Julia Reed Serves Up Another Winner

9 Nov

ham-biscuits

I just finished this fun little book — a very quick and entertaining read. However, I am far from done with Julia Reed’s latest release. Why? Because this volume is also chock full of wonderful recipes. Most Southern … many elegant … rarely a shortcut taken. Reed’s stories are always charming to read. She is a fine writer blessed with a colorful raising and an eccentric cast of family and friends.

The best yarns unfold when Julia recalls her privileged childhood in the Mississippi Delta. Some might say her stories can sometimes lean towards the high brow (see the NYC-based entries), but her earthy sense of humor never wavers. This book is a hoot from start to finish — even when Reed is tossing around high-falutin’ names like party favors. She always makes us yearn for days gone by when glamorous entertaining, a much slower pace, and gentile Southern graciousness ruled the day for the monied families of Dixie hubs like Greenville, Natchez, Clarksdale and Vicksburg. Crisp linen tablecloths, fine china, heirloom silverware, and tinkling crystal — they’re all found here.    

Julia Reed is as worldly as a gal from the Deep South can possibly get. And thank the Lord for that! This book is high cotton throughout, yet never at the risk of losing its well-centered soul.

So read on, y’all … and remember, pinkies extended!

What follows is the Product Description found at Amazon.com …    

Julia Reed spends a lot of time thinking about ham biscuits.  And cornbread and casseroles and the surprisingly modern ease of donning a hostess gown for one’s own party. In Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties Julia Reed collects her thoughts on good cooking and the lessons of gracious entertaining that pass from one woman to another, and takes the reader on a lively and very personal tour of the culinary—and social—South.

In essays on everything from pork chops to the perfect picnic Julia Reed revels in the simple good qualities that make the Southern table the best possible place to pull up a chair. She expounds on: the Southerner’s relentless penchant for using gelatin; why most things taste better with homemade mayonnaise; the necessity of a holiday milk punch (and, possibly, a Santa hat); how best to “cook for compliments” (at least one squash casserole and Lee Bailey’s barbequed veal are key). She provides recipes for some of the region’s best-loved dishes (cheese straws, red velvet cake, breakfast shrimp), along with her own variations on the classics, including Fried Oysters Rockefeller Salad and Creole Crab Soup. She also elaborates on worthwhile information every hostess would do well to learn: the icebreaking qualities of a Ramos gin fizz and a hot crabmeat canapé, for example; the “wow factor” intrinsic in a platter of devilled eggs or a giant silver punchbowl filled with scoops of homemade ice cream.

There is guidance on everything from the best possible way to “eat” your luck on New Year’s Day to composing a menu in honor of someone you love. Grace and hilarity under gastronomic pressure suffuse these essays, along with remembrances of her gastronomic heroes including Richard Olney, Mary Cantwell, and M.F.K. Fisher. Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Southern Specialties is another great book about the South from Julia Reed, a writer who makes her experiences in—and out of—the kitchen a joy to read.

Get your copy today … your party guests will thank you!

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