As a child, I wanted orange soda and special sandwiches held together with mystery. I wanted tiny colored cakes and other things that I'd read about that impressed me. ... These are the things I want my children to have now--now, as I watch them lying in the grass hugging only this moment, while my mind is spinning with the washing machine and wondering what school lunch should be tomorrow. -- Tessa Kiros, Apples for Jam
I love the name apple bread--it carries me off in my fantasy to some very green hills with chunky plates and bowls of fresh cream, with rosy-cheeked children skipping about here and there. -- Apple bread with sugar and cinnamon topping.
It is a dullish Thursday afternoon, hazy, still, the sky a bleak blue. I was ambushed by a cold last night, so I've crawled to the computer despite a roaring sore throat, feverish cheeks, and a deep fondness for my bed.
In other words, it is a perfect day to tell you precisely why I love Apples for Jam, by Tessa Kiros.
Apples for Jam is one of those rare books that I wish I could somehow tumble into. I was as surprised as anyone about that... I normally have my book-jumping dreams over novels, not cookbooks. But Tessa Kiros's beautiful book draws me in.
It's the stunning pictures--not only of the food, but of Tessa's home, her children, her life. It's the way she uses her children's drawings to illustrate. It's her wonderful prose, her clear imagery as she describes memories from her own childhood. And how can you not love a cookbook playfully arranged by colors instead of food type?
I came across this book last summer, when I was going through a rough time. So that might explain some of my love for it: I flipped through its pages, studied the pictures, enjoyed the prose, dreamed about recipes, savored them. (The sweet crepes! The cranberry syrup!)
I feel like it helped restore my sanity. It took me in and nurtured me when I needed it, with its brilliant childish marker drawings, its bold pastas and cakes, the wonderful color-connections. Why not have broccoli soup and peppermint crisp pie in the same chapter? Why not?
It soothes and inspires at the same time, which is much trickier than it sounds. The way Tessa writes and cooks makes me want to participate in a life like hers. She makes me want to be a fabulous mother (someday), or a fabulous aunt (now!). To savor every single day, every meal, every moment with the people I love.
Also, this book makes me want to go to Italy. Hmm. Failing that, I'll at least make the tomato pesto with the ricotta gnocchi, soon. And maybe make some crayon drawings of my own to go with it.
... Well, I had one coffee-mug's worth of energy to write this post, and it's just worn out. So I'll slink back to bed, and curl up with--what else? Apples for Jam. And my naps will be about brightly colored pasta and childish drawings.
It just might cure me.
Recommendation: Do you eat and look through a cookbook at the same time? Of course you do. So do I. Get yourself a bowl of fresh berries with cream, and maybe a café au lait, and spend a long lazy day dipping into this book, earmarking recipes as you go.