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blogging for books :: soul food love

By Monday, April 27, 2015 ,

soul food love :: blogging for books

soul food love :: blogging for books

When you spend the day working out in the garden, clean up when the sun starts to get orange and the light long, and finish it off with corn and hot dogs on the barbecue it's hard to remind yourself it's still only spring.  I'm perfectly happy to pretend it's summer though, so that's just what I did.

The inspiration was the recipe for Savory Avocado Salad with corn, peppers, and cilantro from Soul Food Love by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams.  The recipe got me thinking but I couldn't stick to it exactly.  Instead of raw corn, I threw it on the grill because chard corn with smokey flavors and bursting kernels is just about a million times better than corn straight off the cob.  And that's saying something because corn straight off the cob is pretty darn good.  And then I played with the proportions.  I wanted a salad that was more corn than avo and I'm a sissy when it comes to cilantro so I just kept it in the dressing but edited it out of the main salad ingredients.  The verdict?  Quite tasty, simple and easy - though next time I'll be upping the corn even more.

As for the rest of the cookbook...

As a cook book, this one fell a bit flat for me.  I was excited to page through it - the pages wonderfully thick and filled with beautiful photos.  It just felt good to hold.  But I think I was hoping for something else entirely by the title of the book.  None of the recipes seemed to scream "soul food" or "southern".  Sure, in some I could see the obvious nod to the traditional roots but it wasn't what I was expecting from the title.

What also got me, and what get's me about many healthy eating recipes and cookbooks, is that as written the recipes don't seem to have quite the flavor punch I'd want.  Sure, I can't really speak to that as I haven't tried everything.  But, I had the strong feeling that were I to  cook them I would be using the recipe more as a guide and adjusting and augmenting flavors.

I did love the header notes for the recipes that brought them back to the main premise of the book - connecting to the authors' past, histories, and traditions.  But, some felt forced or at least like they were trying too hard.  The main point of the book was the connection to the history, but I would have liked to see the same attention paid to the recipes.  Instead, I felt that at times the recipes were only tangentially connected to the story and simple to the point of being dull {fruit in ice cubes?}.

Instead of being billed as a cookbook, I think this book would be better sold as a mother-daughter cooking memoir.  The recipes included then would just be secondary to the text, which is story-filled and interesting to read.  I'll continue reading my way through the book, but I don't know how much I'll actually be cooking from it.

I chose this book while reading The Warmth of Other Suns which is about the migration of African Americans out of the American South.  It seemed quite on topic and fitting.  And Soul Food Love certainly is - it continues the themes of African American history and tradition and brings them into the kitchen.  

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Other little bits of my life...


  1. We are having one of those spring/summer days today and I'm wishing I had some corn for the grill. The salad looks wonderful. I often use my cookbooks as inspiration and then veer way off from the recipe. (Which is a great technique if you remember to record what you did differently- I can't seem to make that part happen!)

    1. You're totally right about using the books as inspiration! And I too, need to be better about writing down what I did and what worked/didn't work. I used to be good about keeping notes in a notebook where I recorded the meal plan for the week, but I've fallen off with that.

      P.S. the salad was a win! and the dressing on it quite tasty.