“Smoke Roots, Mountain Harvest: Recipes and Stories Inspired by My Appalachian Home” by Lauren Angelucci McDuffie, Chronicle Books, 255 pages, hardcover, $29.95
Lauren Angelucci McDuffie, creator of the blog “Harvest & Honey,” captures the essence of the place where she grew up in her beautifully written and photographed cookbook “Smoke Roots Mountain Harvest: Recipes and Stories Inspired by My Appalachian Home.”
McDuffie now lives in Indianapolis, but her day-to-day cooking remains influenced by the years she spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia.
“The pull of our roots can be such a strong force, no matter how far or wide we may roam,” she says in the introduction. Her book is a way for her “to honor the place that I feel so proud to call home” and to offer readers “a taste of what Appalachian cuisine and culture are all about, both literally and figuratively.”
While much of her youth was spent in southwestern Virginia, she was born in Kentucky and still spends time there as her family has moved back to the Bluegrass State. Consequently, she says, she also brings Kentucky into her storytelling.
The book’s more than 70 recipes, such as Cream of Mushroom & Buttermilk Soup, Blackberry Cobbler and Boozy Pickled Hot Sauce, are divided by season since McDuffie says that’s how she cooks at home.
“I think it makes for the best-tasting, most affordable eating,” she says.
She also likes to prepare all kinds of things from scratch like homemade graham crackers and marshmallows for her “indoor s’mores” and flatbreads for filling with sumac-crusted pork tenderloin topped with toasted apple vinaigrette.
McDuffie describes the book’s recipes as infusing her favorite regional Appalachian ingredients and traditional mountain cooking techniques “into modern, globally inspired cuisines and favorite foods that my family and I love.” The book’s stories also let the reader share in McDuffie’s memories of the smells and tastes of her childhood home.
Cheramie Sonnier is a food writer and columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter, @CheramieSonnier.