Relish. Relish Friends. Relish Food. Relish Life.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley arrived at my house about two days before my birthday last year, with a gift note saying Rick apologized if he missed my birthday, because he was pretty sure he had.

Obviously, he hadn’t. And I was floored, because I would never have expected a gift from Rick. And not only did I have one, it turned out to be a perfect gift. I didn’t know it at the time. My birthday is the day before Christmas. I sat down Christmas day and picked up this book. I picked up this book in that Christmas moment, after the major festivities are over, dinner’s still awhile away, there’s some sort of delightful, warm beverage in a holiday-themed mug on the coffee table, and all just feels right with the world.

And I got back up maybe an hour later, having finished the book. My beverage had become lukewarm. But all was still right with the world. Joyous.

Relish is a food-based memoir. Similar to and incredibly different from Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home by Kim Sunée. I loved them both, and both use food to tell their stories.

Trail of Crumbs is a story of searching, of pain, of regret. Of not knowing what you had until it’s gone. But not being sure you want it back, even with that knowledge. Trail of Crumbs is most of adulthood, even when you’re young.

Relish is childhood. Teen years. Early adulthood. Figuring out your relationship with your parents. With your best friends. With yourself.

Both do it through food. But only Relish had me drooling at the possibility of cooking her recipes.

I must have purchased mushrooms for Knisley’s “The Craver” recipe half a dozen times before I actually managed to make it. They got frozen in the back of the fridge once (went into the stock bag). They got repurposed for pizza once. I think for a few other things a few times. Never, ever, did I manage to make them.

Until recently. I stopped by the farmers market to buy some mushrooms and got to talking with Emily, who was selling them. I told her what I was doing and what I’d been up to. Her co-worker overheard us. Turns out, she’s met Knisley. Very cool & serendipitous.

I made “The Craver” just a few days later. With some broccoli leaves I’d harvested from my garden, some pasta shells Rob of the attractive cuff gave us as he moved away, and some alfredo sauce I made myself1.

I made the mushrooms first, as I expected them to take longer than they did. Bill and I both ate a couple straight. I took photos, like a good food blogger.

About 5 minutes later, Bill started looking around the house. Finally he said, “I see you’ve hidden the mushrooms from me. That’s probably wise.” With that, he returned to his computer, leaving me in a fit of giggles.

They were delicious. As were the chocolate chip cookies I later made, even if I do like mine better.

And two weeks later, I loaned the book to Emily. She was so excited to borrow it, she jumped up and down and hugged me.

It’s a joy-maker, folks. I can’t recommend it highly enough, even if you never make a single recipe from it.

Note: The two amazon links above, for Relish and Trail of Crumbs are affiliate links. This means I get a tiny percentage if you buy them or other things via Amazon after clicking that link. It won’t change your purchase price. And if you do for charity, they stack. Still without changing your purchase price.

1 Why, yes. That is another challenge recipe you see waiting in the wings. But don’t expect to see it posted before October.