Ten years ago, Julie Gale, a parent of the Class of 2015 and a former adjunct teacher at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, was faced with the question of how to preserve much-loved family recipes that her mother had given her so they could continue to be remembered and enjoyed.
“They were written on little pieces of paper with pencil, and they were starting to fray already,” Julie said. “So I started assembling them, and as I was looking at the recipes, I thought of all the stories that went with [them]. It’s not just the recipes, it’s the stories of the people who created the recipes, and I felt that my children needed to have these things written down.”
That led Julie to begin working on a memoir that recounts stories and memories that many of the recipes recall about her parents cooking and the travels they took that allowed them to experience food cultures around the world. She wrote on and off for a few years, and enlisted the help of her son, Tobias, to create beautiful illustrations to go with the recipes. When the Covid pandemic hit, she used quarantine time to focus on completing her manuscript.
The View from My Kitchen Window, published in September 2023, traces the people and recipes that influenced her at each of the houses she lived in throughout her life, beginning with a small house on Long Island, and ending at her current home in Hillsdale, NY. She says the recipes are like a snapshot of time, illustrating foods that were unique to the culture of each decade.
Julie included 110 recipes throughout the book that run the gamut from appetizers and breads to main dishes, salads, and desserts. When asked if she has a favorite, she debated a minute then said, “I think the foods that we had as children somehow form our strongest memories, and we want to have them again and again. So for me, I would say my grandmother’s stuffed cabbage or my mother’s beef borscht or potato pancakes—the foods that I could expect on a regular basis that I don’t need a recipe for anymore because I have them in my head.”
It’s that pull of memory and intergenerational connection that Julie hopes will resonate and inspire her readers, quoting her book’s introduction to say, “It is my hope that by writing this book, these memories of my family of unique characters, and the recipes for the food we love to cook and eat, will become a treasured addition to [their] family’s heirloom recipes as well.”
In addition to all her family recipes, Julie has worked with hundreds’ more recipes over her 22 years as the owner and educator of At the Table Cooking School in Hillsdale. She also taught a cooking block to the seniors at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School for many years while her daughter, Elizabeth, attended. With so many recipes in her repertoire, it’s no surprise that she is already working on a second book, this one a traditional cookbook.