Mary’s Place: Reflections and Recipes

Mary’s Place: Reflections and Recipes

By: Mary J. Pelzel
Publisher: North Woods Publishing
Publication Date: May 2010
ISBN: 978-0615348377
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: August 23, 2010

Many people yearn to escape to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, but Mary auspiciously decided not to discard a newspaper someone had left on a table. A simple circled ad would change her life. The ad simply said, “Chinook Pass yr. round home. Knotty pine, very private.” The Cascade Mountains of Washington State were beckoning to David and Mary Petzel and in April of 1998, they had found their new home. Mary was no Anne LaBastille by any stretch of the imagination, but soon she would become acquainted with the flora, the fauna, and every little tick and rattler the woods had to offer her. It was David’s dream, but Deer Cove Lane began to grow on her and soon she became known as the North Woods Mountain Woman.

Mary was not much for spiders and snakes, but the air in the cabin soon filled with the smell of her gourmet cooking. The cabin was once known as “Old Maid’s Cabin,” a haunted structure inhabited by two women. The ghosts would just have to go because the Petzel family was there to stay. The years started to roll along and memories, which fill these pages, along with her recipes, began to build a foundation that they could hand along to their children and grandchildren. You’ll meet the likes of George the packrat, the five-foot-long timber rattler, you’ll read about the Douglas squirrels and their “pinecone bombing,” along with many other animal stories, including the madcap chase of Henny Penny.

The further into the book you read, the more you will feel as if you have been invited into a cozy mountain cabin to hear a memorable tale followed by a scrumptious snack, meal, or dessert. The stories seamlessly (and ofttimes very humorously) lead into a recipe. For example after the short vignette entitled “Are Worms Bugs?,” Mary says, “Since the beginning of time, bugs have been a source of nutritional protein for many cultures, a diet mainstay. Be brave and try the following recipe. I can’t vouch for the flavor of the grubs (bugs are not my forté). However, the sea scallops are tender and to-die-for-wonderful.” She will receive no argument on my part. The recipe will be a winner with the seafood lover. Nordstrom’s in Yakima must have been wild about Michael’s Favorite Pink Frosted Shortbread Cookies (Tookies) because they would order eighteen dozen at a time.

This down to earth memoir and cookbook about the “city girl” turned Mountain Woman is gloriously charming. I spent a quiet day reading this book and thinking about the many mouth-watering recipes. The book was very well written and I was quite taken in by Mary’s memories of life in the Pacific Northwest. David’s dream home, which had been built as only a basic two-day, get-a-way structure, slowly became her dream home as the years went by. I savored those memories and loved turning the pages as she shared her life and adventures. This work was spiced with just the right amount of humor, wilderness wisdom, and gourmet recipes to make for a very appealing and delectable cookbook.

Quill says: This absolutely delightful memoir of a “city girl” turned country will mesmerize the reader as they take a trip with Mary down memory lane. The recipes, from woodsy to gourmet, are simply mouthwatering!

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