Friday, March 26, 2010

A review for Women's History Month - Fannie Farmer cooks up a storm

I read the book reviewed below many years ago, and yet I still remember it with great fondness. Reading the book reminded me that women have brought about change in many ways. Some have done so in big ways that made them front page news, like Amelia Earhart example. Then there are those women who have brought about change in big but quiet ways, like Fannie Farmer. I grew up with a Fannie Farmer cookbook and made my first very flat cake (I forgot to put in something vital) using one of her recipes. I know that when my daughter is ready is strike out on her own, I will give her (among other things) a set of basic tools in a tool box, a sewing kit, some wonderful fabrics for making cushions and curtains, a set of Jane Austen novels, and a Fannie Farmer cookbook.

Deborah Hopkinson
Pictures by Nancy Carpenter
Picture Book
Ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2001, 0-689-81965-X
   Marcia is most annoyed. Her mother has told her that they are getting a new cook, someone who will be “mother’s helper.” Why should they need such a person when Marcia herself is her mother’s helper? Marcia sincerely hopes, therefore, that the new cook, Fannie Farmer, is going to be terrible. No such luck though. Fannie is an excellent cook, and she is soon teaching Marci some of her kitchen wisdom. It must be noted however that Marci does not always succeed in her culinary exploits and there are some food disasters which Fannie has to help her sort out.
   Not surprisingly Marcia finds herself getting very fond of Fannie, and since her mother is so busy with the new baby, the little girl spends a lot of time in the kitchen, watching and learning. Marcia wishes very much that she knew all of the wonderful cooking secrets that lie in Fannie’s head. When she tells Fannie this, the red-headed cooking wonder comes up with the idea of writing down all the things she knows in a book; the secrets, the tips, the recipes.
   Soon word gets around about the book that Fannie has created, and everyone wants to use it, not just Marcia. It would seem that Fannie Farmer has something very special to offer the world.
   Deborah Hopkinson has created a delicious story about a woman who changed the way thousands of women cook. Fannie made it possible for just about anyone to learn how to cook by developing the first real recipes with exact measurements of ingredients. Her book is still widely used today by cooks of all ages.
   At the back of the book the author gives us a more detailed biography of Fannie and she includes one of Fannie’s famous recipes.
   With great creativity the illustrator combines eighteenth century engravings and her own pen and ink and watercolor illustrations to create one of a kind artwork that gives the reader a sense of the times and that is visually intriguing and unique.

No comments: