Most helpful positive review
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
You'll have it well-worn and dog-eared in no time!
on September 23, 2012
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.