Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cookbook Corner: The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking

Two things happened over the weekend that resulted in me writing this cookbook review:
  1. Half Price Books (one of my favorite bookstores--and my absolute favorite place to buy used cookbooks) was having a Memorial Day sale, meaning everything was 20% off; and
  2. The Mister and I spent the majority of our evenings watching Seasons 1 and 2 of True Blood, the vampire-centric HBO series that takes place in Louisiana, meaning that each night we were transported to the South.
When I went to my local Half Price Books (HPB), I was looking for Mexican and Tex-Mex cookbooks, but was sidetracked by the shelf titled "Southern Cooking." I love regional cookbooks. When I go on vacation to a different state (or even a different part of WA state), I always try to pick up a local cookbook. I like bringing home recipes of places I visit. Since I've been immersed in Southern culture, I was more interested in the "Southern Cooking" collection at HPB than I would usually be.

The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking jumped off the shelf at me, and for about $5.00 I couldn't resist adding it to my collection.

What to expect: Over 600 recipes from the nice Southern town folk of Social Circle, GA. The recipes are divided into appetizers, beverages, jams and spreads, soups and salads, relishes and pickles, gravies and sauces, breads, side dishes, main dishes, desserts and sweets, and a kids section.

The book also has a lengthy introduction about the history of Blue Willow Inn and the town of Social Circle. Many local ladies added their favorite recipes (some are even award winners) and recipes that have been passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter over the generations.

A lot of the dishes are specials of the Blue Willow Inn, and the authors even provided sample menus that are used for special occasions (Christmas, Mother's Day, 4th of July, etc.) at the Inn.

There are not a lot of pictures, but that's just fine by me. A lot of culinary ground is covered in this book, and I for one would prefer tons of recipes over tons of glossy photos.

Best recipes: This is the kind of book you need to sit and go through more than once. I've been through it only one time so far, but I've made a lengthy list of dishes I want to try. I'm hoping to get my act together and whip up a big Southern dinner for the family soon. Here are some of the standouts on my preliminary list:
  • Vidalia Onion Spread, pg. 58
  • Sweet Potato Bread, pg. 150
  • Baked Corn, Chex, and Cheese, pg. 167
  • Orange-Pecan Glazed Chicken with Wild Rice, pg. 245
  • Triple Layer Brownies, pg. 275
I'm not including on my list all the many pies and confections that sound amazing. Chess pie, buttermilk pie, peanut butter pie, etc. are all included and are probably awesome. The book also includes mandatory recipes for Southern classics like fried chicken, ambrosia, grits, corn pudding, biscuits, squirrel, etc.

Complaints: None. Except I think the copy I picked up was once owned by a smoker. How do you get that smell out of a book?

Deliciousness Scale: 5 spoonfuls of yum out of 5.

Details: This review is based on the 2005 version of The Blue Willow Inn Bible of Southern Cooking by Louis and Billie Van Dyke; ISBN: 1-4016-0227-4.

1 comment:

Lynn said...

Hi! I love this cookbook - I read it at the bookstore and have debated buying it for a long time now. Good for all my southern dishes, like squirrel (no not really, but if they keep chewing up my bird feeders, well maybe)