Once, when Moomintroll was quite small, his father got a cold at the very hottest time of summer. Moominpappa redused to drink warm milk with onion juice and sugar, and he refused to go to bed. He sat in the garden hammock blowing his nose and saying his cigars had a horrible taste…
When his cold became much worse…Moominmamma brought him a substantial rum toddy. Only by then it was too late. The rum toddy tasted just as bad as onion milk, and Moominpappa abandoned all hope and took to his bed in the northern attic room. He had never been ill before and took a very serious view of the matter.
The start of The Memoirs of Moominpappa
The place I like best in this world is the kitchen. No matter where it is, no matter what kind, if it’s a kitchen, if it’s somewhere where they make food, it’s fine with me. Ideally it should be well broken in. Lots of tea towels, dry and immaculate. White tile catching the light (ting! ting!)
So begins Banana Yashimoto’s novella Kitchen, a warmly comforting read about a girl finding happiness again after an unexpected bereavement, and a friendship that grows into more. For someone who also likes hanging out in the kitchen and who enjoyed Luisa Weiss’ kitchen memoirs, this was perfect lazy reading.
The scratching of our pens mingled with the sound of raindrops beginning to fall …
While he made tea, I explored the kitchen. I took everything in: the good quality of the mat on the wooden floor and Yuichi’s slippers; a practical minimum of well-worn kitchen things, precisely arranged. A Silverstone frying pan and a delightful German-made vegetable peeler…
There were things with special uses like …. porcelain bowls, gratin dishes, gigantic platters, two beer steins. Somehow it was all very satisfying.
I looked around, nodding and murmuring approvalingly, “Mmm, mmm.” It was a good kitchen. I fell in love with it at first sight.
There were little new potatoes for dinner, creamed with green peas, and there were string beans and green onions. And by every plate was a saucer full of sliced ripe tomatoes, to be eaten with sugar and cream.
”Well, we’ve got good things to eat, and plenty of them,” said Pa, taking a second helping of potatoes and peas…
He cut into the pie’s crust with a big spoon, and turned over a big chunk of it onto a plate. The underside was steamed and fluffy. Over it he poured spoonfuls of thin brown gravy, and beside it he laid half a blackbird…The scent of that opened pie was making all their mouths water…As long as the blackbirds lasted, and the garden was green, they could eat like this every day.
Little Town on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder
“Your father says it’s Gaelic and pronounced Camasunart,” said Mother, “and it’s at the back of beyond, so there you go darling, and have a lovely time for the birds and the – the water, or whatever you said you wanted.”
I sat clutching the receiver, perched there above the roar of Regent Street. Before my mind’s eye rose, cool and remote, a vision of rain-washed mountains.
”D’you know,” I said slowly, “I think I will.”
Gianetta Fox sets off for Scotland in Mary Stewart’s “Wildfire at Midnight”
There was a strange rumour in Highbury of all the little Perry’s being seen with a slice of Mrs Weston’s wedding-cake in their hands: but Mr Woodhouse would never believe it. – “Emma”, Jane Austen
Not at all like Mr Woodhouse as I go to celebrate a friend’s wedding today, partly with a lot of cake.
The top picture is the wonderfully-titled “The Tempting Cake” by Albert Roosenboom.
Harriet’s father was called George Johnson. He had a shop. It was not a usual sort of shop, because what it sold was entirely dependent on what his brother William grew, shot, or caught…
One of the things that was most trying for the whole family was that what would not sell had to be eaten. This made a great deal of trouble because Uncle William had a large appetite and seldom sent more than one of any kind of fish or game…
“What is there for lunch today, Olivia?” George would ask, usually adding politely “Sure to be delicious.” Olivia would answer “There’s enough rabbit for two, there is a very small pike, there is a grouse, but I don’t know about that, it seems very, very old, as if it has been dead for a very long time, and there’s sauerkraut. I’m afraid everybody must eat cabbage of some sort, we’ve had over seven hundred from Uncle William this week, and it’s only Wednesday.”
White Boots by Noel Streatfield. I always like her humour.
My love of A Cup of Jo is well known, and the blog’s ability to get a real – and good – conversation going in the comments is next to nothing. That team isn’t smashing it. So it’s no surprise that when Ashley Ford posted there about her love of romance novels it broke the internet.
So many good suggestions! But for those of you looking for an indulgent night in, can I, firstly applaud the sheer genius of a romance novel bookshop called The Ripped Bodice (worth flying to America just for that), and secondly suggest you line up:
– Penny Reid’s Knitting in the City series
– Joanna Shupe’s Knickerbocker series
– the Nacho Figueras take on a modern Jilly Cooper
– Alyssa Cole: An extraordinary union
– Ann Calhoun’s Liberating Lacy
– anything by Suzanne Wright or Elle Kennedy
(mum, you should have stopped reading sentences ago…)
“Woman combing her hair” by Joseph DeCamp
How beautiful and atmospheric is this Brian Bailey wood engraving for E Nesbit’s The Three Mothers?
And Nesbit is the perfect comfort read for the Christmas period too as I remember her Psammead series being the bedtime books for quite a few years. I’m still a fan of them.
Everybody except the baby had brought a present for Jane. Mrs Jimmy John gave her a lambskin dyed red for a bedside rug. Miranda brought her a little fat white jug with pink roses on its sides, Punch brought her some early radishes, Polly brought her a rooted geranium slip and the twins brought her a toad apiece for the garden.
“You have to have toads in your garden for luck,” explained Punch.
LM Montgomery does peak hygge. This one has lots of sowing flowers, swimming in the sea and frying potatoes, as well as a fairytale ending – perfect holiday reading.
Flora went into the kitchen, where a lamp already burned on the table. Its soft light fell into the heart of a bunch of pink roses in a jam-jar. There was a letter from Charles propped against the jar too, and the roses threw down a heavy, rounded shadow onto the envelope. It was so pretty that Flora lingered a moment, looking, before she opened her letter.
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons. Photo from @elfredapownall.