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My Mother's Southern Kitchen: Recipes and Reminiscences Paperback – Oct 19 1994


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Gr Macmillan Publishing (Oct. 19 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0026220156
  • ISBN-13: 978-0026220156
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 19.3 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 862 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,098,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
Jim Villas is one of our better cookbook and culinary memoir writers, while remaining a throwback to the likes of James Beard and Craig Claiborne. His affinity to Claiborne is especially strong, as both are unreconstituted Bourbon drinking Southerners who live(d) on Eastern Long Island and wrote for the 'Eastern Establishment' publishing powers. Villas' special talent seems to be in recapturing what is most familiar and most comfortable about food for Americans. This is certainly true of his most recent cookbooks 'Crazy for Casseroles' and 'Biscuit Bliss'. His most recent collection of culinary essays and opinions 'Stalking the Green Fairy' brings out this orientation in well written essays, but no book represents his culinary roots and inclinations quite as well as this book, cowritten with his mother.
On the face of it, this book would seem to be a transcription of mother Martha Pearl's little black recipe book into a form which William Morrow can publish and we can read and effectively translate into reproductions of Mrs. Villas favorite dishes. The back story of the book seems to be much more complicated than this, as Mrs. Villas' written recipes were sketchy, poorly handwritten, and done only as an aide d'memoire for someone who cooked almost entirely by experience, and look and feel, just like every other traditional southern cook whose praxis has been memorialized in writing. Thus, Villas had to do anthropology by observing his mother at work and doing his best to estimate amounts from quantities doled out by hand and eye. This too was made difficult by an entirely familiar friendly antagonism between mother and son in the kitchen.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're someone who consantly worries about gaining weight, measures all your food, and consistantly checks the labels of food for caloric and fat units, this cookbook will be the temptation you must resist. This is OLD SCHOOL cooking; food fried in 6 inches of animal fat, lard or similar. TONS of butter, biscuits, gravy and grits.
According to Villas, "the Southern day begins with a hearty breakfast" such as Ham with Red-Eye gravy, fresh country sausage, crusty Green Tomatoes, and Real Grits (recipes for each are found within, of course). Villas's Mother, Martha Pearl, has combined backgrounds from the Greek and Swedish heritage both families share and adds her own special Southern touch to create fabulous luncheons for bridge clubs, church bazzares and charity get-togethers. My favorite is a lovely recipe for Lemon Tea Bread- light and rich all at once, it's a perfect bread for a light tea, or, as I often do, to bring to a get together when a dessert is requested (never fails to draw "oooh's" and "ahhh's"). From her homemade Macaroni and Cheese to an impressive recipe for Shrimp Bisque, you'll find this cookbook is a great investment. I love the way Martha Pearl watches all her family members, her children included, as they embark on trial recipes of their own- she then adopts these recipes herself, but adds her own little touch (Villas lovingly included Martha's recipe cards and notes- such a personal touch!). Still, she always gives credit to whom it is due. The hallmark of a truly great cook!
These are not recipes, however, that one can consume on a regular basis. Almost every recipe calls for either butter, cheese, heavy cream, lard, bacon and/or bacon grease, sausage, etc.
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Format: Hardcover
I have spent hours since this book arrived last week just trying to decide which dishes to make first. I ended up making a "Southern" dinner for my Wisconsin mate using the Calabash Cole Slaw and "Brown Paper Bag" BBQ Chicken (I used a Reynolds Hot Bag, thank you!) from this book and Cheddar Cheese Grits from Martha Phelps Stamps' "New Southern Basics" (ISBN # 1581822413 -- another excellent Southern cookbook). It was a big hit and nothing was wasted (next day: grits with breakfast, cole slaw and chicken for lunch!).
As a bonus you get the story behind many of the recipes and running commentary from Villas' mother on many of the recipes. It is clearly a give-and-take mother and son relationship when he says his mother drives him crazy over this or that ingredient and she implies that his version of the family recipe is a little "uppity". She says Jimmy makes his hush puppies with yellow corn meal, but she prefers white. It is both bitchy and sweet at the same time!
I already have my next meal planned from this wonderful book and can recommend it for the cole slaw and BBQ chicken recipes alone - not to mention the lively stories and commentary. Enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the cookbook I can pull out and count on to produce a wonderful dish every single time. I haven't come across a dud yet. Martha Pearl is delightful (and yes I AM hinting for a dinner invitation) and so are her recipes. The macaroni and cheese is a family favorite that already has stains on the page because I make it so often. The pecan coffee cake is another recipe I have made many times and always get compliments on. I live near Charlotte and keep hoping to run into Jimmy and Martha Pearl picking over the Silver Queen corn at the farmer's market. I would unabashedly tell her what a devoted fan she has made of this transplanted Yankee.
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