Sunday, April 8, 2012

Book Review: Farm Fresh Southern Cooking

Lately, I've had two interesting things happening in my cooking.  The first started about a year ago, when we joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with some of our tax refund, then in June Bountiful Baskets had its first location in Colorado Springs.  That means I have affordable produce -- and lots of it.  And some of it is things I've never really cooked before

The other thing is that thanks to internet recipe searches, I've started experimenting with Southern cooking.  I even managed to make edible grits.  The key seems to be using about twice as much butter as I think it needs.

When Farm Fresh Southern Cooking by Tammy Algood came up on Booksneeze as a review item, you bet I had to get it.  Just read the description from the publisher:
Is there anything better than a kitchen countertop spread with the spoils of a Saturday morning at the farmers’ market? Every trip yields some new assortment of old favorites and newfound treasures. One week, you’re tempted by the sun-warmed heirloom tomatoes and the Mason jars brimming with orange blossom honey. Another week, it’s the slabs of milky Havarti cheese and the Red Haven peaches heavy with juice, enticing you to spend just a little more than you planned. Kentucky pole beans, silky ears of sweet corn, and sacks of stone-ground buckwheat flour may find their way into your basket on another visit.
Whether you shop with a list or purely on impulse, you’ll always find the truest taste of home at the local farms, roadside stands, and produce markets in your community. These are the places that offer up the native flavors of the South and all its seasons. They are your portal to the fields, the waters, and the vines where your food is cultivated. Get to know the origins of what you eat and the people who produce it. Tammy Algood’s Farm Fresh Southern Cooking celebrates this experience with delicious recipes that will enhance the natural flavors of your latest market haul and stories of the South’s most dedicated growers and culinary producers.
Oh, yeah.  Sounds idyllic.

My response once the book arrived was a bit mixed.  There is an interesting blend of fancy dishes and the practical types I was looking for.

Recipes like Roasted Corn and Lobster Cakes sound yummy, but totally impractical.  I expected lots of catfish, crayfish and even shrimp recipes (and in Colorado, prices on those are high too) but I didn't expect lobster and crab.  Some of the recipes feature other farmer's market ingredients such as fancy cheeses, or lamb.  None of those are likely to work for my budget.

However, I love the fact that there are multiple recipes that use eggplant (6), figs (2), turnips (3), and sweet potatoes (5).   I found myself marking quite a few of the recipes for me to try out when I do get a basket containing these items.

The recipes I worked though all listed all of the ingredients in the order I needed them, and the instructions were clear and easy to follow.  The recipes are a bit too "chatty" when you are actually using them, but the chat also pulled me in to try out some things I wouldn't normally go for.

Another great aspect of this book is that she also highlights some farms and other producers from throughout the South, including contact information.  So, the contact information doesn't do much for me... but it was interesting to read about a crawfish farm, orchards, and a peanut shack, among other places. 

This is a keeper, in spite of a few frou-frou recipes.

Disclaimer: As a Booksneeze Blogger, I did receive this book for free from Thomas Nelson. No other compensation was received. For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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