The Church Ladies' Divine Desserts: Heavenly Recipes and Sweet Recollections
By Brenda Rhodes Miller
Thorndike Press - Large Print, (2001)
Genre: Cookery, History
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - February 24, 2002
The Church Ladies' Divine Desserts by Brenda Rhodes Miller, is both a cookbook and a history of the Church Ladies who created the scrumptious deserts that make up this delicious book! It is also a testament to the strength and the spiritual fortitude of untold African-American churchwomen who have served as a guiding force for their families and their communities, and who have served tirelessly in the Church, doing everything from preaching to sweeping the stairs.
The recipes contained in The Church Ladies' Divine Desserts were contributed by a cross section of Church ladies who have poured their hearts and souls into their Church and into their culinary skills. Throughout, the recipes are interspersed with reminiscences of Church life which will awaken old memories or which will serve to introduce you to a unique culture. Also included are short biographies of prominent Church ladies that influenced Miller's life.
This is not a cookbook for the diet conscious. The recipes range from the sublime to the truly decadent. Thankfully, just reading the recipes is not fattening, or this cookbook could easily add one hundred pounds to every reader! The recipes are divided into eight chapters:
Pies, Cobblers, and Turnovers
Cookies and Candies
Custards and Puddings
Top It Off: Sauces, Frosting, Fillings, and Glazes
The recipes run the gamut from traditional Sweet Potato Pie to Apple Strudel and even an intriguing Tangerine Cake that promises to be delicious. The recipes are clear and easy to follow, and they are suitable for cooks of all skill levels. Don't, however, let your husband or wife (depending who the cook is) or your kids look at this book! I made this mistake, and now I have a long list that reads, "please make this next, then this, and, oh yeah, then this...." These are all from 'scratch' recipes. Measurements are given in standard U.S. measurements such as cups, tablespoons, quarts, and pints. If you are use to metric units, a handy conversion guide can be found online at: Vida Americana.com. In a few recipes, commercially prepared items are used. In these cases' measurements are given according to the size that the product is commonly sold in, in the U.S., such as a 1-liter bottle of soda or 46-ounce can of pineapple juice. Throughout, the ingredients used are widely available and if you bake on a regular basis you should find that you already posses most of the needed ingredients. If you don't, you should not have any trouble finding the required ingredients in your local supermarket. Some items used are seasonal, such as berries, fruits, and nuts. However, most of these seasonal items can be replaced with canned or frozen versions, if you cannot obtain fresh ingredients.
This is a delightful cookbook, both for its incredible recipes and for its insights in the role played by Church ladies. If you don't cook, you may want to learn how after reading this book. Or at least you'll want to pass it on to someone who does - in the hope that they might share the fruits of their labor with you :-)
Ainsley Harriot's Gourmet Express, by Ainsley Harriot.
The recipes in this cookbook are easy to follow, and they include detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to prepare each dish. The majority of the fast food, gourmet recipes in this cookbook can be prepared in under 30 minutes! (Large Print)