From Publishers Weekly
In this collection of pleasant enough recipes, Jackson (The Cornbread Book
) takes one of our most enduring leisure activities and complicates it absurdly. His aggressively quirky introduction starts with the observation that any food eaten outside will taste better than when eaten indoors. Fair enough, but doesn't that make a book of specially devised picnic foods counterintuitive? Jackson goes on to recommend concoctions like Sekanjabin, a Mideastern sweet and sour drink made with vinegar and mint, and Crepes Stuffed with Chard, Feta, Pine Nuts, and Golden Raisins. Neither would fare well when stashed in a knapsack slung over the shoulder as one heads into the great outdoors. Many of these dishes are meant to be served warm, like Cornsommé, a soup made of a single shallot, three ears of corn and a few thyme sprigs, to be transported in a thermos. Make Your Own Spring Rolls (with Two Sauces) aka "Choose Your Own Adventure Spring Rolls" aren't only a mouthful to pronounce, but require assembling small, separate bowls of 10 different ingredients. Even the appealingly seasonal Chunky Summer Salad with Peaches, Tomatoes, and Farmer Cheese is better if tossed together on-site, Jackson admits. The recipes are all competent, and some sound delicious, but they're never going to replace potato salad and fried chicken. Photos. (May 3)
About the Author
Jeremy Jackson is the author of The Cornbread Book, the first cookbook devoted solely to America's bread of breads. A graduate of Vassar College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Jeremy has written about food for the Chicago Tribune and is also the author of two novels, Life at These Speeds and In Summer. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.In His Own Words. . .
Though I was born in Ohio, I grew up with my family on a farm in the Ozark borderlands of Missouri. We raised cattle and hay and had a garden the size of Texas. At various times we had horses, cattle, a pig, sheep, chickens, ducks, and a pony. We ate a lot of these animals, but not the pony. We also had wild blackberries and persimmons and walnuts on our farm. And a pear tree. And we caught fish in our ponds. We ate some of them, too.
For some crazy reason, I headed off to Vassar College, thinking that I would become a writer. Unfortunately, I did. It was all downhill from there, though the sex was good. From Vassar I went straight into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where I wrote brilliant stories about bunnies, marbles, and a talking mailbox named Ruth. Then I spent a year writing a novel and a screenplay. Then I went and taught English back at Vassar for two years. Being a professor was a mind-numbing experience, though the sex was good. I quit that job and started being a writer full time, which was very much like being a writer part time except that it took a lot more time and I felt much more guilty when I didn’t write anything. I moved from Poughkeepsie back to Iowa, which is kind of like moving from the outer circles of hell to the Garden of Eden. I bought a house here. It's a nice Craftsman-style bungalow. Plus there's a sauna.
In addition to The Cornbread Book, I'm the author of Life at These Speeds, a literary novel. There isn't any cornbread in the novel. Right now I'm writing a second novel. And my next cookbook, Desserts That Have Killed Better Men Than Me, is already on the way. There isn't any cornbread in it, either, mostly just butter and heavy cream.