Riffling through the dog-eared recipes from my past, I ran across one of my family favorites: my grandmother’s Swedish rye bread recipe. For me, the very words conjured up memories of early childhood redolent with the aromas of baking bread filled with the goodness of dark molasses and the tantalizing smells from my tiny cup of coffee. You see, following World War II, my father was released from the Army and he moved our then-small family—that was my mother, older sister, Melody, and a six-week-old me—from a Texas Army base back to my father’s hometown in Nebraska. Until he could get on his feet financially, we lived in the basement apartment of my Swedish grandparent’s home for my first six years of life.
Morning after morning, I remember hearing my Grandmother shuffle across the kitchen floor above our apartment, singing a happy little tune, as she busily prepared and baked her ‘famous’ bread. I would whine to encourage my mother to dress me more quickly as I would impatiently wait to hear my Grandmother’s call, “Yoo-hoo, Yoo–hoo, my Carole. Are you awake down there?” Quickly, I would trundle to the staircase and climb those twelve red linoleum steps to the first floor to be swept up into her full-bosomed embrace. She would kiss me from head to toe with wet, sticky kisses, then pass me over to my grandfather, who would place me on a stack of books (no thick phone books, though, as the town was much too small) onto a kitchen chair. And there at the table awaiting my arrival was one tiny cup filled with tantalizing Swedish coffee (no milk or cream added—no, no) and a thick slab of hot-from-the-oven Swedish rye bread, already oozing with a pat of butter and pooling into my own special plate. Picking up the slice with my chubby fingers, I would bite into that rich dark bread and butter would leak out of the corners of my mouth and drip down my chin. Then, my Grandma’s high pitched giggle would erupt and my Grandpa would smile from ear to ear, as his glasses slipped down his bulbous nose. Coffee and Swedish rye bread! Ah! I can’t think of a better way to start a day! This experience of sharing good food, along with rich coffee, and the warmth of a grandparents’ love led me to equate the importance of bringing families and friends together at the table. This also culminated in my writing an historical novel, A Cup of Redemption, which is the story of women building a friendship by sharing food, recipes and family stories. [Novel published October, 2014]
My new book, of which I’m most excited about, is Recipes for Redemption: A Companion Cookbook for A Cup of Redemption. It will provide the promised recipes—all traditional French—which were culled from the pages, the times, and the regional influences found in the historical novel A Cup of Redemption. Told through the voices of the three main characters—Marcelle, Sophie and Kate—the recipes shared are the very ones these women learned at the knees of their mothers and grandmothers. Whether “cuisine pauvre” (or peasant cooking), “war food” from WWII, or simply a family favorite, each recipe is carefully described and footnoted with interesting, often amusing culinary notes. Flavored with witty repartee and slathered with common sense, this cookbook is filled with heart, soul, humor, and delectable delight. I’m certain you will love it!