A Spoonful of Promises: Stories & Recipes from a Well-Tempered Table by T. Susan Chang is my pick for my favorite cookbook of 2011.


A beautiful and heartfelt collection of stories about food and love written by a tender and talented writer. I read the book in one night. Regretted that it ended. And then I read it again. I keep it by my bedside to read a story each night. I am trying to learn from it: learning from an expert who can weave tales of love, family and food so effortlessly and so beautifully. I learned that Susie used to read tarot cards and the story is tied to eloquently to cups of tea. I learned how she failed at funnel cakes and was reminded of my own disaster with a pad thai recipe. I learned that food ties us like nothing else. I learned how much I still have to learn.

Buy this book for yourself, for your friends and your family: it is all about the ties that bind.

GIVEAWAY: If you want to win a copy of this book, leave a comment here and tell me why. I will pick a winner by 5:00 pm EST and will ship the book anywhere in the US.



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  1. I would love to win a copy of this book! While reading your description I was reminded so much of your book ‘Modern Spice’. I have read and re-read the stories and never get tired of reading again especially the story about mis-matched cups, V’s simple home cooking and ofcourse my most favorite one about shelling green peas. If this new book has stories written directly from the heart that weaves memories to the food this ones just the thing for me! I have had my own cooking disasters with Pad Thai 🙂 this recipe is tempting me to try again!

    1. Thanks for your kind words. You made my day!

      1. Awww!!! You Replied!!!!! 🙂 🙂 You made my day too!!! Love and Hugs!!! You are The Best!! 🙂

  2. Love the name “Zombie Servants of the Noodle God”!

  3. I need all the help I can get when it comes to cooking Asian dishes. And your description of this book drew me in. If I do not win it, I will definitely be purchasing a copy.

  4. This book looks like a perfect addition to my cookbook collection. I have purchased other books you have recommended and they are always the best. I can’t wait to make this Pad Thai recipe.

    1. Thanks, I am glad you like my recommendations!

  5. I’m on a mission to find the best pad thai recipe, as good as the one at Basil Restaurant in Charleston. This one sounds divine, could it be the one?

  6. Hi Monica–I love pad thai!!The book looks wonderful..such positiveness is great!!

  7. I would love to win this book. I am as Irish as can be but I love all things Indian and Asian and I especially love cookbooks that tell a story.

  8. mmmm…this book is calling my name! I love these kind of cookbooks which has emotions and stories beyond recipes.

  9. You have given such a wonderful description of this book that I can’t wait to read it! I could use a positive read right now! 🙂

  10. I find that food is an amazing source of connections between people, places, and families. It’s charged with emotion and comfort and cookbooks that are able to capture that are some of the best out there.

  11. I love the books that let me get closer to the author and there is nothing that evokes memories and nostalgia better than food, shared with friends and family. When I buy cookbooks, I search for stories more than for photos and Susan Chang’s book sounds like a beautiful find. Thanks for the recommendation, Monica!

  12. I would love to have this book. I think food comes from the heart & it’s the stories of food that tie us to so many memories. It’s amazing how a simple smell or sight can takes us back to something so precious.

  13. I would love to have this book. I certainly feel the same way about reading (and reading) good cookbooks!! I really enjoy the stories and cooking tips sometimes more than the recipes. Thanks for sharing about this book! 🙂

  14. As I work on my own collection of food essays, it’s instructive and inspiring to find books that have succeeded in tying together food and family in memorable ways. Sounds like this would be valuable as both a good read and a helpful template for my own book. I can’t wait to read this one!

    Cheers! Carol

  15. I always enjoy a cookbook that allows you to glimpse the author’s history and feelings toward food. It really enhances the experience, and who doesn’t love an amazing, authentic pad thai?!



  16. Christy Piwowarczyk

    Food and family! What could be better? Love to read this!


  17. This book looks great! Thanks for sharing

  18. Great writeup Monica. It sounds like an exceptional book. And, well, if YOU say it’s the best of the year, then I want to read it too. 😉


  19. I’d love a copy of this book–the recipe you posted looks both delicious and simple enough for a beginning cook like myself to manage. If the rest of the book is anything like this recipe, I’d be a happy camper.

    1. Krista – You win!! Send me your address and I will mail you a copy of the book!!

  20. That book sounds amazing, Monica. It’s always a joy to read a book that you don’t want to end. Yes, one is sad at the end, but then you can pick it up and read it again as you did. I’d love to win your best cookbook choice. This recipe looks fabulous and I’m intrigued by the little bit you’ve shared on Tarot cards and cups of tea. 🙂


  21. Dear Monica, For me, cooking is an excuse to go back in time. Most of the dishes that I churn out day in and day out are inspired by my Grandma who is no more today. As a child, I hovered over her stove and meandered in her kitchen whenever she cooked. The aromas that oft wafted from her kitchen are still fresh in memory. ‘A spoonful of promises’ remind me about my own recipes sprinkled with love, family tales and memories. I have noticed your writing too to be of a similar vein. I would love to read it, keep it on my writing table (my dining table put in the kitchen to be honest!) so that I can read and reread and see the inspiration muse come out!

  22. Oops, disadvantage of the email feed … one misses the giveaway deadlines without realizing it at first. 🙁 Congrats to Krista!


  23. Two words – Pad Thai. I fell in love wiht it when I visited Thailand and Cambodia. I miss Cambodia dearly. This book would help to bring my heart closer to it! 🙂

  24. Food is the bond that ties families, communities, and even nations together. I find it very heart warming to read stories about families and food; such stories give me an insight into what has shaped the author’s taste, creative abilities, and love of cooking. I have loved reading stories from your cookbook, as well as Zmadhur Jaffrey’s and Mai Pham’s, to name a few. I’d love to receive this book to read about the shaping of another life through food.

  25. I adore books about food that include stories. I hope I win!

  26. What could make a better book?…..one with recipes and stories couldn’t be beat!

  27. Uh oh, am I too late for the comments giveaway? Hope not. But I love your description of the cookbook. It sounds like such a heartwarming book, one that’s a keeper. Will try to get hold of one. Thanks for sharing these. As for Pad Thai, try not to fret. It happens to all of us. Nothing is perfect the first time. But it’s always the start of better things to come.

  28. I love stories about cooking. I stood on a chair beside my mum as soon as I was able to, watching her cut and measure and stir, tasting bits of this and that as they were handed to me. “No black pepper,” I would tell my mother, “only the white one” (meaning salt), as she offered me a slice of raw potato. That was such a wonderful way to learn the basics of cooking – but I’m still learning about it! This book sounds like a wonderful way to continue learning.

  29. I would love to win this book because I love to cook Asian food but my results aren’t always so hot! I also love and collect cookbooks that are more than just recipes. They tell a story and I am an avid listener & reader. Since it is so highly recommended by you, that is a good enough reason for me to want it. I trust your opinions, Monica.

  30. I just came across your website from Allrecipes and find it very interesting. I am 71 yrs old with no kids at home (had 4 boys) and my desire to cook has gone down mucho. I just sem to make the same thing (healthy tho) and don’t have much motivation to do out of the box. Reading stories about cooking and feeling the excitemet of doing it in your blogs may motivate me to actually go outside the box. Thanks!

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