Cover image for At home on the range : a cookbook
At home on the range : a cookbook
Publication Information:
San Francisco : McSweeney's Books, 2012, c1947.
Physical Description:
256 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
General Note:
First published in 1947.
"While unpacking boxes of old family books recently, Elizabeth Gilbert rediscovered a dusty, yellowed hardcover called At Home on the Range, originally written by her great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter. Having only been peripherally aware of the volume, Gilbert dug in with some curiosity, and soon found that she had stumbled upon a book far ahead of its time. Part scholar and part crusader for a more open food conversation, Potter espoused the importance of farmer's markets and ethnic food (Italian, Jewish, and German), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and generally celebrated a devotion to epicurean adventures. Reading this practical and humorous cookbook, it's not hard to see that Gilbert inherited her great-grandmother's love of food and her warm, infectious prose."--P. [4] of cover.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 641.5 POT 1 1
Book 641.5 POT 1 1

On Order



While unpacking boxes of old family books recently, Elizabeth Gilbert rediscovered a dusty, yellowed hardcover called At Home on the Range, originally written by her great-grandmother, Margaret Yardley Potter. Having only been peripherally aware of the volume, Gilbert dug in with some curiosity, and soon found that she had stumbled upon a book far ahead of its time. Part scholar and part crusader for a more open food conversation, Potter espoused the importance of farmer's markets and ethnic food (Italian, Jewish, and German), derided preservatives and culinary shortcuts, and generally celebrated a devotion to epicurean adventures. Reading this practical and humorous cookbook, it's not hard to see that Gilbert inherited her great-grandmother's love of food and her warm, infectious prose.

Proceeds from this book benefit ScholarMatch (

Author Notes

Margaret Yardley Potter's book is culled from a lifetime of cooking and entertaining in her home, from the 1920s through World War II. In addition to being a cooking columnist for the Wilmington Star , she also painted, sold dresses, assisted in the birth of four grandchildren, and took up swing piano.

Elizabeth Gilbert is the bestselling author of numerous books, including Eat, Pray, Love , now a major motion picture. In 2008, Time magazine named Elizabeth as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Author Elizabeth Gilbert (A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage) does a wonderful service by bringing back the opinionated, modern-for-its-time cookbook of her eccentric great-grandmother "Gima" Yardley Potter, first published in 1947. A woman who came from a wealthy Main Line Philadelphia family, married a profligate lawyer in the plentiful 1920s, and gradually had to come down in the world, Gima discarded the cook within the first three years of her marriage and energetically took charge of her own kitchen, learning from trial and error the art of entertaining myriad surprise guests her husband brought home and generally making-do while keeping everybody happy and well fed. Her upbeat tone that so impressed Gilbert when she finally read the cookbook braces the reader delightfully, from Gima's merry use of calf's brains and cockscombs ("with wine") to relaying how to make what was then a rather curious, palate-wowing ethnic find called pizza. Chapters are devoted lovingly to what foods best to bring hospitalized friends, mastering cocktails, and organizing emergency meals and effortless entertaining. In her bright, determined tone ("Is your cigarette finished? Let's go"), Yardley Potter assures us a generation before Julia Child that we can tackle bouillabaisse, preserves, bread, and grandmother's sacred sponge cake. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

