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You Never Cook Alone: Stirring Memories, Feeding Souls and Building Legacies - A Cook Book for The Well Fed Family Paperback – April 6, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

As a child, I did not speak with ease until I was sixteen years old. A horrific stutter kept me anxious most days especially in school. My grandmother's kitchen was my place of refuge and our family table was a place where I belonged.

As I aged, cooking and eating remained an important part of my life and I often tell folks that I won my husband's heart through his stomach! Having homeschooled my children for eighteen years, I loved being a stay at mom and felt it was the most meaningful job I would ever be responsible for. Both of my boys received college scholarships and I found myself rejoicing with them and then wondering what I could possibly do that would be as meaningful.

Cooking and eating together has always been the best way I show my love for my family.
Determined to leave a legacy for my children and their future families, I began writing what is now YOU NEVER COOK ALONE.
I didn't want my book to consist of recipes only, but instead of funny and heartwarming stories, tips and lessons.It is through our five senses that memories are stirred, souls are fed and legacies are built!
You Never Cook Alone inspires readers to use their kitchens to unlock the power to connect with their loved ones. Far more than a collection of recipes, You Never Cook Alone stirs funny and heart-warming stories from Elise's childhood and her own kitchen. The stories illustrate how you can feed your family emotionally and physically.
My book helps make your family eventful. The stories act as illustrations which stimulate memories and suggest ideas in which each family can make their meals eventful. Eventful meals do not always have to be elaborate, but it does mean intentional. This is so easy to incorporate into your daily lives because everyone eats!
Family meals isn't only about the food, but rather the relationships built aroused the table. YOU NEVER COOK ALONE serves as a recipe for success in creating emotionally and physically healthy families and friendships.

From the Inside Flap

No one ever really cooks alone...

Even during our quietest, most solitary moments, preparing a meal inevitably stirs up recollections of meals shared with loved ones from our past. It is these valuable memories--stimulated by our five senses--that feed our souls.

For me, the smell and taste of foods I once savored with my grandmother brings me right back to the comfort and sanctuary of her little basement kitchen. Recipes I used to enjoy with my own family transport me back to our early years, long before my boys became young men and left for college. The taste, sound, smell, texture and look of food constantly reminds me of those I love and the special moments and occasions that have made up our family's lives.

I originally wrote this book for my husband and children about five years ago. I wanted to ensure that my children not only had the recipes they grew up enjoying, but that they understood the importance of passing on a family legacy. 

My childhood memories are filled with wonderful moments around the table, and no wonder. Our family table was the place where I felt most comfortable and most loved.

Due to a terrible speech impediment that reared its ugly head when I was four years old, I didn't speak with ease until I was about sixteen.  As a child, stuttering made daily activities like answering the telephone, learning at school, and even saying "I love you" nearly impossible for me.

My parents were very supportive and sympathetic, and worked hard to pay for speech therapy and private schooling. My peers were mostly kind to me. Unfortunately, I still struggled with low self-esteem throughout my childhood. My impediment caused me colossal, almost unbearable anxiety each and every moment of my life - except in the kitchen and around the table.

During my childhood, our family lived in my grandmother's immaculately-kept three-tenement house in the city of Fall River, Massachusetts. My grandmother, who we called "Vavo," (which is Portuguese for grandmother) lived on the first floor. My father, mother, younger sister and I lived in one of the two apartments above my grandmother's home for many years.

Our family rarely went out to eat. My mother almost always prepared our meals, and saw to it that we gathered around the table each night for dinner. Around that table I mattered, I belonged, and I was loved. It was the one part of the day that I truly enjoyed. There was so much power in that hour!

I also cooked and ate frequently with my grandmother. It was she who would ultimately influence my love of cooking. Vavo spoke mostly Portuguese, and I hardly spoke at all. But we didn't need to talk-the special time we spent together in the kitchen formed the foundation of our relationship.  After an arduous day of school, my grandmother's kitchen was a safe haven; a respite; a place where I was well-fed.

Years later...

As a young woman I lived in my own little apartment, which was so close to the home I grew up in that a simple walk across the street kept Vavo and I doing what we loved together. It was while I lived in that apartment that I met my best friend and wonderful husband, Michael.

Feeding people has always been a central way for me to demonstrate how very much I care about and love them, and Michael caught on quickly. I guess you could say that I found my husband's heart through his stomach!

Two wonderful sons and many years later, our family still makes meals eventful. Time in the kitchen and around the table has supplied our family with more meaningful memories than I can share in one book.

Children who enjoy meals with their families learn how to communicate well and model loving behavior. They also get better grades, eat healthier, are more self-sufficient, build self-esteem and form a solid identity. When we feed our families, we don't just nourish their bodies. We nourish their hearts and souls as well.

I hope the stories within this book will make you laugh, cry and feel encouraged. Above all, I hope this book does more than help make your family meals eventful. I hope it helps you create priceless memories, fill your hearts and homes with untold joy, and connect past, present and future generations.  I hope you never cook alone.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1469952459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1469952451
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.6 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,910,473 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elise Johnson is a Raleigh, North Carolina-based chef. Elise is becoming well-known for her TV cooking segments "Cooking With Elise", her blogging at and as Chef Spokesperson for BJ's Wholesale Club.

