This is my first cookbook review [sorta] but mostly just my thoughts on the book and how it has impacted me. First, it is the only cookbook I have ever wanted to (and actually have) read cover to cover. (yes, you can read a cookbook cover to cover. well, some)
If you haven’t “met” her already, here is a little bit about Molly Yeh. She is the author of the wildly successful blog My Name is Yeh (pronounced Yay!) and she has her first cookbook out now: Molly on the Range.
Briefly: she is of Chinese and Jewish descent, she studied percussion at Julliard in New York City (her father’s alma mater), and she now lives on a sugar beet farm on the North Dakota/Minnesota border with her husband (whom she lovingly refers to as Eggboy) and their hens (whom she calls collectively Macaroni) and their one rooster, Tofu.
Molly discovered her passion for food while studying in New York in part through encouragement from her percussion instructor. She began her blog in 2009 and became a full-time blogger after moving to the farm, where she had nothing but time on her hands and few friends.
Molly on the Range is broken down into four main sections: Breakfast and Brunch, Mains (and some other fun stuff), snacks and celebrations, and desserts. This cookbook is more than recipes—Molly gives us stories on each page from her past and present. She makes you laugh, want to eat schnitzel (but maybe not dress like it…), and want to say cool words like shakshuka. She is inspiring to me as a new food writer, because she too had to start from “the beginning,” and it wasn’t always picture perfect. She wrote because she loved food and she loved to write. [here you can see her progression of the exact same cake she makes every year for Valentine’s day. pretty cool!]
Back to the book… I (and my husband too) have made and enjoyed many recipes from Molly on the Range. The recipes are so varied and represent many different aspects of Molly’s life—from playful and youthful lunchables getting a total makeover (p. 89), to recreating the cute little princess cakes from IKEA (p. 239), to traditional Israeli breakfasts (p. 31), to the great feat of creating the perfect funfetti cake (p. 271).
Each of her recipes are personal and recreated from trips she’s taken, from her childhood, and now from the “foreign” cuisine she’s fallen into in the midwest, like cookie salad (p. 224) and lefse (p. 207). I find that in a lot of my cooking I tend to cook what I know and use the exact same spices for everything; so one of my favorite things about this book is the way it encourages me to branch out of my comfort zone, away from my cultural background, and try brand new (to me) spices and ingredients (like tahini, almond paste, cardamom, and cumin).
Oh yeah, and did I mention she’s a musician? As a fellow graduate from another music school in New York, I feel very much in a similar boat to Molly as she discovered her passion for food and how that aligned with her musical studies. It’s not that her passion for food replaced her music, but it helped renew her passion for music, and her musical training and studies helped her become a better chef.
“Music is so good! My first few years of shredding excerpts and putting pressure on myself to play them perfectly mechanically had burnt me out on music, but taking time off to do other things allowed me to reapproach it with a clearer mind. I processed the fact that I didn’t want to be in an orchestra or freelance all the time, but music was in me and it wasn’t leaving.” [pg. 71, molly on the range by Molly Yeh]
Molly on the Range is a great book for the home cook (or any cook) looking to push new boundaries in accessible ways. Or, this book is also just a great read and source of entertainment as if it were a novel. [I read most of this book out loud to my husband on a car trip…he kept asking me to read more!]
I’ll make it easy for you…buy it here. You’ll thank me later:)