THE funny thing about cooking in summer is that you don't really want to - nor do you really have to, unless you consider slicing tomatoes and flipping burgers a chore. And yet, as long as our friends keep migrating into our backyards, the summer cookbooks keep coming. If you're in the 1 percent of professional chefs (or the competitive home cooks who plunked down $625 for Nathan Myhrvold's "Modernist Cuisine" last year), you're most excited about the arrival of MUGARITZ: A Natural Science of Cooking (Phaldon, $49.95), by Andoni Lius Aduriz. This stone-cold-gorgeous art book happens to have some recipes, and they're impossible for the 99 percent. But wow. At Aduriz's restaurant, Mugaritz, the former El Bulli cook has distilled what John Lanchester, in his introduction, calls the "thisness and hereness" of Aduriz's rural Basque surroundings into subtle yet technically rigorous food. If you can source the ingredients for mouse melon soup with tomato water and leafy goosefoot, go nuts. Or you can make every single dish in another cookbook that has excited pro and amateur chefs alike. A GIRL AND HER PIG (Ecco/HarperCollins, $29.99) is that rare restaurant offering whose recipes actually make you feel like a better cook. Hats off to April Bloomfield and her co-author, JJ Goode, for making them really work in the home kitchen. The plucky British chef made a name for herself in New York at the Spotted Pig, the Breslin and the John Dory by cooking powerfully flavorful food that combines nose-to-tail fearlessness with the "good ingredients make great food" teachings of London's River Café. (Bloomfield landed there early in her career, having botched her dream of becoming a policewoman.) These recipes feel more like what Bloomfield makes on her day off, rather than a collection of her greatest hits. (Yes, her gnudi are here, though she admits that "it's been seven years of sheer hell making these little things." After spending the three-plus days required, you'll commiserate.) Bloomfield's style is about robust flavors and a sneakily sensual combination of textures, whether it's a salad of pig's ears fried in duck fat with a bracing lemoncaper dressing or one of carrots roasted in spice paste and tossed with creamy avocados and tart oranges. A time-consuming lamb curry, simmered for hours in pineapple juice, made me so proud I'm now game to tackle her cassoulet. This woman has accomplished a lot in her 38 years. Over in France and through the looking glass, Alain Passard, the chef at L'Arpège, has seen it all. Because he avoids haute technology and has a romantic attachment to the vegetables he grows on his own farms, he fell out of fashion during the modern gastronomy movement. But now young chefs everywhere are realizing that he's the godfather of the future. Every morning, Passard's heirloom legumes board the TGV to Paris, where his Michelin-starred restaurant makes them the focus of his wildly expensive tasting menus. Passard's ART OF COOKING WITH VEGETABLES (Frances Lincoln / Publishers Group West, $29.95), which has just been translated into English, is a strange, magical book. The flavor combinations are avant-garde: asparagus with pear and red sorrel; peaches with lemon and saffron; peas and pink grapefruit with white almonds; red beetroot with lavender and crushed blackberries. Instructions are simple and brief, as if he's speaking to one of his cooks. As for what the finished dish should look like, you'll have to use your imagination, since the recipes are illustrated solely by Passard's own Colorform-ish collages. Like his food, they play with texture, color, shape and abstract representation; by necessity, they're deliciously open to interpretation and improvisation. You probably can't get "new pink-tinged garlic, preferably from Lautrec" or "Noir de Crimée" tomatoes, but you can get their generic equivalents, so move ahead. If you're open to it, cooking from this book will change you. Quietly and surely. On the bourgeois end of the French spectrum is LA TARTINE GOURMANDE: Recipes for an Inspired Life (Roost Books, $35). Béatrice Peltre, a self-taught French-born cook and amateur photographer, began blogging about the meals she made when she moved to the United States. Her food and photographs are appealing : fresh and lovely, with a distinct French accent. There's a chapter on "Casual Lunches With Friends" that includes the recipe for a clafoutis of caramelized cherry tomatoes, zucchini and goat cheese; another, on "Sophisticated and Elegant Dinners" has a saffron-flavored crab-and-watercress soufflé. And there are plenty of tarts, tartlets, tartines, quiches and things layered in glasses, a pet of French women's magazines like Elle à Table. The whole package has a pretty, casually aspirational elegance - like eating an Anthropologie store. The baking section is perhaps the most interesting, thanks to its reliance on alternative flours. After investing