Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Help

The Help ****

by Kathryn Stockett

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I recently learned about a new event hosted by Jain at Food for Thought. She calls it an edible review—a chance to review a book of our choice and showcase food vignettes within the book. This is right up my alley—two things I love: reading and cooking! So while I’m at it, I’ll be sharing a recipe for Foodie Friday with Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum. Recently during a couple of days when we were iced in, I had the chance to sit down and read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I had heard the buzz, but had not had the opportunity to read it myself. The book is the story of domestic help in white households of the South in the early ‘60’s. It is a story of awakening.

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A toilet and chocolate pie—an odd combination to be sure, but two things at the very heart of the book. The story centers around Skeeter who has just graduated from Ole Miss and returned home with a degree in journalism but without the all-important engagement ring. In her attempt to fit back into the society she left, she finds herself drawn to the plight of the domestic help raising the children and cleaning the houses of her bridge partners. It is Skeeter who digs deeply into the lives of Aibileen, a wise black woman raising her seventeenth white child, and Minny a short black woman with a big attitude and an even bigger mouth.

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I found the deep dialect a little affected. I grew up about ten years and forty miles from the setting. I enjoyed reading about streets, stores, and even a weatherman I recognized. Skeeter’s best friends Hilly and Elizabeth, employers of “the help” represent people we all know….part arrogance, part ignorance, and part a product of their time. The heroine, in my opinion, is Aibileen who rallies the other maids and entices them to tell their stories to “Miss Skeeter” for a book she hopes to have published. It is Aibileen who nurtures Mae Mobley, the child of the indifferent social-climbing Elizabeth. She presses Mae Mobley’s little fat thumb into her own palm and tells her, “You is smart, you is good, you is important”. This, for me, was what Stockett wanted us to know. Each of is smart, and good, and important.

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Oddly enough, my favorite part of the book was the last chapter: “Too Little, Too Late”—the author in her own words. Here I gained an insight into the ambivalence of the author about her native Mississippi. Stockett herself was raised by an absentee mother and her grandmother’s maid. She admits to having conflicting feelings about the way she herself had thought about her upbringing and how she treated Demetrie who cared for her. The plot moves well, the characters are well developed, and the dialogue is lively. I recommend The Help. Oh, and about the pie and the toilet…you’ll just have to read it :)

Now, back to that chocolate pie that no self respecting bridge group would be without! This is my never fail stand by recipe for chocolate pie!

Chocolate Pie

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon flour

3 cups milk

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium size saucepan. Gradually stir in milk and cook over medium heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir 1/2 mixture slowly into egg yolks. Add this mixture back to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook one minute. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla. Cool slightly and pour into cooled baked pie shell. Top with meringue if desired

***Note- To make Coconut Cream Pie. Follow above recipe EXCEPT reduce sugar to 2/3 cup. Omit cocoa. Fold in 3/4 cup shredded coconut just before filling pie shell.

Click here for Food for Thought!

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Click on the button on my sidebar for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum. Thanks for hosting ladies!

EDITED--I actually posted this before I knew the event was every OTHER week! Hope you don't mind. In the meantime, I have posted a blogaversary giveaway. Click here to enter.

39 comments:

  1. wow! Great post! You've got this Midwestern girl's attention:) This book sounds like a wonderful read and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

    Linda C

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  2. I've had the book for over a month and haven't had the chance to read it yet...but i do have it and I have all of the ingredients here for the chocolate pie. Oh yum!!! Great review, Susan! I like this event. i am reading Julie And Julia...that should give me plenty of posts!!

    xoxo
    Janie

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  3. I just finished this the other day and I really enjoyed it. An interesting insight into the other side of the street so to speak. I would recommend this book.

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  4. I read this book & also enjoyed it. I just served a chocolate pie to my book club last month. They loved it!

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  5. The chocolate pie looks delicious!

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  6. It sounds like a really good book...and I love chocolate pie.

    Sue

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  7. Great book! I know that your chocolate pie will have much more appeal than the one in the book. :-) Have a great day!

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  8. Hi Susan, It has been too long since I have last visited! And I am so happy to visit you this evening. What a wonderful post. I haven't read "The Help" but our bookclub will read it this spring. Do you know how much I love Chocolate cream pie? SOOOOOO MUCH! Thanks for this great recipe! I'll be back to visit soon.
    Yvonne

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  9. Oh, Too COOL! A book review with our food. I love this idea. I don't have much time to read though with all this bloggin. Very nice post!

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  10. It's been quite awhile since I had chocolate pie. Sounds wonderful and the book sounds good, too!

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  11. Sounds like an interesting read! Need to check it out. The pie does not look to shabby either (not sure about it sitting on the toilet seat tho!?!?!?). :-D Had warmed up left over pizza and I need something extra.
    Rain go away!

