And She Cooks, Too

A Bucks County food editor phoned to see if there was a way she could feature artist Kirby Fredendall, whose exhibit Add Sugar and Stir: Cookbooks and the Lives of Women, opens at the Michener Art Museum March 19. So I phoned Kirby to find out if she has any notable recipes, and oh boy what I learned!

“I went to culinary school,” she says modestly, but that culinary school just happened to be Le Cordon Bleu in London. She worked as a pastry chef in Stockton, N.J., and made wedding cakes.

Her passion for cooking led her to collect cookbooks, mostly from the 1930s and 1940s.

“I love handwritten notes,” she says. “They tell a story. I have my grandmother’s recipes in some of the pieces (that will be on view at the Michener Art Museum). I find notes stuck in books and consider them fair game for my artwork.”

Not only does the artist love to cook, she loves to eat. “My boyfriend and I sit around and write about food and eating at wheretwoeat.blogspot.com.”

Quiz: Who was Irma S. Rombauer? The name sounds so familiar, because she penned that (somewhat stained, somewhat torn) cookbook bible on your shelf, The Joy of Cooking, first published in the 1930s. “Irma Rombauer was hilarious,” remarks Kirby. “She was a widow who compiled recipes with simple anecdotes. She needed to support her family.”

See what Kirby Fredendall does to other cookbooks of the 1930s and 1940s in Add Sugar and Stir at the Michener Art Museum.

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