Friday, August 8, 2014

The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook by Alexe van Beuren with Recipes by Dixie Grimes

So I mentioned in my Homesick Texan's Family Table review that I have a bit of a cookbook obsession. I'm really not lying, it's because I kind of love to cook. But for me to pick up a new cookbook at this point it has to have a few things:

1. an abundance of recipes I actually want to make
2. great design aspect (who wants to make recipes that don't LOOK tasty)
3. ease of use - I need to be able to actually find the ingredients and make the recipes

Not too terribly much to ask. When I turned in my second Blogging for Books review and looked over the selections for another book the BTC Grocery book caught my eye. After a little research (I checked the sample pages and recipes online) I decided it would be a welcome addition to the cookbook family (our eat in kitchen table is supported by bookshelves for cookbooks, I kid you not!).

I'm a Southern girl and I love (and miss) Southern food. You can imagine then that I was pretty jazzed when this cookbook arrived. Thumbing through the book resulted in a number of flagged recipes and I got to cooking!

What I love about this book is the fact that I immediately found a lot of recipes using items I had readily available: Summer Stuffed Zucchini, Red Cabbage Cole Slaw with Golden Raisins (we had red cabbage in the produce delivery that week), Shrimp and Sweet Corn Chowder.. really a ton of things I could make right off the bat.

Others like the Honey Goat Cheese Frittata and the Chicken Asparagus Mushroom Casserole required very little in the way of shopping (the goat cheese and proscuitto for the frittata and the asparagus for the casserole). And still others (Honey Pecan Catfish) were simply too irresistible to pass up.

In all - to date - I've tried each of the above recipes as well as a half dozen others including one of their fancy mayo ideas, the Tomato Caper Cream Cheese, and the pickles (we'll see in 8 weeks how those turn out). In general I've had a pretty positive experience with this cookbook: for the most part the recipes turn out great and I didn't find them to be terribly complicated. I've actually had a lot of fun cooking out of the book the past few weeks.

I should point out, though, that a lot of the recipes have a LOT of ingredients. One I had mixed feelings about was the Italian Chef Salad. (What can I say, I love a good salad.) The dressing for this one seemed to call for some of just about every item you can find on an olive bar these days. And I don't know why. It just didn't need that many ingredients and by the time you got them all in there you couldn't taste or identify any of them anyway.

I do happen to have a pretty ridiculously stocked pantry, so I can see where the sheer number of ingredients in some of the recipes would be a turn off. Even I have to admit there are a few I likely will never try for that single reason. I should point out too that the stuffed zucchini was quite tasty but was sadly missing an oven temp.

All of the extras this book had to offer were quite nice. I've never been to Water Valley and had never heard of BTC before this, but I enjoyed the stories about the business and the people who shop and eat there. I think this will likely offer a nice bit of nostalgia to folks who have visited and eaten at the BTC Old-Fashioned Grocery. I know if I'm ever around Water Valley I'll certainly be checking it out. I do have immediate plans to make more of the dishes from the book as well.

All in all from a general cookbook standpoint I think this might not be the best choice for someone looking for easy or budgeted cooking. For someone who is willing to make a bit more effort and loves great Southern food, though, I think the BTC cookbook has a lot to offer.

Rating: 3.5/5

Per Blogging for Books requirements: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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