As the summer heat cranks up, things get interesting in North Carolina. For one thing, Porky LeSwine starts to speak about himself in the third person and craves food beyond just barbecue. While man could live just fine on the holy trinity of swine, slaw and hush puppies, sometimes a taste of something else is good for the soul (and the aorta). Luckily, there are two new cookbooks from North Carolina that allow folks like Porky to get a taste of the good life beyond pork.
Andrea Reusing, newly minted James Beard award winning chef at Chapel Hill’s Lantern Restaurant has released her first cookbook, Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes. Reusing is best known for the Asian-inspired, locally sourced, carefully prepared fare she and her team serve at the Lantern, but Cooking in the Moment features few Asian recipes. Instead, it is full of fairly simple, eclectic recipes that are organized by season, well explained, beautifully photographed and, judging from the few dishes I’ve made thus far, delicious.
Cooking in the Moment is particularly enjoyable for anyone who lives in or near Durham and Orange Counties, as it includes many stories involving local farmers many of us recognize from the area’s several farmer’s markets. But don’t get me wrong, this is a hell of a cookbook and will appeal to people who live anywhere and love good food. So, we can forgive Ms. Reusing that she fails to include any recipes for barbecue. Die hard pigavores will have to suffice with cider-braised pork shoulder, carnitas and the like.
Another cookbook with a similar theme and Chapel Hill ties, this one published by The University of North Carolina Press, is The New Southern Garden Cookbook by Sheri Castle. The title hints at what is inside: over 300 recipes organized alphabetically by vegetable/fruit ingredient–apples to zucchini, and a whole lot in between.
Rest assured that ham and plenty of other pig parts make their way into The New Southern Garden Cookbook’s recipes. This is the “new south” but it is still the south. I should confess that I’ve yet to read this cookbook–my copy is in the mail–but it sounds like a winner from all I’ve heard. I’ll report back once I get a chance to test drive the recipes. Until then, happy cooking… and don’t forget to take an occasional break from all the produce for some barbecue. It’s important to stay in shape, after all.