One year later, and I’m still here

“My hope is that you’ll each continue to share your kitchens with your children and they with theirs.  It’s in this special room that time slows down and stories and tradition flow; it’s here that the common thread that weaves us all together is spun; it’s here that each part of our family heritage comes together into a magnificent and unique feast of life.”

Jeanine Lively (my mother), Our Family Cookbook, 2004

Hello friends, I’m still here! You may be wondering what happened since my last post a year ago, when I announced the exciting news that I was deep in production of The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook. The truth is that so many MAJOR changes have happened since then, so I’m just going to use this post to share the three “big ones” with you so that I can get going again with the real purpose of this blog: food.  (Disclaimer: these are listed in chronological order, not their order of importance.)

1. The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook

It’s finished! I’m bubbling over with excitement to announce that the release date has been set for April 17th, 2018, just in time for the bounty of spring. After almost two years of fun but grueling recipe development, writing, testing, and editing, the cookbook is now in the hands of the publishing company, Berkeley’s own Parallax Press, who are sending it to be bound and printed in time for the release date. With stunning photographs by Erin Scott, the final product has completely exceeded my wildest dreams. I can’t wait to show you some sneak peaks in the coming posts. I apologize for having to put a hold on this blog during this time — I simply couldn’t keep up with it  while writing the cookbook and working full-time. But I’m back now and ready to get blogging again. I’ve missed you!

2. Baby

Bun almost fully cooked, Thanksgiving 2017

I am expecting my first child… the day after tomorrow! Thankfully, I was pretty much done with recipe development when I found myself pregnant, otherwise The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook would contain far too many recipes centered around Rice Krispies and Cheez-Its, the only things I could eat during the first few months. Instead, I was able to use that time to write the text of the book, including the history and story behind the Berkeley Bowl Market itself and its inspirational owners, Glenn and Diane Yasuda. I will definitely introduce you to this little baby when she decides to arrive, hopefully soon!

3. Mom

As if the previous two updates weren’t enough for 2017, by far the biggest of the events that have occurred is the passing of my mother just one month ago. Mom was the guiding light in my life, the person who taught me how to live, love, and cook. While she won’t ever meet my little girl, or see my finished and bound cookbook, she is deeply enmeshed in the spirit of both. I am grateful for the countless hours we spent shelling beans, de-spining cactus, fiddling with tempura batter proportions, and experimenting with all sorts of crazy ingredients in the process of developing the recipes for this cookbook. She brought such a spirit of exploration and fun to the kitchen, so it’s no wonder why I set out on this Berkeley Bowl Cookbook adventure. Like everything I have attempted in my life, she was beside me supporting me every step of the way, including testing almost every one of the 100 recipes in order to help make my life easier.

Mom shelling guaje beans and chickpeas to test a recipe

Proud of the end result of testing my “Pepino Melon Poke” recipe











In these weeks following her death, I have been pouring over every card, letter, text, photo, journal entry, or piece of communication that she left behind in an attempt to cling to her a little longer. One thing that has brought me a lot of comfort is re-reading the two cookbooks that she made, which help me recognize that my mom still is and will always be a part of me. I feel so proud to follow in her footsteps, channeling this shared passion to explore, create and nurture others through food. I’d like to close this post with an excerpt from the introduction my mom wrote for the cookbook she had printed for our family (a compilation of hundreds of family recipes and many of her own invention) because it’s a reflection of who she is, her love for me and my sister, and her strong desire to pass on the tradition of bringing family together through spending time together in the kitchen and around the table.

I will remember you always and love you eternally, Mom.

My mother, Jeanine Lively, age 6
Spain, 1962

“Food has always been an important part of my life.  I feel most grounded with a chef’s knife in my hand, the ingredients passing through my fingers and the aromas filling the air, my brain unwinding and settling on the project at hand and the people I love to cook for.

My motivation for making this cookbook was my daughters, Catherine and Laura, and the children of my contemporaries.  It is with them that I wish to share this legacy of family and food. As my daughters have matured and become more active in our kitchen, we find ourselves adding more and more of our favorites to this collection.  Hopefully this will serve as a springboard and will inspire you to add more of your own family’s favorites to this growing work.

In conclusion, this family cookbook was an excuse to discover, reminisce, share and record for posterity the foods and memories that hold us together. My hope is that you’ll each continue to share your kitchens with your children and they with theirs.  It’s in this special room that time slows down and stories and tradition flow; it’s here that the common thread that weaves us all together is spun; it’s here that each part of our family heritage comes together into a magnificent and unique feast of life.”


16 thoughts on “One year later, and I’m still here

  1. lynne hoareau says:

    Laura, I am deeply sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. Mom’s are so special and I know you will miss her terribly.
    Congratulations on your cookbook ! Wow, that is such an amazing accomplishment and last but not least Congratulations on your little girl. I am not sure if she has entered this big wide world yet…but congratulations. Enjoy your precious little one, I know she will bring only joy into your lives. Take care and Happy Holiday’s to you and yours. xxx

    • myberkeleybowl says:

      Thank you so much Lynn, I have always appreciated your warm words and encouragement. Baby has decided not to come out yet, so I’m patiently awaiting her arrival and enjoying these last few days with her so close. I hope you are well Lynn. Hugs.

      • lynne hoareau says:

        You are so welcome Laura and yes, I am well 🙂 . Baby is obviously very cosy and comfortable. This is such a special time for you, and I am so pleased you are experiencing this wonderful time. Little girls are so precious, so enjoy your little one. I wish you a beautiful birth with your little one, good health for all and a lifetime of happiness. Hugs xxx

  2. Josh says:

    Huge news! Great to see you back! I read a lot of food blogs and yours is so much more ambitious than many. Congrats on the cook book and the bun in the oven! So sorry to hear about the passing of your mom but I’m happy she will live on through you & yours! Happy holidays!

  3. Kathy Donley says:

    So thrilled for you and proud of you and your accomplishment Laura! Your own daughter is truly blessed to be a part of this great family tradition. I remember many a scrumptious meal prepared by your mom, and appreciate your adventurous spirit and talent in this pursuit! Can’t wait to get a copy when it’s published!

  4. Garfield Hug says:

    I am sorry for the loss of your mom. I am happy with impending birth of your baby tomorrow. In our Chinese culture, this is a good sign ie the life/spirit of your mom will live in your child, through actions, behavior and love. Take heart and I know no amount of words will soothe but your mom is watching over you as you bring a new life into this world. Blessings for a smooth delivery and take care. All the best on your book too!

    • myberkeleybowl says:

      Thank you so much for the comforting words. I love the idea that her spirit will live on through my child. Thank you very much.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So beautifully spoken and shared and so heartfelt, Laura. Your spirit and cosmic energy is at one with Mom’s and will last forever. So excited and so proud for you.
    ❤️ Dad

  6. Anonymous says:

    Laura. My heart warms to hear your thoughts on life, love, family, and memories. We are blessed by Mom’s presence in our lives, and I am blessed with a truly amazing, loving, and special daughter such as you. Love, ❤️ Dad

  7. Francesca says:

    Laura-I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s passing. I have fond memories of her Spanish lessons to us, a bunch of little girls on early dismissal days from Hahn. What a lovely tribute to her the work you’ve undertaken as a cookbook author and soon-to-be new mom. I can’t wait to see your finished cookbook!

    • myberkeleybowl says:

      That’s so nice of you to share that sweet memory of my mom, Francesca. I love hearing the ways in which she touched others lives. Best to you and your family!

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