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Southern Seasons with Memory Making Recipes Review by Melanie ReynoldsLinda J. Hawkins
Heart to Heart Publishing, Inc.
Mud Creek Rd
Morgantown, KY 42261
I realized recently that there are a lot of family recipes that I have never passed down to my son! With him in the second half of his high school career, with college in the not-too-distant future, we are doing our best to fill our days and weeks with rich family activities and memories. Linda J. Hawkins’ lovely award-winning cookbook, Southern Seasons with Memory Making Recipes, came to our family at just the perfect time, when cooking together had become a key pastime. This hardback volume has 182 pages of beautiful photos and family recipes, with an internal spiral binding which allows the book to lie flat (so helpful for cooks!). It costs $27.99 and is available at Heart to Heart Publishing.
Linda J. Hawkins is both a mother and a grandmother; and the descendant of gifted cooks in her own Southern family from Kentucky. She has combined her family’s recipes with her own photographs of nature, events, and people (as well as foods) with meaningful quotes and Bible verses to create a book that is at once a devotional, an encouragement for moms (and families), and a cookbook of recipes keyed to the four seasons of each year.
Southern Seasons with Memory Making Recipes begins with recipes for the winter season; specifically, with cakes! Linda’s family recipe enables home cooks to bake a snowman cake with three different cake flavors (red velvet, chocolate, and coconut) which creates a delightful edible centerpiece. Other desserts include Snow Ice Cream and a variety of homemade cookies. A family does not just need sweets in the winter, though, so Linda shares meaty skillet dinners and soups, including his and hers chilies, stews, soups, and chowders. There is also a Cathead Biscuit (or drop biscuit) recipe to go alongside the soups. Breakfast additions and casseroles round out this section of filling meals that families will love during wintry weather.
Spring recipes are next! Picnic food ideas are followed by delicious pie recipes and old-fashioned desserts like Cornmeal Pie and Apple Cider Vinegar Dumplings. In fact, the recipes in this section would be perfect for springtime teas: fruit salads, fruit cream cheese spreads, and strawberry cake.
In the summer section, Linda shares delicious-sounding canning recipes. Have you ever had Pickled Yellow Squash? I am a squash lover, but we have never had this version! Other canning recipes provide more than you will find in the Ball canning books; Pickled Green Tomatoes, Pear Honey, Pickled Peppers, chow-chow, and tomato sauce. That is not all that Linda prepares in the summer, though! She includes such delicious recipes as corn pudding, her Great-Granny’s Tea Cakes, and peanut brittle. There is even a fabulous and hugely unusual Chocolate Spinach Cake that is both delicious and easy to prepare. Your guests will never know that this cake is powered by a fresh veggie! Fun summer drinks like spice tea, Very Berry Slushy, and Blackberry-Lime Drink will refresh your family on hot days. And while I adored the Chocolate Spinach Cake, my most beloved summer cake was the Coconut Pound Cake (with glaze!). It is a simple cake to make, without the everlasting sifting that a pound cake usually requires. Salads and summer meals like barbequed chicken and salmon croquettes (another of our own family’s favorites) provide interest and variety to your family’s palate.
The last section of the book, Fall, begins with sweet treats featuring nuts as the main ingredients in cakes and fudges. A Thanksgiving menu starts with cornbread dressing (just like I grew up with!), homemade mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, and cranberry Jell-O salad. Delicious “South of the Border” recipes (dips, casseroles, fresh salsas) add fun and satisfying seasonings to fall dinners. And of course, any Southern cookbook would not be complete without a recipe for sweet tea, so Linda includes a simple one here!
Each section also includes tips for entertaining, meal preparation, pantry staples, etiquette tips, and child training. Ideas for making mealtimes fun and saving money inspire ways families can connect to as well. Healthy snack recipes and ways moms can feed growing children and teens with variety and spice adds daily interest to family life. And Scriptures and loving quotes encourage the cook as she pages through the book.
What did I love about the Southern Seasons book? There were so many things. When I received it, I opened it and began to read it just like a book. I often do this with cookbooks. But what first captivated me were Linda’s words to mothers; words about home, about motherhood, about the richness of the life that we can create in our homes with our families. Our 21st-century lives can often become caught up in schedules, in work, in sports teams, in the busyness of life; here, the author’s wise, kind, and loving words helped me to step back, to take a breath, and to value and choose the things that are important. Her words prove her to be a wise mentor, teacher, and friend, lifting our eyes to focus on the things of eternal value as we carry out our daily responsibilities in our homes and with our families.
My family and I also loved the recipes. They were nourishing and simple to prepare for the most part; foods that children and parents could cook together for family meals. They help provide great meals not only for daily life but for fun celebrations as well. I treasured them for their ability to help me to step out of my regular cooking routines, and to engage with my family in preparing and eating good foods together. The recipes and ideas are designed to generate rich family times; moments of cooking and conversation as we bake, stir, heat, and chop that will make the meals and treats all the more savory and wonderful.
Are you looking for some time-honored, long-beloved home-y recipes to share and prepare with your own family? Are you a mom looking for encouragement and strength as you raise your family and engage with them in daily life? Southern Seasons with Memory Making Recipes will provide you and your loved ones with four seasons’ worth of encouragement, delicious foods, and times together that you will never forget. This cookbook is perfect for nourishing bodies, relationships, and spirits. I loved reading it and cooking with it, and I joyfully recommend it to you!
-Product review by Melanie Reynolds, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2019