Monday, April 19, 2010

Cherries in Winter by Suzan Colón

Suzan Colón's Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times, published by Doubleday is just over a baker's dozen of recipes, countless family stories and personal experience woven together to form one of the most comforting books I've read in a long time.

Suzan was working at her dream job at a large magazine when she was laid off and forced to scale back in many areas of her life. She came from a long line of family who lived through lean times and came through it seemingly no worse for the wear. With her own lean times looming large, she put her ancestors' experiences to work for her and tells the tale in this book.

Expensive dinners, posh lunches and anything unnecessary took an immediate backseat and out came tried-and-true family recipes, with stories included, of a more frugal nature.

The recipes each have a story attached, something I thoroughly enjoy. When I wasn't laughing, I was crying - the similarities between several of her family members and several of mine are uncanny and I was often overwhelmed with emotion while reading. That's a good thing - I like stories that make me feel - and this one does just that.

Not to be ignored are the many tips for saving money that are dotted throughout the book, and the simple yet powerful wisdom of Suzan's grandmother is priceless.

I finished this several weeks ago, but I'm already thinking of reading it again - it's just one of those books you don't want to end, but end it did, so I'll just restart it.

Here is one of the recipes from the book, nearly identical to my own great-grandmother's brown sugar cookies, which makes it very special to me.

Suzan's Favorite Butter Cookies
Yields 4 dozen

1 1/2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt

1. Sift baking soda with flour and salt.
2. Separately, beat egg and sugar until light.
3. Add butter and vanilla to egg and sugar.
4. Combine with flour mixture. (You may also add 1/2 cup of coarse walnuts.)
5. Divide dough into two parts and roll in wax paper.
6. Keep in freezer overnight.
7. Slice and bake 10 - 12 minutes at 350 degrees F.


kat said...

That does sound like a wonderful book, I'll have to see if the library has it. Have you read MFK Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf?

Fabulous, Never Better said...

Anne: Thank you SO much for this lovely review and post. So glad you liked the book, and your cookies look so much better than when I make them ;)
Hope all is going well with you!
(author of "Cherries in Winter")
PS: Kat, I read MFK Fisher's "How to Cook a Wolf" and I highly recommend it. She was a great writer; really took food writing to a whole other place.

Anne Coleman said...

Kat - MFK Fisher is one of my favorite writers - but I haven't yet read that book - sad!

Suzan, thank you so much for stopping by - the kids loved those cookies!

Megan said...

This sounds like a great summer read! Thats the only time I really have time to read a good book. I'll keep an eye for this book! Thanks for the review. :)