As you likely know, I've been working on the book for some time. But getting a contract suddenly gave everything a deadline. Details that I'd left to finish later, suddenly all had to be done. I was lucky that at the time I signed my contract, the book was already three-fourths finished. I had four or five chapters to finish, but that still was a lot of work.
Perhaps even harder, I had to finish testing all of the recipes. It was fun hosting parties for my friends to "taste" all of the dishes. Better yet, it meant I didn't have loads of leftovers to eat all week long. It had me roasting lamb chops and slow-cooking pork roasts for sandwiches, tacos and a glorious Puerto Rican entree called "Pernil."
I baked flan (two ways) and layered a strawberry cake. I made cookies (chocolate and not), pies and pound cakes. And I made what just might be the most beautiful dessert I've ever made: banana pudding.
I actually made this banana pudding twice, first in a pie pan, as the recipe dictates. But I thought it would also be pretty in small, individual crocks. I'm not super crazy about the flavor of meringue, but it certainly makes any dessert look prettier. And it makes you look like an expert baker, because - unless you actually forget the pie in the oven - you can't mess this up.
So let me tell you about my book. It is a reflection of what I do in my job as a features editor at the Houston Chronicle. Among other things, I am the editor of our food section (Flavor) and our religion section (Belief). One day it occured to me that I could produce something from the best of both. So my book focuses on famous and notable church pastors from all over the country. I tell the narrative of their family's Sunday dinner traditions, then include a handful of their favorite recipes. Each chapter opens with a small prayer written by the pastor, a prayer suitable to be said at mealtime.
The chapters are about some of my favorite Texas people, like Pastors Joel and Victoria Osteen at Lakewood Church, the Rev. Dr. Ed and Jo Beth Young at Second Baptist Church in Houston, the Rev. Kirbyjon and Pastor Suzette Caldwell at Windsor Village United Methodist Church, the Rev. George Foreman of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, all of whom are in Houston; Bishop T.D. and Serita Jakes of the Potter's House in Dallas; and the Rev. Randy and Rozanne Frazee of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio.
Outside of Texas, I intervewed the Rev. Martin Lam Nguyen, C.S.C., a Holy Cross priest and art professor at the University of Notre Dame; the Rev. Jim and Barb Dixon of Cherry Hills Community Church in suburban Denver; Pastors Sam and Eva Rodriguez of New Season Christian Worship Center in the Sacramento, Calif., area; the Rev. Mike and Jeannie Glenn of Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn.; Pastors Matthew and Caroline Barnett of Angelus Temple of Los Angeles, Calif.; Apostles Ron and Hope Carpenter of Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, S.C.; and the Revs. Floyd and Elaine Flake of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
Over the past couple of years that I've worked on this book I've met some wonderful people and tried a lot of great recipes. And I wrote a book that is scheduled for publication September 2013.
Between now and then I promise to blog more frequently to tell you what I can about these extraordinary people.