I like country music and I like cookbooks. Put the two together and it’s bound to be a hit with me.
Kimberly Schlapman, one of the founding members of Little Big Town, puts her talent in the kitchen with a dash of family life in her new cookbook, “Oh Gussie!” Cooking and Visiting in Kimberly’s Southern Kitchen” (William Morrow Cookbooks, April 2015).
I got a copy of “Oh Gussie!” on a Friday and put together two recipes from the book on Saturday for a family reunion on Sunday — Golden Delicious Coleslaw with surprise ingredients of golden delicious apple matchsticks and pepper jelly mixed with red and green cabbage; and Creamy Smoked Mac and Cheese, with a toasty garlic-crumb topping and a blend of parmesan and smoky cheddar or gouda cheese. Both were hits at my family gathering.
“Oh Gussie!” is a collection of Kimberly’s family heirloom recipes, updates on Southern classics and quick dinners. But the basic “ingredient” in these meals is the importance of sharing time “in the kitchen with people you love, to nourish your family, and to foster friendships,” she writes in “Oh Gussie!”
She wrote the cookbook with Martha Hall Foose, author of “Screen Doors & Sweet Tea” and “A Southerly Course: Recipes and Stories from Close to Home.” Luscious photos of prepared dishes accompany many recipes, so even if the ingredient lists (things like fresh peaches, sweet corn, pecans and bacon) don’t tickle your taste buds, the photos will.
Chapters are titled Family, Friends, Music, Home and Away, and in each Kimberly shares stories from her family — from growing up in north Georgia to her home in Nashville, with her husband, Stephen Schlapman, and their daughter, Daisy Pearl. Which reminds me, one of the next recipes I want to try will be Crazy Daisy’s Squares, a simple to make treat made with a graham cracker crust topped with morsels of chocolate and butterscotch, coconut and pecans. Or maybe the Hummingbird Cake and the Cheddar Bacon Biscuits.
Each recipe also includes a “Southern Simple” idea or tip, like how to make your own basil oil to use in Roasted Tomatoes with Rosemary and Garlic, or tucking strips of waxed paper under the bottom edges of Hummingbird Cake to keep the plate clean while spreading the frosting.
Kimberly is also the host of “Kimberly’s Simply Southern” cooking show on Great American Country.
“Oh Gussie!” has a prime spot in my cookbook collection.