Big Food Big Love: Down-Home Southern Cooking Full of Heart from Seattle's Wandering Goose

Big Food Big Love is a delightful combination: it inspires with beautiful, inviting photography; it remains practical in its simplicity of ingredients and instructions; and it reveals the character of a Southern cuisine (yes, there is more than one), of a restaurant and an author.

Heather Leigh Earnhardt opens with a short and sweet account of a life that took her from the Carolinas to Louisiana and eventually to Seattle, where she opened the Wandering Goose. She covers staples of Carolina cooking and entertaining: pimento cheese and cheese straws, fried okra and Brunswick stew, red-eye gravy and perfect buttermilk biscuits--and oh, the jams!--fundamentals that readers are advised to tweak and make their own. Then there are Southern-inflected inventions, like the red tomato cheddar pie, for instance, and a few that feel more contemporary and a bit more Northwestern, like the Bluebird Grain Farms farro and collard green salad. The servings are generous, the technique level easy to moderate. Earnhardt avoids the politics of barbecue--in fact, there's really no barbecue in here except for the pulled pork butt, which she dresses in a central Carolina vinegar sauce (eastward from Tennessee, tomato becomes more vestigial in sauces, and eventually nonexistent).

There are plenty of barbecue books, restaurant books and cookbooks that focus on other regions of the South, but few that take up good ol' Carolina cooking in as big-hearted and inviting a manner as this. --Zak Nelson, writer and bookseller

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