Recently I had the pleasure of meeting TV star turned author, Linda Evans, at her book signing in Santa Monica for her new book "Recipes for Life." Ms. Evans is probably most familiar to audiences as the glamorous Krystle Carrington on TV's "Dynasty." As Krystle Carrington, she wore designer clothes and fabulous jewels. Away from the cameras, Linda Evans doesn't dress or style herself like Krystle. Her new book is part memoir, part cookbook. It's all based on the credo that simple pleasures truly are the best. According to Ms. Evans, the best things in life really are free. "Over time, I found, the things I cared about most in life were the moments I shared with friends over food," the author told the audience gathered at the Santa Monica Public Library to hear her speak.
The book is very much a remembrance of things past with special foods reminding Ms. Evans of special moments in her own life. She always thinks of mashed potatoes with cheese and garlic when she thinks of Steve McQueen because he wanted her to gain weight when they were making Tom Horn so she would look less glamorous and more like a frontier woman. A chapter in the book features the recipe for the mashed potatoes along with her reminiscences of making Tom Horn and working with McQueen. This is how the whole book is structured, a slice of Linda's life followed by a recipe that she enjoyed during that time.
As the book makes clear, Linda was more interested in enjoying life than pursuing her acting career. When she was married to John Derek and Stan Herman, she didn't work much. I asked her why she didn't make more films like Tom Horn, in which she got to show her acting ability. "Well, because Dynasty came along," she replied. In her late thirties, Linda Evans knew how lucky she was to get offered a part in an Aaron Spelling production which held the promise of financial security, especially after two divorces and no alimony. After her divorces, "I took my mind off what didn't work and put it onto what did," says Linda. With the financial security of Dynasty, Linda was able to pursue the things that interested her most outside of Hollywood, including nature, cooking, travel and spirituality. In 2009 she won the UK celebrity edition of Hell's Kitchen. There's a reason she won -- the woman can actually cook, according to Michelin star chef Marco Pierre White (check out the recipe for Linda's Famed Artichoke Dip.)
I have been reading Recipes for Life this week and I'm enjoying it immensely for a reason I didn't expect. The book is a good read not just because of the recipes, the lush photos, the memories of the Hollywood life or anecdotes about people like Barbara Stanwyck. The best thing to me about the book is the story of resilience that Linda tells. She has built a fulfilling life for herself surrounded by great friends, her family and her step-daughter (whom the book is dedicated to.) Her marriages were disappointments, but they did not leave her bitter because she moved on to more positive things. "When you take your life out of the pain, you can turn yourself around pretty quickly," says Linda. Sounds like a pretty good recipe for life to me.