Category Archives: recipe

The Help

I stayed up several nights until 1 am reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. At a hefty 464 pages, it might be surprising that I wished it would have gone on for 400 more.

The story is told in various voices, but it is not at all confusing as each chapter heading states the character’s name. Set in Mississippi during the 1960’s and the early days of the civil right’s movement, The Help is the story of the black women who served as household domestics and nannies in the homes of rich white people. When one young white woman starts to become uncomfortable with the help’s treatment, she tries to be-friend the wary maids in the homes of her friends to interview them about their lives but the last thing they want to do is spill their secrets to a white lady which would be putting their very lives at risk.

The chapters told in the voices of two of the maids, Aibileen and Minny, use African American vernacular which is so authentic that you’ll do a double take when you see the author’s photograph, (she’s white.) The writing is flawless and beautiful with so many perfect lines that I had to constantly stop and re-read them for the sheer pleasure of it.

Despite the serious subject matter, and sometimes tragic, heartbreaking scenes, The Help is somehow also full of laugh-out-loud humor. Just thinking about some of the stuff the character Minny said and did still makes me snicker.

This book is a total package and definitely, without question, one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Now, somewhat off topic, the book mentions quite a bit of southern cooking, and I never fail to get literary induced cravings, sometimes for foods I’ve never even tasted before. This time it was Minny’s Caramel Cake. This cake was mentioned several times in the book, as Minny was known around town for making the best Caramel Cake.

Well, I never had Caramel Cake before, but that had to change! … So today I sought out a recipe, and while I can’t say whether it’s an authentic southern recipe or not, I can tell you it is AMAZING. One of the best cakes I’ve ever made. If you’re interested, the recipe is over at this food blog called “Piece of Cake“. She actually made cupcakes. I followed the recipe exactly except that I poured it into a round cake pan. (Note: The batter fits in 1 round cake pan, but, um… when it bakes, it sort of overflows… a lot… So if you make a cake instead of cupcakes, use TWO round cake pans and make 2 cakes.)

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I Like You

I like you by Amy Sedaris is one of the weirdest books I have ever had the pleasure of owning. This book on hospitality gives advice on topics ranging from the expected, (etiquette, recipes, organizing a dinner party), to the bizarre and inexplicable, (such as, how to put on a pair of pantyhose, felt crafts requiring almost no skill, and information on caring for a pet rabbit.)

This book is not for the easily offended and should be kept out of the hands of little ones but adults will enjoy Sedaris’ dead pan, off color humor. Sometimes it’s hard to tell when she’s joking or not and at first I wasn’t quite sure if the recipes were edible, but they are, in fact, her cupcakes and cheese balls are apparently somewhat famous.

I was especially entertained by the abundant illustrations and photos. The photos are particularly hilarious because they seem to have gone through a 1970’s time warp. This is the kind of book I would expect Martha Stewart to write if she had a nervous breakdown and ended up in a mental facility, (which is my way of saying it’s really good.)

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Almond Butter Apricot Cookies

If I had to choose one of my cookbooks to use exclusively for the rest of my life, I would choose The Healthiest Meals on Earth by Jonny Bowden, Ph.D.

I consider myself pretty well read on nutrition and I think this book provides solid advice on eating healthy. Toss your old cookbooks full of food that doesn’t nourish your body. These recipes reflect modern day knowledge of eating for maximum impact on your health which means choosing foods high in antioxidants, good fats, fiber, vitamins, etc.

When you think of the words “healthy” and “nutritious” you may be turned off, but each recipe in this book is accompanied by a beautiful full color photo that had me drooling. Not only that but I felt the recipes were fresh, creative and most didn’t involve a lot of hard to find expensive ingredients. (There were a few exceptions, but over all, I will use the majority of these recipes.)

With the permission of the publisher, I’m going to share one of the recipes with you so you can see exactly what I mean!

The Healthiest Meals on Earth by Jonny Bowden Ph.D./pg. 168-169

Healthiest Meals on Earth by Jonny Bowden Ph.D./pg. 168-169

Sweet and Simple Almond Butter Apricot Cookies/The Healthiest Meals on Earth by Jonny Bowden Ph.D.

Sweet and Simple Almond Butter Apricot Cookies/The Healthiest Meals on Earth by Jonny Bowden Ph.D.

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