Read this cookbook: “Add a Pinch: Easier, Faster, Fresher Southern Classics” by Robyn Stone (Clarkson Potter, $25)
By Wendell Brock
Robyn Stone lives in Carrollton with her husband, Bart, and her son, Sam, and by the looks of her beautiful blog and its name cookbook, “Add a Pinch,” she is one fine Southern cook.
An author for whom family and food are mingled with a sense of place, she grew up in tiny Bowdon, Ga., also in Carroll County. The comforting, home-style recipes she feeds her family today are not all that different from those that her grandmother Verdie cooked for her granddaddy Eual.
And yet they are.
Stone’s style is classic Southern, updated for time-pinched modern folk who want to eat with integrity and nurture body and soul.
She’s an advocate for mindfully chosen ingredients that come from nearby and don’t need to be processed.
She’s big on skillet suppers, slow-cooker meals, casseroles and one-dish dinners that use fat, sugar, cream with a lighter hand.
This means Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken finished to a crisp in the oven. Sweet-and-sour meatballs like her mama made, only paired with zucchini instead of pasta. Peppers stuffed with wild rice and mushrooms instead of ground meat. Corn creamed with a little water, milk and butter instead of bacon fat. Butterbeans simmered in chicken stock and touch of pepper and cumin, rather than ham hock.
Many of the 100 recipes come with tips on how to refashion leftovers into a second dish, and how best to freeze food for later.
When it comes to sweets, Stone’s a woman after my own heart: Italian Cream Cake, pecan pie (made with maple syrup), lemon meringue pie and Georgia Peach Crisp, so perfect right now with or without vanilla ice cream.
Her recipe collection is a fresh, gentle diversion from a regional cuisine that many want to jack up with fat, salt and sugar just because they can. Southern grandmas may have used butter and lard because it came from their own animals and was a genius way to add flavor with economy. Stone knows that oftentimes you only need to add a pinch.
Wendell Brock is an Atlanta food and culture writer, frequent AJC contributor and winner of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for journalism. Follow him on Twitter (@MrBrock) and Instagram (@WendellDavidBrock).