Last week, hurrying about my errands and to-do lists, in between work and answering emails, I clicked on a link on Twitter that led me to this article, this epic piece really, a 5-part series about a homeless family in New York City. The article focused on one of the family's daughters, a little girl named Dasani. Dasani, born into a different kind of life, would have the regular bright things ahead of her that we all, most of us at least, take for granted. Home-cooked dinners, new clothing and the ability to go to the bathroom alone and without fear to start, followed by regular school attendance, a high school diploma probably, college and a life - stable, regular, quotidian - thereafter. Instead, Dasani lives a life that would crush most of us. If you haven't already read about Dasani and her family, I urge you to. It will take some time, but it is worth it.
I haven't been able to stop thinking about the family - and the thousands like it - since. When I take a shower alone and unmolested, when I watch Hugo eating his dinner that I have no trouble putting on the table, when I lie back in my clean, quiet bed at night to read, I think about all these silly little things that make up my everyday life and how completely out of reach they are for a girl, and a family, that has simply had the bad luck to be born into different circumstances than I have.
I've also been thinking about how to help, which is where you come in. I've decided to auction off a good portion (about half!) of my cookbook collection and will be donating all proceeds to the Invisible Child Fund at the Legal Aid Society of New York. There are a lot of great books in the collection, like the much-coveted and out-of-print The Last Course by Claudia Fleming, a signed copy of Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, M.F.K. Fisher's The Cooking of Provincial France set that she did for Time-Life, and Alice Medrich's cult favorite, also out-of-print, Chocolate and the Art of Lowfat Desserts (one of the first books I scored on eBay way back when because of a food blog).
After much thought, I decided not to use eBay for the auction - I don't want anyone to hesitate to bid because they don't have an account. Instead, I'm going to auction the books off right here. I think it should go relatively smoothly. Here's how it'll work: I'm going to list the books up for auction below, with author name, title, condition of the book, and a bidding price. If you want to bid on a book, just leave a comment or send me an email or a tweet with the amount and I'll update the bidding price. The auction will end on Friday.
Please help by spreading the word far and wide. While I can't guarantee that the books will arrive in time for Christmas, depending on where you live, I do promise to ship them into the postal system the weekend before Christmas. The books are all in new or almost-new condition, with the exception of the few vintage ones among them. Bonus: Ruth Reichl and Deb Perelman, the authors of Mmmmm: A Feastiary and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, respectively, will be matching the winning bid for their books, no matter how high they go. And the winning bidder for Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy will received an accompanying limited edition letterpress poster from the publisher.
And: If you spend over $50 on any book, you'll also receive a copy of My Berlin Kitchen as a gift.
Thank you, sweet readers, for reading and for participating.
1. Susan Herrmann Loomis's French Farmhouse Cookbook - paperback, like new. $50 (ruth fecych via email)
2. Barbara Kafka's Roasting: A Simple Art - hardcover, gently used. $60 (Elizabeth Van Pelt)
3. Deborah Krasner's Good Meat - hardcover, new. $65 (Eleanor)
4. Alice Medrich's Chocolate and The Art of Low-Fat Desserts - hardcover, gently used. $115 (Thomas Marzahl via email)
5. Suvir Saran's Indian Home Cooking - hardcover, like new. $150 (Tanya)
6. Claudia Fleming's The Last Course - hardcover, new. $250 (Theresa Vaskovic. via email)
7. Sara Forte's The Sprouted Kitchen - hardcover, new. $100 (amanda)
8. Gourmet's Cookie Cookbook - hardcover, like new. $50 (Deb)
9. Jamie's 15-Minute Meals - hardcover, new. $50 (Chlo-star.)
10. Jamie's Great Britain - hardcover, new. $55 (Jennifer)
11. Lisa Fain's Homesick Texan Cookbook - hardcover, like new. $120 (Sara)
12. The Nepenthe Cookbook - hardcover, new. $20 (Luann Wierdsma via email)
13. Alton Brown's Good Eats 1 & 2 - hardcover, new. $100 (Dana)
14. Food52 Cookbook, Volume II - hardcover, like new. $60 (Mary Nodine via email)
15. Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough's Ham - hardcover, new. $30 (Edgardo via Twitter)
16. Clotilde Dusoulier's French Market Cookbook - paperback, like new. $50 (Karey)
17. Liana Krissoff's Grains for a New Generation - paperback, like new. $80 (Sara)
18. MFK Fisher's Cooking from Provincial France - hardcover with spiral bound recipe booklet in slipcase, vintage. Good, clean, unused condition. $260 (Brettne Bloom)
19. Deb Perelman's The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook - hardcover, new. Winning bid will be matched by Deb. $130 (Em)
20. Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home, dedicated and signed - hardcover, new. $160 (Bec via email)
Russ Parsons, Ruth Reichl, Ten Speed Press and Sarah Copeland caught wind of the auction and generously asked to donate the following incredible items. Thank you to them!!
21. Russ Parsons's How to Pick a Peach, signed - hardcover, new. $70 (Suzy)
22. Ruth Reichl's Mmmmm: A Feastiary (her very last personal copy!). Winning bid will be matched by Ruth. $525 (John Atchue)
23. Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy, signed - hardcover, new. Winning bid will receive an accompanying limited edition letterpress poster. $250 (Sarah Chamberlain via email)
24. Sarah Copeland's Feast, signed - hardcover, new. $55 (Katherine)
25. Sarah Copeland's The Newlywed Cookbook, signed - hardcover, new. $55 (Cayleigh)