Stirring It Up with Molly Ivins
By Addie Broyles, American-Statesman Food Writer
'Stirring It Up With Molly Ivins'
It's been almost five years since Molly Ivins died, but that doesn't make it any easier for Ivins' longtime friend Ellen Sweets to drive by the places they used to frequent: Magnolia Cafe, Fonda San Miguel, Polvo's, the old Las Manitas downtown.
Sweets and Ivins met in 1990 at a dinner party, and Sweets, who was living in Dallas and writing about food for The Dallas Morning News at the time, quickly became part of Ivins' inner circle, the people who knew Ivins not for her well-known syndicated newspaper column but for who she was behind the printed word, especially in the kitchen.
Sweets captures the Ivins she knew — and so often cooked with — in a new book, "Stirring It Up With Molly Ivins," (University of Texas Press, $29.95) that she'll be talking about at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Texas Book Festival. (Disclosure: Sweets occasionally contributes as a freelancer to the Statesman food section, and I'll be moderating her talk on Sunday.)
The book weaves together stories and recipes that tell not just a story of Ivins and her peers, but of Austin itself.
"I wanted to bring out a side of Molly that so many people didn't know," Sweets said, including her love of gumbo and cooking for others.
Sweets interviewed others who were close to the legendary writer, including Jim Hightower, who recalled bringing ice cream to Ivins in the middle of the night during her last hospital stay. She also includes recipes for favorite dishes they used to share.
In a way, Sweets brings Ivins back to life with these vivid stories. You can almost hear their jovial banter in the kitchen and at the grocery store, arguing over who forgot the grocery list.
"If there's one thing that I hope people would take away it's the importance of being in touch with friends — the value of friendships and sitting down and having a meal together," Sweets said. "It doesn't have to be fancy."
In fact, one of the best dinner parties she recalls having with Ivins featured a menu of hot dogs, sausages, cole slaw, potato salad and beer. Nothing special, except for the company.
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