It’s not “officially” autumn yet, but I consider the period of time starting immediately after Labor Day to be the actual start of “fall” – at least where I live. As such, I start turning to cookbooks to start planning comfort food meals for the fall & winter, along with taking advantage of the farmer’s market bounties that involve seasonal foods & nuts. Of course, I can always eat these things raw, but it’s much more delicious to use recipes from somewhere near and dear to my heart – Texas! I have family connections to Texas and as such, I love Tex-Mex and the various other foodstuffs you can easily find in Texas (and not very much elsewhere). I hadn’t heard of The Homesick Texan, but the premise is simple. A seventh-generation Texan now lives in New York City and the only way to get a taste of home is to cook things herself.
Lisa Fain’s second cookbook, The Homesick Texan is chock-full of traditional recipes sure to please anybody with a Texan connection, no matter how tenuous it may be. More than just a cookbook full of recipes, the gorgeous photography (taken by Fain herself!) integrates seamlessly into Fain’s narrative about Texas itself and its cultural milieus. We learn more about what happens at Texan family gatherings, while receiving a generous peppering of Texan facts throughout the book (such as bluebell season & the feelings the state flower evokes in Texans). Bluebells alone are worth searching out in Texas. Spotting fields of them in bloom while driving the rural byways of Texas evokes feelings like no other, especially if you see what appears to be pools of brilliant blue water on the side of hills as you crest a hill in the road, only to recognize that they’re actually bluebells.
This isn’t a hoity-toity cookbook – plenty of delicious food that anybody, and I mean anybody would be willing to attempt to cook. The cookbook groups its recipes into chapters: Breakfast & Breads, Starters & Snacks, Salads & Sides, Chilis & Soups & Stews, The Main Event, Sweets, and Accompaniments. There’s also a brief section on ingredient selection and preparation (especially for core items such as homemade chili powders). The recipes run the gamut from Angel Biscuits to Jalapeno Pesto-Stuffed Pork Roast (actually a very easy recipe to make). There’s a great variety of recipes represented, but the ones that immediately jumped out to me were:
- Potato-Chorizo Breakfast Tacos (p 25)
- Choriqueso (p 62)
- Orange-Cinnamon Candied Pecans (p 68)
- Frito Salad (p 85)
- German Potato and Green Bean Salad (p 86)
- Sunday Brisket (p 145)
There’s so many more appealing recipes in the book – there doesn’t seem to be a dud among them, especially if you enjoy “traditional” pot-luck foods and Tex-Mex dishes. Simply put, this cookbook is immediately becoming a staple in my own cupboard. Everybody has several cookbooks, but most people only really reach for a few cookbooks over and over. This will be one of those rare cookbooks for me. It doesn’t hurt that the gorgeous photography makes me think that I can pull off these recipes in my own kitchen, especially if Fain herself can pull them off in a tiny kitchen in New York City.
As might be apparent to the reader – I love chorizo. If something on the menu is described as having chorizo in it, I’m probably ordering that dish no matter what. A close second are oranges and pecans. But enough of my rhapsodizing about the recipes and the book itself. The production values for this cookbook are once again, superb. Ten Speed Press is quickly becoming my go-to publisher for cookbooks. Hardbound with sewn pages, textured paper sides and a dust wrapper all hold together semi-glossy innards selected to best show off the photographs of both the landscapes and foods of Texas. Here’s a series of photographs of the book itself:
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1607745044 (First Edition, 2014)
Design: Katy Brown
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.
If you’re looking for more information about this book: Random House
Overall Grade – A
ISBN: 978-1607745044 (First Edition, 2014)
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Binding: Paper boards, dust jacket, sewn pages & headbands (Excellent)
Paper: Semi-glossy, semi-matte (Good)
Affiliate link: The Homesick Texan’s Family Table: Lone Star Cooking from My Kitchen to Yours (Amazon)