I’m joining Jain in her bi-monthly edible book review at Food for Thought, where in her words, pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera. Books, Food & Photos, my three favorite things all in one place!
This was one of my favorite books of 2009, partially because I listened to the audio version. I’m a huge fan of audio books. There are times when listening to a book is just more convenient than reading it. The voices selected for the narration really made these characters come alive. That said, I highly recommend listening to this book…if you can’t listen to it, read it if you haven’t already.
Set in 1962 in racially-charged Jackson, Mississippi, “The Help” are trusted to raise the children, but not trusted to be left alone with the silver service. This story is told from three different points of view: Skeeter, a recent Ole Miss graduate, who majored in English, instead of “husband –hunting’; Abilene, a black maid, who has nurtured and raised 17 white children, and Minny, who although she can “cook like nobody’s business”, can’t keep her mouth shut or her temper in check to stay employed for very long. It is poignant, funny, and eye opening.
I really loved these characters and each point of view–Skeeter’s naivete and earnestness, Abilene’s steady faithfulness, and Minny’s feistiness. Their inner dialogues and observations were at times heart wrenching and hilarious.
There are lots of references to preparation and shopping for food…cornbread, pork shops, chicken and dumplings, string beans, okra, etc. Are you hungry yet? Despite all the down-home-style southern favorites mentioned, the food star in this book is a Chocolate Pie… for reasons that will be obvious if you read the book!
Searching for a chocolate pie recipe, I came across Kathryn Stockett’s family’s maid Demetrie’s Recipe. Here it is below minus Minny’s special ingredient :-)
1-2/3 cups water
5 tablespoons sweetened cocoa powder, such as Ghiradelli
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 9-inch pie shell, prebaked plain or graham cracker
Whipped cream (or if it’s not too humid, you can top with meringue)
Shaved chocolate to sprinkle on top, for looks
In a medium sized, cool saucepan, mix water, cocoa, and cornstarch with a whisk until all the lumps are gone, making a paste. Stir in condensed milk and egg yolks. Heat to just under a boil and stir until it’s thick.
Reduce heat to low and stir in butter. Add in your good vanilla, and keep stirring well. Turn off the heat and let it cool some. Pour into a prebaked pie shell, storebought if that’s how you do things.
Let the pie set-up in a cool spot, like a plug-in refrigerator, covering with wax paper so you don’t get a skin. Dollop cream on top or top with meringue.
Yield: 9 inch pie, 6-8 servings