I learned how to cook from a very patient teacher — Rachael Ray, back when she was making 30 Minute Meals. Those episodes look so retro now that I still watch her on The Rachael Ray Show. Anyway, if I messed up a dish, it was just between me and Rachael on the television. Our little secret. As time went on, I actually became a good cook though. My husband says my food is better than going to a restaurant, and I think that’s a nice compliment. He likes my homemade bread, my meatloaf, and my apple chicken (ok, well it is technically from the October issue of Rachael’s magazine, but again, I digress…).
Even though Rachael gave me my training wheels, now I can cook Pennsylvania Dutch recipes that are part of my heritage, as well as southern and country dishes that are part of my heritage too. I went through a phase when my husband and I first got married where I did a lot of creative and ethnic cooking with many ingredients, back when those ingredients weren’t so easily found in grocery stores, because I enjoyed the creativity of the process, but now that I’m a mom, I have simplified and come up with “go to” meals. Hallelujah for the crockpot! I like cooking at home because I can control the ingredients and make the food healthier than it might be otherwise. For me, being able to cook is an empowering skill.
So, I’ve told you that I watch Rachael and read her magazine. I also love looking through cookbooks and getting inspired to create new meals. Book Look Bloggers sent me a copy of Whitney Miller’s New Southern Table: My Favorite Family Recipes with a Modern Twist, and this cookbook is definitely a winner. It really does put a modern twist on tradition — and best of all, as I read the recipes, I thought each one was completely do-able and also more health-conscious than many traditional southern recipes. As I flipped through the book, I loved Whitney’s creativity and her practical approach. She’s only 22, but she’s a powerhouse because she won Master Chef.
The recipe that I am looking forward to trying is her Collard Greens-Wrapped Pork Loin because it is a crockpot recipe, and it ultimately provides veggies and a meat for the table. Also, she has ideas for how to use the leftovers, such as in her Southern Carnitas recipe.
I mentioned learning to make freezer jam for the first time earlier this month on my blog, so I thought it was neat that Whitney’s book includes a couple of refrigerator jams. She even has a recipe for making homemade ricotta cheese, which I am also going to try. It sounds easy; I love those type of recipes that bring out my inner pioneer in a non-intimidating way. Even though I’m from the country, I have never made homemade biscuits, so I’m going to try her recipe for that too. It only has three ingredients.
I can tell I’m going to be referring to this cookbook a lot, and I do not say that about just any cookbook. Lots of cookbooks look pretty, but this one is pretty, practical, creative, and thoughtful. The photos are gorgeous; you will know what the meal is going to look like, which is a must-have in a cookbook for me. She adds in a couple of recipes for tea and coffee drinks that remind her of her travels in China, and I’m intrigued to try those as well.
As a side note, since I write about fashion on my blog sometimes, I also like how Whitney styled herself for the photos. She is wearing a monogrammed t-shirt on one page, which is so southern, but I would go there too. She has some killer cowgirl boots on one of the pages near the end of the book.
If you’re creative, like to cook, are southern (or southern at heart), I think you’ll like this one.
Book Look Bloggers sent me this book in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.