AT HOME ON THE RANGE
Recently, while moving into a new house, Elizabeth Gilbert unpacked some boxes of family books that had been sitting in her mother’s attic for decades. She discovered a book called At Home on the Range (or, How to Make Friends with Your Stove) by Gilbert’s great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter, and soon found that she had stumbled upon a book far ahead of its time. In her workaday cookbook, Potter espoused the importance of farmer’s markets and ethnic food (Italian, Jewish, and German), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and generally celebrated new epicurean adventures. Potter takes car trips out to Pennsylvania Dutch country to eat pickles and pork. She travels to the eastern shore of Maryland, where she learns to catch and prepare eels so delicious they must be “devoured in a silence almost devout.” Part scholar, part crusader, Potter reveals the source of Gilbert’s love of food, and her warm, infectious prose.
Navigate this-a-way to read about the book from Gilbert herself! And pair that with The McSweeney’s Books Preview of At Home on the Range, featuring the original introduction from Margaret Yardley Potter.
Publishers Weekly has the inside scoop on the book—check out their Q & A with Elizabeth Gilbert!
And for the recipe preview of of the book, there’s this recipe for sour-cream cookies, right here.
Watch Elizabeth Gilbert discuss the book on Good Morning America!
Praise for At Home on the Range:
“This book is a beautiful time capsule that looks back to the roots of American gastronomy, when the values of gardening and fresh ingredients were the primary inspiration. Margaret Yardley Potter’s warm, witty stories and recipes show us that our great-grandmothers instinctually understood that food is central to a life well-lived.”
“Author Elizabeth Gilbert (A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage) does a wonderful service by bringing back the opinionated, modern-for-its-time cookbook of her eccentric great-grandmother “Gima” Yardley Potter, first published in 1947… Chapters are devoted lovingly to what foods best to bring hospitalized friends, mastering cocktails, and organizing emergency meals and effortless entertaining. In her bright, determined tone (“Is your cigarette finished? Let’s go”), Yardley Potter assures us a generation before Julia Child that we can tackle bouillabaisse, preserves, bread, and grandmother’s sacred sponge cake.”
“Both artifact and artfully useful…We’re not surprised that Gilbert, who celebrates her “Gima” throughout, comes from such feisty stock.”
“This is a cookbook for modern times and modern cooks, full of sassy jokes and smartly written recipes.”
“Featuring a comprehensive and moving introduction from Potter’s great-granddaughter, Elizabeth Gilbert, At Home on the Range is an eminently usable and humorous cookbook. But it’s also more than that: it’s an heirloom, an into-the-wee-hours dinner with relatives and ancestors, a perfect gift for anybody with a stove or a mother.”
—Tattered Cover Bookstore
“Delightfully humorous and remarkably insightful.”
“A precious find.”
“’At Home on the Range’ is, in fact, a cookbook. But it is so much, much more than a cookbook. It is a memoir of one woman’s life, her marriage, and her full and happy years taking care of a family. It is also the encapsulation of the spirit of this particular woman—Margaret Yardley Potter of Philadelphia, who died in 1955—on the page, in such full-flowered glory that she seems by the close of the volume to be someone that we know intimately.”
“This is not just a book of recipes (though it has plenty of those, a perfect recipe for pressed chicken among them), but also a cookbook for life.”
“[Potter] is a wonderful, entertaining writer and a keen observer.”
“For pure reading pleasure, try Margaret Yardley Potter, otherwise knowns as the memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert’s great-grandmother… Adventurous and funny, she could have drunk and smoked Elizabeth David, M.F.K. Fisher and probably even Dorothy Parker under the table.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Yardley Potter’s prose is laced with literary references and is as much fun to read as her dinner parties must have been to attend.”
—The New Yorker
“A beautiful, moving, often funny collection of essays and instructions from a very eloquent writer.”
—Village Voice “Bracketed by Gilbert’s affectionate commentary, At Home is a warm and witty memoir that captures Potter’s spirited approach to cooking and just about everything else… A book for all ages. What a gem.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer