Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good is Kathleen Flinn's memoir of growing up in a large family in Michigan.  There were five children and not much money but there was always love, fun and family.  And food.  When their parents didn't have money to buy the children presents, they devised a novel treat.  On your birthday, you got to pick the menu for breakfast, lunch and supper.  In a family that revered food as the Flinn family did, this was a big deal.

Family was always present.  In today's society, with families far-flung, many of us don't get to know the solace of having grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins near-by.  These close-knit families provided a support system that insured that a child left out of playgroups at school was always surrounded by someone who treasured them.   There was always room in crowded houses to take in a cousin that was orphaned or needed a place to live for a few months. 

Flinn knows the love stories of all the grandparents and of her parents.  She tells these lovingly, letting the reader see how strong marriages made burdens easier to bear.  There were less than stellar branches on the family tree also, and Flinn tells their stories and how they impacted others in the family such as children. 

Money was often short.  Hand-me-downs and thrift store purchases made up the children's wardrobes and they were teased at school.  There were no fancy toys to play with, but there was always love.  The children grew up knowing how to work and how to get what you wanted in life by working for it.

Above all, there was food.  The family had large gardens, and picked the fruits and berries surrounding them.  The men hunted and the family fished on vacations.  After each chapter, there is a family recipe with the story behind it and cooking tips.  No one went hungry, and the food was cooked from scratch.  One of the funniest stories was about the time the women picked out TV dinners as a treat, and their reaction when the dinners were complete and it was time to eat them.

Kathleen Flinn's writing has been featured in many venues, including Elle, People, Bon Appetit, The Wall Street Journal, PBS, The Christian Monitor and CBS Morning News.  Her book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, was a 2012 Book of the Year by the American Society of Journalists and Authors.  In this memoir, she lets the reader into a life enriched by family, fun and food.  This book is recommended for readers who enjoy memoirs and those interested in cooking. 

No comments: