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21 Days of Cookbooks – The New Southern Garden

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 BooksQuail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh or McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village.


Apple season is upon us here in North Carolina. For the last three years that means a September day trip to the mountains to go apple picking. I usually return home with enough apples to make a large batch of apple butter (for myself and for family) leaving a reserve of apples to make an Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze for my Dad. It’s become his favorite cake, one I discovered in Sheri Castle‘s The New Southern Garden Cookbook

More than 300 recipes fill forty-four chapters sorted by seasonal ingredient, A-through-Z style, beginning with Apples and ending with Zucchini, leading the home cook through recipes for the items they will find at roadside farm stands, local farmers markets, within a CSA box or even in their own gardens. For example, let’s say you get a CSA box packed with kale, sweet potatoes and winter squash. All you need to do is turn to the “Greens” chapter for a Melted Tuscan Kale recipe (page 178). Flip over to the “Sweet Potatoes” chapter and try the Sweet Potato Salad with Peanut and Sorghum Vinaigrette (page 330). Then to make good use of that winter squash you might like the Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Gratin (page 371). See how it works? 

I always find some “new to me” recipe when I pull out my copy of The New Southern Garden Cookbook. This summer I discovered a Black Bean, Corn and Pepper Tart (page 93, pictured above) made with a spicy cornmeal pastry. I love the entire dish, but that pastry raises the dish’s flavor profile to a new level. I’ve used that same pastry recipe to make other savory pies and tarts. To me, that’s the hallmark of a good cookbook, a recipe that’s just as good “as written” as well as when modified from the original. 

If you were in need of just one cookbook to help you manage your CSA box or garden’s bounty, I’d certainly recommend this book. Or maybe the new cookbook Castle has coming out in October. Or maybe both. There’s always room on the bookshelf for one more, right?

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