Love Affair with Southern Cooking: Recipes and Recollections


More than a cookbook, this is the story of how a little girl, born in the South of Yankee parents, fell in love with southern cooking at the age of five. And a bite of brown sugar pie was all it took.

"I shamelessly wangled supper invitations from my playmates," Anderson admits. "But I was on a voyage of discovery, and back then iron-skillet corn bread seemed more exotic than my mom's Boston brown bread and yellow squash pudding more appealing than mashed parsnips."

After ...

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More than a cookbook, this is the story of how a little girl, born in the South of Yankee parents, fell in love with southern cooking at the age of five. And a bite of brown sugar pie was all it took.

"I shamelessly wangled supper invitations from my playmates," Anderson admits. "But I was on a voyage of discovery, and back then iron-skillet corn bread seemed more exotic than my mom's Boston brown bread and yellow squash pudding more appealing than mashed parsnips."

After college up north, Anderson worked in rural North Carolina as an assistant home demonstration agent, scarfing good country cooking seven days a week: crispy "battered" chicken, salt-rising bread, wild persimmon pudding, Jerusalem artichoke pickles, Japanese fruitcake. Later, as a New York City magazine editor, then a freelancer, Anderson covered the South, interviewing cooks and chefs, sampling local specialties, and scribbling notebooks full of recipes.

Now, at long last, Anderson shares her lifelong exploration of the South's culinary heritage and not only introduces the characters she met en route but also those men and women who helped shape America's most distinctive regional cuisine—people like Thomas Jefferson, Mary Randolph, George Washington Carver, Eugenia Duke, and Colonel Harlan Sanders.

Anderson gives us the backstories on such beloved Southern brands as Pepsi-Cola, Jack Daniel's, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, MoonPies, Maxwell House coffee, White Lily flour, and Tabasco sauce. She builds a time line of important southern food firsts—from Ponce de León's reconnaissance in the "Island of Florida" (1513) to the reactivation of George Washington's still at Mount Vernon (2007). For those who don't know a Chincoteague from a chinquapin, she adds a glossary of southern food terms and in a handy address book lists the best sources for stone-ground grits, country ham, sweet sorghum, boiled peanuts, and other hard-to-find southern foods.

Recipes? There are two hundred classic and contemporary, plain and fancy, familiar and unfamiliar, many appearing here for the first time. Each recipe carries a headnote—to introduce the cook whence it came, occasionally to share snippets of lore or back-stairs gossip, and often to explain such colorful recipe names as Pine Bark Stew, Chicken Bog, and Surry County Sonker.

Add them all up and what have you got? One lip-smackin' southern feast!

A Love Affair with Southern Cooking is the winner of the 2008 James Beard Foundation Book Award, in the Americana category.

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Editorial Reviews

Ben and Karen Barker
Recipe after delicious recipe will have y’all gathering round the table to celebrate the South’s rich culinary heritage.
William Ferris
A fascinating journey through the rich, complex history of southern foodways. Southern Cooking is a classic.
James Villas
[A] charmingly intimate, authoritative, and deeply soul-moving tribute to the peerless cookery of our beloved South.
William C. Friday
Jean Anderson’s splendid, entertaining and most useful new book is her truly essential volume to all who enjoy southern cooking.
Damon Lee Fowler
Her Love Affair with Southern Cooking will have you falling in love, too—and running for your kitchen.”
John T. Edge
A tome that will win over workaday cooks and budding food scholars alike.
Reynolds Price
Superb...comes as close as I can imagine toward providing a detailed guide for the recreation of an ancient cuisine.
Pat Conroy
“[Jean Anderson] has turned her genius to southern cooking and presents us with a classic that will live in southern homes forever and in all American homes that revere great food.”
Baton Rouge Advocate
“Readers, whether from the South or not, will love the warmly written and carefully researched A Love Affair with Southern Cooking. . . . The 434-page book includes 200 classic and contempoarary recipes, plus anecdotes and personal reminiscences, all smartly told.” (4 stars — Outstanding)
New York Times
A New York Times Best Book of 2007 — “This treasurable book is plentifully studded with capsule essays (on the likes of Duke’s mayonnaise or RC Cola) and mini-profiles (Mary Randolph, George Washington Carver) as well as a running timeline of historical tidbits.”
Weight Watchers Magazine
“Fun to read, with nuggets of lore packed into every page. . . . A Love Affair with Southern Cooking is that rarity, a book that’s as good to read as it is to cook from.”
Publishers Weekly

Anderson, author of more than 20 cookbooks, dedicated almost four years to creating her latest collection of 300 uniquely Southern recipes-and her hard work, dedication and passion are evident throughout this extensive book. Along with classic dishes, Anderson shares stories about the South's culinary history (such as the creation of Coca-Cola syrup in Atlanta, and the legend behind Tabasco sauce) and important food figures like Maryland native Frank Perdue and Krispy Kreme Doughnut founder Vernon Rudolph. Appetizer, soup, main course and dessert sections include popular favorites like Shrimp Gumbo, Smothered Pork Chops and Baked Virginia Ham. But the "insider" recipes like Shirt Tail Pies (fried apple turnovers), Tidewater Peanut Soup, Charcoal-Grilled Shad Roe and East Tennessee Stack Cake made with bourbon are what truly make this book special. Anderson's instructions are easy to follow and "The Language of Southern Cooking" section is helpful, giving definitions of commonly used ingredients. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060761783
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/16/2007
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 7.37 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 1.41 (d)