in quinoa, rice, buckwheat and hazelnut flours, I made banana, chocolate and hazelnut muffins; brown-butter pistachio and poppy-seed financiers; and pretty Pink Lady apple tartlets. Delicious surprises all. Many of this summer's books are single-subject: fish, fruit, pizza, ice pops. There's even a bacon e-book from the butchers at the Meat Hook in Brooklyn. Mona Talbott's ZUPPE: Soups From the Kitchen of the American Academy In Rome (The Little Bookroom, $18.95) is smaller than a salad plate, but filled with 50 delicious, simple recipes. When Talbott was asked by her former boss, Alice Waters, to cook for the artists and scholars at the academy on a micro budget, the chef was probably too entranced by the thought of Rome to think that bit through. And so she learned to fill up a crowd with graceful thrift, starting with pots of soup. The recipes are classic Italian, but with her own flair: purée half of the carrots in a lentil and carrot soup for body and color; infuse olive oil with chili flakes and drizzle over a hearty potato and chickpea soup; blitz some unexpected parsley along with the usual mint, and stir into a pea purée. The deliciousness-to-cheapness ratio of Talbott's recipes will give you a thrill. Speaking of single-subject resourcefulness, Jim Lahey changed the way America baked bread with his no-knead dough recipe. (Or, rather, he got us baking bread in the first place.) Now the owner of Co. pizzeria and the Sullivan Street Bakery follows up with MY PIZZA: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home (Clarkson Potter, $27.50), written with Rick Flaste. It's not going to set the home-cooking world on fire in quite the same way, but it will inspire pizza nights from coast to coast. The instructions for the master dough and shaping take only a few pages. I wish Lahey had included more on incorporating flours other than all-purpose - 00 flour is a crust's crispiest friend - and had taken the time to really explain how to shape the comically elastic dough. (You'll get it after the 20th try.) But his toppings are so creative and delicious you won't care if your pizzas are shaped like Texas. Sure there are recipes for pies with basic tomato sauce and pepperoni (actually homemade merguez), but there's also a rich flambé pizza with béchamel, foolproof lardons and caramelized onions; another with brussels sprouts and chestnuts sprinkled with celery salt; even a corn and tomato pie, should you care to crank your oven to 500 degrees before October. How the British writer/farmer/TV personality/sustainable food advocate Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had the time to research a thorough, thoughtful, 608-page guide to finding and eating "good" fish is a head-scratcher. For THE RIVER COTTAGE FISH BOOK: The Definitive Guide to Sourcing and Cooking Sustainable Fish and Shellfish (Ten Speed Press, $45), at least he had a partner: the journalist and "leading fish authority" Nick Fisher. It's a glum time to be a fish lover (you may as well enjoy it while you can). But, the authors say, you can still buy responsibly and cook well. After walking readers through the dire state of the seas and telling them how to shop intelligently, they detail the skills of fishery, from killing, bleeding and gutting to filleting and storing. And then you're into the "cookery": lots of very pleasant, not terribly complicated ways to prepare varieties of fish that may not yet be your favorites. Cod, salmon and tuna don't get much airtime here, but sardines, mackerel and pollock become deeply likable when you roast them on potatoes and bay leaves, simmer them for hours in a Japanese-inspired sauce, add them to an easy soup with chorizo and potatoes or - less sustainably for the eater - cream them into half a pound of butter and "pot" them. Even conger eel becomes tempting in their hands. A large chunk of the book is given to "profiles" of their favorite fish, which they hope will prove to be biographies rather than obituaries. What's with those hyperproductive yet humble British? Just a year ago, American readers were presented with "Tender," Nigel Slater's personal recipedia of all the vegetables he'd planted in his London backyard. Luckily there was room for bushes and trees, because it allowed Slater to compose RIPE: A Cook in the Orchard (Ten Speed Press, $40). Like "Tender," "Ripe" is an alphabetical guide in which the recipes for each fruit are preceded by gardening advice, as well as lists of tasty kitchen combinations - apricots play nicely with pistachios, lamb, brandy and so on. The book also features the Slater trademark of coolly poetic color photographs printed on the same matte paper as the recipes, a style that has given rise to many American imitations. The recipes reflect his modest ambitions to be well and comfortably fed, to embrace butter and cream, to make tarts that are "warm, crumbly, messy and sweet," and to chat readers through