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Home Cooking 27

July 2015 COTM: Voting Thread

MelMM | Jun 18, 201508:15 AM

No trouble this round figuring out which books would make the voting thread! There were really only two that gained momentum, and they both had a lot it. I've owned both of these books since their publication, and I can assure you that whichever wins, we are in for a great month.

A GRACIOUS PLENTY, by John T. Edge and Ellen Rolfes. For lovers of Southern food, John T. Edge needs no introduction. But perhaps this collection of recipes, mostly from community cookbooks, does. So from Amazon reviews:

"There is a calmness to this book, and it comes from an assured knowledge rising out of the kind of scholarship that sets aside popular mythology in favor of the ways things actually are and have been. No U.S. region suffers more from popular mythology, some of it benign, much of it mocking and cruel, than the South. Author-editor John T. Edge encourages the reader of A Gracious Plenty to taste the South for what it is and has been. The book has the backing of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. In his introduction, Center director Charles Reagan Wilson points to the Southern Thanksgiving of his father-in-law, a native Mississippian who happens to be Lebanese. Both deep-fried turkey and kibbe are served, with stuffed grape and cabbage leaves as well as oyster dressing and sweet potato casserole. The heritage, he writes, is strictly Southern.

"The recipes are drawn from community cookbooks--"those clunky, spiral-bound, gravy-spattered volumes." While they get little respect, these volumes are an important part of the Southern kitchen and food tradition. The earliest ones date back to the Civil War and then as now were published to raise funds for a cause. Apparently, by the close of the 19th century, more than 2,000 community cookbooks were in print. Edge rightly points out that recipes gathered into a community cookbook are never authored by one, but by many. In effect, he encourages the reader to pull a seat up to the Southern table. Many of the voices heard in A Gracious Plenty come from material gathered by writers and journalists between 1935 and 1942 working for the Federal Writers Project.

"The recipes are divided into sections that include appetizers, beverages, breads, salads and dressings, sides and vegetables, soups and stews, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, sauces, preserves, jellies and pickles, desserts, and a final section on menus. These are home recipes, church-basement recipes, proud recipes. They taste like reality made up of pain and hospitality and careless laughter. A Gracious Plenty is a wonderful book and an important addition to anyone's cookbook library."

Our other nominee is THE COOKING OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN, by Paula Wolfert. Another author who needs no introduction, especially to the COTM crowd, as Ms. Wolfert was a featured author in 2008 with The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen and in 2010 with The World of Food and The Cooking of Southwest France. Those of us who have cooked from her books know it's hard to go wrong with a Paula Wolfert recipe. From Amazon:

"Paula Wolfert is one of the first food writers to acknowledge the importance of Mediterranean cuisine. During a five-year journey that encompassed parts of the Balkans, Turkey, Syria and Greece, she collected a myriad of recipes from native cooks that are easily adaptable to American kitchens. The diet of the region depends upon grains, legumes, vegetables and nuts--perfect for the health conscious--and lends itself to recipes such as pumpkin kibbeh stuffed with spinach, chick peas and walnuts and nettle cheese pie. Wolfert is careful to provide special advice to ensure smooth preparation. The book won both the 1995 Julia Child Cookbook Award in the International Category, and the 1995 James Beard Award in the International Category."

To vote, please click the blue heart at the lower right side of the post below for the book you would like to cook from. Please vote with the intention of cooking from the book and posting your results in July and beyond. You may only vote for one book. To change your vote, just click the blue heart again to "unlike" the post.

Voting will close at 9am Eastern Daylight Time on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. To convert to your local time, use this handy tool:

To see the nomination thread that got us here, visit

For more information about the COTM process and a list of past books, see

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