When I was a teenager, I could sit on my bed for hours with a stack of fashion magazines and a bottle of fizzy water. I didn’t do it everyday. I was far too busy on most days dividing my time between angst and working after school. But, on the days when time permitted, it was my quiet respite from the world. I think back to those afternoons and feel warm and wonderful with memory. It’s funny to think about, really. Those weren’t life-changing afternoons, but they were important. Those tiny moments stolen whenever possible are life’s greatest indulgences. But certainly things change. I can no longer imagine being confined to my bedroom for hours without being terribly stricken with illness. I also don’t have a single subscription to a fashion magazine although I might change that as soon as I finish this post. I still do enjoy copious amounts of fizzy water, sitting still, and reading. On those rare evenings when everything works out perfectly, I might find myself on the couch in the early evening with a cup of the good stuff and a stack of fresh cookbooks.
A good cookbook can reel me in just like a good novel. It’s just as addictive, I find. But it’s not the rough cut pages, gorgeous typeface, and mouthwatering photos, over which I fawn. Those elements are wonderfully seductive, but they are merely the icing on the cake. All too often, such things are distractions. You peel away the icing and find little substance beneath. Every now and then, however, I find a true gem on my hands. That’s what I found in Good to the Grain. This book is a lovely tome of baking written in a truly generous manner. Boyce shares much about her world and the tools of her trade. She does so matter-of-factly without flowery writing or fluff. And, although the book is bursting with imperfectly gorgeous food photography, it’s the recipes and helpful discussions that are the real deal here. This is a concise manual of baking written by a mother who, in the quest to feed her wee ones healthy foods, developed a groundbreaking collection of whole grain baking recipes. I was riveted and not the least bit disappointed.