The Gift of Southern Cooking by Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis PDF Print E-mail
In the Library


The moment I spied a review on The Gift of Southern Cooking, I longed to find it and share it with Jon, not because we need another cookbook, or even that this one seemed to contain spectacular pictures of extraordinary recipes, but because Jon was born in the South and loves stories about tender alliances. Therefore, I knew Jon would like the story behind the friendship that arose between two Southern chefs—a young man from Alabama and an experienced elderly woman from Virginia. And when I read the introduction and all the personal stories before each recipe, I was certain that Jon would greatly appreciate this book.

      When Jon came home from work, I read to him the endearing introduction about Scott Peacock’s sweet friendship with Miss Edna Lewis and many of the personal notes before the recipes. Then I let Jon have the book to read more about the relationship between these two people and the history and culinary notes before the recipes. As I suspected, it was not long before Jon said that he wanted for us to have a copy of this cookbook. Again, not so much for the recipes (as most of them were very simple and many I already have made), but more for the history of the South’s cooking and for the endearing little notes that preceded each recipe, making the book seem so personal that it was as if a family member or friend were writing to us. So this will be an addition to our bookshelf, a gift from me to Jon, not only for feeding his soul, but for feeding his body as well.

      This book is a work of love on the part of these two Southern chefs as they have compiled recipes shaped by their family traditions “where skilled home cooking was admired and expected daily,” by their cultural and culinary heritage, by their friendship, and by the bountiful supply of fresh produce that their climate provided.

      In many ways, the recipes are just slight variations of ones that I have already created myself—okra pancakes, blackberry cobbler, pan fried chicken, corn bread, crab cakes, country ham, black eyed peas, buttermilk biscuits…. Most are very simply created with the fresh ingredients so readily available in the South. Yet their personal touch of history and love of simple cooking drew us both towards reading on and on within its many pages of dishes. So for the next two weeks, we enjoyed the tastes of Southern cooking with Edna and Scott.

      The following are recipes we really enjoyed, with a few we hope to make soon: chutney, chow chow, red pepper catsup, crusty buttermilk biscuits, orange marmalade layer cake, pound cake lemon butter, roast turkey with cornbread pecan dressing, lemon chess pie, rhubarb tart with rich custard sauce, hush puppies, sweet potato casserole, braised beef short ribs, baked pork chops with cranberries, bay-studded pork shoulder with sauce of wild mushrooms, Smithfield ham baked with Madeira, tomato-field pea salad with garlic mayonnaise, old fashioned coleslaw, fresh soft shell crab with brown butter and capers, she crab soup, homemade mayonnaise, oyster stew, and old-fashioned dressing. Let me just stop and say that although I thought that most of these recipes would be similar to ones that I had already prepared, I was delighted to add many of these delicious recipes to our family cookbook.

      Jon’s mother is a true Southerner whose grandmother Mammie made “poke” chops instead of our Yankee “pork” chops, so when she spent the weekend with us recently, Jon read to us the stories behind the recipes along with interesting information about authentic Southern hams, field peas, oysters, cane syrup, cornmeal for cornbread, cakewalks, rendering lard, and so much more. It was all so interesting and enjoyable that at midnight when Jon said it was time for bed, I was still begging for more.

      Be sure to check this book out from the library and enjoy reading about true Southern cooking. Even if you are a Yankee like me, you will still greatly enjoy the wonderful stories and the delicious recipes these two chefs share. Y