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.
Are you the sort who enjoys Thanksgiving side dishes more than the main course? Me too. That’s why “Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides“, a cookbook devoted entirely to recipes that play a supporting role on the dinner plate, holds a special place on my bookshelf.
250 recipes fill twelve cleverly titled chapters that focus on various categories of side dishes. The chapter titled “Glorious Grains – The Way a Yankee Becomes a Southerner” features recipes that use grits, cornmeal, biscuits and rice. A “Midsummer Night’s Veggie Dreams” includes dishes that will please fans of corn, okra and squash, like a Charred Corn Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette and Zucchini with Bacon Stuffing (can I get a “Yum!”?). For those interested in increasing their intake of kale, collards and cabbage a thorough perusal of “All Praise to the Bitter Greens” may be in order.
My favorite chapter in this book of sides has to be “Appeasing Beans & Peas”, in part for the commentary in the recipe head notes and also because of the pea variety names: Lady Creamer Peas, Speckled Butterbeans, Pink Eye Peas, Dixie Lee Peas and White Acre Peas. Each pea or bean seems to possess a distinct personality both in name and taste. The Emily Lee Pea Risotto is as comforting a dish to make and eat as the homey name implies. On the topic of comfort food, there’s a tomato pie recipe (on page 65) that’s become my favorite way to make a meal of seasonal heirloom tomatoes.
Fred Thompson’s name may be familiar (but not because you watched him portray an New York City DA on TV – that’s another Fred Thompson). He’s the publisher of Edible Piedmont and the “Weekend Gourmet” columnist in the N&O, as well as the author of several other cookbooks that cover main course subjects like seafood, grilling and barbecue. Next time you’re in one of our local indie bookshops, ask the book seller to point you to the Fred Thompson cookbook section (I jest, but just a little bit. Do ask your bookseller if they can order any titles mentioned in this series, if they don’t carry a copy of the book in store. I’m sure they’ll be happy to help).