Food and nostalgia are so intertwined, and like most relationships, their connection entails a fair share of comforts and complications. I remember summers on my grandparents’ farm, eating my fill of fried chicken and kolaches. Once made with the fruits the farm could produce, by my childhood, the Czech pastries had grown to include the convenience of bright red, cherry pie filling, glistening with corn syrup. That same corn syrup fueled the industrial agriculture systems that wiped out many a family farm in their region, wiped out crop varieties and replaced manpower with hulking machines.
Food nostalgia is complicated, but that doesn’t mean we have to abandon the richness of our history. We can glean and adapt and cherish something new that feels old at the same time. This is why I was drawn to the book Soul Food Love.
The Cookbook: Soul Food Love
In Soul Food Love, a mother-daughter duo reclaims and redefines soul food by mining the traditions of four generations of black women and creating 80 healthy recipes to help everyone live longer and stronger.
Novelist Alice Randall and her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams, worked together to overhaul the foods they love to cook and eat. They’ve updated the recipes and traditions handed down by their mothers and grandmothers into easy, affordable, and healthy—but still delicious—dishes.
What I love even more about their cookbook is the notion of preservation and attribution. We are living in a time when the Black Community is fighting and begging for true equality, when Native Americans are standing their ground for their ground, when women are marching to be heard, when immigrants are begging to be acknowledged for their positive contributions. What makes America great is this patchwork fabric. Through food and traditions, we can begin to understand the many hands at play in our history, the hands we once tethered and dismissed.
In honor of Black History Month, this is my own humble nod of gratitude for the history the black community built and enriched. This is my own nod of gratitude toward the immigrants, who like my grandmother’s family came to America and worked harder than anyone, planting their traditions into American soils. It’s a nod to those who were here long before any of us, who valued the many resources this beautiful chunk of land had to offer.
I made this meal as part of our stay at the Beaverdam Cabin, the rustic kitchen and substantial stone hearth providing the perfect backdrop for cooking for the sake of cooking, spending time together, toasting wine and conversing- for creating new nostalgia.
Spicy Pepper Roasted Chicken
Adapted from the book Soul Food Love by Alice Randall & Caroline Randall Williams
About this Recipe: This chicken packs just enough spice for those who like some heat. The original recipe is for the chicken only, but I added vegetables to make it a full meal. This recipe is the backbone of my Cabin Menu for Two, so you can turn the leftovers into another lunch and dinner option.