Edna Lewis, whose name has become synonymous with honest American food, simply and lovingly prepared, gives us the secrets of a lifetime in pursuit of flavor. With almost 200 delicious recipes, plus notes and special boxes on important ingredients (from black-eyed peas and Virginia hams to Peking ducks and oysters) and personally developed cooking techniques (making your own jelly bags, peeling chestnuts), Mrs. Lewis shows us how to get the best flavor from the foods we buy today in supermarkets and farmers’ markets.
· She puts together lovely combinations of vegetables—tomatoes and cymling squash, green peas and Vidalia onions
· She seals in the subtle aromas of fish fillets or chicken breasts by baking them in parchment.
· She boils fresh corn in its husk for added flavor.
· She roasts browned bones and meats with just a little water to make a deep, rich, savory stock.
· She braises a game bird in a clay pot with aromatic vegetables to keep it succulent.
· She shows us how to use cut fresh herbs and when to add them.
· She shares her secret of mixing one’s own non-chemical-tasting baking powder.
· She persuades us to listen for signs of when a cake is done.
…and much more.
Following the seasons, Edna Lewis leads us through the chapters of this book—From the Gardens and Orchards, From the Farmyard, From the Lakes, Streams, and Oceans, For the Cupboard, From the Bread Oven and Griddle, and The Good Taste of Old-fashioned Desserts—and drawing on her childhood in Freetown, Virginia, a farming community founded by her grandfather and his friends after emancipation, she recreates some of the simple good dishes she grew up on. In addition to these “old friends” she has peppered the book with “new discoveries,” in that wonderful mingling of old and new that has made her food so sought-after at Fearrington House in North Carolina, Middleton Place in South Carolina, Uncle Sam’s in Manhattan, and other kitchens she has presided over.
Above all, every recipe—from Oyster Stew with Salsify to Damson Plum Pie—is illuminated with Edna Lewis’s remarkable cooking insights, which help the home cook to prepare a dish just as she has done it. And the whole book—with its charming illustrations—is flavored with the kind of personal warmth that makes it a joy to cook with Edna Lewis at your side.
About Edna Lewis
Edna Lewis died on February 6, 2006, at the age of eighty-nine. This commemorative edition contains a new preface from her editor, Judith Jones, and a foreword by Alice Waters.