Meet the Author

The winner of five best cookbook awards (Tastemaker, James Beard, IACP) and a member of the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, Jean Anderson writes for Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Cottage Living, Gourmet, More, and other national publications. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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Read an Excerpt

A Love Affair with Southern Cooking

Recipes and Recollections
By Jean Anderson

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Jean Anderson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060761783

Snap Beans with Mustard and Country Ham

Serves 4

To many Southerners, green beans are "snap beans" because they "snap" when you break them. This recipe, my own, combines three southern favorites: green beans, mustard, and country ham. I like these beans best with roast turkey, grilled or roast chicken. But they're equally delicious with pork chops or roast pork. Some southern supermarkets sell biscuit slices, slim rounds of country ham ready to cook and slip into biscuits. Others sell country ham by the piece or the pound. If not available in your area, see Sources (page 401). Note: Because of the saltiness of the ham, the mustard, and the broth, these beans are unlikely to need additional salt. But taste before serving and adjust as needed.


1 tablespoon butter, bacon drippings, or vegetable oil
3 ounces uncooked country ham, finely diced
6 medium scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped (include some green tops)
1 pound tender young green beans, tipped and snapped in two if large
1½ cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour blended with 2 tablespoons cold water (thickener)
2teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste


Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over moderate heat, add the ham and scallions, and cook, stirring now and then, for 5 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add the beans and broth and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the broth bubbles gently, cover, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes or until the beans are crisp-tender.

Meanwhile, combine the thickener and the mustard and set aside. As soon as the beans are done, whisk a little of the hot broth into the mustard mixture, stir back into the pan, add the pepper, and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until the broth thickens. Continue cooking uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce has the consistency of a glaze.

Taste the beans for salt and pepper, adjust as needed, and serve straightaway.

Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Jack Daniel's-Raisin Sauce

Serves 6 to 8

There's a popular Krispy Kreme bread pudding down south that contains both honey-glazed doughnuts and sweetened condensed milk, but as much as I love sweets, this one sets my teeth on edge. So I've come up with a version that's a tad less sinful. The only doughnuts to use are the original honey-glazed Krispy Kremes. And they should be at least two days old. Note: This pudding puffs majestically as it bakes, hence the need for a 2½-quart baking dish. Rush it to the table just as you would a soufflé. If you're not in the mood for the sauce, top the pudding with fresh berries or thinly sliced fresh peaches and a trickle of milk or cream.


2½ cups milk
3 large eggs
1⁄3 cup raw or granulated sugar
¼ cup Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey, dark rum, or brandy
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
6 dry honey-glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts, broken into 1-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
Jack Daniel's-Raisin Sauce (page 284)


Preheat the oven to 350° F. Thoroughly butter a 2½-quart soufflé dish or straight-sided casserole and set aside.

Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar, whiskey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add the doughnuts, toss lightly, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Scoop all into the soufflé dish, spreading to the edge and smoothing the top.

Slide the soufflé dish onto the middle oven shelf and bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed, lightly browned, and set like custard.

Serve at once with Jack Daniel's-Raisin Sauce.


Excerpted from A Love Affair with Southern Cooking by Jean Anderson Copyright © 2007 by Jean Anderson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2009

    Great Cookbook!

    Hey, anyone who knows the Surry County (NC) term for a deep dish pie has to be special. I thought I might have imagined that I'd heard my mother refer to her blackberry pie as a "sonker" until I saw an article about the book in the Raleigh paper. Ms. Anderson actually does answer e mails and give advice on cooking; unfortunately she told me there probably won't be a sequel book that includes several things she had to leave out of this book, like Blenhiem Ginger Ale. Well worth the reasonable price, I've given copies to several people including my brother and best friend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2008

    Love this cookbook!

    This book is soooo much more than a collection of recipes. It's about southern food and southern food heritage. The stories of some of the items (moon pies for example) brought back such great memories and I learned so much about where we get our regional food identity. The recipes are also wonderful! I would recommend this to everyone who appreciates sitting down at the southern supper table no matter where that table is located.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2008

    A must-have

    I had not heard of this book and was scanning around B&N for something new.I got it. This is not like any other cookbook you'll come across. Not only is it filled with practical and delicious recipes, but the author gives us a great deal of background on just about any and everything dealing with food and famous food personalities. So many cookbooks just repeat the same thing over and over with minor modification. This is the first cookbook I've come across that's really original. I was reminded, and only slightly, of the new 'Barring Some Unforeseen Accident' book that incorporates a cookbook into it, though I don't believe there's anything in that book you'll want to actually make as it is a spoof on Junior League cookbooks. A LOVE AFFAIR WITH SOUTHERN COOKING is a must-have for any kitchen, southern or not.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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