Just in time for the fall holiday season come “Southern Holidays” by Debbie Moose and “Sweet Potatoes” by April McGregor, the latest additions to the University of North Carolina Press’ delightful “Savor the South” series of cookbooks that looks at the favorite foods and culinary traditions of the American South.
Like the eight previous volumes in the planned 24-book series, each of the little books (each is 83/4 inches by 51/2 inches) contains about 50 clearly and concisely written, easy-to-follow recipes, but no photographs and no nutritional information.
Both “Southern Holidays” and “Sweet Potatoes” open with a short introduction and offer a bit of history with their recipes. Moose writes that her goal was to offer “a taste of the variety of celebrations across the region, featuring recipes cherished by real Southerners.” McGregor includes information on sweet potato varieties, how to choose, store and prepare them, and offers such tips as 1 medium sweet potato equals about 1 cup mashed or chopped sweet potato.
Recipes in “Southern Holidays” are organized by seasons, beginning with winter’s Hanukkah, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Day, Old Christmas, Mardi Gras, St. Joseph’s Day and March Madness (which Moose, a serious basketball fan, insists is a Southern holiday). Among the book’s Passover recipes is Matzoh Balls, Cajun Style, which Moose adapted from a recipe she got from Carol Anne Blitzer of Baton Rouge. And, among her Thanksgiving recipes is Cajun-Style Rice Dressing that Moose makes with the traditional chicken livers and nontraditional oysters, but no meat.
As the daughter and sister of Mississippi sweet potato farmers, McGregor has helped plant sweet potatoes and considers sweet potatoes “a mainstay” of her family dinner table. She also has an eclectic collection of sweet potato recipes for breakfast, sides and salads, main dishes, soups, stews and desserts. Among them are grits made with sweet potatoes, Ann Cashion’s Sweet Potato Greens Spoonbread, a Vietnamese-style chicken and sweet potato curry, and a hummus. There are also the expected recipes for pies, candied sweet potatoes and baked potatoes.
Both books are sure to be welcomed by the cooks on your holiday gift list.
Anne Byrn, bestselling author of “The Cake Mix Doctor,” will be signing copies of her latest book, “Anne Bryn Saves the Day! Cookbook” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, at Garden District Books, 2727 Prytania St., New Orleans.
On Nov. 1, she will be at the Crescent City Farmers Market at 8:30 a.m. for a demonstration and tasting and at the Louisiana Book Fair in Baton Rouge at 3 p.m.
Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s food editor. Her email address is email@example.com.