Cookbooks, Cooking, Cooks, and Gifts

 Measuring leavening for biscuits, photo by Geoff Maddock

Measuring leavening for biscuits, photo by Geoff Maddock

Sunday, December 11, from 1 - 3 PM, I will join three cookbook authors for a book signing at Windy Corner Market, complete with hot chocolate, hot cider, and (I'm guessing) warmed-just-right music from the Bluegrass Dulcimer Club. Those of you who have read Sweet, Sweet Sorghum, my new book, may wonder why a small picture-rich volume of sorghum lore that includes eight recipes gains me entry to an event headlined by three acclaimed cooks and cookbook authors. I'm with you. The answer is "The goodness of Ouita Michel," and that's beyond our understanding.

I will say that the eight recipes in Sweet, Sweet Sorghum are good ones, and that cookbooks are good tools, and that tools make good gifts, and that cooking, especially together, makes good holidays. And I will say that the three cookbooks my fellow book signers produced can add a lot to your kitchen.

I have lusted after Maggie Green's book, The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook, since it first came out, and have it on my holiday wish list. I have spent some quality time with this book in a bookstore—sitting down, getting lost, not getting up for so long Morris Book Shop should have charged me rent. Maggie's book is a delight and a solid resource for anyone doing real cooking with Kentucky ingredients. Maggie organized more than 200 recipes by the month their major ingredients are in season in Kentucky. Having spent four years completing a small book that includes eight recipes, I am in awe. And there's more, including a detailed resource list, many tips, good stories, and special holiday offerings. The Kentucky Fresh Cookbook is a new Kentucky classic.

I borrowed Mary Parlanti's From the Kitchen of Mary Parlanti, With Lovefrom the Lexington Public Library and felt like a voyeur as I read her clear, straightforward recipes and instructions for dishes that lots of us thought only an accomplished chef like Mary could make. She dishes! Potato salad, ham salad, sausage cheese grits, many sweets, lots of Italian specialties. With Mary's recipes, you can make the food that drew people for decades to wherever she was cooking.

Barbara Napier runs Snug Hollow Farm Bed & Breakfast, one of the most wonderful places I have ever visited. It's about 90 minutes from Lexington, not terribly far from Berea. Barbara cooks celebrated vegetarian meals for her guests. Two years ago she shared many of her favorite recipes in Snug Hollow Farm Cookbook: Hot Food and Warm Memories, widely available locally, and available online from her website, among other options. Blackberry shortcake, corn fritters, homemade tomato soup, Barbara's sister Brenda's butterscotch pie. Yes, I own this book, and made a little contribution to it. Since I first met her nine years ago, I have admired Barbara's astounding energy and how she uses it for good, for warmth, for hospitality, for fun. I want her to live long and prosper even more.

So come see us Sunday afternoon, if you are in central Kentucky. If not, visit us online.

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Photo Credit: Geoff Maddock Photography. Thank you!

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