“Author’s Life Recipe: Eat, Cook, Love”

Huge thanks to Jacqueline Cutler for this review in the 12/21/14 Star Ledger.

 

Laura Zinn Fromm has written a lovely food-based memoir.

by Jacqueline Cutler

“Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping”

By Laura Zinn Fromm

(Greenpoint Press, 300 pp., $19.95)

I come by my dreadful cooking honestly. My mother’s salmon croquettes could put someone off food permanently. My paternal grandmother made leftover cold spaghetti sandwiches to take to the beach. My uncle, as a toddler, wandered to strangers’ blankets, asking for food.

It’s not an excuse, not at this stage of my life – when AARP is courting me – just an explanation. Happily, I married a wonderful cook. Still, I am sometimes forced into the kitchen. I used to serve my children vegetables, rock frozen, and tell them to suck out the nutrients. I would then hand them the globe and instruct them to locate countries in which people did not have freezers, where I swore the food I gave them would be considered a delicacy.

So for me to be so moved by Laura Zinn Fromm’s absolutely delightful memoir and cookbook, to actually want to venture into the kitchen to do something besides brew another pot of coffee, speaks legions to her abilities. In fact, as I write this, my husband is grocery shopping and I requested several items because I am going to try her recipes.

The delight is not limited to the recipes, though she should be lauded because they are comprehensible, even to someone like me who always has to look up what sauté means. The delight is in her very personal essays.

Her writing is open and, as with memoirs with recipes, she combines moments of her life with certain foods. It’s fun, and my sole complaint is that because these pieces originally ran in different publications, there’s too much repetition about her family, a very interesting collection of people. Different anecdotes are great, but explaining them as if she’s introducing them each time is not.

There are wonderful insights into food and she credits those who have taught her, in their kitchens, in classes and in books. Admittedly, Fromm had me at the table of contents because of the chapter on existential tuna. How do you not love a book with that as a chapter?

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Sweets Sweeten Survival

Thank you to Anne Neborak at the Delaware County News Network for running this story when I did a reading at the Marple Library in Broomall, PA!

BROOMALL-Laura Zinn Fromm sweetens the readings by bringing home-made cookies featured in her book, “Sweet Survival, Tales of Cooking and Coping at the Marple Public Library. There’s the Super Rich Fiercely Fudgy Chocolate Meringue Cookies, the Pretzel Kisses and the Magic Cookie Bars all featured in the book. Her mother-in-law, Dorothy Fromm of Broomall helped her bake the cookies.

Dorothy Fromm, a patron of the library told Maple’s reference librarian, Bridgett Crockett about her daughter-in-law’s book and she invited her to come speak at a special program

The Huffington Post columnist holds the tattered book in her hand as she reads essays that are luscious in words, honest and heartfelt. The audience is attentive as she reads of her life experiences: a prominent father who tried to commit suicide, his mental breakdown, his bout with cancer; her cousins Trudy and Abe who kidnapped a baby and was on the FBI list. She reads about the Shark cake she baked for her son’s fair. The recipes are in the book showing how Zinn Fromm was able to find her way through the darkest moments and celebrate the happiest moments by cooking.

“It hurt to write about my father and even when I read it, it still hurts,” said Zinn Fromm.

“When a parent dies that’s the one person less in the world to love you,” said Zinn Fromm.

“It’s better to express things then to you dodge these things. I am a writer. I don’t know what else do but to write about it. It (her father’s suicide attempt and Trudy’s and Abe’s arrest) was all in the newspapers, so to actually package it and present it to the world was good. It was a way to make sense of my family,” said Zimm Fromm

“Cooking is very healing.” It helps to chase away the devils running around my heads,” said Zinn Fromm.

It took the award winning journalist, three years to write the collection of essays which is two parts memoir and one part cookbook. She worked for years as a reporter at Business Week living in Manhattan. She didn’t cook until she and her family moved to New Jersey at the age of 33. She set out to learn to cook and in turn cope with her father’s mental and physical illnesses with this book. She hopes to write another book about cooking and coping with middle age.

So what is the Huffington Post’s columnist’s favorite cookie?

“ The Fiercely Fudgy Chocolate Meringue Cookie, “said Zinn Fromm smiling.

Survival of the sweetest A ‘sugar addict’ spills tales of a life with food

by Comments Off on Survival of the sweetest A ‘sugar addict’ spills tales of a life with food

Many thanks to Elaine Durbach at the NJ Jewish News for running this story on 12/10/14. We talked and had a wonderful lunch at Laurel in Maplewood before that gem of a restaurant closed in early December.

 

Laura Zinn Fromm has a take on life that for many people could sum up the holiday season: “If food is love, then cooking is even lovelier. And we are all hungry.”