The book's sub-title "Stirring Memories, Feeding Souls and Building Legacies for the Well Fed Family" reflects Elise's mission of helping families understand and capture the powerful energy that cooking and eating together contributes to building healthy families and friendships.

Elise grew up in Fall River near Boston, Massachusetts. A speech impediment kept Elise from talking until she was seventeen. Her Portuguese grandmother's kitchen became her refuge. Elise's grandmother, who spoke little English, taught her to cook with the most important ingredient of all - love.

Elise puts that same love into the meals she creates for her own family and friends. At her friends' request, Elise began teaching her friends, children and college students how to cook. Now through personal appearances, classes, TV, Internet and her new cookbook Elise shares that love with others.

In an amazing transformation, the child-who-never-spoke has become the funny, passionate outspoken Chef Elise that some are calling the "Portuguese Paula Deen".

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Ferguson on April 14, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Elise Johnson has hit a home run with this book! It has recipes with carefully detailed instructions, but more than that, it feels like a glimpse into the history of a family. From stories written by her sons, to memories of her grandmother (Vavo), to descriptions of fabulous family/friend events, (and even references to Isabel the cat) this book echoes the title: You Never Cook Alone.

The book is organized into two parts - the first is 11 Eventful Meals, and the second part has recipes and stories arranged to feel like a culinary trip around the world (no passport necessary)! Tucked away into the last part of the book are organizational, money-saving & meal planning tips. Definitely more than 'just' some recipes in a book!

As I read through the book, I marked certain recipes to try. Elise Johnson does more than put the ingredients and directions into a list, she also shares her experiences as she cooks, her tips on how do things easily and little nuggets of information on where the recipes and ideas originated. My husband loves breakfast - anytime of day - so my guess is that I'll be moving through the 10 pancake related recipes first!

This book would make a perfect gift for someone you love. Or for a bride & groom! It's a great reminder that when we prepare food, we never cook alone!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ed Arruda on April 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book warms hearts and minds. It will bring families back to the table together again, to create their own memories. In this day and age when we can be distracted by electronic devices while grabbing a sandwich on the run, will remind us to slow down a little and go back to a more simpler time, when families used to sit down together at the table and enjoy a home cooked meal and discuss the day. Your daily life of today will be your memories for tomorrow and this book will bring you back to your senses about creating those memories of family and good food. The recipes are absolutely fantastic and the heartwarming stories will make you laugh and cry all at the same time. The Author has a way of weaving the recipe and the story together in a most satisfying way that makes you want to read the book right through without stopping. So, put down your lap tops and cell phones for just a while and come to the table and make some family memories that will be your personal legacy for your own book of family life at the dinner table. Fall River has spawned some great cooking talent in the likes of Emeril Lagasee and now Elise Johnson. The local cuisine of the area is mouthwatering and the cooking styles are flavored with a European twist that their ancestors brought with them from the old country. I can't wait for the next book.

Ed Arruda
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DebForster on April 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
"You Never Cook Alone" is not your average, "cookie-cutter" cookbook. Elise Johnson has written a cookbook that is true to its subtitle, "Stirring Memories, Feeding Souls and Building Legacies". The pages are not only filled with delicious, mouth-watering recipes, cooking tips, and activity suggestions, but they are also overflowing with stories that will warm your heart with joy and laughter, and may even bring a tear to your eye. Knowing this beautiful lady personally (she is to be my daughter's future mother-in-law), I can honestly say she has written this book with much love, care, and devotion with the sole purpose of bringing families closer together through the joy of cooking and sharing delicious meals. "You Never Cook Alone" will be a wonderful addition to your own cookbook collection, and the perfect gift for your friends and family!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CarrieF on June 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was so excited to receive my copy of Elise Johnson's book "You Never Cook Alone" as I am a follower of both her blog and Facebook page "Cooking with Elise". Marrying into a Portuguese family myself, I opened it as soon as it arrived, and plopped myself down to read it cover to cover, all the while marking off the recipes I was going to try.

Not only did she outline the book in wonderful, easy to follow categories, she also shared stories about growing up, her trials and tribulations as a child, and especially cooking with her beloved Vavo. It brought back so many fond memories of my own childhood cooking with my family members. You actually felt like you were experiencing the memories with her as she was writing.

I tried my first recipe recently, which was for the Portuguese Sweet Bread as I have tried several recipes before and none of them were how my Portuguese Father In-Law remembered them. Even though some may view this recipe as daunting with all of the steps, Elise's instructions were explicit and so easy to follow. I think we now found the perfect recipe thanks to Elise! I highly recommend this book for any home cook, great job Elise!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By L. Littler on November 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
I love, love, love this book. I had the privilege taking a bread baking class with Elise a few years ago. This book is written like she is with you in your kitchen, talking about cooking, family and memories. I've tried several of the recipes and every single one has been a hit with my family -- that's the true test. These family recipes have now become our family recipes and are creating good memories in my house too. I've also been inspired to get my daughters in the kitchen with me more. We all tend to be busy and I'm the worst for wanting to cook and get the meal served up quickly and efficiently. I'm reminded to slow down and teach my girls how to really cook whole foods,and, while it may not be as "efficient", it's certainly much more fun and will make a lasting impression on them. Thanks for a great cookbook! I HIGHLY recommend!
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