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Elizabeth Clauser

Southern Food Cookbook

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I'm interested in a really good Southern cookbook. Not New Orleans or strictly bbq, but something that explores other regional foods. I'm probably going to get Edna Lewis, but I was wondering if there was anything else folks could recommend?

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I'm not sure if I'm allowed to post the link, but Amazon has a list of top Southern Cookbooks that looks pretty good. Edna Lewis is definitely a good starting place, and Pat Conroy's Recipes of My Life is a very good read.

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Bill Neal.


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I'm very fond of Jean Anderson's "A Love Affair with Southern Cooking." She has a nice intimate style and includes back stories that are informative and always generous toward others. There's a mix of old stand-bys that I am likely never to make (but are fun to read) and traditional recipes that use more cheese, butter and processed ingredients than I am inclined to use, but I've been surprised at how many of her dishes I have tweaked a bit (or maybe a lot) and have been put into my rotation. Not even Jean Anderson will ever get me the least bit interested in Pimento Cheese, but I now love shrimp cakes and cymlings, soup with beans, greens and (less) ham, and my version of spinach madeleine, which is faithful in spirit to hers. A sweet cookbook that you will consult for one thing and discover something entirely different.

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Being Dead is No Excuse

This little book is hardly the comprehensive guide to southern cooking, but, in addition to being laugh-out-loud funny, the stories and traditions and recipes and vignettes are a priceless slice of life and manners and attitudes of the south.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I like The Highland's Bar & Grill cookbook. No, it isn't the food I ate when I grew up in Alabama but I've made several things from it and they were great (though I do add some sugar to my cornbread ;))

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I use regional cook books to prepare menus for tail gating and have several "favorites". You mentioned Edna Lewis and one of those I particularly enjoy is her collaboration w/ Scott Peacock, The Gift of Southern Cooking. There are a lot of folks who do not like Nathalie DuPree but I have always enjoyed her cook books. I heard some one call her "Paula Deen before any one knew who Paula Deen was". Some one mentioned Bill Neal and you can not go wrong w/ any of his books. Camille Glenn has an excellent cook book called The Heritage of Southern Cooking. It has recently been re-released and up-dated so should not be too hard to find. She was food editor of the Louisville, Ky paper (the particular one escapes me) so things are fr/ a some what KY slant but still an excellent source and a favorite. Another classic fr/ a food editor that has been re-released is Mrs. S.R. Dull's Southern Cooking . This book is a gem and I inherited a first edition fr/ my great aunt which I cherish. Any thing by Damon Lee Fowler is very good. He is fr/ Savannah so his focus is on that city in particular but he does a lot of other books that look much farther and wider. The Lee Brothers book is similar but their focus is on Charleston but still contains many, many Southern classics. A Gracious Plenty was edited by John T. Edge of the Souther Foodways Alliance fame and is a compilation of different receipts fr/ church, regional, & Junior League cook books fr/ through out the South. Speaking of which I am a sucker for Junior League cook books and many of them are quite excellent. True Grits and Atlanta Cooknotes were compiled by the Atlanta chapter. Cane River Cuisine is courtesy of the Service League of Natchidoches (I am certain I butchered that spelling) and I use that quite often. The Jackson, MS JL offers Southern Sideboards and the JL of Pine Bluff, Ark has Southern Accents and both of those are good. Southern Living's offerings can be hit or miss but they do a decent job on their compilations or "best of" books. And some one mentioned Being Dead is No Excuse which you need to read just to get a good laugh if nothing else. Believe it or not there are some really good church cook books out there. Trinity Episcopal in Greenville, SC has a very good book as does Christ Church Savannah and the Episcopal Church in Indianola, MS (but their lay out is confusing so I tend not to reach for that until after others). I hope that helps and is not too over-whelming.


in loving memory of Mr. Squirt (1998-2004)--

the best cat ever.

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I don't think that you can go wrong following Lan4Dawg's suggestions - he's mentioned some of my favorites. I have to single out The Heritage of Southern Cooking. I've cooked from this for years and love it. The prose is charming and the recipes are delicious.

