MORE SOUTHERN COOKBOOKS! “SEASONED TO TASTE” by the Junior League of Chattanooga, Tenn.
It seems that everybody—including non-southern cooks—loves southern cookbooks and southern cuisine. Why do you suppose that is? Why is southern cuisine so outstanding that we can’t get enough of it?
I have two more southern cookbooks to share with you! The first is a cookbook with a washable cover (I love how publishers are doing this), titled “SEASONED TO TASTE” subtitled “Savoring the Scenic City” with the Junior League of Chattanooga.”
The Junior League of Chattanooga has crossed my line of vision before; “Dinner on the Diner” by this Junior League has long been a favorite of mine, and when my older sister to moved to Castalian Springs, a small town outside of Nashville, the two of us endeavored to find as many Tennessee cookbooks as we could. I dragged out most of my Tennessee cookbooks and found 35. Tennessee is only second to Ohio in my favorite cookbooks.
“SEASONED TO TASTE” is a slightly oversized cookbook that introduces itself with lush photographs that make a person want to pack up and head for Chattanooga. As the second oldest Junior League in the South, this Junior League strives to make positive changes in their community. “Dating back to 1917,” they write, “our League has partnered with local hospitals to operate baby clinics and nutrition centers and has provided clothing and comfort to displaced children. We have established reading programs and distributed scholarship funds to local schools and special educational centers. Through projects and financial support, our League strives to improve the health of children and the future of families in our beloved city…”
They are proud to be a part of an exceptional community and say that through the purchase of “Seasoned to Taste” your contribution will help them continue their efforts. “Ninety-four percent of every dollar we generate supports our mission to develop the potential of women and improve our community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers…” Ninety-four percent! That’s a really impressive total!
In the Introduction to “Seasoned to Taste”, Cookbook Chair Billie Rose writes, “There’s a popular saying that goes, ‘I wasn’t born in the South, but I got here as quick as I could!’” and says “The same can be said about Chattanooga—with its genuine Southern hospitality and charm, a melting pot of locals and transplants are thrilled to call it home.”
She adds that as a child, on cross-country trips she was fascinated with the city. “Before beginning any journey,” she writes, “I would firmly implore my parents to ‘wake me when we get to Chattanooga!’ lest I accidentally nap through the experience. The region is irresistible: looming, lush mountains, sparkling lakes and winding rivers; and as you crest the ridge headed to downtown, the sweeping vista of the city leaves you breathless.”
“Chattanooga,” she explains, “is nicknamed the Scenic City, and with good reason. The changing landscapes and activities present residents and visitors alike the chance to fall in love with the area each season. This was the inspiration for ‘Seasoned to Taste.” For spring, summer, autumn and winter, you will find fabulous recipes that reflect the ingredients and traditions of the season paired with unique local events and scenery to be enjoyed during that special time of year…..”
Rose goes on to say that “Owners of Junior League cookbooks expect to find a treasure trove of splendid dishes (true)…” and theirs is no exception.
The volunteers spent countless hours testing, tasting and selecting the community’s finest recipes that appear on the pages of “Seasoned to Taste”.
Billie Rose adds that “Seasoned to Taste” is a valentine to our beloved city” and who could ask for more?
“Seasoned to Taste” is divided into seasons and begins logically with Spring.
Here you will find a wealth of recipes from which to peruse and choose—and it starts with appetizers such as Artichoke Melbas, a simple recipe of only 5 ingredients to mix and serve on Melba toasts, but there are also Blue Cheese Bacon Puffs, Topplin’ Tomatoes and Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms. Or try Bleu Camembert Torta or Heirloom Salsa Verde (made with a few heirloom tomatoes) – and top it all off with Basil Mojitos.
There is also a recipe for Wedding Bell Punch, or—for something that packs more of a punch—Lemon Drop Punch is made with vodka and champagne. If you want something non-alcoholic, Legacy Tea is sure to please.
