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Book Review: Muffins & Mayhem: Recipes for a Happy (if disorderly) Life by Suzanne Beecher

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I really didn't think I would like Muffins & Mayhem. Seriously, it seemed too cute and sweet for me. So I was quite surprised when I started to laugh hysterically and cry just in the first few chapters.

Muffins & Mayhem was written by popular book club creator and blogger Suzanne Beecher of DearReader.com. Beecher, a former business magazine publisher who started writing a Dear Reader column several years ago, decided to personalize her columns after one of her readers who was dying of lung cancer wrote to ask a question about how she could pull some inspirational materials together to leave her three children.

In her reply, Beecher realized how much of what we need to share has to do with our basic comforts of food and home. Recipe boxes, favorite childhood books and stories, photo albums, song and movie playlists, and feelings.

Priscilla did make recipe boxes for her children. Unknowingly, she left a gift behind for me, too. I didn't realize it until I wrote back to Priscilla, but for years I'd been creating my own recipe box, and the stories I discovered in it inspired me to write this book.

The stories are priceless! Witness the eight-year-old Beecher lip syncing to the Monkees  as she does her chores, the married Beecher as she attempts to tame the misbehaving microwave that works for everyone but her, the publisher who lost her magazine but gained a Friday Meals for Madison program that still helps feed the homeless, and the daughter who watches her widowed mom in her 70s meet and fall in love with a man in his 60s.

This is not a sappy book. Beecher has had plenty of heartache – failed businesses, failed marriages, and the general craziness of life are all reflected in this book.  But also here are the tools she used to get through it all, and a common thread is the comfort of food.

And the recipes… everything from meatloaf to hot and sour soup, from funeral cake to sugar cookies, comfort foods and fancy foods mingle and each one has a story. I have already tried a few and can tell you that the chocolate chip cookies and the aforementioned hot and sour soup are worth the price of the book alone!

So do yourself a favor, get this book as soon as you can, and get cooking. And once you have done that get the index cards out and start your own recipe box. I can guarantee that you and your family will appreciate it.


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