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I asked same question a couple of years ago, and here's a link to the discussion on Southern cookbooks:

I ended up buying "The Gift Of Southern Cooking" by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, and haven't regretted it at all. It's a great book, both for the stories and the recipes.


Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"

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I second the Bill Neal - Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie is my bible for Southern baking and desserts. Also the Edna Lewis and Edna Lewis/Scott Peacock books are fantastic. James Villas is another good one, the one with his mother is a fun read. And the Junior League/church compilations are always useful. River Road and Talk About Good are two good Louisiana ones, as is Charleston Receipts.


Abigail Blake

Sugar Apple: Posts from the Caribbean

http://www.abigailblake.com/sugarapple

"Sometimes spaghetti likes to be alone." Big Night

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I second the Bill Neal - Biscuits, Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie is my bible for Southern baking and desserts. Also the Edna Lewis and Edna Lewis/Scott Peacock books are fantastic. James Villas is another good one, the one with his mother is a fun read. And the Junior League/church compilations are always useful. River Road and Talk About Good are two good Louisiana ones, as is Charleston Receipts.

I'd almost be willing to bet that there's no such thing as a long-time southern cook that doesn't own a copy of River Road Recipes.

At least, I don't think I've ever met one.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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For most of the best southern food I experienced, even in restaurants, the cook had no idea whatsoever what the recipe would be. "This is just how I make it" was a common answer to my questions. Even when I could get a recipe, it usually involved measurements like "a little..." and cooking times like "'til it's done". Once I was looking over some collard greens in a farmer's market and asking the seller a few questions when an older lady who was also looking through them leaned towards me, winked and said "once they're cooked put them in a hot iron skillet with a little bacon grease and a pinch of sugar to finish them off". I did. Best collard greens I've ever had. I think there may be more versions of cornbread in the south than there are Eskimo words for snow, most of them are tasty. My preference is dense, a little moist and not sweet on the inside, crispy on the outside. Biscuits are an artform in the south. No recipe can do more than point you in the right direction, it's entirely a touch thing. Okay, I realize this isn't all that helpful so I'll stop now.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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For most of the best southern food I experienced, even in restaurants, the cook had no idea whatsoever what the recipe would be. "This is just how I make it" was a common answer to my questions. Even when I could get a recipe, it usually involved measurements like "a little..." and cooking times like "'til it's done". Once I was looking over some collard greens in a farmer's market and asking the seller a few questions when an older lady who was also looking through them leaned towards me, winked and said "once they're cooked put them in a hot iron skillet with a little bacon grease and a pinch of sugar to finish them off". I did. Best collard greens I've ever had. I think there may be more versions of cornbread in the south than there are Eskimo words for snow, most of them are tasty. My preference is dense, a little moist and not sweet on the inside, crispy on the outside. Biscuits are an artform in the south. No recipe can do more than point you in the right direction, it's entirely a touch thing. Okay, I realize this isn't all that helpful so I'll stop now.

Though I second the recipe-solicitation technique of shopping for classic southern ingredients in markets whose demographics support the odds of running into a seasoned cook who might be moved to drop hints on a newbie. :wink:

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I recently purchased Virginia Willis's Bon Appetit Y'Alland have enjoyed it tremendously. Many of the recipes are the same/similar to how I've been doing it for years. But, I've found a few new goodies. Her recipe for Shrimp and Grits is one of those where the sum is much greater than the parts.

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"Good Grits" by Jim Shirley of the Fish House in Pensacola, Florida is a fine little cookbook. His version of the obligatory shrimp and grits is masterful.

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I'd actually suggest "Claudia Sanders Dinner House Cookbook" for some rather traditional country cooking. It certainly isn't New Orleans style (although I definitely like both Cajun and Creole). It's not sophisticated, but that's the point. This is high fat, high carb food that grandma might have served for Sunday dinner. Butter, bacon, and salt are common. And yes, Claudia was the Colonel's wife.

Please keep in mind that "Southern Food" is really fairly diverse, with different styles in different areas. You should get several different answers, and each might give you a view of a different aspect of Southern food.

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