Author with local ties mixes loves of cooking and saints

People who pick up Amy Heyd’s new book, “Saints at the Dinner Table,” will find original recipes for every season and taste, as well as a fresh look at the lives of 12 saints and holy people and how their spirituality is revealed in each dish.

A closer look shows something more, however.

The basic stock for the book is love — love for cooking, love for tradition, love for family. She has seasoned it with a desire to leave something for her three children that will give them a flavor of what’s important about life and faith.

“I’m always looking for ways to teach my kids the right thing,” Heyd told The Catholic Post before a book signing at Lagron-Miller in Peoria last week. “I’m in a Bible study and I love it when you read something and then sit with your friends and talk about what it really means and how to apply it and what am I supposed to be doing?”

As she was researching “Saints at the Dinner Table,” Heyd looked for men and women who had a lesson to share. In addition to a story illuminating some aspect of the saint’s life and recipes to go with it, she includes a meal prayer and suggests a number of questions to discuss during dinner.

“Because I love cooking — I love to celebrate with food — I thought what could be better than to prepare a meal and celebrate this saint and then talk about it,” said Heyd, who lives in Cincinnati. “After I’ve gotten to know these saints, when I prepare the meals I’m thinking about what makes them special.”

She is quick to point out that while she takes great joy in working with food — she was a finalist in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 2000 and her recipe for Chocolate-Cherry Crisp can still be found on the Pillsbury Web site — she is not a professional chef. She holds a degree in marketing from the University of Dayton, where she took two cooking classes.

“None of them require a master’s degree in culinary arts to prepare,” Heyd promised. “Some of them are more time consuming than others, but a lot of them I tried to make easy and quick to prepare because most people today don’t want to spend a ton of time cooking.”

Published by St. Anthony Messenger Press, “Saints at the Dinner Table” can be found at Lagron-Miller for $19.95. A number of signed copies are still available. For more information, call Gina McKenna at (309) 674-5143 or (800) 322-8116.

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