Salads for spring include a Grape Salad (made with green and red grapes), or Broccoli Salad, Greek Isles Potato salad or “Easy like Sunday Morning” salad that is sure to become a family favorite. I also love the sound of Porch Party Pasta Salad even though I don’t have a porch! There is also Spring Chicken Salad, a simple recipe made with just a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a few other easy ingredients, and Oriental Flank Steak, another sure to please recipe. This is one of those recipes that only require you to buy a flank (or London Broil) steak and some green onions—I’m willing to bet all the other ingredients are on your pantry shelves.
A few other chicken recipes that are sure to please would be Cold Lemon Chicken, Pan-Seared Tarragon Chicken and Supper Club Casserole (made with one cooked chicken—this recipe serves 8 and would be perfect for a small dinner party.
This is just a sampling of Spring’s fifty-something recipes. Cakes you won’t want to wait to bake will include River Queen Carrot Cake, Jam Cake, Six-Flavor Pound Cake, Chocolate Torte – or Choo-Choo Chocolate Pie!
For SUMMER you will find a greater wealth of recipes, over ninety, in fact. And can I tell you that the first thing that really caught my attention is a recipe called “Firecrackers” – this recipe is very much like one I have been making with pretzels – except their uses a package of club crackers. I can’t share “Firecrackers” recipe with you, but I will post the recipe for Sylvia’s Pretzels at the end of this review. I will certainly try the recipe for Firecrackers too!
There is also a recipe called Fig in a Ribbon that caught my attention as well—we had 3 fig trees where I used to live and I really do miss those figs! “Seasoned to Taste” offers a recipe using figs that makes 28 appetizer bites.
Other yummy recipes for Summer include Chutney Cheese, Cheese Slaw, Sunshine Sauce, Cranberry Avocado Salsa, Zucchini Muffins (so easy!), and Sausage-stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes (you have to love recipes using heirloom tomatoes—these are still relatively new to our culinary landscape and it’s good to learn recipes for using them.) Elsewhere in the cookbook, there is a recipe for Heirloom Tomato And Walnut Pesto Pie—oh, yum! And the cookbook committee suggests using different colored tomatoes such as yellow and purple, in this recipe, but say do not use green tomatoes.
There are chicken recipes you will certainly want to try – Signature “Fried” Chicken (that is actually baked), and Panko Crumb Chicken that serves 8 – but you may want to serve it to a smaller group, say about 4 people – so each person can have two if they want them. Boneless skinless chicken breasts can often be appealing enough for seconds and this recipe looks like a winner.
I was pleased to find a recipe for Grilled Snapper with Capers and Dill – I keep bottles of capers on a pantry shelf to cook with fish (often Tilapia) and it has surprised me that even my grandchildren like capers.
A recipe called Aunt Becky’s Garlic Pickles sounds surprisingly similar to one that my best friend, Mary Jaynne, makes; it’s easy enough to make and such a good accompaniment with ham or turkey sandwiches.
High on my list of recipes to try is Red Wine and Blueberry Sauce that I know I will want to make. Ditto Banana Split Pie and Creamy Lemonade Pie—I think I will make this one to go with our Easter dinner.
You will also want to check out the recipe titled Sloppy Pineapple Cake—or cookie recipes such as Carmelitas, Razzle Dazzle Bars (contains raspberry preserves) or two of my long-time favorites, Cowboy Cookies and Potato Chip Cookies. (This last recipe is handy to make up when you have some crushed potato chips in the bottom of the bag)…is it only me? I always end up with at least a cup of crushed chips –when life hands you lemons, make lemonade or if life hands you crushed potato chips, make potato chip cookies. I doubt anyone will guess what the secret ingredient is.
The section of “Seasoned to Taste” titled Autumn is subtitled A Season of Comfort as they write, “As the leaves change to deep russet, gold and orange, the mountains of East Tennessee come alive with activity. By foot, bike, or boat many Chattanoogans would count fall as their favorite season to explore our region thanks to cooler temperatures and breathtaking scenery….”
