Reading: How to Cook a Wolf by M.F.K. Fisher

This feels like the right choice for the first book of a new year on a dark night in the dead of winter: written in 1942 as a guide to finding comfort in a time of war and deprivation, it's a bracing, clear-eyed ode to the essential art of making do. While writing about food not as nutrition but a kind of succor—for the body and spirit—she considers both the costs and the rewards of simply "keeping the wolf from the door," crafting a work that's part memoir, part essay, part cookbook, and part no-nonsense self-help bible. There's a touch of Nora Ephron in her voice, and Tamar Adler—or I should say, of her in each of them, as Fisher came first and set the standard. Maternal but sharp, sensible, imperious, generous, and warm: "You will see the world this way, too," is what it sounded like to me, to which of course I answer, Yes, yes, absolutely I will.

If you are not in a state of emergency, but merely living as so many people have lived for many months now, taking sirens in your stride and ration cards with a small cautious grin, you will be able to make very good meals indeed for the people who live with you. As long as the gas or the electric current supply you, your stove will function and your kitchen will be warm and savory. Use as many fresh things as you can, always, and then trust to luck and your blackout cupboard and what you have decided, inside yourself, about the dignity of man.

How to Cook a Wolf
By M. F. K. Fisher