With a delectable chocolate cake with white icing and strawberries on the cover (far different than the Amazon cover below), this book jumps right out at you. Featuring “Every Single Recipe from 2011-Over 750” this book theoretically has something good to eat for everyone. Featuring very few color photographs, lots of tips and suggestions, this book celebrates southern cooking as well as the magazine’s 45th birthday.
After a brief introduction, the multi-page table of contents, and brief excerpts of their favorite columns with page number citations, it is on to the recipes. The recipes are divided by the months of the year. Therefore, the first chapter is on January and opens with an “Elegant Citrus Tart.” Along with the black and white picture accompanying the recipe on page 28 there are other recipes for items using citrus, other items such as “Blackberry Maple Syrup” (page 31), various types of Mac and Cheese (pages 32-33), and dips for games and parties (page 38-40). Unfortunately, as is usual in most Southern Living cookbooks, there is very little if any nutritional information or suggestions to make a healthier version of the many recipes.
February follows with a section on spicing up various foods such as hot dogs, boiled peanuts, catfish, chicken, among other items on pages 42-45, before considering various drinks (page 48) that seemingly would be more appropriate in a warm weather month. That eventually leads into supper suggestions such as “Cheesy Chili Hash Brown Bake” (page 52) or “Chicken Cutlets with Pecan Sauce” (page 53) and various other items and desserts.
The same format follows throughout the cookbook month by month. The pictures are in black and white with the rare color picture included. Nearly always the text lacks nutritional information or advice while page after page having a flat washed out appearance. Months with holidays such as November and December have the most recipe coverage. Not surprisingly, but even here in the holiday sections, the black and white continues leaving a washed out look on every page.
It also becomes clear as you move through the cookbook month by month that the recipes of a given month, excluding holidays, have very little to do with that given month. Items may not be in season for the month selected or have any link or relation to the month they are included. That could make the final approximately sixty pages of the book the most valuable to you as a cook.
After the months, the book follows with a section on “Quick! Slow-Cooker Favorites.” For thirteen pages, recipes such as “Grillades and Cheese Grits” (page 312) and “Beef Stroganoff” (page 313) and “Cheesy Ham and Noodles” (page 315) among others are covered. Space is at a premium now so there are no pictures at all, not even the usual washed out black and white ones, to guide you when you make the dish.
“Holiday Favorites” starting on page 325 follows and is a very short section. “Sweet Tea and Limoncello Martinis” (page 326) and “Parmesan-Pancetta Crisps” and “Lamb Sliders” (both on page 327) are featured here among other items.
This is followed by a page of “Metric Equivalents” on page 337 and six pages of menu suggestions. Starting on page 337, there are menus that are for “Holiday Brunch” or the “Progressive Dinner” among other types of menus. If you are entertaining diverse groups of people this section could be an asset.
That is followed by a “Recipe Title Index” starting on page 343 and extending four pages. If you know the exact name of the recipe you are looking for this is the place to check.
Followed by the “Month-By-Month Index” from pages 348 to 352 this index features recipes alphabetically organized within each month. This means if you know what month the recipe was published in the magazine, you can easily find it in the book by way of this index.
That is followed by a ‘General Recipe Index” broken down by either the food category such as “Dips” or by a major ingredient such as “Apples.” Extending over five pages from its start on page 353 this most helpful index provides yet another way to search within the book.
A one page place to write down your favorite recipes and an ad for a special offer on a subscription close out the 370 page book.
While this book is helpful in the sense that it pulls together literally hundreds of recipes and tips published in the past year in the magazine, the book overall is a disappointment. Again his year those involved have made the decision not to include vital nutritional or dietary information with nearly all of the recipes. While one does not look to Southern Living for the best things to eat from a dietary or nutritional standpoint, the fact that they continue to ignore the obesity problem in their products does a disservice to the consumer.
Visually this book is a real disappointment. For a book celebrating 45 years of a magazine well known for its colorful photographs of mouthwatering food, the use of pale black and white photographs was a serious mistake. The pale black and white photographs add to the washed out look of the text and adds to the overall drab appearance of the book. This is a major turnoff to the folks drawn in by the excellent cover and expecting to see food photographed well.
The resulting cookbook does not live up to the standards of Southern Living Magazine and is average at best. Producing a book as cheap as possible, as it appears was done here, does have serious consequences. One hopes that next year they will do a better job in all aspects.
Southern Living: 2011 Annual Recipes
Southern Living Food Staff
ISBN # 978-0-8487-3487-9
Reviewed material provided by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple © 2012