I have a confession: I've never seen the American Baking Competition and thus had never heard of Francine Bryson before Country Cooking From a Redneck Kitchen came across my radar. But southern food is, to me, comfort. Sure my own roots are in the deep south, Cajun country to be specific, but BBQ, picnic and pot luck dishes, and warm gooey casseroles do hold a very special place in my heart (let's face it, all food does!). So Country Cooking From a Redneck Kitchen appealed to me in spite of my not knowing the author's name.
And the book lives up to its promise, let me tell you! With more drool-worthy recipes than I can even mention, my copy immediately became a mess of flagged recipes to try.
We started our week with the "Mama's Tuna Casserole" and the "Roasted Crooked Yellow Squash." Oh, I was in comfort food heaven! I should say, however, that as far as I can remember I've never actually tried tuna noodle casserole. But I have heard many folks poke fun at the canned casserole staple. Well, they haven't had it Francine Bryson's way. First off, she provides recipes for making all of those cream soup casserole bases from scratch! So with homemade "Cream of Celery Soup" in hand, the casserole is then built with fresh vegetables, pimentos, noodles, and tuna. Oh, and lots of cheese :) I never said it was a healthy cookbook! And my goodness it was tasty!
I was particularly impressed by the fact that Bryson took the time to lay out how to make "Cream of Mushroom Soup," "Cream of Celery Soup," and "Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup." And I have to admit this is something I've been looking for - an updated twist on what I consider staple foods. Because while I didn't grow up on tuna noodle casserole in particular, we did eat casseroles and I've got no qualms about making them in my own kitchen!
Now don't mistake this for a casserole cookbook. It's not at all. The title is 100% accurate - this is a southern country cookbook through and through. There's an entire chapter on BBQ complete with all the necessary BBQ accoutrements, there are recipes for canning ("Green 'Mater Chow Chow" and "Old Fashioned Squash Relish" are in my plans as soon as my garden is up and running for the season), salads of the southern sort (yes, I mean salads without lettuce bases and even a couple of the jello variety), fried chicken, hot fried chicken, and baked "fried" chicken, "Southern Fried Catfish," just to name a few of the fried dishes (that catfish is a new household favorite!), as well as plenty of other southern staples, breads and biscuits, and baked goods galore!
Now, if you follow me regularly then you know that baking is kind of the bane of my existence here at high altitude. I usually avoid those recipes like the plague. Given that Bryson made a name for herself in this arena, though, it should be fairly understandable when I say that even I couldn't resist recipes like "Pimento Biscuits,""Lemonade Rolls," "Church Lady's Sour Cream Cookies" (this is a recipe I've actually been looking for, amazingly I've had these cookies but have never found anyone to share the actual recipe with me!), and my next up to try "Buttermilk Pecan Skillet Cake."
If you're looking for fancy and frilly recipes, this is not the book for you. If, however, you're looking for hearty and tasty dishes that are sure to bring a smile to your face (either because they taste awesome or because they bring to mind family meals from your childhood), then this is definitely a cookbook to add to your collection!
Oh, and I definitely know Francine Bryson's name now :)
Per Blogging for Books requirements: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.