through that library weeks after Gourmet had closed she found her inspiration.
I told my mom about getting to see her (and finally learning how to properly pronounce her name -- Rye-shell, not Rye-kyl) and what a wonderful talk it was. When my mom heard I had not read her fiction book - Delicious!, she surprised me with it for Christmas.
I have been reading a lot since my second son was born at the end of the November - but mostly mysteries, and mostly on the Kindle app on my phone which I seem to always have on me -- day or night, during feeding.
The book sat on my nightstand for months, until a recnt weekend when I sat in the glider with sunshine streaming through the window, a sleeping 6-month-old in my arms, I finally picked it up.
To be honest, I was a little afraid. I have loved all of her food memoirs, but I was afraid of reading it and being disappointed. That the writing would feel wooden or trite.
Of course, I shouldn't have been worried at all.
Somehow, just reading the first few pages, I felt inspired. Perhaps by the talent, the story, the sunshine, who can say.
I have held onto all the Gourmet magazine I ever received (save one or two issues that slid through the cracks). I started a subscription when I moved in with my friend Emily in Pittsburgh in 2001. That was the first "real" apartment I had other than my funky house the last two years of college. So I have all the issues from the end of 2001 - starting, poignantly, with the 60th-anniversary issue, and through the last issue: November 2009.
It's still a favorite place to look for meal inspiration. Particularly around the holidays. I love to pull down all the December issues to look for cookie recipes, or all the April issues for Easter inspiration.
I've recently just been thumbing through old issues again, and came upon this wonderful stir-fry recipe, for which I had all the ingredients. I actually made it with tempeh even though I had chicken because I wanted to see if I could make it vegetarian. One of my custom meal planning clients is a vegetarian and I was looking for a great weeknight recipe to include in her plan.
This Tempeh Stir Fry is inspired by a recipe I found while thumbing through the pages of the old May 2007 issue. The original recipe calls for chicken, but tempeh works really great here.