It could have been an interesting book, and I had high hopes for it. Some of the stories are touching, some shed light on historical events and all are well-told, but they are hard to read, having been placed on pages with stripes. The recipes are defiantly non-French; they could come from any community cookbook published in the South, with a few notes on where to find Crisco and catfish in Paris. Her substitutions are grand: She suggests using the Dutch cheese Mimolette for Cheddar, the outer leaves of young cabbages or broccoli for collards, smoked chicken for ham hocks, TUC for Ritz crackers. She didn't find a substitute for Cool Whip, however.
The full-color photographs by Daniel Czap are professional and mostly on full pages in this large 9x12-inch book. The pastries show off Wells' French cooking school education and are as beautiful to look at as they probably are to eat.
If you'd like this cookbook, which originally sold for $45 in 2000, leave a note below (click on the word "comments") and send me an email (email@example.com) on how to get it to you.
Here's an example of the recipes in "Food for the Soul."
Makes 10-12 biscuits
Monique Y. Wells writes: According to my mother, cream of tartar is the key to producing wonderfully light, tasty biscuits. Some of her friends have taken to adding it to just about anything they bake, apparently with great success.
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
Sift the dry ingredients together. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour the milk into it. Blend with a fork until the flour is moistened and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. knead lightly (10-12 times), then roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using a clean, floured cutter with a sharp edge, cut the dough into rounds. Do not twist the cutter or you will seal the edges and inhibit the rising action. Re-roll scraps lightly to make more rounds. If you want crusty biscuits, place the rounds 1 inch apart on cookie sheets; for soft-sided biscuits, place the rounds just touching into 2 well-greased round cake pans.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.