Martha Hall Foose (NY: Clarkson Potter, 2008)
I got this book as a Christmas gift in 2008 (Thanks Mom!) and used it this year in planning a Southern feast for Christmas eve. From it I made sweet tea ("tastes like Snapple, but sweeter," according to my niece), and sweet potato biscuits (excellent flavor, I should have baked them a bit longer as they were a bit too potato-y in the middle).
Like all Clarkson Potter books I have seen this book is filled with beautiful photos and has a nice feel to it. While it is full of delicious sounding recipes the real strength is the stories. Nearly every recipe has an introductory story about where it came from and several include sidebars putting the food into a larger culinary context. The ingredients are clearly listed, often including both a weight and a measure ("8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)"); the directions are in the order you need to do them and don't include extra info you don't need while you are cooking; the extra info you might want, like variations and substitutions, are listed as "notes" at the side of each recipe.
I liked the Monday Red Beans and Rice (p.86); the Cornbread Crusted White Chili (p.88) wasn't a big hit. In the category of "to make" I feel like Buttermilk Bacon Pralines (p.16), Blue Cheese Pecan Bread (p. 180), and Pimento Cheese (p. 47) are all things that would be good additions to my future. My sister was intrigued by Inside-out Sweet Potatoes (p. 167).
This book was the 2009 winner of the James Beard Award for American Cooking and the 2009 winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Award. Even if you have no intention of cooking from it (which would be a shame), this book is worth reading for the stories.
This post is my first one for Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads.