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Dori Sanders' Country Cooking
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Narrative and cookery blend delightfully in this mix of recollection and old-fashioned family cooking. Sanders, a novelist (Clover) and grower of peaches, gives her readers a taste of her childhood, growing up with her family on one of the oldest black-owned farms in upstate South Carolina. Some chapters focus on a single ingredient, e.g., corn, peaches or ``Wild Spring Greens''; others center around the foods served at country events, from ``Family Reunions'' to ``Hog-killing Time.'' With the help of Willoughby, senior editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine and coauthor, with Chris Schlesinger, of The Thrill of the Grill, Sanders provides recipes for food as simple as Skillet Crackling Bread or as sweet as Pecan Pie with Black Walnut Crust. Such recipes as Pickled Pig Lips serve more as curiosities than cuisine, while others, like Yankee Okra (with basil, garlic and olive oil) have been adapted for Northern tastes: ``Serves 4 to 6 Northerners or 2 Southerners.'' The heart here is in Sanders's memories: the introduction to ``Box Suppers'' describes the set menu prepared by single women for the boxes: ``four pieces of fried chicken, four biscuits or rolls, two pieces of pie, and two slices of cake.'' Recipes, from Buttermilk Southern Fried Chicken to Sweet Potato Custard Pie in Orange Crust, provided. 50,000 first printing; 25-city author tour. (Nov.)

Each of these authors offers a different perspective on Southern cooking, but all are determined to clear up some misconceptions about the food that is their heritage. And although little has been written until now about the African contribution to Southern cooking, these books make apparent the tremendous effect of slave cooks on the food of the South. Fowler, an architect-turned-food writer and cooking teacher, went back to the "golden age" of Southern cooking to refute those myths about pork fat and overcooked vegetables. The authors of four cookbooks published in the mid-1800s became his main resources, and with those women as guides, he has written an authoritative and fascinating cookbook and culinary history. Most of his recipes come from early cookbooks, with generous excerpts from their texts; all have been adapted if necessary for modern kitchens: Celery Bisque with Oysters, Fresh Pork with Sage, Annabella Hill's Stewed Tomatoes. Fowler has strong opinions but a sense of humor as well, and his narrative is absorbing; his cookbook/ reference is highly recommended. Novelist Sanders (Her Own Place, LJ 3/15/93) was raised on one of the oldest black-owned farms in South Carolina, near where she and some of her nine brothers and sisters run their farm and now-famous farmstand. Her homey recipes‘e.g., Fresh Corn and Tomato Stew, Cantaloupe Peach Conserve‘are organized around family stories and events. Sanders has a sly sense of humor, and her observations make engrossing reading. Recommended for most collections. Low-fat soul food may sound like a contradiction in terms, but Carter, a journalist who writes about health, shows there's more to the cooking she grew up on than cream gravies and bacon grease. She includes many recipes from her great-grandmother and grandfather, two of her greatest culinary influences, along with her mother and grandmother‘Codfish Cakes, Cucumbers in Peppered Vinegar, Old-Fashioned Biscuits‘as well as other Southern specialties and her own more upscale creations. She has lightened some traditional dishes, and while some may prefer to stick to the real thing, there are still lots of good recipes here. For most collections.

"Full of warm-hearted reminiscences and hearty, satisfying recipes."

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