Simply from Scratch

Simply from Scratch


Alicia Bessette writes with compassion and tenderness to illuminate the many unexpected ways people save each others' lives every day-often without even knowing it. Poignant, bittersweet, and strikingly honest, “Simply from Scratch” is a radiant celebration of friendship and the strength of the human spirit.

Rose-Ellen ("Zell") Carmichael Roy wears her late husband Nick's camouflage apron even when she's not in the kitchen. That's her widow style.

It's been over a year since Nick died tragically during a post-Katrina relief mission in New Orleans. Long enough, according to the grief pamphlets, to have begun to move on with her life. But Zell is still unable to enter her attic, which is full of Nick memories. She hasn't even turned on her oven because cooking was Nick's chore. That is, until she decides to enter the first annual “Desserts that Warm the Soul” baking contest, hoping to donate the grand prize to Katrina survivors in Nick's memory.

Meanwhile, Zell's nine-year-old neighbor, Ingrid Knox, is learning to cope with the loneliness of growing up without a mother. With an imagination as big as her heart, Ingrid treasures her doting father but begins to plot how she will meet the woman who abandoned her so many years ago. When an embarrassing baking mishap brings Zell and Ingrid together, they form an unlikely friendship that will alter both of their lives forever. Together, and with the help of a lively and loveable cast of friends and family, Zell and Ingrid embark on winning the “Desserts that Warm the Soul” contest - and learn that through the many sorrows and joys of life, with a little bit of flour and a pinch of love, anything is possible.  (Summary and cover courtesy of

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and I voluntarily chose to write a review


Initially I wasn’t sure how this book was going to work out as it has quite a sad premise, but I was quickly pulled into the story.  Zell is a mess and recognizes that.  We meet up with her as she tries once again to pull things together and pretend to have more of a normal life in front of her new neighbors.  Seeing Zell and Ingrid bond and get into big cooking explosions brings them both back to life and I enjoyed seeing them both open up to the world.

I thought the flashbacks and letters interspersed into the story gave it a depth beyond a simple “chick lit” book.  Zell’s unflinching view to where she is in the stages of grief makes the book feel more like real life: real grit, real moments of failure and really slow moments of growth.  People aren’t perfect and it was refreshing not to have another predictable book with things fixed with a big bow on top.  I’d highly recommend this one for a feel good read with a touch of cooking flare.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of books involving cooking, recovery and rebirth.