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If you’re looking for a cookbook about traditional sweet treats popular in the South, “Southern Sugar” by Belinda Smith-Sullivan is for you. It features approximately 100 delicious-looking recipes divided into seven chapters: Cakes; Pound Cakes and Cheesecakes; Pies and Cobblers; Cookies and Brownies; Candies; Ice cream and Beverages.
Most seem quick and easy to make. For example, the classic carrot cake doesn’t require a stand mixer. This excites my baking soul. I hate pulling out the mixer, finding the attachments and then adding them. I know what I’m making first out of this hardcover.
The ingredients list is not extensive and uses basic items found at a local supermarket. Furthermore, the instructions are written clearly. I am, however, disappointed that each entry doesn’t have a photograph. The existing images capture appetizing desserts and utilize macro photography at its finest.
I have many pages bookmarked, such as the Kentucky Jam Cake (book cover), Fig Pistachio Cheesecake, Chocolate Bourbon Pie, Old Fashioned Tea Cakes, Pecan Cherry Ice Cream and Watermelon Iced Tea. The pictures have also motivated me to get back in the kitchen. I’m glad the author included a cookie scoop conversion chart and a metric conversion chart. They will come in handy.
Southern Sugar Influences
Smith-Sullivan grew up in Chicago watching her mom cook. Every summer, she would visit her grandparents on their farm in Mississippi. She loved being in the kitchen with her grandmother, who would sometimes whip cream by hand to make whipped cream. Some of their techniques came in handy when Smith-Sullivan started cooking at the age of seven. By ten, she was baking two cakes a week for five dollars for a family friend. Eventually, she became responsible for all the holiday baking in her household.
She didn’t attend culinary school right away. Her first job was as a stewardess for American Airlines. In 1990, she received her pilot’s license and commercial, instrument and flight instructor’s certifications. She worked for Coca-Cola, which had her living all over the world, including South Africa.
She decided to attend culinary school after retiring. Unfortunately, she applied for the baking and pastry program too late, and there was a two-year waiting period. Instead, she received a culinary arts degree from John and Wales University.
Afterward, she became a personal chef. She liked seasoning her foods with a combination of herbs and spices and created spice blends so that they were easy to transport. People showed interest in her concoctions, so she started making and selling 11 of them on her website.
In 2015, Smith-Sullivan was inducted into Les Dames d’Escoffier International, a philanthropic organization of women leaders in the food, beverage and hospitality industries.
When it comes to food nowadays, people are all about the shock factor or they try to one up the competition. I like this book because you don’t have to feel that way. It offers tried and true, classic recipes that are laid back like a southerner drinking sweet tea on the front porch.
With a bit of patience and practice, I have a feeling they will get you just as many likes, shares and comments on social media. They will also entice your family and friends no matter where they live. I highly recommend “Southern Sugar” for your collection.
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