You know it’s a Southern slow cooker book when recipes may call for the ingredients to be first kissed by a cast-iron skillet. Heirloom and well-loved vegetables, such as pole beans and sweet potatoes and kale, are a part of the package, along with Smokey Navy Bean Soup (with cornbread), Creamy Cheese Grits, Shrimp Creole, and Carolina-style BBQ—its sauce from scratch, not a bottle.
I'm not a great cook, and I don't have a lot of time to cook. But I love, love, love browsing cookbooks! Here are some of our recently acquired cookbooks that have the one thing I require: great photos. I may never make any of the recipes, but, thanks to these cookbook authors and their photographers, I've spent quality time salivating over the photos.
In honor of American Craft Beer Week (May 11-18), raise a pint at one our area’s local breweries, enjoy a draft in your favorite pub or tavern, or just pick up a six-pack to take home. Beer and pizza, beer and good times with friends, beer and backyard barbeques—there are virtually no wrong ways to enjoy a brew. Just don’t overdo it! Be sure to imbibe responsibly.
When author Ashley Rodriguez and her husband realized that most of their evenings at home were spent either staring at the computer or TV screens, eating different versions of takeout, and nonstop child-rearing, they decided to mix up the normal routine with a once-a-week date night for themselves. Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Renew Your Relationship contains delightful and romantic recipes that you and your significant other can create together, carving out that alone time to cook, talk, and rekindle an intimate relationship.
One of the food trends with the strongest staying power has to be vegetarianism, or at least dishes that are unabashed in their embrace of vegetables, grains, and fruits. Before “Farm to Table” was a thing, we still had farmers’ markets, and cooks would take advantage of them and their own backyard gardens to serve meals with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Inexpensive, protein-rich, and easily cooked: the egg. The egg has been one of the most valuable foodstuffs since the Prehistoric Age. Bird eggs have been used and consumed wherever birds (mostly chickens) are domesticated. “Scrambled eggs” originated in 17th-century France. They pair well with acidic fruit juices, and “dried eggs” first developed during the 19th century and were used predominantly for soldiers in World War II. Why are they so popular? Eggs work in both sweet and savory meals, including many baked goods such as cakes and pies.
Want to make a lovely hostess gift or start a delightful family tradition? Gorgeously photographed and utterly useful, Alison Walker’s Handmade Gifts from the Kitchen has recipes that are both elegant and inspired. You can make your own Candy Canes, Marzipan, Baklava, and Cherry & Almond Biscotti. Or, go British with Turkish Delight (shades of C.S. Lewis), Rose Creams, Vanilla Caramels, and Tiffin.
Fried chicken. Cornbread. Sunday morning bacon. Apple Brown Betty. All of these delicious, home-cooked foods traditionally come out of a cast-iron skillet. At my house, we have three or four of them that have been passed down through generations. While Ellen Brown’s New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook has takes on these basic things, it opens a wider range of flavors and techniques from around the country and around the world.
Looking for new ideas for weeknight dinners? Check out Weeknight Wonders: Delicious Healthy dinners in 30 Minutes or Less, by Ellie Krieger.
Glorious fruit and vegetables are a hallmark of harvests, but what do you do when you want to preserve the tastes for other times? Traditionally, the answer was to “put up” or preserve these wonderful things for later, sometimes combining them creatively and adding spices. A day of canning meant piles of produce, dozens of jars, and steam filling the kitchen for hours—usually on a hot summer day. Marisa McClellan’s Preserving by the Pint presents a different way to do this wonderful, traditional cooking without such a huge commitment of time and storage space.