Friday, August 22, 2008


Growing up, my sister, the middle child, bought most gifts for our family from Spencers. Spencers is that novelty shop where they sell anything from a whoopee cushion to wild wigs. Once I received a book of jokes with the inscription: Now you can be funny like me. Love, Alicia. I didn't feel too bad after I saw my dad's gift that year. He received cocktail glasses with pictures of women on them. They were fully dressed until the moisture from the drinks caused their clothes to disappear.

But one year she gave me her own copy of The New Cookbook for Poor Poets and Others by Ann Rogers. I had borrowed it several times. Back then, I guess I would have qualified for one of the latter mentioned. I've never been a poet and, at that time, aside from letters and journals, I was not writing. But I loved that book. How could I not love a book that contained recipes within chapters titled The Nickel Dinner and How Its Changed or Hot Soups for Cold Days or Some Not So Virtuous Desserts?

Here's a tiny excerpt from the introduction: "So this is the first rule: Always have fresh bread. The second is always use butter."

Though I wasn't a writer, I was poor at the time. This book offered me an exciting alternative. I could live rich on meager wages. All I simply had to do was have fresh bread and butter at every meal.

The best gifts, we are told, are gifts from the heart. My sister, who I had thought knew me less than anyone, it turns out knew me very well. It was the perfect gift.

A few years back, my daughter, discovered the book in our kitchen. And as I had years before, she became enchanted by its charms.

Yesterday Jerry and I took Shannon to the airport to begin her senior year of college. Before we left, I gave her the cookbook, tied with a red bow. It was the perfect gift for a poor poet who really does write poetry.

Note: Sadly, this book is out-of-print, but if you are quick and wise, you will snap them up from the online booksellers who offer used copies for purchase.

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