“Add a Pinch: Easier, Faster, Fresher Southern Classics” by Robyn Stone, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, $25, 240 pages, hardcover
Fans of Robyn Stone’s Add a Pinch blog — and it gets more than 2 million unique viewers per month — will love her first cookbook. “Add a Pinch: Easier, Faster, Fresher Southern Classics” will especially appeal to the young home cook looking for ways to cut down on the time it takes to prepare Southern dishes.
In the book’s foreword, Ree Drummond calls the cookbook “a perfect reflection” of Stone’s “love and appreciation for the significance of food in a person’s life. It’s also very clear that she cooks in the real world, for real people in a real family.”
Stone grew up on a farm near the little town of Bowdon, Georgia, where she learned to cook the favorite recipes of her mother, grandmother and aunts. She says her blog began when she realized she wanted to preserve family recipes and the new recipes she was trying out. But, she writes, “The real reason I jumped so wholeheartedly into blogging is that I love cooking, and I love sharing what I make with those I love.”
Her cookbook brings together many of those recipes, “but makes them simpler or more modern — versions of the classics that meet the varied lifestyles and needs of today’s families,” she writes. For example, she tends to oven-fry instead of deep-fry foods, decreases sugar if she can, and limits high-fat foods like heavy cream.
Each of the 100 recipes features helpful suggestion guides, such as "leftover makeover" and "even easier," along with icons indicating if a dish is freezer-friendly, a slow-cooker favorite, if it takes 30 minutes or less to prepare, or if it has 10 ingredients or fewer. Full-color photographs illustrate most recipes.
Stone provides tips for freezing dishes and lists what she considers essential kitchen items to make cooking easier.
Recipes are divided into a dozen chapters from starters and snacks like cranberry chicken bites and Southern pimento cheese to what she calls the “Southern pantry,” which includes recipes for barbecue sauce, dill pickles, seasoning mixes and chow chow. Other recipes include creamy artichoke chicken, easy skillet lasagna, sticky molasses barbecue ribs prepared in a slow cooker, grilled watermelon and peach salad, field pies and snaps, yeast rolls, lemon meringue pie and buttermilk praline cheesecake.
Stone’s chicken salad recipe — easy to make and delicious — reminds me of my mother’s. Perhaps that memory was reinforced because the accompanying photo shows the salad in a green bowl just like the one Mom used. How appropriate for a book celebrating family Southern classics.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.