Food is a powerful force. It can conjure memories, elicit emotions and strengthen relationships. For Seattle-based food blogger Rosie Mayes, food not only nourishes the body, it nourishes the soul.
In her debut cookbook, I Heart Soul Food, just released by Sasquatch Books, Rosie Mayes shares the recipes from her childhood that bring her comfort. The cookbook is an homage to her Southern roots, filled with food passed down by her grandmother, aunts and mother from Louisiana’s capital, Baton Rouge. Each recipe reflects the care her family members poured into their well-loved dishes.
“I’m showing everybody how to make food like their mom and grandma used to make,” she says. These dishes have memories attached to them. Through these recipes, we can re-create memories and pass them down to our kids.”
Soul food was influential throughout childhood for Rosie, who hails from a large family. In I Heart Soul Food, she describes how every family gathering was a big event. The table was always filled with the staples of a delicious home-cooked Southern meal, from tender beef brisket to hearty gumbo, savory collard greens and sweetened candied yams.
While crowd-pleasers like smothered chicken and Southern-style mac and cheese make the book appealing for any soul food lover, it’s creative recipes like pineapple upside-down cheesecake that set I Heart Soul Food apart from other Southern food cookbooks.
Additionally, recipes for dishes like salmon croquettes and smoked salmon give a nod to the Pacific Northwest, where Rosie grew up.
Rosie believes soul food is a lost art. While she’s lucky to have inherited these Southern culinary traditions, many of her friends are not as adept in the kitchen.
“I started off sharing recipes that were really hard to find online,” Rosie explains. “I’ll add my own spin to a traditional recipe and make them more modern by changing up a few ingredients.”
It’s not just with her followers, or “online cousins,” as Rosie affectionately calls them, that she shares her recipes. Rosie also passes down these dishes to her 13-year-old son. Even at such a young age, he’s already a master at grilling meats and making hearty meals in the slow cooker.
For parents who are new to cooking with their kids, Rosie advises them to have patience.
“Start with something really simple that can build their confidence,” Rosie suggests, “and they’ll feel more comfortable doing other things.”
With Rosie’s easy-to-follow directions and illustrative photos, I Heart Soul Food is a guidebook of sorts to help families connect through food.
And like Rosie’s family, parents and children can use the power of food to create lasting memories.