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  12. Thanks for the review, Susan. I've heard mixed reviews about it, and I enjoyed reading your take on it. I think I'm going to have to go buy a copy and give it a whirl.

    Love your recipe! Chocolate pie has always been one of my favorites. When I was a child, we ate out every Sunday, and we used to go to a restaurant that had fabulous chocolate pie with meringue that stood up about four or five inches tall. Good times!

    Happy Foodie Friday...

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

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  13. Can't wait to read this one. Everyone loves this book and I love chocolate pie. Right now I am reading American Wife and I can't put it down. I think the idea of a book and a recipe is wonderful.
    Joyce

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  14. I haven't read this book, but my mother has and she told me all about that pie! :-) This will be such a great Edible Book!

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  15. The pie looks wonderful and your review has me intrigued. Guess it's another book for the list..

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  16. Susan, I'm back and glad you enjoyed the monkeys. If you get a chance, turn on your sound and go to my player and click on the tune, "Banana Phone." It's a hoot! I love the lyrics. It's a little frenetic to play with the post itself, but I couldn't resist putting it on the player. ;-)

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

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  17. The tea cup in your post looks very similar to the one I am using tonight! And chocolate pie...yum, yum.

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  18. what a great post n I think i will love that book.It sounds just like what I would read. tq for sharing and that choc pie looks amazingly delicious!

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  19. I keep hearing about this book and am more intrigued each time I read someone's opinion of it. Guess I'm going to have to get hold of a copy soon!
    Love your recipe, chocolate pie. Just saying the words makes my hips spread!!
    ~Maggie~

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  20. Love your vignettes! The pie looks amazing.

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  21. Sounds like a wonderful book. Save me a piece of that pie, the recipe sounds yummy.

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  22. That toilet and pie photo sure piqued my interest!

    :)
    ButterYum

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  23. I love me some chocolate pie and honey, you have peaked my interest with your review of this book. I'm running now to add to my book list, I have to know how a pie and a toilet go together!

    Oh and that mango salsa is like summer in your mouth!

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  24. Just thought I'd let everyone know that Amazon has the hardcover of this book on sale for $9.50, great price and the reviews were all in praise. Didn't find anything about the pie and toilet, so I had to order it, lol.

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  25. I read The Help a few months back and found it to be an excellent read! I grew up in Alabama (still here) graduating from high school in 1963 and could relate to most of the characters and issues in the book. But I grew up poor and had never known that whites had separate toilets for there black help. We lived much more like the black help of the book. I can remember as a young married woman that would have given my eyeteeth to be in the Jr. Service League. LOL. Now I'm glad I wasn't. So glad your chocolate pie didn't have the same secret ingredient as the one in the book! Have a wonderful weekend.
    Sharon

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  26. The chocolate pie recipe soumds divine! You got me curious about the book!

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  27. Loved your blog of Thursday! I now really want to get THE HELP to read it! You have piqued my interest. I am also going to try your chocolate pie one of these days - sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing.
    Best regards,
    Gloria

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  28. This was a great post Susan...hearing your take on the book has helped me decide to take a chance and read it as well!

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  29. You've drawn me right in, Susan. I'm looking forward to reading the book (and making that pie too).

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  30. Oh this sounds so interesting. My niece grad. from Law School at Ole Miss. Thanks for telling us about the book and oh, that pie looks good!

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  31. Girl I was going to ask about the pie and toilet...DUH was it not a good pie or should I read the book ha ha!! Hope you have a GREAT day my friend...hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

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  32. Hi Susan,

    This book sounds like a great read and I will have to get a copy. Thank you also for the recipe for the chocolate pie, looks delicious.

    Enjoy your week
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  33. Susan, I've heard so many good things about this book, and that chocolate pie on the toilet just sealed the deal - I've got to read that book! Your pie sounds delicious. (Of course, I think anything that is chocolate is delicious!) Thanks for the recipe. laurie

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  34. Susan, I totally enjoyed reading this book. Great review!

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  35. Enjoyed your take on the book. It was one of my favorites, particularly because I listened to the audio version which is excellent by the way. All your photos were dead on!

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  36. Fabulous looking pie & how funny that you dared to set it on the toilet seat! LOL
    I'm happy to see you join Jain at FFT. Its been a great experience for me & has me enjoying both reading & cooking more than ever.

    ♥ your pie recipe....thanks!

    fondly,
    Rett

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  37. I liked this book..read it on vacation~

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  38. OMG, your first shot is hysterical, i love your slant on things! i am so happy you joined in, its sooooooo fun to see what others read! well, maybe even a little scary huh!

    i loved your little vignette, i hope you will keep playing every other saturday, you are so brave to take your food in the bathroom, much less my most favorite food on the planet, we need risk takers like you to shake up the litterary fun!

    thanks so much for playing a food food thought, i am still chuckling at your first pic!

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