Butter Beans to Blackberries: Harvest of the South

Butter Beans to Blackberries: Harvest of the South

by Lundy
     
 

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A cookbook that puts you on the front porch, snapping beans, sipping iced tea, and waiting for your peach cobbler.

In this definitive cookbook, Ronni Lundy draws upon her Kentucky mountain roots and on the recipes and food passions of the fellow Southerners-from home cooks to a new generation of professional chefs-she met in her extensive regional travels. Lundy

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Overview

A cookbook that puts you on the front porch, snapping beans, sipping iced tea, and waiting for your peach cobbler.

In this definitive cookbook, Ronni Lundy draws upon her Kentucky mountain roots and on the recipes and food passions of the fellow Southerners-from home cooks to a new generation of professional chefs-she met in her extensive regional travels. Lundy cooks her way through the bounty of the Southern garden, from succulent purple speckled butter beans and lady cream peas to corn and greens, muscadines, Georgia peaches, figs, mayhaws, and watermelon. She visits farm markets and festivals, finds heirloom-seed growers, and provides mail order sources for everything from sweet-potato chips and "old-fashioned whole heart" grits to fiery-orange HoneyBells.

Butter Beans to Blackberries is also a great guide for food-conscious visitors to a South that is rediscovering its culinary heritage.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
[The book for] workable Southern recipes....[S]he...is respectful of tradition but not bound by it.
...Lundy recreates traditional dishes prepared by Southern cooks....Devoting a chapter to each garden staple, [she] discusses the heritage, texture and flavor of over 30 vegetables and fruits from butter beans to blackberries.
Library Journal
Fried chicken and biscuits aside, the Kentucky-bred Lundy writes that what Southerners are really passionate about are their native fruits and vegetables, from butter beans and crowder peas to peaches, scuppernongs, and those blackberries. Most of these get their own chapter here. In addition to mouthwatering recipes from both home cooksincluding many of Lundys own family favoritesand chefs, there are dozens of boxes about, for example, the Lee Brothers, who will ship five-pound gunnysacks of boiled peanuts to homesick Southerners and others; colorful descriptions of farmers markets, festivals, and events like the St. George Rolling in the Grits Contest; and Road Notes about the people and places Lundy has visited on tasting trips throughout the South. The author of The Festive Table (LJ 9/15/95), Lundy writes well and enthusiastically, and her latest book is both thoroughly researched and delightful. Highly recommended.
NY Times Book Review
[The book for] workable Southern recipes....[S]he...is respectful of tradition but not bound by it.
Kay Fahey
Bless her sweet heart, Lundy provides an extensive list of mail-order sources for southern specialties; finally I don't have to haul home boiled peanuts and fig preserves whenever I visit Mississippi.
Fine Cooking

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780865475472
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
05/11/1999
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
7.58(w) x 9.38(h) x 1.34(d)

Read an Excerpt

It was likely June when Faulkner and Porter had their historic conversation. At least that's when the butter beans, the speckled ones, come in around Mississippi, Faulkner's home. Wylie Poundstone, the chef at King Cotton Produce Company, a combination produce market and restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama (see Places to Go, page 341), says, "It takes awhile for butter beans to grow, but if the weather cooperates, we can have them from June right on through the fall." Bob Gulsby, one of the four owners of King Cotton says, "As long as we've got 'em, we'll ship 'em fresh to anybody who wants to order."

Those who do are often transplanted Southerners longing for the taste of a vegetable as common as July fireflies where they grew up, but hardly known elsewhere. My experience has taught me that asking for butter beans north of the Mason-Dixon is apt to get you a bowl of thick soup made from very large, dried lima beans. It's tasty, but a bit on the brackish side and doesn't have the sweet, creamy flavor of a Southern butter bean at all.

The term "butter bean" is used to refer to lima beans, which fall roughly into three categories. First it refers to fresh limas, with the most prized being those with beans of the "baby" variety -- small (about the size of your thumbnail) and very tender. Such beans can be found throughout the United States either fresh (in season), frozen, or canned.

Second, a distinction is made in many regions of the South between this already small lima bean and even smaller ones. These smaller beans may go by different colloquial names. They are known as butter peas in the Montgomery area but may be called "sieve" beans in other parts of Alabama or the South. This is also the bean prized as the "sivvy" of Charleston and the surrounding Low Country area of South Carolina. Joe Kemble, assistant professor of horticulture at Auburn University, says the common names are a corruption of the more proper name, sieva bean. Sivvy beans are prized for their sweetness but, alas, don't ship well.

Third, the speckled butter bean is a variety of lima with a colored, mottled, skin -- usually a deep purplish brown and green, or black and green. Speckled butter beans have a creamier texture and more buttery flavor than their green lima cousins. I, like my mother before me, watch religiously for speckled butter beans in the very brief period in the summer when they may show up shelled and fresh in the produce department of local supermarkets. Although the farmers in this part of Kentucky don't grow them commercially, speckled butter beans are a summer staple in farm markets throughout the deeper South, and if you drive the noninterstate highways in June, you are apt to see hand-lettered signs on the side of the road proffering "fresh speckled butter beans -- just in." Most commonly, though, I come by these beans frozen, and sold throughout the year at supermarkets here. They are very nearly as tasty frozen as they are fresh.

Like sieva beans, speckled butter beans sometimes go by colloquial names. For instance, Wylie Poundstone says lots of folks around Montgomery call them rattlesnake beans. And elsewhere a lima variety with cream and maroon speckled skin is called the Christmas bean.

Technically, you can interchange the more widely available baby lima beans for the speckled butter beans in most recipes, but the flavor will be different. All of the beans are delicious, however, and, as Wylie says, "You can do so much with them. They're some of the most versatile vegetables in the Southern kitchen."

Remember to go easy on seasonings when you cook butter beans, since it's the beans' own subtle flavor which you want to emphasize.

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What People are saying about this

John Egerton
As a cook, eater, celebrant, talker, and writer, [Lundy's] at the head of the class.
Michael Boggs
Ronni's great talent is that at the heart of her writing about food there are always people . . . swapping stories, recalling the past, talking about their lives.

Meet the Author

Ronni Lundy is the author of Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes and Honest Fried Chicken and The Festive Table (FSG, 1995). She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.

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