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"You be sweet," advised Amy Lyles Wilson's mother, a piece of universally applied wisdom that could indicate that her daughter should play nicely with others, introduce herself to new neighbours, or volunteer in her community. It wasn't just about behaviour but about attitude. Likewise, You Be Sweet: Sharing Your Heart One Down-Home Dessert at at Time isn't just about food. It's about how we use food to strengthen our communities. The Southern-inspired dessert recipes (which look like heaven on a plate!) are arranged not by type but by event. A section entitled "Sip and See the Baby" offers ideas for what to bring for an afternoon visit or a baby shower. The chapter called "Family Reunion" includes recipes you could make to feed a group and maybe show off a little, often with names like "Wilma's Key Lime Pie" and "Geraldine's Paper Bag Apple Pie." Each chapter is introduced and tied together with a story written by Amy Lyles Wilson about family, community and food. It's a book that's meant not just for reference but for browsing, even for curling up and reading cover to cover.
|Wilma's Key Lime Pie|
(from the chapter "Family Reunion")
Modern cookbooks, I notice, often have a hook, an angle, a way of presenting recipes that sets it apart from other cookbooks on the market. Anybody can make a book of recipes arranged according to type of food (cakes, breads, casseroles, etc.) or courses (appetizers, soups, entrees, etc.) and if done well with lots of gorgeous photos, there's nothing wrong with those tried-and-true formats. But in a world in which any recipe can be found on the internet within seconds and the cooking section of bookstores (and by that I mean Amazon) is crowded with glossy cookbooks by celebrity chefs and chef celebrities, it's only natural that getting a simple book of recipes published these days requires a bit of creativity. I've seen cookbooks arranged by cooking method (roasting, sauteing, stewing, etc.), cookbooks that offer weekly meal plans and grocery lists, cookbooks that offer lessons on the history of each dish and its culture of origin, and cookbooks that offer a high and low version of each recipe depending on your budget and skill. I'm sure somewhere there's a cookbook that arranges recipes by the colour of the food.
|Doughnut Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce|
(from the chapter "Reverend Boydston Comes to Town")
My diabetic partner saw this picture and said, "Ow! That hurts my pancreas."
But I don't actually mind all of these tricks and gimmicks because, at the end of the day, I still love cookbooks and I enjoy poring over them for inspiration. Sure I can find what I need on the internet, but what if I don't know what I need? What if what I need is something I've never thought to look for? I will happily spend leisure hours browsing beautiful cookbooks, imagining all the wonderful food I could make if only I could find the time. After all, I've got a busy day planned reading cookbooks and staring at the pictures! But even if I only make one or two recipes from a book, I do not consider it a waste. A good cookbook, for me, is not just a collection of recipes. It's a book. One that I will read and enjoy and use as a starting point for my own creativity.
|Pear Pie with Cheddar Cheese Pastry|
(from the chapter "Ladies Who Lunch")
How is this even a thing? Pears and cheddar?!
You know what? If the authors of this book recommend it, I'm willing to give it a try. It looks gorgeous!
And that's something that Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson understand. They get that food isn't just about hunger but about community. They get that recipes aren't always about finding information instantly but about finding inspiration. And they get that cookbooks are still books and they fill a need that websites just can't reach.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.