it all. Even the recipes have soothing, writerly names like "Creamy Cheesecake, Sharp Sauce" and "A Deeply Appley Apple Crumble." (Leave it to Slater to muse on "the undercrust," his word for "that damp, almost magical place where crumble meets fruit.") There are savory bits too: pork, wouldn't you know, is delicious with everything. One of the most attitudinal cookbooks to come out in the States since, well, forever is THE HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE ICE CREAM BOOK (Chronicle Books, paper, $19.95), by Jake Godby, Sean Vahey and Paolo Lucchesi. Their San Francisco ice cream shop isn't for kids. Not with flavors like Secret Breakfast (bourbon and cornflake cookies), Here's Your Damn Chocolate Ice Cream and Jesus Juice (a sorbet of cola, red wine and vinegar). No, these are scoops that get people like Ira Glass and Ferran Adrià to blurb your book. Adrià isn't wrong in writing that Humphry Slocombe is his "little child, in a way." Though the recipes are based on a straightforward, marvelously creamy custard, the flavors tend toward the Adrià-tic. After years of getting my ice cream recipes from the brilliant Claudia Fleming, it was fun to try oddball combos like Chocolate Smoked Salt and Harvey Milk and Honey (if you don't know who he was, "please dose this book and kindly return it," the authors request). Even an almost staid flavor like Pepper and Mint Chip taught me new tricks: stir melted chocolate into the just-finished frozen base; it will harden into lacy shards. While others churn vanilla and strawberry this summer, I'm working toward Elvis (the Fat Years). Vegan? In your fat years? Cool off with PEOPLE'S POPS: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops From Brooklyn's Coolest Pop Shop (Ten Speed Press, $16.99). A few summers ago, Nathalie Jordi, David Carrell and Joel Horowitz paused their media careers to make hipster popsides (local, seasonal, adorable), selling them at the inspiring new food markets popping up in Brooklyn and Manhattan. You can try them at home: blackberry-rose, apricot-lavender, fig jam and yogurt, peach and bourbon. All you need is an ice-pop mold and sticks, a food processor and some simple syrup, and your summer will thank you. Of the season's grilling books, Adam Perry Lang's CHARRED & SCRUFFED: Bold New Techniques for Explosive Flavor On and Off the Grill (Artisan, paper, $24.95), written with Peter Kaminsky, is the most interesting - and the most challenging. If you know a person ready to get his - or, hello, her - Ph.D. in grilling, this will blow his (or her) already expanded mind. The rest of us will think it's trying too hard to come up with new things to do to a perfectly nice piece of meat. My husband tackled the clinched-and-planked chicken legs, though I made the basic brine, the "four seasons" spice blend, the two-part baste required to get those legs on the soaked cedar planks, plus the board dressing for when they came off. As for the finishing salt, he'd given up by then, since the planks had caught fire. We did enjoy the insanity that was scruffed carbonara potatoes, though it was disorienting when this dude-friendly writer suddenly had me clarifying butter and making a sabayon. For pure reading pleasure, try Margaret Yardley Potter, otherwise known as the memoirist Elizabeth Gilbert's great-grandmother. A rich Philadelphian who married the wrong man and fell into a life of scrappiness, Potter was a broad of the first order. Adventurous and funny, she could have drunk and smoked Elizabeth David, M. F. K. Fisher and probably even Dorothy Parker under the table. Her cookbook, AT HOME ON THE RANGE (McSweeney's, $24), was published in 1947 and then disappeared. Recipe instructions read something like this one for bread dough: "Is your cigarette finished? Let's go. This is fun. . . . Pretend it's your worst enemy and give it a great punch right in its solar plexus to deflate its ego. Give it a few more good lefts and rights and . . . cut it into quarters. There, madam, are four loaves of bread." Among the practical chapters for "Weekend Guests Without a Weakened Hostess" and "Salad Days and Ways for Dressing Them" is "You Don't Eat That?," a celebration of all the foods she wishes people would try: calf's brains with black butter; fried tripe; cockscombs with wine; and a strange "Italian tomato pie or pizza" she discovered in a little grocery in Philadelphia. She urges readers to "continue your culinary explorations by searching out-of-the-way delicatessens and hole-inthe-wall groceries for more of that something different." It makes sense that this was published by Dave Eggers's imprint, because Potter is a heroine for a new generation of cooks for whom her words wilt be a motto: "Go your culinary ways with confidence and without apology." ONLINE Still hungry? Consult the capsule descriptions of 20 more cookbooks at Christine Muhlke is the executive editor of Bon Appétit.