In the South, few things hold more cultural influence than food and country music. When combined, the duo of delicious, Southern-fried food and classic country music is damn near irresistable — a fact that many country music stars realized decades ago. Now, it’s almost common for (female) country artists to release their own cookbooks, which frequently highlight recipes from their family’s past.
And sure, tradition is important in the south, but so is bacon grease. This reality may have something to do with why Southern food is seeing a sort of renaissance in the culinary consciousness. If you’re interested in adding a little southern twang to your menu, these five cookbooks written by some of country’s most famous artists talk the talk and walk the walk.
Never one to shy away from her identity as a coal miner’s daughter from the hollers of Kentucky, Loretta Lynn’s cuisine is as country-fried as her Appalachian twang. In You’re Cookin’ It Country, Lynn shares her family’s favorite recipes and anecdotes, including a lengthy entry about her father’s favorite meal — possum. You’ll probably want to stick with the tasty, down-home recipes that don’t involve vermin, like Scotch Eggs, Southern Sausage Gravy, and Hashbrown Casserole.
Unfortunately, even Southerners cannot live on shortening and flour alone, and our modern lives (read: no manual labor) demand that we eat a little healthier in 2015 than we did thirty years ago. Trisha Yearwood made her name on the Food Network by cooking up Southern classics, and now, she’s lightening them up for a little balance with Trisha’s Table. Granola parfaits and cinnamon rolls demonstrate this cookbook’s range — from healthy to decadent — and there are plenty of delicious surprises, like pancakes inspired by a traditional Southern hummingbird cake.
According to June Carter Cash, her mother was the best cook in the world. After thumbing through the pages of Mother Maybelle’s Cookbook, it’s hard to argue. The Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash, was so taken with Mother Maybelle’s cooking that he wrote a gushing foreword to the June Carter Cash-penned book of southern recipes. You probably didn’t know that there were seven different ways to make biscuits — sweet tater nut and mayonnaise biscuits among them — but you’ll be oh so glad you learned.
Martina McBride acknowledges that her love of food comes from humble, Midwestern beginnings, but that doesn’t stop her from putting together the mighty fine entertaining cookbook that was released earlier this year. In Around The Table, McBride writes that she’d have been a party planner in another life, and mouthwatering recipes like cherry-rosemary muffins and Hello Dollies almost make us wish she had chosen that path instead of singing.
If you don’t love Dolly Parton, there is something fundamentally wrong with you. The first lady of country music is beloved for her impressive tunes, acting ability, and charming personality, but she’s also not a half-bad cook. In Dolly’s Dixie Fixin’s, Parton takes you into her own kitchen, where you’ll learn how to create recipes like the famous cream of vegetable soup from Dolly Parton’s chain of Dixie Stampede dinner theatres. It won’t be the same as being guided by Parton herself, but play “9 To 5” on a loop in the background to (sort of) be encouraged by your favorite country music godmother.
Amy McCarthy is Paste’s Assistant Food Editor. She is literally always cookin’ it country.
Images via Amazon.com
Main Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty