Cherries in Winter: My Family’s Recipe for Hope in Hard Times

January 4, 2011

Cherries in Winter by Suzan ColonWhat is the secret to finding hope in hard times?

When Suzan Colón was laid off from her dream job at a magazine during the economic downturn of 2008, she needed to cut her budget way, way back, and that meant home cooking. Her mother suggested, “Why don’t you look in Nana’s recipe folder?” In the basement, Suzan found the tattered treasure, full of handwritten and meticulously typed recipes, peppered with her grandmother Matilda’s commentary in the margins. Reading it, Suzan realized she had more than just a collection of recipes; she’d found the key to her family’s survival through hard times.

Suzan began re-creating Matilda’s “sturdy food” recipes for baked pork chops and beef stew, and Aunt Nettie’s clam chowder made with clams dug up by Suzan’s grandfather Charlie in Long Island Sound. And she began uncovering the stories of her resilient family’s past. Taking inspiration from stylish, indomitable Matilda, who was the sole support of her family as a teenager during the Great Depression (and who always answered “How are you?” with “Fabulous, never better!”), and from dashing, twice-widowed Charlie, Suzan starts to approach her own crisis with a sense of wonder and gratitude. It turns out that the gift to survive and thrive through hard times had been bred in her bones all along.

Cherries in Winter is an irresistible gem of a book. It makes you want to cook, it makes you want to know your own family’s stories, and, above all, it makes you feel rich no matter what.


“Perfectly in sync with today’s tough times.”

—People Magazine

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“It is a testament both to her thriftiness and to her skills as an editor that Colón manages so effectively to combine cultural history, personal journey and recipes in such an economical package. A charming, wry and ultimately satisfying memoir of food, family and overcoming hard times.”
-Debra Ginsberg, Shelf Awareness


“I love this book. It grabbed me instantly by the shoulders and hugged me in close to the warmth of a real and resourceful family that faced tough times with love, wisdom, honesty, and true joie de vivre. It was one of the best reads I’ve had all year.”
-Julie Morgenstern, New York Times Bestselling author of Shed Your Stuff Change Your Life


“Delicious. Delectable. Truthful, funny, and poignant. Like a great recipe, Suzan Colón’s Cherries in Winter is a keeper and a treat to share with those you love.”
—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Big Stone Gap and Very Valentine


“Suzan Colon’s Cherries in Winter is a celebration of true wealth: love that sustains us through life’s difficulties, and good food—especially in the form of recipes passed down through generations—that fortifies our bodies and souls.”
—Giulia Melucci, author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti


“Suzan Colón’s wonderful book reminds me of M.F.K. Fisher’s classic treatise on surviving in the kitchen during hard times, How to Cook a Wolf. Colón’s warm, poignant, honest voice and down-home, mouth-watering recipes make me want to go over to her house for dinner immediately.”
—Kate Christensen, author of Trouble and winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for The Great Man


“This delightful book is as bracing, honest and nourishing as the family recipes that serve as the trellis for Suzan Colón’s wonderfully told story.” —Alexander Lobrano, author of Hungry for Paris


“The narrative has ample Working Girl spunk and shifts deftly if quickly among stories and decades and geographies.” —Publishers Weekly


To read an excerpt from CHERRIES IN WINTER, please go to this page.


Watch videos for two of the recipes that inspired CHERRIES IN WINTER!


Nana’s Butter Cookie Recipe:


Making Meatloaf with Mom:

More From Suzan: