A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and Recollections from the American South


A beautiful book, featuring hundreds of classic recipes, that captures the essence of Southern foodways.

In the tradition of The Junior League Centennial Cookbook, The Black Family Reunion Cookbook, and the regional and community cookbooks that are treasured by millions of home cooks, A Gracious Plenty is an exuberant celebration of the food and culinary traditions that ...
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A beautiful book, featuring hundreds of classic recipes, that captures the essence of Southern foodways.

In the tradition of The Junior League Centennial Cookbook, The Black Family Reunion Cookbook, and the regional and community cookbooks that are treasured by millions of home cooks, A Gracious Plenty is an exuberant celebration of the food and culinary traditions that define the character of the American South.

The more than 400 recipes--culled from community cookbooks representing a diversity of geographical and social influences--are only the first layer in this richly textured work. Throughout the book, evocative essays recall the distinctive food myths and stories of the South. Among the contributors, B. B. King remembers his sharecropping family; Roy Blount, Jr., talks of his mother's giblet and red-eye gravies; Edna Lewis praises dandelion greens and poke "sallet"; and Shelby Foote tells of buying hot tamales from a street vendor. These, and dozens of other meal memories, are testaments to the importance of family, community, and the gracious plenty of food in the South. Index.

* illustrated with black-and-white-photographs throughouttext printed in two colors
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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
John T. Edge and his colleagues assembled more than 400 recipes from community and regional cookbooks from across the South to create "A Gracious Plenty". It is sweeping, eclectic look at Southern food traditions. And because the recipes come from so far and wide, it is a democratic selection, unslanted by any person or place. The recipes are listed as one continuous scroll, broken only occasionally by chapter headings - appetizers, soups and stews, meats and such - and reminiscences by Southern writers like Roy Blount Jr. and cookbook authors like Ronni Lundy. They are delightful pauses. Ms. Lundy, the author of "Butter Beans to Blackberries," recalls a family reunion. Ed Scott, a catfish farmer, writes about taking food to the Freedom Riders on the Mississippi in the 1960's. Southern cooking is full of diversity and contradictions. What a shame it would be if recipes like these were lost. Thankfully, Mr. Edge and his colleague have given it and many other treasures one more chance to survive.
New York Times
A sweeping, eclectic look at Southern food traditions. The reminiscences by Southern writers...and cookbook authors...are delightful pauses. What a shame it would be if these recipes were lost. Thankfully, Mr. Edge and his colleagues have given [them] one more chance to survive.
Raymond Sokolov
This very complete and moving book is an anthology of spiral-bound community cookbooks from all over the South. So it has its feet on the ground and speaks for kinds of people, white and black, plain and fancy. It is remarkable.
Wall Street Journal
Library Journal
Edge is a well-known food writer and the director of the Southern Foodways Symposium at the Center for Study of Southern Culture (Univ. of Mississippi), which is also listed as an "author" of this book. With coauthor Ellen Rolfes, he has gathered more than 400 recipes for Southern home cooking, most of them from community cookbooks, which he sees as historical documents as much as recipe books. In addition to the recipes, which include both what could be called "signature dishes" of Southern cooking like Fried Chicken and Chess Pie and little-known regional specialties, there are nostalgic reminiscences from Southern authors ranging from Eudora Welty (whose fruitcake recipe also appears here) to Roy Blount. Although informative headnotes appear with most recipes, the authors haven't included the dates they were first published, which would have been helpful. That aside, this is recommended for all regional and most other collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399145346
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/25/1999
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 7.82 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.23 (d)



Creole Pralines

Once sold on the streets of Louisiana towns by Creoles of color, these buttery, sweet indulgences are now enjoyed throughout the Deep South.

Yields: 3 dozen

3   cups sugar
1½   cups whole milk
¼ cup corn syrup
3   cups pecans
2   tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix sugar, milk, syrup, and pecans together in a deep, lightweight pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook to the soft ball stage. Remove from heat and add butter. Set aside to cool until pot can be handled. Add vanilla and whip with a spoon until creamy. Spoon out quickly onto wax paper. Let set until firm.

Louisiana Legacy
Thibodaux Service League
Thibodaux, Louisiana

Wedding Cookies

Pure, white, and pretty like the flowing white drape of a wedding dress on a spring day in Dixie.

Yields: 2 ½ dozen

1 stick butter
1 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
½ cup finely chopped pecans
½ cup powdered sugar

Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add the flour and the pecans. Roll into tiny balls and place 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350° for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from sheet and roll immediately in powdered sugar. Cool on a wire rack; then roll again in powdered sugar.

In Order To Serve
Christ Episcopal Church
Charlotte, North Carolina

Forgotten Tea Cakes

Zora Neale Hurston, the birth mother of African American woman's fiction, named the male protagonist of her novel, Their Eyes Were watching God, a man branded by the town of Eatonton, Florida, as not having "doodly squat," but appreciated by the heroine Janie for his sweetness.

Yields 12 tea cakes

½   cup shortening
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2   teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon sugar
¼   teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven 375°. Grease baking sheet. Combine shortening and ½ cup sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add alternatively with buttermilk to creamed mixture at low speed. Mix well after each addition. Roll dough to ½-inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Cut with floured 2 ½-inch round cutter. Place on baking sheet. Combine 1 teaspoon sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle over top of tea cakes.

Bake at 375° for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Black Family Reunion Cookbook
National Council of Negro Women
Washington, D.C.

Forgotten Kisses

Chasteness and taste meet in this recipe from a clutch of church women in North Carolina

Yields: 2 dozen

2 eggs whites
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
6 ounces chocolate chips
¾   cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°. Beat egg whites, adding sugar one tablespoon at a time, and salt until stiff peaks form and hold. Fold in chocolate and nuts, if desired. Drop batter by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheet. Place in oven and turn oven off. Leave 6 hours or overnight. Do not open oven.

In Order to Serve Christ Episcopal Church Women Charlotte, North Carolina

Aunt Nettie's Rocks

Mrs. P. K. Lutken of Jackson, Mississippi, writes, "This is recipe is over 100 years old. When I was a bride, Aunt Nettie taught me to make these cookies so I could have them at Christmas as she had for many years and her Mother before her. She made them by ear - not measuring a thing - so, as she made them one time, I carefully measured each ingredient she put in and wrote it down."

Yields: 3 or 4 dozen

3 sticks butter 1½ cups sugar
3 ¾ cups flour
1 teaspoon each of cloves, allspice, ginger, cinnamon, salt
1½ teaspoons soda
2 tablespoons warm water
2 cups raisins
2 cups currants
4 cups pecan and brazil nuts, chopped
2 cups dates, cut fine
2 cups watermelon rind preserves, cut up
grated rind of 1 orange

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs, flour, and seasonings. Dissolve soda in warm water; add to mixture. Add fruit and nuts. Place by teaspoonful on cookie sheets. Bake at 325° until done.

Inverness Cookbook All Saints Episcopal Church
Inverness, Mississippi


Yields: 4 dozen

¾cup shortening
1 cup sugar
¼ cup light molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon soda
1   teaspoon cinnamon
1   teaspoon cloves
1   teaspoon ginger
Sugar for dipping

Cream shortening and sugar in a large bowl. Add molasses and egg; beat well. Add sifted dry ingredients; mix well. Roll into small balls, dip into sugar, and place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes.

Smoky Mountain Magic Junior League of Johnson City
Johnson City, Tennessee

From A GRACIOUS PLENTY, by John Edge, Ellen Rolfes, and the Society for the Study of Southern Culture. © October 1999 , John Edge, Ellen Rolfes used by permission.

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