Friday, January 16, 2009

How to Survive the Cold Winter






As winter has finally hit Central Ohio and record lows are hitting the whole country (it is -4º today!), it’s time to retreat indoors and even enjoy the retreat a little. Here are a few things that inspire me this week.

The Pantry: Its History And Modern Uses. A beautifully illustrated history of how the nature of the 19th century pantry began to change and evolve in the 20th and 21st centuries as American homemakers began to cook more, bake more, buy more, and stockpile more just as architects were designing and building homes that did not have pantries. The idea of an historical look at pantries is fascinating to me because food technology has so radically changed over the last century, as have our culinary tastes.

Cleopatra’s Nose. This collection of essays from the biographer of Colette and Isak Dinesen compiled from 20 years at the New Yorker will delight you. Judith Thurman writes with wit and interest on all of her topics, which include designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Rei Kawakubo, and Madame de Pompadour. Other subjects include Coco Chanel, Diane Arbus, even Cleopatra. While her focus is often on fashion, she doesn’t write about it as silly and meaningless. She gives fashion the full respect it is due as a multi-national indicator of social, economic, and cultural shifts in the American imagination with lasting significance.

A Well-Kept Home. If you’re planning a serious spring cleaning as I am, this book will take you back to gentler and slower-paced days when more natural methods were used to run and clean homes, reflecting on the traditional way that earlier generations cooked, cleaned, decorated, groomed and gardened. You might also be inspired to make bitter orange marmalade, light a wood fire, or prune rose bushes.

Artists Journals vary as much as artists do. Some might consist of tidy white pages with soft little sketches on them while others provide an orgy of colors and textures. Unlike works created for more public consumption, journals can provide a more intimate exploration of ideas and interests. If you want your creativity to take flight, this book is for you.

The brilliant novels of Jane Austen always give me the impression that she never wrote a bad line. Creating screen versions of her characters, with their sharp wits and quick tongues, would seem like no small task. But this collection by the BBC delivers flawless performances and stunning scenery in each and every adaption of Austen’s books.

If you're a fan of Latin music, Havana Holiday must be added to your music collection immediately. Warning: this music may give you the urge to jump on a plane and head to Havana.

4 comments:

Pigtown-Design said...

both houses where i grew up had two pantries. one was the "inside" butler's pantry with the china, glassware and silver. the other was the "outside" pantry where preserves, vases and platters and things we didn't use too much were kept. i'd love to see that pantry book!

Rita Finn said...

Thank you for visiting! My mother was born during the Great Depression, so canning and storing food over the cold winters was necessary for survival. These traditions seem to get lost in our culture of immediate gratification. I have a romance for the smell of raspberry preserves boiling in a pot.

I'd love to see the pantries you grew up with!

Pigtown-Design said...

How funny! Raspberry jam was one of my father's specialities! We always had raspberry canes in the back garden. I wish I had pictures, but I don't. The best thing about the two pantries in our house was that the doors were cyprus! When we sold the house, the new owners took both pantries out and expanded the kitchen. I bet the contractor was thrilled to get the doors!

Rita Finn said...

Pigtown, I'm absolutely smitten with your childhood!

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