“The secret to a happy life is learning how to take pleasure in little things. … It’s about not being oblivious to the sights and smells and things you can reach out and touch and just the things that make you happy to be alive.”Ruth Reichl to Michele Parente, No more disguises: Ruth Reichl bares her soul in Gourmet memoir, December 8, 2018.
There are some movies I will watch over and over again (Clue, Goonies, Tommy Boy, Fifth Element, My Man Godfrey, The Princess Bride, Arsenic and Old Lace, and The Holiday to name a few). I take the same approach with my favorite books (good thing I read fast), rereading my favorites when the mood strikes. I first read the Harry Potter series before Christmas and, to me, winter is the only time it may be reread. Travels with Charley and The Good Earth are a summer read, while Sister Carrie, Sati, and The Great Divorce seem to appear on a spring rotation.
Whether it is because the book opens in the winter or whether it’s because I started reading it on a particularly bleak and gloomy day, Ruth Reichl’s My Kitchen Year is for the winter, with a fuzzy blanket, a purring kitty, and a roaring fire. It’s also the right season for Ruth Reichl’s Peach Cobbler recipe (though I use fresh pears).
Let’s take a good look at Ruth’s cookbook, and then bake up one Amazing Cobbler (so good, it needed capitalization). If you want to skip all the cookbook talk, use the table of contents below to zip down to the recipe. For all you cookbook lovers and cookbook readers, here we go!
- The End of Gourmet
- Glossing Over the Internet
- From Zero to 60 to Zero
- Ruth Writes a Book
- Rave Reviews (and Not So Rave Reviews)
- An Experience Of Empathy
- People Loved Gourmet
- My Kitchen Life is For You IF
- But Also Kind of a Cookbook
- Ruth Reichl’s Pear (or Peach) Cobbler
- Breakfast Pear or Peach Cobbler
- Ruth Reichl Books
- Related Resources:
The End of Gourmet
Ms. Reichl embodied Condé Nast fabulousness with a life composed of impossibly wonderful edible delights, a criss-cross of amazing travel destinations and all manner of publishing and broadcast extensions. Seeing her on television or in the pages of her books or magazine, we all wanted to be her.
My Kitchen Year isn’t your usual cookbook. It’s a look back on the year following the closure of Gourmet magazine (October 11, 2009). Ruth Reichl was the last editor of Gourmet, overseeing the 68 year run of magazines and the occasional cookbook.
It is, ultimately, a book of loss (with 136 recipes relevant to the story thrown in), but maybe not the sort of loss you are thinking. This isn’t a loss of a person, it’s the death of a brand, and of Ruth’s fancy pants job.
How fancy? For accepting the position of “editor” in 1999 with Gourmet, Ruth was given “…a salary six-times larger than her New York Times paycheck, an office designed and furnished to her specifications (including a private bathroom), her very own car and driver, a clothing allowance,” wrote The Washington Free Beacon.
Glossing Over the Internet
Between the PBS series and the new Gourmet Today cookbook release, Gourmet covered a lot of ground in terms of brand recognition…just not online.
The possibilities the Internet held for Gourmet were so exciting that I began fighting for a website from my first day on the job. But Si [Newhouse, then the chairman of Condé Nast] was wary of the Web; while other media companies invested in technology, he sank a reported one hundred million dollars into a new print magazine. “Sank” is the appropriate word: Portfolio, his flashy business magazine, flamed out after two years. Meanwhile, he pursued an Internet strategy that involved shoveling the contents of his many magazines into super-sites like Epicurious and style.com.
But having Epicurious as our only online presence made me miserable, and for years I tried to persuade Si that Gourmet deserved a standalone site. I presented data about recipes being the most wanted content on the Web. Si didn’t care. My talk about Web advertising strategies interested him not at all. After each session I stomped back to my office to sit by, impotent and angry, as Epicurious siphoned off our recipes.
When Si finally told Ruth she could have a Gourmet website (it went live in 2008), the site went against the search engine optimization advice (SEO) of the day. You see, Si wanted Gourmet’s recipes to stay on Epicurious, so Ruth and her staff could only add unpublished recipes. When the Gourmet website referenced a Gourmet recipe the link would then lead to the recipe in full…on Epicurious.
