Pantry Es­sen­tials and Down-home Recipes

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight -

Ash­ley English, Johnny Autry (Pho­tog­ra­pher), Roost Books (APRIL) Hard­cover $35 (256pp), 978-1-61180-331-0

Draw­ing from her Ap­palachian roots and de­grees in nu­tri­tion, Ash­ley English’s South­ern from Scratch shows how to stock your kitchen with whole-food good­ness, from sweet treats in the freezer to sparkling jars of home-canned pick­les.

Once an ad­vo­cate of a low-fat, veg­e­tar­ian diet, English evolved a sea­sonal, slow-foods ap­proach that in­cludes meat but es­chews pro­cessed prod­ucts, just like her Nanny and Ma­maw did.

Ac­cented with at­mo­spheric color pho­to­graphs, the cook­book lays out fifty base recipes for pre­serves, home­made ap­ple cider vine­gar, dairy prod­ucts, and plenty of tempt­ing desserts that rely on nat­u­ral sweet­en­ers for “a kiss of sweet­ness, in­stead of a smack up­side the head.”

Recipes are pref­aced with homey, of­ten hu­mor­ous in­tro­duc­tions that re­call fam­ily lore, South­ern culi­nary his­tory, or trea­sured kitchen mem­o­ries. English has a light, down-to-earth writ­ing style that makes the idea of whip­ping up a batch of pies or home-cur­ing a side of ba­con seem like a snap. Sev­eral ideas for us­ing recipes are in­cluded, so after those jars of Pick­led Okra are cooled you can chop them into sal­ads, crown Pecan Coins slathered in Pi­mento Cheese with them for a quick canape, or use them as stir­rers for Spicy Bloody Marys.

Many recipes are whole-food im­prove­ments of South­ern icons like hush pup­pies and sonkers, a North Carolina fruit-cob­bler cousin. English’s recipe for am­brosia is a par­tic­u­larly wel­come re­it­er­a­tion of this usu­ally cloy­ing dessert, uti­liz­ing a com­bi­na­tion of fresh fruit chunks, home­made sour cream, lemon ver­bena, and co­conut. Oth­ers recipes show off her cre­ativ­ity, as in Brus­sels Sprouts Salad en­robed in Ap­ple But­ter Vinai­grette.

This vol­ume is an in­spir­ing re­source for home­stead­ers, but even ur­ban­ites will like the ideas for putting up sea­sonal abun­dance, South­ern style. This book is full of tempt­ing foods that will have you reach­ing for your wooden spoon, cast-iron skil­let, and claw ham­mer (for knock­ing to­gether an­other pantry) all at once.

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