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Kathy from Bermudaonion’s Weblog is hosting a great challenge running from now until March 31, 2011.

Here’s the challenge:

Since I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the hospitality of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance [SIBA] at their last two trade shows, I know just how passionate those folks are about books. Each season, SIBA selects a crop of Southern books to handsell and those books are called Okra Picks. Okra Picks authors are given a sash to wear at the trade show, and believe me when I tell you those sashes are worn with pride!

To find out more about and see the books chosen for the challenge, check out Kathy’s blog.

So, yea me, I’ve finished my first book in the challenge. It’s cook book but so much more than a cook book.

Book Description:

My name is Christy Jordan and I like to feed people.

I come from a long line of Southern cooks who taught me home cooking is best, life is good, and there is always something to be grateful for. I created Southern Plate so that I could share the recipes and stories that have been passed down through my family for more than nine generations.

You won’t find fancy food or new-fangled recipes in this cookbook—just easy, no-fuss Southern favorites such as Chicken and Dumplings, Homemade Banana Pudding, Aunt Looney’s Macaroni Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Daddy’s Rise-and-Shine Biscuits. (I want to make one thing as clear as possible: How your mama made it is the right way! I’m going to bring it to you how my mama made it, which is the only right way for me.)

These stories and recipes come from my heart. They are a gift from my ancestors, but the ability to have them heard is a gift from you. Take a seat at the Southern Plate table; you’re with family now. — from the book jacket

I don’t know if it’s a new trend or I’ve just missed it up until now but it seems more and more of the cook books I’m seeing have more than just recipes in them. They include the history of the recipe or the ingredients, they include stories about the parties or meals where the recipes were served, and (my favorite) they include memories of how recipes came to be.

Southern Plate is a memory filled love note to the family and friends who are part of Christy’s past and present. Starting with an introduction honoring  all those who come before, whose sacrifices and influences make a difference to us.

“Outside of our family, no one would have ever known these people were here– they didn’t make much of an imprint on the world, I suppose, but they made all the difference in the world to me an to all of my children and grandchildren to come.”Christy Jordan Southern Plate

That’s from a cook book. Doesn’t that sum up, for most of us, our family? And it’s from a cook book and a really good cook book at that.

When it comes to stick to your ribs, make your mouth say yummy comfort food Southern cooking is at the top of my list. The recipes in this book are the kind that make you want to gather around the fire place in the winter with your family eating some Pecan Pie Muffins (page 169) or spread out a blanket on the 4th of July and eat Ms. Millie’s Best Coleslaw (page 61) with a glass of Lemonade (page 38).

The sections are arranged by seasons and an extra chapter for her family favorites with winter represented by Christmas. There are recipes to feed your family delicious breakfasts, tasty lunches, and delectable dinners. Don’t get me started on all the desserts and treats, there are too many to count but I can’t wait to make the Homemade Carmel Corn (page 91). Christy is also kind enough to offer the alternative of using Spenda in several of the recipes. I can’t say how much I appreciate this. I have lost close to 60 pounds over the course of this year and I like the idea of having on delicious Southern food on the lighter side.

As more and more cook books are beyond being just recipes books I can picture all of us sitting down to read them for more than figuring out what’s for dinner.  Southern Plate is a really good read with really good food.