My Kitchen Year

136 Recipes That Saved My Life

Get the secrets behind Ruth's gingered applesauce cake with glazed caramel recipe!

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In the fall of 2009, the food world was rocked when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered by its parent company. No one was more stunned by this unexpected turn of events than its beloved editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, who suddenly faced an uncertain professional future. As she struggled to process what had seemed unthinkable, Reichl turned to the one place that had always provided sanctuary. “I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened,” she writes. “I disappeared into the kitchen.”

My Kitchen Year follows the change of seasons—and Reichl’s emotions—as she slowly heals through the simple pleasures of cooking. While working 24/7, Reichl would “throw quick meals together” for her family and friends. Now she has the time to rediscover what cooking meant to her. Imagine kale, leaves dark and inviting, sautéed with chiles and garlic; summer peaches baked into a simple cobbler; fresh oysters chilling in a box of snow; plump chickens and earthy mushrooms, fricasseed with cream. Over the course of this challenging year, each dish Reichl prepares becomes a kind of stepping stone to finding joy again in ordinary things.

The 136 recipes collected here represent a life’s passion for food: a blistering ma po tofu that shakes Reichl out of the blues; a decadent grilled cheese sandwich that accompanies a rare sighting in the woods around her home; a rhubarb sundae that signals the arrival of spring. Here, too, is Reichl’s enlivening dialogue with her Twitter followers, who become her culinary supporters and lively confidants.

Part cookbook, part memoir, part paean to the household gods, My Kitchen Year may be Ruth Reichl’s most stirring book yet—one that reveals a refreshingly vulnerable side of the world’s most famous food editor as she shares treasured recipes to be returned to again and again and again.

Praise for My Kitchen Year

“Ruth is one of our greatest storytellers today, which you will feel from the moment you open this book and begin to read: No one writes as warmly and engagingly about the all-important intersection of food, life, love, and loss. This book is a lyrical and deeply intimate journey told through recipes, as only Ruth can do.”—Alice Waters

“What will send this book to the top of bestseller lists is the lovely way Reichl describes how dishes come together, like the Greek chicken soup with lemon and egg known as avgolemono, and her talent for assembling a collection of recipes her legions of former Gourmet fans will want to make themselves.”The Washington Post

“The recipes make for lovely reading, full of Reichl’s elemental wisdom. . . . In the best way possible, My Kitchen Year is cozy, the reading equivalent of curling up next to a fire with a glass of red wine and perhaps the scent of bread in the oven wafting over.”Vogue

“If anyone can convince us that a dessert, plus two more fabulous dishes, can turn a crummy day around, it’s culinary writer Ruth Reichl, who knows firsthand just how powerful food can be.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“The voice is pure Reichl in a way that makes the reader yearn for a house in the country with a pantry full of staples. . . . And as she finds solace through cooking, we find comfort too.”Eater (Fall 2015’s Best Cookbooks)

“Fun and uplifting . . . Reichl reminds readers that getting lost in a recipe can be excellent therapy.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Gingered applesauce cake with glazed caramel recipe

Cake Ingredients

1.5 cups unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 knob fresh ginger
2/3 cup neutral vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

Break the eggs into a large bowl. Whisk in sugar and brown sugar. Add 1/2 tablespoon (or more) of freshly grated ginger and the applesauce. Whisk in the oil and vanilla and mix until it is smooth.

Put the flour in a small bowl. Whisk baking soda, salt, a few grinds of pepper, cinnamon, and ground cloves into the flour and stir gently into the applesauce mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake bounces back when you press your finger into it.

Cool the cake for 15 minutes on a rack before turning it out and allowing it to cool. This cake is delicious all by itself — but even better with this sweet, sticky glaze.

Glaze Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the cream in a small heavy-bottomed pot. Whisk in the brown sugar, the corn syrup, and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to boil for about 15 minutes, whisking every few minutes.

When the glaze has come together in a smooth, thick caramel, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Put the cake, still on the rack, over a sheet of waxed paper. Carefully pour the glaze over the cake. (If you don’t mind a bit of a mess, you can simply pour the glaze, less carefully, over the cake and let it drip onto the plate.)

Click here for more exclusive video recipes from Ruth!

Ruth Reichl is the bestselling author of the memoirs Garlic and Sapphires, Tender at the Bone, and Comfort Me with Apples and the novel Delicious! She was editor in chief of Gourmet magazine for ten years. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and two cats.

My Kitchen Year

136 Recipes That Saved My Life


My Kitchen Year

— Published by Random House —