But, moves like that kill businesses. How websites link is a big deal, perhaps more so then, than now. Epicurious may have been the oldest food website, but Gourmet was a big brand on its own. By linking out to Epicurious, Gourmet was basically saying that that was the site to be trusted with content labeled “Gourmet,” that that other site should rank over Gourmet.
Ruth lobbied for a website when she came on board in 1999 and it wouldn’t be too many years later when new mom and budding cook me would start hunting for recipes online. I remember being confused! I know I only remember this because of my confusion. Why were Gourmet recipes on a different site? Where was Gourmet online?
That’s probably what helped kill it. Where tech should have been a priority, it wasn’t. By 2008, Gourmet was a decade after the time when brands had hopped online (even if those brands didn’t always know what they were doing). Having a weak presence was preferable to having zero relevant presence at all. Yes, Si was correct that the age of a website had something to do with the way a site ranked back then (how a website is found), but the sheer volume of published Gourmet recipes could have made up for that. Search engines have changed since then (thank goodness).
Anyway, back to that beginning 2008 Gourmet website. It meant double the work: More testing, more writing, more content. Ruth reflected in her 2019 book Save Me The Plums:
Looking back, I should have just said no. But, reluctant to be a squeaky wheel, I drove on like a good girl, devoting more and more resources to a money pit that could never be solvent, a hungry maw that could never be sated, a future we could never quite reach. I knew I was tilting at windmills, but I loathe confrontation and I kept hoping that somehow it would be okay.
There were high points. We were the first print magazine to hire a full-time video producer, and through her work readers came to know — and love — all the cooks. We were able to demonstrate techniques — boning fish, icing cakes, sharpening knives. We created crazy recipes for ingredients that would never have made it into the magazine: offal, insects, corn silk, and carrot tops. Best of all, for the first time we had the luxury of space. Now, whenever someone came up with an offbeat idea, it was easy to say yes. “We can always put it on the Web…” became our mantra.
Everything that Si wanted Ruth to accomplish could have been accomplished with a website and a print magazine. As Ruth told an interview from Knowledge@Wharton, “When I got there, they basically said, “We really want you to change the magazine. But we want you to attract younger readers without losing the older readers.” By NOT being online, they were sending a message that Gourmet WAS for older people or, at least, older, wealthy people who could afford the luxury items in the magazine’s ads.
Going online would have done that. The online site would have given young people and anyone unfamiliar with the brand a look at what Gourmet stood for and the kind of recipes they had and what they did. Late to the Internet game though they were, it would have been the perfect vehicle to lure in a younger crowd and the perfect bridge between old school Gourmet and modern day. The site could have pulled in different advertisers to match the online audience. What fun it would be to build an online presence like that! At the very least, a younger audience could have generated significant online income.
By separating published Gourmet recipes from the site, it sent a message that Gourmet didn’t belong online, that the print version was something different. That’s not the way to get people to care about your brand. It’s almost an identity crisis. If you enter “Gourmet.com” in the address bar today, you will redirect back to…you guessed it…Epicurious.
I know I thought Gourmet was for people with heaps of money. I didn’t think it was something accessible to me. When I was looking for recipes back in the early 2000s from Gourmet, I was looking for cookie recipes.
New website or not, it was too little, too late. At least in the eyes of Si Newhouse. He pulled the plug on Gourmet in Fall of 2009.
“We’re all stunned, sad,” Gourmet‘s editor, Ruth Reichl, posted on Twitter.
Conde Nast had no comment. But in a memo to staff on Monday, Conde Nast CEO Charles Townsend said the closures were required “to navigate the company through the economic downturn and to position us to take advantage of coming opportunities.”
“We’re all stunned, sad,” Gourmet‘s editor, Ruth Reichl, posted on Twitter.Conde Nast had no comment. But in a memo to staff on Monday, Conde Nast CEO Charles Townsend said the closures were required “to navigate the company through the economic downturn and to position us to take advantage of coming opportunities.
“The decision comes at the end of a three-month study by consultants from McKinsey & Co. on ways Conde Nast can reduce costs. Gourmet‘s ad pages were down 50 percent in the second quarter from the same period last year, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Gourmet had a circulation of 980,000 last year.
Gourmet wasn’t the only magazine dropped by the publisher. Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Cookie, Portfolio, and Domino magazines were all part of the cut too. I remember wondering why I couldn’t find Domino at the store. It was my absolute favorite magazine.
