136 Recipes that Saved My Life

By: Ruth Reichl

Published: September 29, 2015

Publisher: Random House


Reichl’s world as she knew it came to an end in 2009 when her role as editor-in-chief of “Gourmet” magazine came to an abrupt halt. The magazine was no longer published and Reichl had no idea what to do with her life. I had seen this book mentioned a few times and it intrigued me, so when it was part of a Kindle Deal, I grabbed it and read it slowly over a few months. I must admit I was not enjoying it at the beginning. I wasn’t expecting the depressing, poor-me attitude to be so prevalent on the pages. Reichl was truly lost, wandering the streets, and completely unsure of how to spend her days. She, of course, turned to her most treasured spot, her kitchen and created dishes that brought her comfort, gave her a challenge, or filled her need for adventure.

As she and her husband decide to go to their second home and live their lives in the country for the winter, I found Reichl relaxed a bit more and her story seemed to become less whiny. Maybe, she was able to breathe a little bit being away from the city and all that reminded her of her former career.

I found many of the recipes were over my head and were foods I would never make, let alone, eat. Here in small-town Iowa, I am not exposed to the range of flavors she raved about in her recipes. I’m also not much of a seafood fan, so those recipes were pretty much ignored. But, no matter what the recipe is, Reichl’s descriptions of her cooking the food will make your mouth water. I found myself highlighting a number of her recipes from Roast Chicken with Potatoes to Pomegranate Sunrise Fizz to Banana Bread (I’m always looking for that perfect recipe) and her Grandmother’s Cabbage. So far, that is the only recipe I have had a chance to try. I’ve made cooked cabbage several times as it’s a favorite of my husband but hers had a few different steps that I hadn’t done before. Did I notice much of a difference in the flavor from when I have made it? No, but still delicious either way.

Ultimately, Reichl’s world as she knew it came to a halt and the making of meals helped her emerge from the sadness and shock of starting over. This book is the result of that year. Reichl’s book reads much like a diary as you travel through the seasons both in weather and seasons of grief. The photography is limited, there isn’t a photo of every recipe, but when a photo appears on the page, it puts you right in the moment. The chapters are short and everyone focuses on a specific emotion and dish, ending with the recipe. So, you can easily read this like I did over the course of several weeks or months. 

Even though this book had a rough start for me, I appreciated the journey and the food that helped her overcome her sadness. It reminded me how much I love cooking for my family and gave me a new excitement for creating meals out of love.

Ruth Reichl – source

Ruth Reichl is an American food writer, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and culinary editor for the Modern Library and a former food critic.  For more information, check out her website, HERE

To purchase a copy of MY KITCHEN YEAR, click the photo below:

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  1. Linda Stoll on March 22, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    ah, Stacie … nothing like heading off to the country to clear our heads and help us see what matters most!


  2. Judee Algazi on March 24, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Maybe she could have/should have edited after she felt better or maybe she just needed a way to vent and decided to share it like it was! Sounds very therapeutic for her!

  3. Beth F on March 24, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    I've always wanted to read this book — despite the mixed reviews. I know what you mean about not having the ingredients. I live in a small town and I always skip the fresh seafood recipes and the ones with more "exotic" ingredients.

  4. Carole on March 24, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    I really liked the book. Cheers from carole's chatter

  5. (Diane) bookchickdi on March 25, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    I've seen this book around for a long time, but I've yet to read it. You wrote a wonderful review here.

  6. Claudia on March 26, 2018 at 12:11 am

    She's definitely a "Foodie" and up for trying just about anything. I enjoyed the book, but I'm a die hard Reichl fan:)

  7. Mae Travels on March 26, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Reichl's several autobiographies were really enjoyable, but reviews of this one mostly agree with the words you've chosen, like "whiny" so I haven't read it. I think you did a really good job of describing the cons and pros of the book!

    best… mae at

  8. Tina on March 26, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Very nice review! I looked over this book but didn't end up reviewing it and I think I didn't get any recipes either. there were a few I could make but wow, I have soooo many cookbooks checked out of the library!

  9. Deb in Hawaii on March 26, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Like Claudia, I am a big Reichl fan and enjoyed the book. I really liked her Avgolemono Soup from it.

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