Caroline Randall Williams remembers the Easter mornings of her youth, when loved ones searched the yard for bright plastic eggs filled with scriptures and poetry by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and her great-grandfather Arna Bontemps. For her mother, Alice Randall, Easter was a big day in her grandmother’s Detroit home in the sixties. With their new cookbook, Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family (Clarkson Potter), the mother and daugh- ter tell their family’s journey of cooking through four generations of women with remixes of passed-down recipes.
Easter is a busy day for women as we prepare our households to host guests, get ready for church and organize activities. “I have actually missed church because of cooking,” Randall admits. “One year I was preparing an artisanal ham. It was so big I didn’t want to leave it in the oven, so my family left without me. That’s not what this is about.” She’s since learned the power of scheduling ahead and serving cold meats like salmon.
Here are a few more of the duo’s tried-and-true habits for a soulful Easter brunch that’s easy, affordable and healthful:
Prep your meal the day before and reheat items for brunch. “You can marinate lamb days in advance, then throw it in the oven before church and come back to a finished meal,” shares Randall Williams.
Be a Chef With Style
Buy an apron you love, to avoid staining your Sunday best. “I didn’t know I was holding in stress while cooking until I got my apron,” Randall Williams says.
Keep an Eye on Your Waistline
Make a menu and check it twice. “Do you really need the extra starch? Instead of potatoes and rice, put one more vegetable and one less starch,” Randall says. “Also, have brunch right after church to allow time to clean up and go on a group stroll in the neighborhood.”
Use Food as Decor
In the spirit of Alice’s grand- mother’s outdoor Easter brunches, the ladies include earthy table settings. “We’ve used green and yellow peppers as soup bowls. Cut off the top, spoon out the middle and add your soup,” Randall Williams says. “Use carrots to hold place cards by slicing each to make a slit, then putting a card in it. You can write names with a paint pen.”
Don’t go into debt over a meal. “As a single mom, I multiused eggs,” Randall recalls. “After creating an Easter quiche, you can blow out eggs and dye the shells for decoration.”