I cook because I can take something yucky:


And make something yummy:


 This banana bread/muffin recipe comes from my battered (literally) copy of Joy of Cooking (I think there’s a whole sociological treatise to be written on what sorts of women were Fannie Farmer cooks, or Julia acolytes, or Joy gals. Not sure what it would all mean, but I’m sure it would mean something).

My mom gave me this paperback edition decades ago and although I more often turn now to my favorite foodie websites, smittenkitchen and ezrapoundcake, I won’t ever part with this book.  It’s not just because I remember my mother’s copy of Joy, its binding holding on by a thread, the pages splattered with flecks of this and that. And it’s not just because these recipes are the recipes of my childhood: lemon meringue pie, popovers, banana bread, soup. 

Nope. I hang on to this book because of this series of illustrations:


Instructions on how to skin a squirrel. Note, please, the delicately held knife and the equally delicate use of the boot as an aid to the all-important peeling of the fur.

The Silver Palate ladies ain’t got nothin on that.