Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The gift of Southern cooking : recipes and revelations from two great Southern cooks by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock

If you are going to cook...cook Southern, and learn from the Grand Dame of them all...Edna Lewis. Born in Virginia, but noted for her Cafe Nicholson restaurant in New York where many Southern gothic writers sat around and ate, she went on to write four cookbooks. The Gift of Southern Cooking  was her last (she passed away in 2006) and co-authored with Scott Peacock, but she was committed to the simple and delicious refined taste of pure Southern Cooking. No other cook has influenced and inspired generations of cooks more than Ms. Lewis. True-blue cooks probably have a copy sitting on their home cupboard, its the definitive Bible of the  Cooking South.

Her secret is the few ingredients, her love of fresh food, and the family traditions she imparts to her readers in this nicely pictured, albeit hefty, tome of a classic cookbook. And there are stories with the recipes which parlays into an intimate bond in a kindred interest. In 1989, Lewis said, "As a child in Virginia, I thought all food tasted delicious. After growing up, I didn't think food tasted the same, so it has been my lifelong effort to try and recapture those good flavors of the past."

In her cookbooks, one can expect to find the recipes handed down from a Great-Grandmother, with few ingredients but lovingly and spoonfully dictated in step-by-step order. Where else can a cook turn to for a recipe for fried okra? Or Lady Peas?  Several cornbreads are supplied, as well as a discourse on flour brands. Recipes jotted by seasons include the Turkey you need to bring to the table...brined, of course, or two pages on country hams. Desserts, she claims don't have to be fancy, and a basic pie dough is sure to leave you yearning for more. The sides are fabulous...fried green corn, pole beans, greens, squash...a love of fresh vegetables is noted here. And ambitious cooks might try to make their own lard...yep, its included.

This is a beautiful cookbook for any inspiring cook to try their hand at time-honored, easy and tasteful Southern fare that has weathered many a family gathering....good and fuss-free for the holiday table.

Other Southern cooking fare to try:
Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking by Nathalie Dupree; Basic to Brilliant, Y'all : 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company by Virginia Willis; Southern Plate : Classic Comfort Food that Makes Everyone Feel Like Family by Christy Jordan. 

Can't get enough on Edna? Try these: The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis. A wonderful children's picture book about Edna Lewis,  Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie : a Story about Edna Lewis by Robbin Gourley includes recipes and facts about her life.

No comments: