Hello. My name is Kim and I am a cookbook-aholic. I’ve flagged more cookbook recipes than would be humanly possible to make in a single lifetime. Yet my obsession with acquiring new and old cookbooks persists unabated. This month I share my compulsive tendencies via the “21 Days” series, featuring some of my favorite cookbooks from local authors and publishers. Please feel free to join me in finding new cookbooks to feed our passion at any of my favorite Triangle indie book sellers: The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books, Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh or McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village.
I don’t get to our state’s coastal region nearly often enough. So when time and/or budget doesn’t allow for an extended escape to the East, I pull out my copy of “The Outer Banks Cookbook” and have a little staycation in my kitchen.
Author Elizabeth Wiegand has captured the unique flavors of coastal communities, from Corolla to Ocracoke Island, from the cocktail hour all the way through the dessert course, in 150 recipes found in this second edition (2013) release. If you’re not already familiar with the Outer Banks, the book’s introduction includes some beautiful photos as well as history and background about the various communities found along this section of our coast. It’s a good primer and quite useful for vacation planning too.
For those familiar with the Outer Banks, you’ll recognize the names of restaurants mentioned in certain recipes as you flip through the cookbook, starting with a Clams Casino recipe from Cafe Atlantic in Ocracoke and finishing with the Key Lime Pie from Nags Head landmark restaurant Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe. I enjoyed reading the head notes for community recipes, like that for Cioppino Ocracoke Style, describing how, where and from whom ingredients for the stew are sourced. The side bars too are filled with stories, history and facts that paint a broader picture about life at the Outer Banks.
Many chapters in the cookbook focus on seafood and each type of seafood has its own section of recipes. I was in the mood for a crab soup one week (I think my craving had something to do with the prominently featured crab in a Locals Seafood email newsletter). So I tried the Corn & Crab Soup (page 73). In under an hour I had a bowl of creamy yet light soup, sweetened with Summer corn and crab. If only the soup came with sounds of crashing waves to complete the seaside ambiance.
As I was working my way to the bottom of that bowl, I realized something. The next time I venture to the Outer Banks I need to bring this cookbook with me. Not only can it serve as a resource to cook a fresh catch, it’s also filled with spots where others will be happy to prepare the locally available seafood of the day for me. Win-win!