From Zero to 60 to Zero
Sure, they had had to deal with budget cuts and had to actually be mindful of what they were spending, but closing? No one at Gourmet saw that one coming.
What I saw in the first few years that I was there — it was a joy. They let me hire the best writers, hire the best people to work with, really think out of the box. It was incredible fun. In the first few years that I was there, Conde Nast went from a company that was losing money to one that was incredibly profitable. So it was like riding this wave. We won all these awards, and everything was great.
Then the recession hit. One of the things that really killed us is that Gourmet’s advertising model was to rely on luxury advertising, as opposed to many of our competitors, which relied on [ads for] packaged goods. Packaged goods do really well in a recession. Luxuries do not…. Our biggest advertising categories were travel, automotive, small appliances, beauty and jewelry. And we weren’t necessary to any of those people.
We got caught in this kind of perfect storm, and it was really hard. We went from, “You can do anything you want,” to “Now you have to think about how you cut costs.” One of the ways that both my publishers and I tried to think about how we would save the magazine was by expanding the brand. We did all kinds of publishing ventures. We did two huge Gourmet cookbooks. We did a whole series of smaller books. We did two TV shows. In the last year, I was doing this show called Adventures with Ruth, which was totally sponsored by American Airlines and was essentially an advertising deal. It was a way of bringing more money into the magazine.
For me personally, what was hard about that was the more I worked on all of these ancillary products, the less I had to do with the magazine. So all the things I liked best about my job I wasn’t doing anymore.
What would Ruth do next? She had no idea. Well, sort of. First, she had to hit the road and promote the Gourmet Today cookbook. Can you even imagine? Droves of people telling you they miss the magazine and asking what happened, while you try to be gracious. But after six weeks of that, she was done with the tour. And floundering.
…Home again, I stared at an empty calendar. My husband, son, and family were immensely supportive, and I was surrounded by close friends. Compared to those of many others, my problems were small. I was in good health. I was not about to starve. But I was sixty-one years old, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get another job. I had no idea what to do with the rest of my life and no notion how we’d pay the bills.
And so I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened: I disappeared into the kitchen.
In my opinion, they should have moved all of Gourmet online (and ended the completely stupid posting of recipes on Epicurious) if the magazine wasn’t cutting it. Ending the whole thing feels incredibly short-sighted. Instead, they stopped with the Thanksgiving magazine, and not the beloved December issue.
Epicurious came across folders featuring the recipes from the unpublished editions (after stashing them in a drawer for years). Epicurious posted the Gourmet December menu recipes in 2018. And now we come full circle.
Jetting back to 2009, we left Ruth mourning and guilty. Ruth had to figure out the “what, next.”
Ruth Writes a Book
My kitchen year started in a time of trouble, but it taught me a great deal. When I went back to cooking I rediscovered simple pleasures, and as I began to appreciate the world around me, I learned that the secret to life is finding joy in ordinary things.Ruth Reichl, My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life (2015), Page xvii.
Grief takes time. Whether it is the mourning of a pet, a person, or a job. There is no timeline. You may move through varied cycles and then, just when you think you’re doing better, you take a step back. Maybe two. You jump ahead, fall back. Good days with bits of bad. Bad days with bits of good. So-so days. There are no rules. There is, eventually, a tunnel out.
When Ruth started puttering around in that kitchen, when she was no longer actively mourning, she talked about what she’d been cooking and how much she enjoyed it. Someone suggested she should write a cookbook.
I was six or seven months out before it even occurred to me, “Oh, maybe I should write a cookbook.” What I went to were my tweets. Because I hadn’t kept a diary. I had kept notes in the kitchen when I made something I liked. I wrote the recipe down, so I could replicate it. But going back to the tweets, I realized how bleak my life [had been]. I don’t think I had ever allowed myself to really internalize it. I had sent out one miserable tweet every day. But other than that, you put one foot in front of the other, and you march on. People would say, “How are you?” And I would reply, “Oh, I’m fine. I’m fine.”
