Saturday, January 20, 2018

What Can I Bring? Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up by Elizabeth Heiskell

I was raised in Ohio. Just as in the South, when someone dies, just returns from the hospital, has problems, we take food to the house. It may not be the Southern recipes from this book, but I was eager to read Elizabeth Heiskell's cookbook, What Can I Bring? Southern Food for Any Occasion.

She covers all kinds of events from potlucks (in southwestern Indiana, those are called pitch-ins) to tailgating parties to weekend getaways and bringing home the new baby. And, it's a beautifully illustrated book. Best of all, though, are the stories that go with the recipes. Because I seldom cook, I really do read cookbooks for the stories. These recipes include "Delta" food because the author lives in Rosedale, Mississippi, and grew up in Mississippi. But, a few of the recipes are similar to ones I've seen. Someday I may tell you why Heiskell's "Consomme Rice with Mushrooms" resembles our family's funeral rice.

Do you know what I liked best about Heiskell's stories? They're told with a Southern humor, and I can just hear one of my friends telling them. There is a written accent to them. For instance, when she writes about "Sausage, Egg, and Grits Souffle", she talks about trying to transport it. "The challenge comes with the 'bring it' part...It must be transported uncooked and cooked on-site. If you try to move it in your car in a Pyrex casserole dish it will slosh everywhere, and no amount of money or carpet cleaner will ever get the foul smell out of your car. You will just have to sell it."

There's an entire chapter as to what to send when a husband goes duck hunting. Heiskell's introduction to "Vegetable Beef Stew" is priceless. "There is nothing like a pot of vegetable beef stew on the stove after a long, cold day in an icy duck blind. Lord, I cannot lie to you sweet people. I have  no idea what in the world a cold day in an icy duck blind feels like.There is nothing that could drag me out of a warm bed into the dark, below-zero weather - especially not a duck. Not even a duck covered in diamonds could lure me out from under the covers of my cozy bed."

There are a few recipes I'm going to copy and try. But, if for no other reason, pick up What Can I Bring? to discover Elizabeth Heiskell's voice. She should be writing Southern fiction.

What Can I Bring? Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up by Elizabeth Heiskell. Oxmoor House, 2017. ISBN 978048754389 (hardcover), 272p.

FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


SandyG265 said...

I usually go through cookbooks for recipes but the commentary in this one sounds fun.

Lil said...

I love to read cookbooks partly for the fun and partly to try to keep from being too much in a rut. This one sounds wonderfully entertaining.

Lesa said...

This one is entertaining. And, I'll admit, because I don't cook much, I usually don't look at them unless there's a story involved.

Kaye Barley said...

Oh, I love cookbooks. And this one looks like a treasure! I laughed out loud at the duck blind comments!! I think I'd love hanging out with Elizabeth H.; I'm going to be looking for this one - Thanks, sweetie!!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Kaye! Unfortunately, the Book Angel only reads cookbooks from the library, so I don't have one to send you. But, I think you'd enjoy "meeting" Elizabeth. I laughed out loud at those comments, too.

Gram said...

I love to read cookbooks, sometimes I even try some of the recipes. Thanks to you I just put it on hold at the library!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Gram. There were a couple recipes in it that I copied.