Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Domestic Goddess Is In

My mother would probably be eager to admit that she should have started a psychotherapy fund for me along with a college fund the day I was born because she really did a number on my head. One of the most memorable ones came on a Christmas Eve when I was about six years old. We were in the kitchen making cookies for Santa, and she turned to me with this very serious look on her face, and said, "You don't want to get married and have kids and all that stupid stuff, right?"

As you might have guessed, that's one of those moments that I remember clearly and that she has blocked out. Could I make this stuff up?
Okay, I write fiction. I guess it depends on just how good you think I am, doesn't it? Even if you think I'm full of it on that story, let's agree that my relationship with the traditionally womanly arts has been a conflicted one. Lucky for me, Debbie Stoller came along and founded Bust Magazine which, among other things, has a strong tradition of promoting crafts for us feminist types. She also wrote Stitch 'N Bitch and its sequels. For everything else, we have the less glamorous and slightly less popular I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence by Amy Sedaris and Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People.

But that's all entertainment. What if you actually have to cook stuff that you, or even other people, might want to eat? What about how to dress yourself for a party? Do I know anything about that? Of course!
Feeding People and Entertaining

  1. Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen: This is where I started when I first moved into an apartment and this book saved my bacon many times. The recipes are simple and yummy. There's nothing weird in here. Also, you will find lots of good tips on how not to give yourself or your guests food poisoning and how to stock your pantry.
  2. The Frugal Gourmet: Maybe it's my childhood addiction to KCET, but I think this cookbook is awesome. It's also probably out of print, but you can find some of the recipes via Google. His recipe for Beef in Burgundy is brilliant and delicious.
  3. The Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: This is my go-to book for my (crazy) vegetarian husband. It satisfies the infamous potato chip vegetarian while sneaking in some nutrients here and there. Also, most of the recipes are straightforward and don't call for anything too weird.
  4. Vegetarian Planet: Didi Emmons throws a few curveballs in here, but she is good about explaining where to find the more exotic ingredients. If you live with a veggie and you want to expand your repertoire a bit, this is a good way to start.
  5. Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Book: This cookbook is awesome! It has everything you wanted from Mom's Crockpot cookbook with an updated, tasty twist. If you like crockery cooking, you will love it.
  6. Talk Turkey To Me: Wow. Where to start? I used to break out in a sweat when I had to cook Thanksgiving dinner on my own. The first time I did it, I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown. When I heard about this book via NPR, I knew I had to have it. Now, we keep it around for the entertainment value more than anything else. The recipes are helpful and it has everything you need---how to deal with turkey emergencies, how much to buy per person, what temperature to cook on, etc. It also has snippets from Butterball Hotline calls. It's 100% awesome. My mother-in-law can attest to that since she steals it from me while I'm cooking and I have to follow the sound of her laughter to get it back.
Dressing Yourself
  1. The InStyle Secrets of Style: I read this book a long time ago and I am still glad I did. It's full of tips on how to create looks, but it also has information on what those dress codes like "Black Tie" actually mean.
  2. The Lucky Shopping Manual: Okay, Lucky is the Magazine About Shopping, but the shopping manual is actually more about wearing your clothes. I know they came out with a sequel about wearing your clothes, but this one has a lot in it about wearing them, storing them, and maintaining them. It also has better reviews. So read this one, use the tips and be happy.
That's all for now! Enjoy the womanly arts.