Her book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, published in September by Greenpoint Press, is part memoir, part recipe collection. The mixture makes for restless reading. If you go straight to the next chapter, you learn more about her hilariously familiar struggles to shape a sane and loving life filled with all manner of comfort food. On the other hand, the dishes described are often tantalizing enough to make even non-cooks like this reader put down the book and go hunting for the ingredients.

For example, in the chapter titled “Cooking for Hanukah: What I Do and What I Don’t Do,” she describes frantically trying to balance life as a suburban mom with teaching and writing a blog that wins fleeting attention from The New York Times and Al Jazeera, while along the way gathering an unbeatable recipe for braised brisket. She concludes with the line: “Too much brown sugar is never a bad thing,” and that sweet aroma comes right off the page…

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Native Pens Memoir and Cookbook

Thank you to Patch for running this story. 

Town resident Laura Zinn Fromm has published a book filled with humorous personal essays, thoughtful recipes, and cooking advice.

The local author will discuss her new book, at The Millburn Library at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15.

What Writers Are Saying About “SWEET SURVIVAL: Tales of Cooking & Coping”

“Reading SWEET SURVIVAL is like relaxing in the warm kitchen of a favorite neighbor on a snowy afternoon when there’s no place you’d rather be, and nothing you’d rather be doing, than sharing stories as she magically turns favorite recipes into awesome comfort food. The writing is so compelling that it draws you in with a distinct voice that carries throughout the book. The memoir sections are mesmerizing. Move over Nora Ephron and Lena Dunham: there’s a new neighbor in town and her name is Laura Zinn Fromm!”

— Arthur T. Vanderbilt, author of Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt”

“SWEET SURVIVAL is one of those books, like Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, destined to make the rounds years after publication, passed down from woman to woman, recommended by friends and Wednesday night book club. The stories, about relationships and cooking, are the real stuff of life. It’s like sitting in your kitchen with your best friend, talking about life, the loves, births, deaths, longings, failures and joys– and the recipes that go with them. Beautiful, delicious fare. “

— Julie Tilsner, author of 29 and Counting: A Chick’s Guide to Turning 30

 

Back from a Library Near the City of Brotherly Love

Thank you to my mother-in-law, Dorothy Gold Fromm, for inviting me to read from Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping and organizing a wonderful afternoon at the Marple Public Library in Broomall, PA on Friday, December 5. Despite the rain and the cold, we had a great group of 32 women. Dorothy and I both made recipes from the book: She made the magic cookie bars (p.53) and pretzel kisses (p.43), I made the chocolate menigues (p.64.) By the end of the reading, there were no magic cookie bars left. My father-in-law, Eli Fromm, made the signs, explaining what was what. Huge thanks also to Bridgette Crockett for pulling it all together.

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Eat Your Words: Podcast on Heritage Radio

If you are looking for something to listen today, please check out the interview I did for Eat Your Words, a podcast on Heritage Network. Here’s the link to the show: http://goo.gl/0CrNJ3

Episode 209 – Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping

This week on Eat Your Words, host Cathy Erway welcomes Laura Zinn Fromm, author of the new book Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping out now on Greenpoint Press. Laura is also an accomplished editor and former Business Week Magazine reporter, but now spends a good deal of time on her blog Flawed Mom and as a contributor to The Huffington Post. Talking to Cathy about her background and journey in journalism, especially how she found that writing about food and family reinvigorated her, she shares a few stories from Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping. Laura goes on to chat about how cooking and food writing have helped her cope with stress and anxiety throughout her life, which is also a theme throughout her book. Tune in to hear Laura’s wonderful perspective on food, writing, and family. This program was brought to by Whole Foods Market.

“We all sleep, we all go to the bathroom, and we all eat. But you’re not going to talk about sleeping or going to the bathroom, because they’re boring and kind of gross, but everybody eats. So it’s like a very natural conversation starter. It’s universal.” [2:42]
“I came from a family where my mother is a fantastic cook, so I grew up eating these wonderful meals, no matter what.” [8:30]

“I find that in times of stress cooking huge relief.” [9:58]

–Laura Zinn Fromm on Eat Your Words

 

Thank you, Stacey Snacks

Many thanks to Stacey Snacks, for writing about Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, and “giving away” two of the books. (If you would like to try and win a book, please go to Stacey’s website and enter the drawing.) Stacey’s website is funny, charming, knowing, beautiful to look at and extremely informative and helpful when it comes to food. She cooks, she eats, she makes use of what she grows in her luscious garden and she suggests great places to eat out, both in the US and abroad. Last month, she took us with her as she travelled to Paris. Back home,  all you want to do is stop by her house in the middle of the afternoon and ask for a slice of her apple date-nut cake. Stacey’s roast chicken braised in milk post, with a recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver, spurred me to roast a chicken in milk on a cold snowy day and then write about it on Huffington Post, where it became one of the most popular stories I’ve ever written for them. Needless to say, that story became chapter 34 in the book, “Falling Off the Bone:  Roast Chicken in the Snow,” so thank you so much for that too, Stacey Snacks!

