Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Newlywed Kitchen

Photo credit: Lorna Yee

There is something seriously wrong with the universe when a woman as pretty and thin as Lorna Yee can put away truck loads of fatty food to no ill effect. Or perhaps - a different view - perhaps there's something seriously right. She's a friend of mine, so I say this with lots of love, that we must all meet dressed in black one night, take her away to a laboratory so that we may discover the secret to her nuclear metabolism - perhaps we could fuel the cars of tomorrow with the Lorna lessons of today.

Point being: There is something infinitely awesome about the richness and decadence that surround Ms. Lorna and her impeccable palate, generous spirit and saavy around a well-made dessert.

Reading her tweets, facebook status updates and recipes puts pounds on women all across this great land - FROM HER WORDS ALONE. But we keep going back for more. Maybe it's that we are trying to get a contact high from her life. We hope to share in her fashionable Prada Kevlar lined protective suit that allows duck fat in and calories out, 1 for 1. It boggles the mind.

Photo credit: Lorna Yee

The Newlywed Kitchen by Lorna Yee and Ali Basye is FOOD PORN at its very best. Page 80's Four Cheese Mac-and-Cheese centerfold was downright scandalous. Page 149's Cheddar Cheese Grits with Shrimp and Bacon Gravy made an elderly woman looking over my shoulder in the library blush, and then giggle.

It seems fitting that I'll be making her Red Velvet Cake with Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting this weekend for a catering I'm doing for a Harlequin romance novelist. I even went out and bought myself that most utilitarian of objects: the portable cake transporter, with locking snap-down sides and handy top handle. Admit it, now you want one.

The brilliance in this book goes beyond the recipes, the photography and the stories well-crafted by co-author Ali Basye - the brilliance in this book lies in the ease with which you will overcome that life long question: what the fuck do I get them as a wedding gift? Ta-da. Behold: your answer.

I really enjoyed the stories of some food couples both known and unknown to me. One of my favorites was the partnership between Cynthia Nims and her husband Bob Burns. Bob made Cynthia a romantic dinner on one of their first dates that consisted of boiled beyond recognition broccoli, bottled salad dressing, ready-to-eat pasta sauce and watery canned mushrooms. No dessert was served. Years later, he recreated the menu only this time he made his own vinaigrette for the salad, used fresh mushrooms, lightly steamed the broccoli and dessert was presented on one knee, all sparkly and set inside a small box.

"It was so sweet for him to re-create the very first meal he ever made me - but properly...." says Cynthia...

'As for Chez Bob, it was open for one night only, though the proclaimed "foodie spouse" will occasionally perform as sous-chef "under extreme circumstances."'

"Food is such an integral part of life. The trick is finding what makes you the happiest as a couple and making the most of that."

My only criticism of this book is that all newlywed couples take part in this dance in the kitchen. In our home, the dance starts with April's reliable-as-the-sunrise OH SHIT exclamation whilst cooking which brings me running into the kitchen to perform my part: clean up on aisle 7. Another dance features all the warmth of all the love in my heart when she does the impossible and burns water. A more modern set of steps occurred that time she made me a dinner using every last spice on my spice rack. And my favorite of all is when I cook something simple for her, something she really loves, and she closes her eyes while savoring, better to block out any distraction to her enjoyment.

I was surprised in this day and age, coming out of Seattle where half the chefs are queer as a three dollar bill, that not all couples were represented within the pages of the book (for the record, this was not Lorna's decision). Regardless, like years ago, gay and lesbian newlyweds can project themselves onto these pages. I can be Lorna, eating scads of duck confit and wearing pretty dresses, or not. April can be sweet, handsome Henry. Sweet handsome Henry with lipstick. Lipstick and boobs.

The Newlywed Kitchen/Cookbook Promo from LuuvuH on Vimeo.


eM said...

I can see it now: Prada-esque cake totes, designed + endorsed by Lorna Yee

Nurit "1 family. friendly. food." said...

As always, you have a way with words! I enjoyed reading this review. You raise many good points. Persoannly, if I had to write a newlywed cookbook, it would have ended with someone's death :)
And, yes, I've always wanted a portable cake transporter. Have been hunting in stores for Mr./Mrs. Right for years since my old one finally cracked. Got one online which turned out to be only ehhh. The one in your link looks promising. You like it?

Becky said...

eM: I hope Lorna reads this - She should so start her own fashionable line of pastry totes.

Nurit: whose death would that be? The transporter is new and I'll be giving it a test drive on Monday and will let you know!

Caffeinated said...

Becky, I love you. If you decide you've had enough of the kitchen, you should write reviews for a living. xoxox

Nurit "1 family. friendly. food." said...

Death... well, of course that was a joke. (Or was it????). I'm just the kind of cook who prefers to cook alone, and I can get bossy... So I assume that as a newlywed, cooking together might have ended the marriage right there and then :)

Surly Gourmand said...

Hi Becky,

as usual you touch on an interesting point, something that obviously hadn't even occurred to me: they didn't include any same- sex couples in this book.

Despite all the feel- good Seattle bullshit, these publishing houses are making some fucking stupid conservative choices. A locally famous farmer, whom we all know, was similarly prohibited from revealing HIS OWN SEXUAL PREFERENCES in the pages of his upcoming memoir.

All of the publishers are losing money right now. Since they're going out of business anyway, why not make daring choices now and be seen as a leader of the vanguard when the economy improves?

Also, I was in line at the post office the other day and saw that the USPS is using Ellen Degeneres as the spokeswoman for some kind of ad campaign. If a staid institution like the USPS can recognize the smiling face of lesbianism, why can't these dumb motherfuckers?


Your Friend the Surly Motherfucking Gourmand

Lara Alexander said...

You know, I found your blog after following your link from a very funny comment you wrote somewhere else. I am glad to note that I am enjoying your blog even more than your comments! By the way, my fav food porn cookbook is Fresh by Michele Cranston.

Becky said...

Caffeinated - I love you too. ;)

Surly - thanks for your comments. I couldn't agree more. Publishing is walking the plank on a sinking ship. Only a select few will survive and I think it will be those that gravitate towards the edges and not for the "safe" middles.

Hi Lara - thanks for stopping by. I will definitely check out both your blog and that book. thanks!

nm said...

Erm, this was brought up at the Kim Ricketts event. No good answer was crafted by the co author. She needs to dig deeper next time. I love the book, the recipes, but the idea of marketing it this way lacks. Seriously lacks. This book will not be featured at the next Olivia gourmet cruise, that is for sure.

Becky said...

nm: yes indeedy re: Olivia, which is too bad really because the recipes RAWK. Thanks for stopping by. Your dog is adorable!

Lafemmecooks said...!


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