Posted by Tara on Saturday, January 14th, 2012
Thinking back, I do not recall my mother owning a single cookbook when I was very young. Her treasures were scrawled on oddly shaped bits of paper. Her muffin recipe was scratched on a note size orange paper with a smiley face. Sometimes a recipe was simply torn out of the newspaper. Some recipes were “mimeographed” at school and distributed to teachers – purple print on 8×11 paper. Family gatherings were large and a hit recipe might be written on the back side of a used envelope. And many times with Mom, the recipe was simply “in her head.” I remember being 6 years old, and thrilled to be at the counter learning to bake brownies (from scratch of course). Mom had baked enough brownies she didn’t have to look at a reicpe. It did not take me long to memorize her recipe. And yes it is still with me today.
Fast forward 40 years, and I honestly get overwhelmed with all the information on recipes available to me. I have more cookbooks than I have shelves in the kitchen to place. I’ve saved oodles of magazines. I’ve got 2-3 recipe boxes with hundreds of filled cards (I said filled, not filed , and then there are the cooking shows and the cooking blogs, and the facebook pages, and let’s not leave out PINTEREST!
But often the most treasured recipes are traditional southern favorites. I wanted to share some of my favorite cookbooks with you. I’m pretty sure some of these won’t even be available for purchasing but they contain recipes created and shared by people here in my own home town or state. Someday I hope to see my own cookbook in print so I won’t have to drag my laptop to the kitchen and log onto this site to recall how to make a favorite. But at least I have the following cookbooks at my fingertips in my cookbook shelves in the kitchen.
Before anyone ever heard of Paula Deen here in the south, there was Miss Daisy King. Oh how I love her recipes. I would have to say that she is my GO TO gal for the best authentic southern recipes. I can count on her recipes to always turn out to please a crowd. She’s been called the First Lady of Southern food, a title she certainly deserves. My all time favorite cookbook is Miss Daisy Celebrates Tennessee.
My #2 favorite cookbook is an another one by Miss Daisy King – The Tennessee Homecoming Cookbook. Miss King traveled the state collecting the best of the best recipes from southern cooks and compiled this cookbook in the 80’s. It was given to me as a wedding gift and I treasure it. It contains favorites of mine like Carrot Cake, Prune Cake, Hoppin’ John, and Hash Brown Casserole.
#3 on my list is this gem Friendly Fixin’s from Friendship – printed on a TYPEWRITER in the late 70’s by Friendship Christian School where I happened to attend (and also met the man I would later marry). I believe these cookbooks were put together and sold to raise money for the school. This copy was probably my mother’s copy since I would not have purchased one myself in 7th grade. But I’ve given it lots of love. And some of the contributors are still alive today. My mother-in-law was one of the typists and contributors. And some of the best cooks I know attended the church where I grew up and also contributed fabulous southern recipes.
#4 At the Table is another cookbook I treasure. My aunt Patricia complied this cookbook by herself. It has over 400 pages of southern recipes that originated across 4 generations of our family. My great grandmother’s recipe for Tea Cakes can be found in this book along with tips on how to cook a squirrel. Aunt Patricia has done a painstaking job recording how things were “done in the good ole’ days” like hand cranking ice cream, to sharing the best family recipes created in modern times. This gem is more than a cook book – its a cooking history book and I treasure it so much.
I have more books to share in a follow up post. Until then, please let us know what some of your treasure are in our comments section. Happy Cooking!