von HohenElizabeth Rose
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., May 29, 2009
Grandmother's Cookbookby Elizabeth Rose von Hohen
Carrie J. Gamble Inc., 127 pp., $19.95 (paper)
This modest, self-published cookbook has attracted quite a following, as well as a surprising amount of national media attention. Written in 96-year-old Elizabeth von Hohen's own words, this book preserves a lifetime of recipes, from childhood favorites still fresh from the "old country" (Hungarian goulash, linzer torte, prune dumplings) to the Americanizing influence at the turn of the century (Spanish cream, layer cake, tea sandwiches) to the Depression (soup-meat casserole, Coconut Vanities, vegetable soup) and beyond (fruit and Jell-O mold, Waldorf salad, crab cakes, homemade pizza).
Von Hohen began cooking at the age of 7, initially for her younger siblings when her mother was busy working the farm. As she grew, she and her mother collaborated in the kitchen, figuring out how to make strange American concoctions like "pie" and "salad." A love of cooking was born from the fun they had together, and this sense of joy runs throughout the book. Only the recipes that remained standbys for von Hohen throughout the decades are included, and though it was written as a family resource, this book has an unusual, almost universal appeal. As the New York Daily News wrote: "If you often wish you had thought of asking your grandmother to write down her favorite recipes, take heart. Carrie Gamble did." Illustrated with delicate watercolors of the family farm, the book also includes a fascinating family history with evocative photographs.
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