A Brand New 65-Year-Old Cookbook


Margaret Yardley Potter was a cooking columnist for the Wilmington Star whose cookbook was first published in 1947. It’s been reprinted, this time with an introduction from her great granddaughter, Elizabeth Gilbert (whose own love for food was well documented in her memoir Eat, Pray, Love).

Gilbert grew up with copies of her great grandmother’s cookbook hanging around, but didn’t crack one open until recently. When she finally started At Home on the Range , she read it in one sitting, wrote it a new introduction, then released it with McSweeney’s. It may sound like a glorified family heirloom, but it’s not. It’s a beautiful, moving, often funny collection of essays and instructions from a very eloquent writer.

Potter collected cockscombs from local farmers to learn how to cook them with wine, then gathered them in the freezer until she had enough to throw a party. She understood the joys of experimenting with gravy-making. And she measured the amount of time bread dough needed to rest by smoking a cigarette. It’s such a fun read, and in a time of huge, heavy, photo-packed cookbooks, it’s especially nice to slip this little number in your bag and read about Potter’s adventures on the go.

Against tripe I fought a long but losing battle, and like many another of the defeated, now bless the victor.

At Home on the Range, Margaret Yardley Potter (McSweeney’s, 2012)