In 1993 More Than Beans & Cornbread: Traditional West Virginia Cooking made its debut, and over twenty years later it is still selling copies. This new volume features a collection of all new recipes that are tried and true and have passed muster in the author’s kitchen. The recipes are still basically uncomplicated and have been converted to take advantage of “store bought” ingredients, which certainly saves time in this busy world, without compromising flavor.
From the author:
“I’ve come a long way, baby!” to paraphrase an old cigarette commercial (Are any of you reading this old enough to remember tobacco ads?). In 1983 Mountain State Press published my first cookbook, Mom & Ramps, Forever which was updated and reprinted by Quarrier Press in 2010 as Reekin’ Ramp Recipes. In 1993 More Than Beans & Cornbread made its debut, and twenty years later is still selling copies. First of all, I want to thank all of you who have purchased these books, and particularly those of you who have let me knew how much you enjoyed the recipes.
When my publisher, Bill Clements, approached me several years ago about doing another cookbook, I was reluctant. Not that I didn’t have enough new recipes, but because it would be so different from my first two books, which are strictly West Virginia oriented. Then I thought, “Why, not?” Most people who love to cook also love to try new recipes. With our culinary horizons expanding due to the many television food programs, the Internet, and more local ethnic restaurant choices, even “died-in-the-wool” Mountaineers today enjoy more than a bowl of beans with cornbread. Also, once-hard-to-find ingredients now are readily available in our supermarkets. Years ago I had to go to an Asian market to buy my first pine nuts and ordered shallots from an ad in Gourmet magazine.
So here it is. The recipes are still basically uncomplicated, and I’ve converted many of them to take advantage of “store bought” ingredients, which certainly saves time in this busy world, and doesn’t seem to drastically affect the overall taste.
BUT, here are a few of my personal idiosyncrasies when I am cooking, that if changed, could alter the taste of the original recipe.
1) I always use unsalted sweet butter, never margarine.
2) I always use freshly ground pepper and regular salt, except in soups, stews, pasta water when I use sea or Kosher salt.
3) I am not above using jarred chopped or minced garlic in a recipe if fresh isn’t a necessity.
4) I’m a fan of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise unless otherwise specified.
5) I always use canned low-sodium chicken or beef stock (I gave up making my own and freezing in ice cube trays years ago).
6) When in a hurry (or feeling lazy) I sometimes use packaged grated Parmesan cheese from the dairy case (although the “real thing” is preferable).
7) Now, hold onto your hats! I DO NOT OWN A MICROWAVE OVEN, so I don’t know how to use one for cooking, reheating, thawing, etc. I use a steamer for veggies and rice, and reheat all my food in a double boiler (if you don’t know what this is, ask your mother or grandmother).
As another old lady cook would say, if she were still alive, BON APPETIT!
Barbara Beury McCallum