The Sweet Life in America’s Kitchens

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Throughout the ages, sugar has been the muse to many creative souls.  From the Four Tops, to the Rolling Stones, to Def Leppard, folks just can’t seem to get enough of its sticky sweetness.  The fine white crystals have struck again, this time inspiring the self-proclaimed “Sugar Mommas,” Kimberly Reiner and Jenna Sanz-Agero, to bring us the new cookbook “Sugar, Sugar.”

But o call this collection a mere cookbook would be falling short of the truth.  You see, this book shares not only the measurements and temperatures, but the stories behind the recipes as well.

In “Sugar,Sugar,” we find recipes from great-grandmothers,  beloved aunts, former slaves, and Native Americans.  Each tasty bite comes with an equally tasty story.  Momma Reiner says, “What started as a sugar voyage turned into a documentary of American heritage.”

It is also a tale of cherished family bonds made around the dessert plate.  One contributor said, upon inheriting her grandmother’s recipe book, “The book is a lifetime of love, expressed through a bit of butter, flour, and sugar.”

I, for one, believe in that kind of love, so my family decided to try out a couple of the treats included in the Mommas’ collection.  What I discovered is that beyond having a nice little anecdote to go with them, the recipes are just plain good!

With chapter titles such as “Better Than Nooky Cookies” and “Cakes to Diet For,” I knew I couldn’t go wrong.  Although I don’t normally lean towards baking cakes, the Banana-Caramel Cake seemed to be calling our names, and it didn’t disappoint.  I can’t believe I have never made the easy caramel icing before (thanks Aunt Fern for the recipe).

And let me say that once you have enjoyed the plethora of goodies that the Buffalo Chip Cookies are chock-full of, it will be hard to go back to plain old tollhouse.

In addition to the recipes and their accompanying lore, the book is peppered with helpful hints and time-saving techniques.  Want to keep the recipe old school?  They’ll tell you how.  If you’re the type of baker who prefers a more modern spin on things, don’t worry; they have that angle covered, as well.

If you just want to know what the Sugar Mommas think is the best dessert, you can ask them in person at Barnes and Noble in Fashion Island.  They will be there to sign books and meet fellow sugar-junkies next Saturday, Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.

While the Mommas won’t be accepting Great Aunt Edna’s secret recipe for Christmas fruitcake in person, once you’ve picked up your copy of “Sugar, Sugar,” you can flip to the back to find out how to share your very own sugar story on their website.

As Reiner points out, “The family dessert is legendary.  No one wants to brag about Brussels sprouts!”  Sweets though, are a different story — a never-ending one.  You may find that “Lucinda Bell’s $100 Pecan Pie” becomes your family’s new Thanksgiving favorite, thus carrying the story of the pie forward as new chapters are written.


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