Meanwhile, I realized that I’d been having these dreams about being homeless in the street. I mean, I really did think that…. I thought, “I’m never gonna get another job. I’m 62 years old. Who’s gonna hire me?” On top of that was this layer of really feeling like a failure. I was given this fantastic opportunity to make the best epicurean magazine ever, and what did I do? I got my entire staff fired. I quickly went into this place of real self-loathing. Looking back at the tweets was like opening a vein. I realized what a bad place I had been in, which I hadn’t realized at the time.
Ruth found a purpose.
Rave Reviews (and Not So Rave Reviews)
Some people were up in arms at the idea of the book.
How could someone with two houses, a successful (working) husband, and one adult child who does not live at home have anything to complain about? “Elitist,” screamed some.
“It’s just a job,” screamed others in all caps everywhere they could.
But sometimes our jobs sneak in and become our identities. That’s really what Ruth is revealing here. Well, that and plenty of guilt over being The Last Editor of a long-running magazine, served with a side of mourning for what you had and what you’ve lost. Just the enormity of it and the possibilities and plans that went *poof!* overnight.
Cooking is my passion. But yours might be golf or opera, or gardening. Going to your passion is a way to get through this…. I’d been working since I was 16, and I had always identified myself by my job. I was a cook. I was a writer. I was a restaurant critic. I was a magazine editor. Suddenly, I was a nothing. To work myself out of feeling like my job defined me, and that if I didn’t have a job, it didn’t mean I was nothing, was the most important thing.
It’s really pernicious to think that you are your job…. Although I had been in food all my life, I had not been cooking for a very long time. I’d been too busy to do serious cooking. By really throwing myself into the cooking and paying attention to how much pleasure it gave me, I rediscovered that … the secret to life is learning to take joy in everyday things and to really pay attention in the kitchen.
But a bigger thing than that was that by going back into the kitchen and centering myself again, I realized that I wasn’t my job. That I was me. I re-found the person who was kind of always in there. The thing about my job in particular: those Conde Nast editor jobs are princess jobs. You live a very big life. You have drivers, and you meet famous people, and you travel first class, and everybody is bowing down to you all the time.
To go from that to being an ordinary person who is traveling on the subway and lining up with all the peons to get on the economy seat 32C on an airplane and realize that that just doesn’t matter. All that other stuff is just gloss. Who you are is more important than thinking that because you’re hobnobbing with famous people, you’re really somebody. You’re not.
Although my reach was nowhere near that of Ruth’s, places pulled out all the stops when they knew I was visiting. I tended to keep my visits to restaurants a secret, mentioning my purpose at the end of the meal—though leaving behind my business card was more my style. If a restaurant sucked, I didn’t include it on the site. But if I were working with a tourism department, traveling incognito was impossible. The kids still happily reminisce about one barbecue restaurant that filled the entire table with a huge assortment of (delicious) food.
We pet a baby tiger, hand-twist pretzels on an assembly line, explore areas not open to the public, and skip all the lines. It was a fun experience and that was such a teeny tiny blip of a thing compared to Ruth’s experience with Gourmet.
An Experience Of Empathy
I guess it’s easy for me to think back to the early part of my life when I was floundering. I had always wanted to become a writer. If you had asked me in second grade about it, I would have said “author.” I didn’t know how.
Marriage. House. Kids. We moved to a small town just before our oldest son turned 2 years old. I was climbing the walls. Being home with a little kid all day is exhausting. We were young and didn’t have two cents to rub together, there weren’t things to do where we lived, and so I invented my first website, Little Indiana. It became my identity.
It should have just been my purpose and not me. But these things have a way of creeping up on you.
The work culture in many high-pressure fields often rewards working longer hours with raises, prestige, and promotions…However, when you engage in any intense activity for the great majority of your waking hours, that activity will tend to become more and more central to your identity — if only because it has displaced other activities and relationships with which you might identify.
. . .
When high pressure jobs are paired with a big paycheck, individuals can find themselves launched into a new socioeconomic class. It’s wasn’t just the homes, cars, vacations, and gadgets that Dan suddenly couldn’t live without — it was the friends, the dinner parties, the charity galas. Our identities are highly influenced by how we present ourselves to others. When someone forms an identity focused around wealth, achievement, and influence, they tie themselves to that high-paying career that got them there.
