Southern Cooking with a Story, May 4, 2009
By Mari Sloan "Mari Sloan" (Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
Southern Cooking with a Story, Please
Martha A. Cheves "Stir, Laugh, Repeat"
I've never met Martha Cheves in person, but I feel like I know her. In fact, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I want to come back as one of her "testers." When she mentions her neighbor, who sometimes waits supper to see if Martha is cooking and might pop by with a sample, and states that the neighbor won't share, I understand perfectly. I wouldn't either. In fact, I may make sure that my husband and I pick her neighborhood for our retirement destination.
Martha backs each recipe with a story and a tip, and the tips are as wildly creative as leaving the rack to your barbecue out overnight on the lawn so that the dew softens the crusted crud, to the more standard ingredient substitutions for recipes. Her recipes are simple and practical and easily adapted to different ingredients for the infrequent shopper, who might just have to use what is already in the refrigerator to make supper. Her stories are priceless and full of fun, making mystery T. V. dinners out of leftovers for "Mystery Night," and keeping a gallon reclosable container in the freezer for leftovers for a future soup.
If you are going to keep one cookbook handy, this is the one that you want. It's real cooking, the way your Mom cooks, and fancy dishes are approached with the same attitude as down-home cooking, in other words, what works the best in the least time for YOU. And none of these recipes are still in the experimental stage--they've been eaten by as many people who could get Martha to cook them for them, with seconds requested. It's time for us to have seconds, too. I hope a second cookbook is on the way!