Despite my best intentions to do a monthly post about the lovely books from Thomas Nelson Publishers, time has gotten away from me so it has been a while. This time I'm reviewing My Southern Food, A Celebration of the Flavors of the South.
You may not know it, but I grew up in Virginia, a true Southern state even if we lived in the northern part of it and were hence considered somewhat suspect by Virginians living further south. This wasn't snobbery exactly because northern Virginia had so many people from all over the world living the the Washington, D.C. area part of it that it was far more diverse than the rest of the state.
Later, after college, I traveled for business and pleasure in Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia and West Virginia, plus a few states north of the Mason-Dixon line, so I had the opportunity to get to know some lovely Southerners. My favorite bread pudding recipe was given to me by Gail in Frederick, Maryland. Brings to mind Barbara Fritchie...if you don't recognize the name it might be fun to Google it.
My Dad grew up all over the South so my Mom learned how to cook Southern to please him. We had black -eye peas and cabbage with corn bread, hush puppies to go with our fried fish, cole slaw to top our Carolina style pulled pork sandwiches, and so much more. This book captures the flavors and sensibilities of good Southern food, from iced tea and that Southern staple grits to Red Velvet Cake and sweet Pralines. My grandmother taught us how to make Pralines and reading the recipe brought back fond memories.
The only downside is that there are few photos of the results of the recipes. I don't find that to be a hindrance since the cookbooks of my younger days rarely had photos, but I know that some bloggers are so used to photos being a big part of a post that I felt I should mention it. That said, the book is graphically beautiful. For instance on page 100 there is a darling photo of a young girl near a cranked ice cream maker, grinning in anticipation. The recipe on the next page for Vanilla Ice Cream may not show the actual ice cream, but the cute photo really adds to the quality of waiting for freshly churned ice cream...and really makes you want to create some home made ice cream right away!
The recipe I'm showcasing is one I've never made myself, although I've certainly consumed more than my share of 'em at potlucks. This is a super sweet cookie which is almost candy and goes by the name of Hello Dolly Bars.
I'm not sure where the name came from, but the cookbook author tells us that her mother made these every Christmas. They are amazingly easy, especially if you have a box of graham cracker crumbs on hand as I did (purchased for a cheesecake that never was made...but that's another story) and some pecans in the 'fridge and coconut and chocolate chips in the baking section of the pantry. I did have to purchase the sweetened condensed milk because I rarely use it but once I had that the bars went together quickly...they took longer to bake than to assemble.
Hello Dolly Bars
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (the recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups but Sweetie like graham crackers, so I added an extra 1/4 cup)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Melt the butter and pour into a bowl. Blend in the graham cracker crumbs and pat into the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish to form a crust. Layer the chocolate chips evenly across the crust, followed by the coconut, then the pecans. Drizzle the condensed milk over everything, but do not mix or stir. Bake for 25 minutes on the center rack of your oven. When done the pecans will just be stating to brown a little. Remove from the oven and cool before cutting into bars. Makes 2 dozen bars.
Just like last time, Katherine at Thomas Nelson Publishers has offered to give away three copies of this great book.
You can also purchase it online or request it in your bookstore. The author is Devon O'Day, with a forward by Faith Ford , published in 2010. You're going to want a copy so that you discover the mysteries of PBR Bread and Cider House Ham among other great recipes. By the way, although I did recieve a courtesy copy of the cookbook to review it, I've not recieved, nor will I, any financial or other consideration for reviewing this book and I'm free to say whatever I like about it.
To be eligible for the random drawing, just leave a comment. The comment link can be found at the bottom of this post. I'll need an e-mail adress so that I can notify you if you are a winner and get your mailing address to give to the publisher. They mail the cookbook directly to you.
Better practice saying "y'all" for when you serve some of My Southern Food's delicious dishes.