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Julie Gale
The View from My Kitchen Window
The View from My Kitchen Window by Julie Kalt Gale This book is a chronological journey of the kitchens in Julie Kalt Gale’s life. The book is a memoir of her life through the stories and recipes of the family and friends who raised her. The stories center on the delicious food prepared and the characters who cooked them. The original drawings have been designed specifically for this book by the author and her son, Tobias. There are 110 recipes that represent foods of the times, from the 1950’s to the present day. The recipes include many family heirlooms that were preserved on little scraps of paper which would have disintegrated had they not been preserved in this book. The recipes run through the alphabet from Apple Dumplings to Zucchini Tempura.
This charming autobiography through food celebrates, with recipes and delicious anecdotes, a family’s eating traditions from 1950s to today but also into the past and overseas. Gale opens with touching memories of her mid-century childhood on Long Island and then Woodbury, New York, from the horrors of then-new commodities like canned baked beans (plus eating “Cheese Doodles, Devil Dogs, and our beloved cherry Kool-Aid” at a friend’s house) to the pleasures of lobster and the heartier, more flavorful fare prepared by her parents’ mothers, one from Prussia and the other from Austria. Her accounts will set taste buds tingling as she considers borscht, stuffed cabbage, chicken fricassee made from “ground beef, chicken wings, and pupiks,” and so much more. She notes, with her customary light touch: “Bubbe told my brother, Owen, and me that pupiks were the chickens’ belly buttons. We found the idea hilarious! But they are in fact, the gizzards.”

Don’t expect gizzards in Gale’s updated chicken fricassee, one of the many recipes here that both honors family tradition, Jewish culture, and contemporary tastes. The book abounds in flavor and feeling, as Gale pins down in vital, unfussy prose what these dishes have meant to her and her loved ones over the years, from “the amazing light and fluffy matzo balls in chicken soup from the Second Avenue Deli” from Manhattan’s storied 2nd Avenue Deli, to her mother’s homemade hamantaschen cookies that, one Purim, Gale shared with her college floor-mate, the daughter of Donald Rumsfeld, then the secretary of defense.

Other highlights include a “light, airy, and fluffy” cheesecake, Gale’s go-to Seder dessert; a hamish (read: homey) Rosh Hashanah apple cake that’s easy to make for a crowd; and global surprises like chicken and chorizo paella. While appetizing and written with welcome practical clarity, the recipes illustrate a memoir that’s engaging and edifying enough to stand alone, a portrait of a woman and a family who travel the world and take unexpected turns—like moving from Westchester County to farm country—while always finding connection and nourishment. Photos of family and illustrations of the dishes and key ingredients keep the spirits high.

Takeaway: Life, family, and Jewish tradition in appetizing recipes and touching memoir.

Comparable Titles: Jessica Fechtor’s Stir, Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A-
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A