Sunday, July 8, 2012


Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be engaged in lightly.
M.F.K. Fisher

We all have our own way of making sense of the world.
When I took history in school it was almost impossible for me to get a grip on it.  Numbers fly out of my head almost as soon as they enter, so learning dates was a really difficult task with only temporary success.  I have little or no interest in monarchy and the wars people have engaged in make me frantic with disbelief. History of Art was the first thing that held my attention and started to organize my view of time lines.   When on my own, I discovered the history of gardening and food and since then the world has been in better focus.

When I started thinking about my Herbarium I  felt that the practical aspects of plants were as important  to me as the scientific.  For those of us who are in charge of preparing meals, and enjoy the task, ingredients take on a special pleasure.  I decided to approach my favorite cooks in search of recipes that included specific fruits and vegetables.  So far we have done homage to the Plum, the Pear and the Peach. The cook books all have the same square format.  Each has a unifying visual theme and pertinent quote as opening text.  Endsheets are old woodcut images of the fruit in question from Gerard's Herbal.  Eight varieties of the fruit are pictured in original drawings,  complementing eight recipes.  Each edition has thirty-two copies.  Copy number one is destined for a shelf in the Herbarium.

The book of PLUMS was the first in this series and was inspired by our son Barrett's great praise of a plum dumpling that he enjoyed in Wurzburg, Germany.  That recipe coupled with the plum cake  made by my grandmother, Alma Borchert, was a great start for the project.

The book of PEARS was published the following year.  Eight varieties of the fruit are pictured with eight different kinds of insects.

The book of PEACHES is based on design elements typical of different countries or cultures as shown in the Grammar of Ornament which was originally published in 1856.


  1. Great-grandma Borchert's plum cake is one of the best things I've ever eaten. Can we make that for Aden when we come visit? Plums are one of her favorite things and I know she'd love it.

    (And reading this post I'm just pleased to own copies of all these beautiful books pictured! I'm a lucky duck.)

  2. there will be plum cake!!
    love, mama

  3. Dear mama,
    I love how you found a means of embracing a timeline. Not by war, not by monarchic succession, but by gardening, cooking, by art.

    You are now an indelible part of history in all three categories.