I've been enjoying Too Many Cooks: Kitchen Adventures with 1 Mom, 4 Kids, and 102 Recipes by Emily Franklin in short spurts over the last few afternoons. It is a great book for picking up in those odd quiet moments that seem to happen here every once in a while--times when I know I can't get deeply into a project or serious book but do want to celebrate the few seconds I have.
Franklin's book is filled with stories of cooking and eating with her children. She leaves this reader laughing, inspired, and occasionally feeling really lucky to have only one child! Her stories are a great window into the life of her family--full of that patient-but-very-amused parenting style which feels just right in a book. It is often too easy for cooks or parents writing memoirs to slip into what seems like a holier-than-thou attitude--and it is equally easy to be too self-critical. Franklin takes a comfortable playful middle road, where she laughs gently at herself and her family in a way that shows how much she loves the whole shebang. As she writes in one recipe, after mixing the ingredients into a batter, "let stand for 8-10 minutes or however long it takes you to change diaper/ send e-mail/ sing song/ divert toddler/ explain who Nixon was, or any other kid-related issue."
I immediately identified with the author when she recounts being with her mother in a kitchen shop--a scene which shapes the entire book: "Contained within the shelves there, packed away amidst the plain white plates and jelly jar glasses, were meals as yet uncooked, conversations unspoken, a whole future of smells and tastes and togetherness." From the beginning, she knew that kitchens and cooking were about connections, about possibilities, and about love.