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Weekend Cooking: Cherries in Winter

October 17, 2010

When Suzan Colón lost her dream job working for a magazine, she knew it was time to do some belt tightening.  She and her husband would have to give up expensive haircuts and eating out.   The first thing Suzan did was head down to the basement to get her grandmother’s old recipe file, but she found so much more than that.  The little notes that her grandmother jotted down with the recipes made Colón curious about her family history, so she began asking her mother some questions.  She discovered that she comes from a long line of strong, thrifty people.  Her family knows how to pinch a penny, but they also know how to treat themselves when the time is right.

Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times is the story of Suzan’s family.  They’ve never had a lot of money, but they’ve had strength and love and they know to value those qualities.  They know how to get by when times are tough, by scrimping and saving, but also by splurging when the time is right.  This quote struck me and really gives a feel for the flavor of the book:

The women in my family have certain traits: height, prominent noses, and the ability to rationalize spending extra, just once in a while. when there is no extra to be spent.  Because.  I got some of their height and all of the nose, but I thought that last characteristic was missing in me.  It wasn’t; I just didn’t realize that it only wakes up when we begin to measure ourselves by money, or the lack of it.  It’s not a reflexive kick of denial about having less. It’s a deep breath reminding us not to become miserly in spirit.  We may be broke, but we’re not poor.

Colón intersperses her modern day story with stories of her grandparents and parents.  She starts almost every chapter with one of her grandmother’s old recipes – most of them sound really good to me, but a few, like liver with bacon and onions, don’t.  I liked Cherries in Winter, but I didn’t love it.  I wanted more stories about Colón’s mother and grandmother and wanted a little less of Colón’s reflections on life.  Having said that, I loved the positive attitude and approach to life that Colón takes and I felt good after I finished the book.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

Review copy provided by Doubleday.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
34 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2010 8:23 am

    I have been wanting to read this one for a while now. I am still interested, even if it isn’t the best book ever. I actually like liver, but I haven’t made it in years.

  2. October 17, 2010 8:42 am

    I have read several mixed reviews of this book, but I am still interested in reading it for myself. I don’t think I would mind the author’s reflections, as I seem to be doing that a lot myself.

  3. October 17, 2010 9:08 am

    I’ve been hearing about this book as well, and actually one blogger told me she thought I would like it because I so love to cook. Something about the idea of digging up grandma’s recipes (both of mine were huge cooks but did everything by memory) is so appealing.

  4. October 17, 2010 10:10 am

    I think you liked this one more than I did – I just couldn’t relate to the author’s personal reflections at the time in my life I read it. I might like it better now, I’m not sure, but I’ve given it away now. I did really enjoy the parts about the author’s family.

  5. October 17, 2010 10:11 am

    This sounds good, Kathy! I need to practice pinch a penny, but also know how to treat myself when the time is right. I think I treat myself all the time so that calls for a little tightening of the belt for me! I am slowly weaning off buying books compulsively.

    P/S: I also saw a really good book about techniques of cooking at Beth Fish’s post today. Great stuff all of you!

  6. October 17, 2010 11:03 am

    Interesting. I’d wondered about this book. Thanks for reviewing it!

  7. October 17, 2010 11:27 am

    This has been on my wish list for some time. Love that it was a memoir and loved that it was about food with the recipes. Sometimes even though you pick up a memoir, you want more of the “memory” and less of the “memorist”. Seems like that might be your thoughts. Great review! Thanks for sharing!

  8. October 17, 2010 11:29 am

    From your review sounds like I’d feel the same way about the book. Less inspiration and reflection and more story. I usually like the historical aspects of a book that delves into several generations.

  9. October 17, 2010 11:43 am

    It’s so fascinating to one day discover something new about your family. I’ve always wanted to know more about my ancestry.

  10. October 17, 2010 12:07 pm

    I tend to love books about cooking but sometimes they don’t work quite as well as others. Great review.

  11. October 17, 2010 1:05 pm

    Great review and love coming back every weekend for Weekend Cooking segments. My favorites are your rendition of recipes of course.

