As schoolchildren, the term “summer reading list” forced a groan or rolling of eyes. It was something you had to do. As adults, some quiet time while on vacation or an unscheduled summer afternoon can make us run to the bookshelf to dig out something we can immerse ourselves in for a few cherished hours.
Our summer reading list is filled with food, of course. Southern food and more specifically, Southern farmers’ market food. So whether you’re ready to visit with an author who is like an old friend, or you want to experiment with a new author whose recipes challenge and inspire you, we’ve got you covered.
Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen Soulful, Traditional, Seasonal By Sara Foster
Sara Foster is the owner of Foster’s Market, an acclaimed gourmet take-out store/cafe in North Carolina. She’s authored several cookbooks, but her latest is chock full of Southern staples and seasonal standouts. Interspersed with restaurant stories from all over the South, Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen is part cookbook and part vacation guide. It’s a great way to visit the culinary stalwarts of Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, and both of the Carolinas without ever leaving Memphis.
You have to love a book that’s heavy on pickle recipes (or at least we love it). And a whole chapter dedicated to grits and rice doesn’t hurt either. With a photo for almost every dish, the recipes are simple but promise to be stunning — for a picnic, party, or just a dinner with family and friends.
Cooking in the Moment A Year of Seasonal Recipes By Andrea Reusing
Hailing from North Carolina, Andrea Reusing’s new cookbook is Southern and seasonal with an Asian flair. Sure, she’s got a pot roast recipe, but you’ll also find a pot-on-fire, curried beets, and clay-pot chicken in fig leaves. We’ve got a long list of “have-to-try recipes” from this book — like kale panini sandwiches, pickled pumpkin, and honey frozen custard with honeycomb candy. Organized by season, Andrea incorporates some of the not-so-familiar ingredients — like fresh chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, junk fish, and watercress. Cooking in the Moment includes a fantastic repertoire of recipes to enjoy and impress.
The New Southern Garden Cookbook Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands & CSA Boxes By Sheri Castle
With more than 300 seasonal recipes, Sheri’s new cookbook is a tome for gardeners and foodies alike. Even though it’s probably applicable for the entire year, this cookbook is rooted in summer. Pepper, tomato, field bean and pea, cucumber, corn, and berry recipes abound. We’re anxious to try yellow squash muffins; shell bean, sun-dried tomato and smoked mozzarella salad (see how to smoke cheese on page 15), scallion and goat cheese muffins, okra fritters, and ginger-peach icebox cake. Whatever you may find at the markets this summer, Sheri’s got a recipe for you.
Tomatoland How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit By Barry Estabrook
This isn’t a light cookbook; this is your summer homework. The story starts with Mr. Estabrook, an investigative journalist, traveling behind a truck with what seem to be Granny Smith apples. When some of the fruit flies off the truck, it turns out that the apples are tomatoes. Despite the drop at 60 mph, most remain unscathed. The story continues with Barry’s investigation into the industrial tomato, bred for shipability, not flavor or nutrition. The book is filled with facts and stats, but is approachable. Beware. After reading Tomatoland, you’re going to have a rough time looking at tomatoes in the same way ever again.
Canning for a New Generation Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry By Liana Krissoff
As a big fan of the Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving, I have often felt I didn’t need any other canning books. However, this new book includes, not only the recipes for what to put in the jar, but also recipes for using what’s in the jar. Genius. Cocktails and cookies, chicken and tempura, Canning for a New Generation is a condiment-lover’s dream come true. We’re not just talking ketchup and pickles here (although there are recipes for both) — this very well could be the new bible for sauces and pies, chutneys, chips and jellies.
Keeping Chickens All You Need to Know to Care for a Happy, Healthy Flock By Ashley English
If you enjoyed the article on Kristen Keegan’s chickens (see page 24) and are ready to delve into your own urban flock, this is the book you need. An installment in the Homemade Living Series, this book includes everything from how to build a coop, to how to deal with “fertilizer,” plus a few recipes and egg-dying instructions. For the detail-oriented among us, there are checklists, resources, a glossary, lots of sidebars, and do’s and don’ts. While the Memphis chicken-keeping community is growing and there are plenty of people to ask questions of, Keeping Chickens is a nice resource to read before you take the plunge.
The Edible Front Yard The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden By Ivette Soler
Once you see how gorgeous some of these edible plants are, you’ll wonder why you bother with a lawn at all. There’s no reason your front yard cannot be beautiful and useful all at the same time. From assessment to planning, to designs and plant descriptions, this book will walk you through all of the steps needed to transform your front (or back) yard into an oasis of climate-appropriate, edible plants. It’s not specific to the South, so a little cross referencing might be in order. But the foundation for inspiration is all contained in a mere 200 pages.
A Southerly Course By Martha Hall Foose
This Greenwood, Mississippi favorite strikes again with lovely stories interspersed with unique recipes. If you loved Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, you need to add A Southerly Course to your bookshelf. In addition to being a chef, Martha has a storytelling style that only someone from the Delta can boast. You can feel the summer swelter, hear the kids in the background, and, darn, you are going to wish you were actually at the table. Martha will be cooking at Restaurant Iris for one of Chef Kelly English’s sell-out-before-they-are-even- announced brunches in September. Visit www.restaurantiris.com for information.
OTHER EDIBLE MEMPHIS RECOMMENDATIONS:
The New Southern-Latino Table By Sandra A. Gutierrez
The Latino table meets the American South. Squash and chile cake with cayenne and Ancho chile icing tops the list of recipes to try.
Homemade Soda By Andrew Schloss
Until we get a local soda maker, here are 200 recipes for making and using your own soda. Coca Cola® and Pepsi® are so over.
Super Natural Every Day By Heidi Swanson
Author of the popular blog, 101 cookbooks, Heidi’s new book is filled with healthy, simple and delicious recipes.
Your Farm in the City By Lisa Taylor
This is a beautifully designed resource for growing food and raising animals (chickens, bees and livestock) in and around an urban setting.
Breadmaking By Lauren Chattman
A nice guide for overcoming your fear of yeast dough.