In the months since my mother died, I had been avoiding my kitchen. I perused fig, hazelnut and goat cheese salad recipes from Sunset Magazine or munched on pea shoots from the farmer’s market and declared them as sweet as honey. If all else failed, I ate dinner out.

Until I read Ruth Reichl’s memoir, Save Me the Plums.

During a previous visit to a local bookstore, her book cover of a single violet plum set against a white background had jumped out at me. The simplicity of the image shook me from my stupor of wandering the aisles and wondering if books I…