Even for those who don’t burn out, constructing one’s identity closely around a career is a risky move. Companies and entire industries struggle and go under. Age discrimination can make it especially difficult for those in the mid to late stages of their career to find a suitable role in their field after a layoff. No matter how it happens, becoming disconnected from a career that forms the foundation of your identity can lead to bigger issues, such as depression, anxiety, substance use, and loneliness.
For many of us, we don’t just have a job or work somewhere, it is who we are. If you’ve ever had a job in the public eye, where you’ve experienced the shoulder tap and the random recognition of your work…well, it feels good. To lose it, and unexpectedly at that, is a torture all its own. Add in the guilt of being The Last Editor of something really huge and long-running…and you can see how it would totally mess with your mind.
I can see that in Ruth’s book. It can be…angsty. Yes, sometimes even a little…whiny. But, that’s kind of the way our inner monologue goes sometimes, right? Don’t we catch ourselves internally stomping our feet and throwing our hands in the air, wailing, “I don’t wanna!” about even the most minor of things sometimes?
I know I feel that way on rainy days. The kids can’t bike ride to school, so I have to get both kids to different schools, by the same time in the morning, and I have no idea how long the car line will be. #notfun
This is me on those days:
People Loved Gourmet
Maybe it would help you understand if you could see how real people felt about the closing of Gourmet. Comments are snipped from Ruth Reichl Speaks About Closing of Gourmet by Stephanie Clifford, October 6, 2009. I have left typos, etc. as posted:
- Gourmet has been a staple in my life. I started reading it at 14 and inspired me to go to culinary school and start my own catering business 20 years ago. I feel as if I have just lost one of my best friends…Jill Kucera October 10, 2009 · 7:49 am.
- I will always treasure the issue in which Gourmet printed a letter I wrote requesting a recipe from a favorite restaurant. There are so many things I learned about cooking over the years, just by reading Gourmet every month. I love the photography, the travel articles, the Sterns on Road Food. But the first thing I read every single month in the last ten years, was Ruth Reichl’s editor’s letter. I feel like I’m losing a friend. Ellen Wagner October 9, 2009 · 2:46 pm.
- It has been our family’s tradition for decades to prepare Gourmet ‘s December “centerfold” menu for Christmas dinner. We wait with anticipation to see who receives their issue first, usually a sister in Denver. Then the phonecalls between Colorado, Ohio , New York & Indiana began as we discussed and passed out assignments for when we gather in Ohio….With Gourmet, we made great food and even greater memories. Thank you, we will miss you, you became family too. Francess Cheek October 7, 2009 · 3:43 pm.
- It’s almost like a death in the family, Gourmet has been such a central part of our lives!…Leslie Schenker October 7, 2009 · 3:30 pm.
- This is so upsetting. How will the Gourmet reader go on without their monthly issue. My husband & I always make about half of the recipes each month and we are both morning the loss of this soulful ritual. We will miss Ruth and her team and their delicious healthy food. Walda Chesnut October 7, 2009 · 10:09 am.
- I’m devastated. Gourmet has been in my life since 1977. It will by like losing a dear friend. Lee Venolia October 7, 2009 · 7:07 am.
- I cannot begin to say how devastated I am at the closure of Gourmet Magazine. Having been a devoted reader for more than half of the magazine’s lifetime, I can’t imagine being without it. I have in my possession numerous issues that I cannot bear to part with, as well as dozens – if not hundreds – of clippings that I have pasted onto binder pages for the last several decades. How could you do this to us Conde Nast?.. Joyce Stone October 6, 2009 · 11:43 pm.
My Kitchen Life is For You IF
In my opinion, it’s a food memoir with recipes and discovering the present. Of being present. Of not becoming so busy and engrossed in your specialness you kind of miss out on what else is around you. It’s a book of letting go.
After all, what’s the common thread in Ruth’s interviews after Gourmet folded? Variations of “I didn’t know.”
I believe it’s the kind of book that will best resonate with anyone who has ever experienced soul-shattering grief, to anyone who has ever said, “I didn’t know” or who has felt the raw emotions of unexpected loss. You don’t need to understand the nature of someone else’s sorrow, or why it affects them, but with that heart-rendering experience, you possess the necessary empathy, or at least the capacity to understand the emotions the person is dealing with.
No, the death of a job, even a dream job, isn’t the same as the death of a person, yet in some ways…it kind of is. It’s gone, it’s lost, and whatever hopes and plans you had about it are over—and you will forever be different because of it.
