Saturday Beans & Sunday

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Saturday Beans & Sunday Suppers by Edie Clark
(Powersbridge Press: paper, $14.95).

Review by Rebecca Rule

Many of us know Edie Clark through Yankee Magazine, a periodical that has
endured many changes over the years (some of which we approve, some we

One sustaining strength has been Edie’s essays, some of which were collected in
The View From Mary’s Farm (2005).  Her first book, a memoir called The Place He
, gently led readers into the dark, personal territory of her husband’s death
from cancer -- a story both harrowing and life-affirming, described in The New
York Times Book Review as “a triumph of the human spirit.”  

Her new book,
Saturday Beans and Sunday Suppers, is -- let me be the first to say
so -- a triumph of the culinary spirit. Nothing harrowing about this book, it’s all
affirmation.  And recipes!

My friend Zsuzsa, who runs a bed and breakfast, confided that for pleasure she
reads cookbooks.   Some of us snuggle up with a mystery, a romance, or Peter
Wallner’s Franklin Pierce: Martyr for  the Union.  Zsuzsa snuggles with

Saturday Beans & Sunday Suppers nudged me closer to understanding Zsuzsa’s
literary taste.  Edie Clark shows that recipes are not just formulas for tasty
combinations of food. They reflect and embody history, heritage, and tradition.
They paint relationships.  Breaking anadama bread, roasting a spring lamb, or
baking beans all day in a Glenwood creates memories.  

Edie, who lives on Mary’s Farm in Harrisville, New Hampshire set out to write
about favorite New England foods.  But as she wrote, she realized: cannot be separated from place and memory, family and events from the
past.  In a way, then, there is no more powerful memoir than the food itself, a
sensory cue strong enough to conjure the past as present, the present as past.
Aromas and touch can bring back the pageant of what came before.

The thirty-one recipes she offers would make a short but useful book.  These are
great recipes, deeply New England, and refined over time to be just right.

Remember Indian pudding or real brown bread steamed on top of the wood
stove?  You’ll find the authentic recipes here.  Onion soup so thick you can stand
a spoon in it?  That’s the French way.  Edie first tasted it when as a child on a ski
trip with her Aunt Peg and Uncle Jamie.  Somewhere in the mountains of
Vermont, they stopped at a garage with a small cafe.  The French-speaking
woman who ran the cafe served only French Onion Soup.  No sign outside, the
only advertisement word of mouth, savvy skiers knew  this place.  Uncle Jamie
knew.  Edie recalls the brown pottery bowl with a small handle on the side.

A cascade of browned, melted cheese was rippled, almost volcanic as it oozed
down the side of the dish.  We all took up our spoons like miners going after a new
vein.  Our eagerness was repelled at once by the intense heat of the cheese, which
almost audibly sizzled on our tongues.

Good soup.  Good day. Good memory.

Even all these years later, I can remember the sensation of pleasure that soup
evoked.  It was thick, rich, cheesy and creamy, with the sweetness of the onions
blended in.  The bread and the broth had turned into a light, puffy entity all its
own.  Like nothing I had ever tasted.

Edie never again found the cafe, but through trial and error managed to recreate
that French Onion Soup, and shares the recipe with readers.

Which brings us to Aunt Peg’s Chowder and the collection of recipes on
handwritten index cards at the heart of Edie’s  cooking repertoire.  Since Mother
didn’t cook, Aunt Peg became Edie’s kitchen mentor, and one of the first dishes
she passed on was fish chowder -- or so Edie believed.

From Aunt Peg, I learned of the warmth that comes back to you when you provide
a good meal for friends.  Fish chowder was the first dish I was able to make with
pride, in my new kitchen, my new life.  In fact, I served that chowder so often, I
came to call it Aunt Peg’s Chowder.  I’ve given the recipe out to many friends and
told them of the day that Aunt Peg and I sat down at that table in her big old
creaky-floor house and I copied the recipe onto cards of my own.

A couple of years before Aunt Peg died, she and Uncle Jamie visited Edie for
lunch.  After much thought, Edie decided to serve the chowder.

I placed the steaming bowls in front of (them), waiting for them to recognize it.
“Fish chowder,” they said, at once, “What a treat!”  They dipped their spoons in.
“This is interesting,” Uncle Jamie said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had fish chowder
with corn and potatoes in it.”

“Neither have I,” remarked Aunt Peg. “But it’s really very good. Where did you get
the recipe?”

“But,” I said, “this is the recipe you gave me.  Don’t you remember?”

“No, dearie,” she said, in the gentle but firm way she had of contradicting.  “I’ve
never made a chowder like this.”

Those of us who’ve read Edie Clark over the years knew she was a world-class
writer.  Now we know she’s a great cook, too.  By telling the stories behind the
recipes, she reveals how she moves in the world -- her loyalty to friends, respect
for tradition, big heart, her bone-deep love of life and good eats!  Saturday Beans
& Sunday Suppers makes a fine book to cuddle up with, as she transports you to
her warm, welcoming kitchen for good food and good company.

The easiest way to get your hands on Saturday Beans and Sunday Suppers is to
visit  A couple of clicks and it’s in the mail.  I bet she’d even
sign copies for gifts.

Or you can get Edie Clark's book at Click below:

About the book reviewer:
Rebecca Rule is a humorist, author and storyteller, who is the author of two
collections of short fiction, including The Best Revenge, winner of the NH Writers
Project award for fiction.
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