We often use this space to write about what’s in the magazine. Unfortunately, this time we must write about what’s missing from this issue. You won’t find “What’s Cookin’?” by Marian Platt.
After contributing to RV Life for more than a decade, Marian has decided at the age of 85 to give up her column in order to deal with a serious health issue—pancreatic cancer.
We’ll have another food column in time, but I know our readers will miss Marian’s creative recipes, helpful cooking tips, and the charming way she always began her column with musings about the weather and the seasons.
Marian has an impressive depth of knowledge about food and cooking, which has always been apparent in her columns. One of my jobs as an editor is to check facts, and I was never able to catch an error in Marian’s discussions of cuisine, food origins and related trivia. From Marian’s column, I not only learned that when buying Brussels sprouts, you should always pick the smallest and firmest to get the tastiest, but also that gelatin dessert, which was invented in 1845, didn’t become popular until someone decided to call it Jell-O.
With Marian’s column, you always got a lyrical paragraph or two about nature, some practical food tips, and, of course, her own kitchen-tested recipes that became one of the most popular features in our magazine. Her column was the product of a lifelong interest in food and a wonderful appreciation of nature.
Marian began cooking at the age of 10. Her only formal training was a semester of cooking in the seventh grade. By the time she was in high school, she had taken over the preparation of meals for her family. She once told me, “My mother hated to cook. She was happy to give me the kitchen.”
Marian grew up in Southern California, married, raised two children and worked as a school secretary. She became a gourmet cook, but also learned to prepare quick and simple meals in an RV. She and her husband, Art, owned seven trailers and three campers during 45 years of RVing.
When they moved from the Los Angeles area to the Sequim Valley on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in 1982, Marian said, it was like a dream come true. She loved the changing seasons and the beauty of the area. Days were filled with walking the beach, camping at parks, picnicking in the mountains and fishing in the lakes.
Marian’s main interests were gardening, cooking and writing, and she was able to pursue them all. She planted vegetable and herb gardens, wrote columns for the Sequim Gazette and RV Life, and began compiling recipes for a book.
She gave up RVing when she was widowed a dozen years ago, but it was with the help of her second husband, Barney Hall, that she was able to complete and publish her 428-page cookbook, From My Kitchen Window.
Her book is filled with recipes and includes food preparation hints and descriptions of the weather, fields and flowers visible from her kitchen window. The book is divided into 12 chapters, one for every month, with recipes appropriate for each season.
She sets the scene for each month beautifully. Here’s how she introduces April:
“It’s April again—and all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of spring. From my kitchen window I can see the fruit trees with their tufts of pink at all their tips, the snowdrops bursting forth in white lace, and the yellow forsythias smiling and swaying in the breezes. Even tho’ the Olympic mountains are still looking like peaks of whipped cream, the color abounds all about us here in the valley. It is nature’s way of brightening up the gray days of early spring.”
Marian wrote on January 16 to inform me that for health reasons she could not continue her column. She began by saying:
“This is one of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write. I’m having to do something that I’m not ready to do.”
She went on to express her reluctance to give up her RV Life column and her pleasure at being able to write it for 11 years. She described her health problems and added this:
“I shall be 85 in February, and a calm has settled over me. I’ve had a wonderful life, and, as we all know, something will come along sooner or later and the end will come.”
When I last talked to Marian she was in good spirits. We will miss her column, but are grateful that she contributed so much to our magazine over the years. Our hopes are that she will overcome her health problems and enjoy many more days of good food, beautiful flowers and the fascinating, ever-changing seasons.
Write to Mike Ward, editor at RV Life magazine, 18717 76th Avenue West, Suite B, Lynnwood, WA 98037 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Find First Glance online at rvlife.com.