Oh, my! Autumn boasts of no less than one hundred and thirty three recipes! Appetizers boast of Shrinp De jonghe and Hair of the Dog Pub Shroomies, for starters (Hair of the Dog Pub opened in 2005 as a vision of an old world English pub and local watering hole—the Shroomies sound wonderful!) The easy recipe for Smokey’s Sausage Cups is accompanied by a mouth-watering photograph –this is sure to become a party favorite!
Party beverages will include Boxcar Bloody Marys with Cocktail Tomato Skewers, Amber-Ritas (sounds delish) and Point Park Punch that couldn’t be easier. You will want to try Bourbon Roast (made with ¾ cup of bourbon) or Meat Loaf for a King, Yankee Glazed Chicken or Harvest Enchiladas (surprise ingredient is a can of pumpkin puree!) and for dessert, don’t overlook Bread Pudding with Jack Daniel’s Sauce* or Cranberry and Apple Crumble. Also, make a note of trying Duckie’s Boozy Cranberry Sauce—this recipe is right up my alley!
Sandy’s Cooknote: I always assume (often incorrectly) that everybody knows things like where
the Jack Daniel’s distillery is located (Lynchburg, Tennessee).
Desserts you don’t want to overlook include Berries ‘n’ Cream, Lunch Counter Pecan Pie and “Tootie’s Fudge Cake. (We don’t know who Tootie is, but we love her easy fudge cake recipe—this is a simple recipe you can throw together for a quick dessert—you will undoubtedly have all the ingredients in your frig or pantry and it’s the perfect quick dessert!)
The final season is WINTER (and perhaps my favorite season because of Christmas). This section of “Seasoned to Taste” offers – count them – one hundred and seventy one recipes! I’m not sure which ones I love the most – there’s Baked Mushroom Caps, an easy appetizer you can make up in advance, and Dates En Brochette—a simple recipe using only three ingredients but oh, how yummy – and you can substitute pecans for the whole almonds. There is Smoked Salmon Spread, Beer Cheese (one of my favorites) and Plantation Eggnog to consider. For parties where you want the suggestion of alcohol – but not actually have it – you will want to try a recipe titled “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Champagne”, Savory Walnut Muffins and Daddy Doodah’s Married Beans (you have to read it to believe it). There are lots of party entrees to consider but pardon me if I swoon over the cookie recipes – Tuxedo Truffle Cookies! Winter White Chocolate Macaroons! Lemon Snowflakes! and Rudolph in the Snow Cookies!
Cake recipes include Eggnog Cake, Nonie’s Chocolate Cake, Mother’s Fruitcake and Gingerbread with Molasses Sauce. Need I say more?
One final word for cookbook collectors who–like I —love to find a bibliography. There is a three-page bibliography in the back of “Seasoned to Taste”.
I love this cookbook. It led me to digging out and going through all of my other Tennessee cookbooks and considering a post just about them – my Tennessee cookbooks. Meantime, you are going to want “Seasoned to Taste” for your collection, girlfriends. You will love it.
This cookbook is available from FAVORITE RECIPES PRESS/THE COOKBOOK MARKETPLACE, the cost is $29.95.
The Favorite Recipes Press Marketplace is a great source for finding many of your favorite community cookbooks (southern and otherwise). They have nearly 300 titles from which to choose and color illustrations of the covers. You can get a catalog by writing to the Cookbook Marketplace at 2451 Atrium Way, Nashville, TN 37214 OR call them toll free at 1-800-269-6839.
Happy Cooking – and Happy Cookbook Collecting!
To make “Sylvia’s ‘Those’ Pretzels you will need
1 1-lb bag of tiny pretzel twists
¾ cup cooking oil (such as Canola)
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch original dressing mix
Dashes of cayenne
Put half of the pretzels into a large plastic ziplock bag. Pour on half of the cooking oil. Sprinkle on half of the dry ranch dressing. Add a dash of cayenne–shake it all up – then add the rest of the pretzels, the remaining cooking oil, the rest of the ranch dressing mix and another dash of cayenne – mix it all up – and seal the bag. Leave it on the counter and turn it over every time you walk by – do this for a day or so, until all the oil has been absorbed and the flavors have married. Bet you can’t eat just one!