Julie L. Kessler
lawyer traveler writer


At Home on the Range

As I was leaving an independent bookstore where I dropped off few things for an upcoming book signing, I came across "At Home on the Range" by Margaret Yardley Potter, the great-grandmother of Elizabeth Gilbert of "Eat, Pray, Love " fame. Not only did I pick up "At Home on the Range" and read the back cover, I discovered that it was a cook book, and yet still I took it with me. This was startling for a few reasons. While I love both reading and eating, anyone who knows me knows I seriously hate cooking. I also intensely abhor shopping for things to cook. And I detest cleaning up after cooking or shopping even more. However, since Gilbert wrote the preface of "At Home on the Range," and I admired her other writings, her great-grandmother’s book accompanied me to NYC this past weekend, much to the chagrin of my teenaged daughter.


Never in a million years could I have predicted what happened as I traversed the country in the bumpy blue skies: not only did I read every single page of great-grandmother Gima’s book, I dog eared at least a dozen pages of it. More importantly, I fell head over heels in complete admiration of Gima. What wit, what humor, what writing style, what smarts! That Gima was way ahead of her time was a vast understatement. This woman completely rocked and would have in any era! So much so, that I not only read an entire cookbook, I thoroughly enjoyed every single page of it. Though of course, everyone who will read this book will learn that while it may be a cookbook, and a very good one at that, it is in fact so much more than a ‘how to’ cook book. It’s more of a ‘how to fully live while you are lovingly feeding some of your favorite people’ book. And this came no less from a woman who did her heartfelt and culinary magic during some pretty tough years in the early twentieth century!


As my plane neared JFK, I finished the last page, tucked it safely into my carry-on bag and thought what an amazing woman Gima must have been. And how very lucky her family was to have had her grace their lives, despite her life's relative brevity of her life.


In the preface of the book Gilbert wonderfully honored her great-grandmother Gima and her remarkable life. To add the proverbial icing to the cake, all proceeds from the sale of "At Home on the Range" will go to ScholarMatch, a nonprofit organization that increases college access for low income students of exceptional promise. I’m sure Gima would have been beyond proud to have a legacy which will help provide those in need with an avenue to learn and discover their own passions. Without a doubt, Gima is in a heavenly place along side her trusted range, cooking up a storm or baking a few loaves with an enormous smile on her delightfully lovely face.  JLK

Date Posted:  Sep. 25 2012