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Fred Thompson's Southern Sides: 250 Dishes That Really Make the Plate
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
My, oh my; this is a great cookbook. You are going to love it! This guy--Fred--well, he's just masterful. He has not only lovingly perfected and given us his many favorites; he's done loads of research and has shared many treasures from all over the "South". I put that word in quotation marks because I use that term with some reservations for this book: I believe this cookbook covers more than just your usual southern offerings. Of course, all your favorite southern dishes are included, but there is a flare here that transcends the idea of "Southern". Just take a look inside at the Contents pages and you can get an idea of what I mean. I really wish you could read the inside flaps of the book jacket--it is superbly written and says so much about the compilation of recipes and Fred's take on the value of side dishes. It's hard to explain, but this is not just another presentation of southern cooking.

It's exciting just to read the recipe titles! Since it arrived in the mail, we've been creating evening meals around these recipes. I know I'll never again be at a loss for answering the question: What to serve with this?

As I turned page after page, there was nothing--nothing!--that did not interest me, (Some second thoughts are in an update at the bottom of this review.). That goes for my husband, too. I ordered it, but he got a hold of it before I did....He has a love of pimento cheese spread and made a batch of "Fred's Opinion on Pimento Cheese" before I got home from work. As I walked in the door, he presented me with a cracker loaded with the beautiful stuff. My husband also loves to bake biscuits and that evening he made a batch of Black-and-Blue Biscuits, with blue cheese, garlic and rosemary--excellent.

See the front cover? Below that picture of Fred, you'll see a wonderful pickled shrimp recipe. We've tried that recipe, too. The shrimp stay nice and firm and the onions crispy. We've also tried the Mustard Potatoes, a recipe in which the potatoes are cooked in mustard-spiked water. So easy! Today I made the Italian-Style White Beans, which is a variation on a much-loved recipe from an Italian country cookbook that I own. So, you see there's a great variety of recipes included.

I could go on and on, but I won't; because I don't want to spoil your fun as you discover these great recipes for yourself. We're just delving into the great stuff in this book, so if you have any questions, just ask. I'll be keeping an eagle-eye of this review.

This is by no means a Thanksgiving-themed cookbook, but--if you get this book in the next few weeks--you will definitely be presenting several of these dishes on your bountiful Thanksgiving table.

To sum up:
--The ingredients are not hard to find.
--The directions are concise and very easy to follow.
--The food is sophisticated and down-home at the same time--and its GOOD!
--There's a nice balance in the recipes between richness and healthiness, (and bacon fat is optional).
--Fred's writing ability is outstanding, personable and humorous; and there is an interesting tidbit or story and/or information at the head of each recipe. The recipes are really fun to read.
--There a great assortment of recipes--and plenty of them.
--The index is adequate.
--There's not a picture for each recipe, but there are plenty of full-color, decent photographs.

I don't know you Fred, but I sure wish I did! I like your style. I bet your family, friends and editors are proud of you and this book. Congrats!

UPDATE: Okay, it's days later and I've really scrutinized this cookbook. Here are some additional thoughts:
--You will find Velveeta and canned soups and beans in some of these recipes, but I don't consider them shortcuts, I don't think some Southern recipes can be done without these staples. With the canned beans, you always have the alternative of cooking them from scratch.
--There are some simple recipes here, too. So, if you are an experienced cook, you'll probably see some variations on dishes you've cooked before. If you are a new cook, these simpler recipes can easily become your base for creativity later.
--There are some ingredients you may not find easily--depends on where you live and your willingness to internet shop. There's a local grape, wild onions, a lot of specialty peas and soft, light flour for biscuits. Recipes needing hard-to-find ingredients are in a small minority. If you have a garden and grow from seed, you will actually consider the pea varieties to be very useful information.
--You'll like Fred a lot just glancing through pages. Once you really delve into the book, you'll like him even more.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 16, 2012
This book is a wonderful addition to any cookbook collection. I've even sent it to a friend in England who is enthusiastic about every recipe she has cooked. There are very good colour pictures for thee few recipes that have pictures of the finished dishes.
There is an introduction to southern side dishes and their ingredients and equipment to use. There are traditional recipes like cheese straws and some really different ones like sweet potato guacamole. Fred Thompson also tells a little about each dish. There are also very helpful sidebars such as telling how to remove corn from a cob and blanching vegetables. There are menus for various events and an index. The recipes are relatively simple, even for a beginning cook.

The book contains recipes on: appetizers, cool sides - such as pasta salads, slaws, pickles, dishes containing- tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, corn, okra and squash, potatoes, both sweet and white, root vegetables, greens, dried beans, shell beans, green beans, May peas and Petits Pois,, grits, cornmeal and flour, specials such as- candied butternut squash, asparagus tarts, and barbeque.

So many of these recipes were good, so far our favorites have been; old fashioned squash and onions, baked onions- made with potato chips, Pableaux's red beans and rice, and grits souffle. My friend from England has raved about; As close as I can get to Calhoun's Spinach Maria and the candied butternut squash.
This is a book many could use to add some interest to the side dishes for their meals.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2012
I collect cookbooks. I go to Goodwills, thrift stores, used book stores, etc. I have hundreds of cookbooks. I can tell you that this book will be one that i read and use over and over again. This book has so many tried and true southern sides in one place it literally could replace all the other books that i own. The recipes are easy to read and follow written in a nice large print. There are nice pictures, although not for every recipe. Also most of the recipes don't require expensive specialty ingredients that cost a fortune. This is the type of cookbook that i would actually buy and give as a gift to my friends.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2013
I checked this book out at the library and loved it. I am so happy to own it. Just the best recipes even if you aren't from the south. It arrived the day after my order. Thanks.
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on August 4, 2013
I tried the recipe for Cherry Salad with Southern Cola and it never gelled. It obviously called for too much liquid. Help!
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on July 21, 2013
Beautiful book but I was expecting more recipes on the order of those in the first part. Too many seem complicated for a lazy cook.
The Foreword on products and ingredients is useful. Still glad I own it.
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on March 24, 2013
Thompson knows his southern cooking and his narrative was so genuine I got homesick. If you are looking to make some southern dishes the real way, Thompson will guide you to perfection.
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on December 6, 2014
Whenever I cook with Chef Thompson's recipes, I feel a little closer to my Southern heritage.
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on July 3, 2014
Some of the best sides ever...not enough days in a week to make them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2014
This cookbook has fabulous recipes, and the writer also includes interesting stories or notes with each one. For me, the cookbook was a culinary walk down memory lane for my Southern roots. I've already made the Sweet Potato biscuits, which were great, and have quite a few more that I hope to make.
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