The goal of Southern from Scratch is simple. Ashley English wants to give you all the knowledge and know-how necessary to create the perfect pantry of Southern essentials so that you can cook the most down-home dishes no matter where you live. Before we get too far into the book and the recipes, I want to take a minute to applaud the photography that was done by Johnny Autry. The photographs, both of the food and of English in the area where she lives and cooks, are delightful and lovely.
Ultimately, a book like this will live or die based on the recipes that have been added. However, your first impression of the book comes from the photography that you’ll see before you get to the recipes. With that in mind, you can’t help but feel like you’re off to a good start. Beyond the photography, English starts you off slowly. She mentions staple ingredients like Country Ham, Grits, and Sorghum Syrup. This is followed by commonly used kitchen tools like a cast iron skillet, mason jars, and slow cookers. You are taught how to pickle, how to freeze your vegetables, and even how to store your potatoes. All of this is before you get to any of the good stuff. This is all incredibly important though, especially for new cooks. It gives you a good basis of what to expect in the recipes to come and gives you the necessary tools required to succeed.
Chapter One offers Pickles and Relishes. If you’ve never made your own Bread and Butter Pickles, now is your chance! Not only that, but you’ll get the recipe to make pickles and another to make something with the pickles. I’m looking forward to making the Pickled Beets, which can be used in the Pickled Beet Deviled Eggs. Another recipe I can’t wait to try is the Cheese Crisps with Green Tomato Pickles. Next up, the recipes move into Jams & Jellies, including a delicious looking Peach Chutney.
When it comes to authenticity, Southern from Scratch screams genuineness. You’ll get recipes like Grit Cakes with Country Ham & Applesauce, Southern Reuben, Shrimp and Grits, Southern Benedict, and Mac and Cheese with a Potato Chip Crust. There’s also some necessary classics like Sausage Gravy and Buttermilk Biscuits, Chicken and Herbed Dumplings, and Buttermilk and Smoky Paprika Fried Chicken. If ice cream is your thing, for dessert you can choose from Bourbon Butter Pecan or Peach Basil Ice cream. As for baked desserts, you’ve got Old Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie, Banana Pudding Trifle, and more!
These are just some of the recipes that I have tried, want to try, or will be trying soon. As you’re cooking as opposed to baking for most of this book, you also have the freedom to lightly adapt the recipes to fit your diet, lifestyle, or other specific needs. If something calls for peppers, onions, or something else you don’t like or can’t have, just take it out. In most cases, the recipe will still work just as good and you won’t have to miss out on this delicious Southern fare.
Is Southern from Scratch Recommended?
I could easily see Southern from Scratch becoming one of my favorite Southern cookbooks. Though my family hails from the South, I did not have the fortune of knowing them and getting that tin of recipes passed down from my grandmother that so many lucky grandchildren did. That said, books like Southern from Scratch give you the kinds of recipes that you’d imagine you’d find in that box. If you love Southern food and want to learn to master it at home – Southern from Scratch will put you on the right track.
Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.