But Also Kind of a Cookbook
It’s also a book of food. Okay, I get it. The binding does suck for a book you want to cook with. It does. It’s not made to lay flat. I set a clear glass mixing bowl over the top of it or the pie plate. It is the only way to keep My Kitchen Year open and not feel murderous rage each time the book swings closed with a soft “pffffft!”.
The book opens with an intro explaining why she wrote the book, for people who don’t know the story of Gourmet, moving into a few pages of notes regarding the recipes, including a list of supplies needed to cook the book. Our pantry staples list isn’t much different, though I have a lot more items on there for baking purposes (like buttermilk or buttermilk powder, different vanillas and extracts, and chocolate chips and other baking chips out the yang). But this book is more about cooking than baking, even though there are several baking recipes in here too.
Some people ripped apart a few of the recipes, expressing disbelief over the inclusion of a simple steak sandwich and a PB&J. Again, I say it’s a poetic book focusing on Ruth’s return to the present, and shrugging off the dark days of grief. Some of those days included a PB&J. Sometimes, what you ate is about the only good part of a day, right?
There are other less common recipes in here too. I have slips of paper marking the spots for recipes I’d like to try, including Food Cart Curry Chicken, Thai-American Noodles, Easy “Bolognese,” and “Tandoori” Chicken.
Ruth Reichl’s Pear (or Peach) Cobbler
Ruth Reichl considers her cookbook to be a guide, not a script rulebook. “…To me recipes are conversations, not lectures; they are a beginning, not an end. I hope you’ll add a bit more of this, a little less of that, perhaps introduce new spices of different herbs. What I want is for my recipes to become your own. I love each of the dishes in this book, but if I were at your house I’d expect every one to taste a bit different than they would when you’re at mine,” writes Ruth in My Kitchen Year (Page xix).
I tend to take the same approach, though sometimes out of necessity.
Fresh pears over peaches. We always have pears around since our boys love to snack on them. I also use buttermilk powder instead of fresh buttermilk because full-fat buttermilk is unavailable where I live (which is RIDIC, as my Grandma would say). I pour heavy cream in a cute little pitcher and let the fam decide how they want to roll. Personally, I drown mine in heavy cream. Our oldest says I’m actually eating “cobbler soup.” He doesn’t use any cream at all.
Breakfast Pear or Peach Cobbler
- 3-4 Large Pears Ruth uses 4 Large Peaches.
- 1/3 Cup Buttermilk I follow the label on my buttermilk powder container. Give it a whisk before you add it to liquid ingredients to break up any annoying clumps.
- 1 Lemon Half Juiced (watch out for seeds)
- 1/4 to 1/2 Cup Sugar Want it sweeter? Go for the full amount of sugar. I use 1/3 Cup sugar.
- 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 4 Tablespoons Butter (otherwise known as "half a stick."
- Heavy Cream for serving, to taste (the oldest does NOT like it with cream, but I LOVE it).
- 400* oven.
- Ruth says you can peel peaches by dropping them into boiling water for 40-60 seconds and then running them under cold water until your hands are no longer burning. Then you slip the skins off and drop them into the dish, juice and all. I use pears, simply peeling and chunking them up a bit.
- Add lemon juice to the fruit.
- Combine the sugar and the cornstarch, and stir into the fruit.
- Combine the flour, baking powder ,baking soda, and the salt.
- Cut in butter.
- Mix in buttermilk.
- Set the dough over the fruit. It won't be perfect. It won't be pretty. BUT it will be amazing. Remember, the topping will rise during baking, so it will cover a little more than it does pre-baked. It is NOT meant to completely cover the whole thing, FYI. Part of the appeal is seeing some fruit here and there.
- Bake at 400* for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve with heavy cream on the side. I drown mine (our oldest says I eat pear cobbler soup).
- It's best served warm on the day it's made. Hide leftovers in the fridge so you don't have to share.
Ruth Reichl Books
Some are stories, some are stories with recipes. If you want to know more of the Gourmet story, take a look at Save Me the Plums (2019). A few titles have been released with different covers, while Not Becoming My Mother and For You, Mom are the same book with different titles (and covers, of course). If you’ve never read her books, I’d recommend Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise just because it’s funny.