  12. October 17, 2010 1:18 pm

    I haven’t read this book, but somehow your review sounded familiar. I think it’s because I’ve read quite a few books of the same type before – books where the author alternates a story with his or her musings, and I’m inevitably much more interested in the story itself than on the musings… anyway, even if not perfect this sounds like a worthwhile read.

  13. October 17, 2010 1:21 pm

    I prefer more memoirs than reflections too. That cover is making me crave cherry pie now.

  14. October 17, 2010 1:32 pm

    Aaaaah, I love the title. I enjoyed your review too. This is a good time in our America to write about hard times. So many people are doing without….. Can’t wait to read “Cherries in Winter.”

  15. October 17, 2010 2:30 pm

    This sounds like an awesome read; great review Kathy

  16. October 17, 2010 2:52 pm

    I think I’d enjoy this book, although I am already craving a slice of cherry pie! 🙂

  17. October 17, 2010 3:43 pm

    I read a book similar to this – Miriam’s Kitchen. And the first recipe in that was also one I would never eat. But after that, they got better!

  18. October 17, 2010 3:54 pm

    Sounds like a fun book, maybe not a masterpiece but a good time 🙂

  19. October 17, 2010 5:54 pm

    It doesn’t sound like what I was expecting!

  20. October 17, 2010 7:00 pm

    I have also read several mixed reviews of this book, and am not sure if I would read this one. I do tend to like books of this type, but I remember reading one review that made me think this book wouldn’t sit very well with me. I can’t exactly remember why that was now! Thanks for your honest reflections in this review, and by the way, I would never eat liver and onions either!

  21. October 17, 2010 7:30 pm

    I really enjoyed this one and was especially taken by the recipes that were written by her grandmother. I have a few pieces of my grandmother’s writing which I treasure.

  22. October 17, 2010 8:11 pm

    I like that quote you shared. It is good to be thrifty but to know when to splurge a little bit every so often. Love that cover!

  23. October 17, 2010 8:27 pm

    Well, I’ll have to think about this one. Thanks for the review. The memoirs sound like they’ll be worth it.

  24. October 17, 2010 9:17 pm

    I have not heard of this one but shall add it to my list.

  25. October 17, 2010 11:04 pm

    I like books with recipes in them. Thanks for the review on this one.

  26. October 18, 2010 1:16 am

    I am definitely putting this on my “to read” list. It is quite synchronistic that I blogged about our food histories today. Thanks for sharing.

  27. October 18, 2010 4:29 pm

    I had a similar reaction to this book, I wanted to know more about her mother and grandmother and could have done less with her life worries. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, the ones that sound good, but one of these days I will!

    ~ Amy

  28. October 18, 2010 8:59 pm

    Mmmm…need to add this to my wishlist, I think….I love memoirs and books about cooking!

  29. October 19, 2010 11:57 am

    The title is very appealing to me. I’m going to see if the library has this one before I invest too much in it.

  30. October 19, 2010 2:03 pm

    hmmm…sounds like it would be a much better book if there was less going on in her current life and more about her relatives. Still..I think I’ll see if my library has this one.

  31. October 20, 2010 1:47 pm

    Not sure this is my cup of tea, aside from the cooking aspect. I’m wondering what makes it unique (as many people I know don’t have much money!), and memoirs really need that something extra to grab my attention.

  32. October 20, 2010 3:41 pm

    Hello, and thank you so much for reading and reviewing my book! I really appreciate you and your visitors for taking the time to read “Cherries in Winter.” I’ve wanted all my life to honor my Nana, whose combination of strength and style influence me to this day. Especially in these hard times; considering what she lived through in the Great Depression, I feel more positive about what we’re going through now.
    Many, many thanks again for your review!
    All the best,
    Suzan Colón
    Author of “Cherries in Winter”

  33. October 22, 2010 1:39 am

    feel good books are so nice every once in awhile…helps to keep a great perspective on life!

  34. October 22, 2010 9:00 am

    I have this one, too, but don’t seem to have any interest in it. If you had raved about it, I probably would have given it more attention.

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