Black Girl Baking

Cook on a deeper level by using “Black Girl Baking: Wholesome Recipes Inspired by a Soulful Upbringing” by Jerrelle Guy, founder of the popular food blog Chocolate for Basil.

This 207-page cookbook helps readers connect with food by using the five senses. The Florida native divides them up into experiences to help navigate the content. They include Sight: Shapes Colors and Patterns; Aroma: Scents and Cinnamon; Sound: Snap, Crunch and Music; Touch: Textures and Mouthfeel; and Taste: Spice, Heat, and Flavor.

Some recipes include vegan, dairy-free and/or gluten-free options for those with special dietary needs. Favorites recipes to consider are the sea salt butterscotch tart, apple cider monkey bread, plum chai pie, banana foster lumpia and kombucha muffins. Guy also uses fresh produce and/or whole flours often, and she tends to favor sweets more than savory. The color images excite the palate; however, a few dishes appear burnt. Still, they don’t detract from the photo quality. The easy-to-follow instructions make the creation process quick and simple. A handful of recipes cover multiple pages which may intimidate some home cooks. Don’t worry, it allows for more whitespace and visual appeal.

Guy grew up eating Chamorro food (native food of Guam and the Mariana Islands) prepared by her mother with various Caribbean influences. She began her cooking and baking journey at the age of 14 when she decided to alter her diet due to being overweight. She explored new foods and flavors which changed the way she thought about food, nutrition and cooking for herself. She picked up some tips from books, YouTube and The Food Network. She also paid attention to the food culture while living in Italy, Texas, New York and now, Boston. Guy experimented with ingredients and accepted failures. It only increased her appreciation for the process. Baking gave her a voice and people started to listen.

My personal test kitchen loved reading about Guy’s ease of cooking without rules and precision. I kept that in mind while fixing the Maple Cinnamon Granola. I prepared it as written minus the coarse sea salt. I used old-fashioned rolled oats, pure maple syrup, vegan coconut oil, ground cinnamon, homemade vanilla extract, raw cashews and dried cranberries. The spicy fragrant filled the air with comfort, like the holidays. I watched the gooey mixture bake as it sizzled to perfection. This crunchy goodness provided a delicate a sweetness satisfying to the palate. It transported well as a to-go snack and as a yogurt mix-in for breakfast. I used smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste to create granola happiness.

“Black Girl Cooking” teaches readers how to tap into all of your senses in the best way. It offers wholesome options packed with flavor and soul. Most importantly, it encourages people to slow down and live in the moment. Another book that comes highly recommended as a foodie gift and a resource for family cook night.  Be sure to order your copy on Amazon.

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Rekaya, aka The Food Temptress, is a freelance journalist, author and co-host of the sports podcast “Black Girls Talk Sports.” She has written content for Amtrak, Writer’s Digest Books and various lifestyle magazines. She also has penned seven books in multiple genres. In her spare time, she enjoys developing recipes and exploring Virginia’s 200+ wineries.