Everybody seems to be writing about food these days and it’s the rare food website that is witty, entertaining and truly useful. Stacey’s is all three. You will find yourself wanting to print out all of her recipes.

Here is the excerpt from Stacey Snacks:

Next stop, a book launch party for author, Laura Zinn Fromm, a clever Huffington Post writer, for the release of her new book Sweet Survival, Tales of Cooking and Coping.

We were treated to a lovely luncheon and a book reading.
(I only took a pic of the beautiful fruit salad in front of the Chinese soldier, sorry).

Laura writes about family, mental illness, food, cooking and life in the suburbs (isn’t that about your life and mine?).
It’s a great, funny read, with lots of great recipes to go along with the stories (and I am mentioned on page 224, and it’s not about mental illness!).

And because I love you, I am giving away 2 copies of Laura’s new book, Sweet Survival, Tales of Cooking and Coping.

Please leave a pleasant comment about anything you feel like (no anonymous comments please, unless you leave your name), and I will announce a winner on a rare Saturday post. Continue reading

Business Week: Muse for Many

Thank you to Joseph Weber, an old Business Week friend and colleague, for including me in his round-up of books by current and former  BW reporters on his website joeweber.org. After working at Business Week for 22 years, Joe is now an associate professor at the University of Nebraska’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications and the author of Transcendental Meditation in America: How a New Age Movement Remade a Small Town in Iowa. The first chapter of my book, “Cooking & Coping: A Moving Meditation,” is basically a love letter to Business Week and the people I worked with there. Joe’s round-up of the BW books reminded me of how much I still miss the 39th floor.

BusinessWeek, Muse for Many
Posted on October 25, 2014

For much of its recent history, BusinessWeek has been an incubator for talented writers and reporters. Under editors Steve Shepard, Steve Adler and now Josh Tyrangiel, the place has been a literary hotbed. Many BW staffers couldn’t limit themselves to the glossy pages, but had to break into books. The remake into Bloomberg Businessweek, with its traumatic turnover in staff, stoked that flame for some, as a recent outpouring of work shows. The trend continues.

Here, in its splendid variety, is a collection of recent (and not so recent) work by this talented bunch…(continue onto Joeweber.org.)

Q&A on Lou Macaluso’s Clown Town

Lou Macaluso, a friend of Charles Salzberg, who runs Greenpoint Press, recently published a Q&A with me in his newsletter Clown Town.  Lou asked me what the benefits of teaching were. As I thought about his question, I realized that the benefits of teaching had been huge. So huge that I think that had I not been teaching journalism,. fiction and creative non-fiction these past seven years, I never would have finished Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping. So thank you to all my students who showed up in the dark, light, drafty and warm rooms at Columbia, Montclair State and the JCC Manhattan, and thanks especially to my New Jersey students, who sit in my dining room and tolerate my dog sniffing their legs and sitting by them in class. Every week, these students show up with their own stories and essays in hand and more often than not, they finish them. Their ability and determination to complete their work reminds me of what Hemingway said about F. Scott Fitzgerald: “[He] took literature so solemnly, He never understood that it was just writing as well as you can and finishing what you start.”

My students got me to finish the damn book. My editor, Jessica Wolf, helped a lot too.

New cookbook by Millburn author

* Essay collection is part memoir, part cookbook

Laura Zinn Fromm barely cooked during her 13 years in New York City — with a burgeoning career at Businessweek, she rarely had time. But when she, her husband and two young sons moved to Millburn in 1999, she had to start cooking “or else we were going to starve.” In “Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping” (Greenpoint Press), Zinn Fromm puts forward a collection of essays that is part memoir, part cookbook, and uses stories and recipes to explore how cooking became not only an escape from the daily stress of having a bipolar father, but also a way to express herself. She’s particularly fond of a recipe that calls for marinating a whole chicken in a combination of mustard, honey and jalapeños for five hours before roasting it. “It’s the kind of recipe that you cannot plan at all to cook in the morning, but you have all of those ingredients in your house and you’ll have a great meal that night. It’s delicious and it’s easy,” she said. “I like recipes that don’t require a lot of planning.” “Sweet Survival” costs $19.95; it will be available on amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com on Sept. 22.

NorthJersey.com