Cookbook review: Good food, good vibes for every occasion

‘Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life’s Big and Small Moments’ by Jocelyn Delk Adams with Olga Massov (Potter, $32.50)
"Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life's Big and Small Moments" by Jocelyn Delk Adams with Olga Massov (Potter, $32.50)

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

"Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life's Big and Small Moments" by Jocelyn Delk Adams with Olga Massov (Potter, $32.50)

As a brainy student at Clark Atlanta University, Jocelyn Delk Adams and her “singing homie Alesha” would sometimes break away from their studies to stroll around the city’s various HBCU campuses, singing made-up songs. Among their “hits” was “McNugget Yeah,” an ode to chicken nuggets.

That memory inspired her to create Cereal-Crusted Buffalo Tenders, which owes its “sweet, salty, and insanely crunchy” coating to a hefty scoop of crushed Cap’n Crunch cereal. Its recipe represents the kind of playfulness that permeates the colorful pages of “Everyday Grand: Soulful Recipes for Celebrating Life’s Big and Small Moments” ($32.50), Adams’ second cookbook. Her first, “Grandbaby Cakes,” is based on the blog that’s helped her land regular appearances on national television and in major magazines, as well as a partnership with Williams-Sonoma, who now markets several of her ready-to-eat cakes.

Adams, who lives in Texas with her husband and small daughter, grew up in Chicago, but frequently visited her grandmother in Mississippi, who was renowned for her cake-baking prowess. Adams began building her own dessert-making reputation after college with creative twists on family recipes — first among friends and, in time, with millions of virtual followers.

For her latest endeavor, she leans more into her savory side, injecting her characteristic positivity throughout chapters from breakfast and through dinner’s end.

“Life isn’t a string of holidays we move from and to,” she writes. To her, accomplishments as seemingly mundane as paying off a credit card balance are just as worthy of a celebration.

A low-ley meal of cod fillets roasted with garlic butter and cherry tomatoes can feel “glorious and indulgent;” a bowl of Maple-Brown Butter Popcorn could make home movie night seem as exciting as a night on the town.

Strawberry Lemonade Angel Pie was inspired by one in the collection her grandmother bequeathed to her after her death. Adams’s updated version includes ground freeze-dried strawberries in the meringue shell.

“Whenever I make it,” she writes, “I imagine Big Mama is right there with me, looking over my shoulder. She would have loved that twist.”

Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.

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