Martha Foose’s new book, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea, arrived at our home like an old friend. After some time on the couch catching up, it was straight to the kitchen to have some fun. Like old friends chatting, our look at recipes threw structure and formality out the window. Precise measurements were replaced with “hey! what if …”
Martha’s recipes were a big part of our Christmas dinner. Sometimes we followed the rules and other times we struck out on our own.
We were actually fairly faithful to Martha’s recipe for ginger-molasses cookies. Well, we did substitute Louisiana cane syrup for molasses, but I think that’s reasonable. The cookies turned out great. Now whenever we go somewhere and take cookies, people are excited to see up coming. For a change.
Granddaddy Squirrel brought a smoked goose to Christmas dinner. Martha’s hot fruit was a nice contrast to the smoky, rich goose. We also served a salmon croquette with a salad topped with Martha’s roasted pecans. Both of those recipes we were true to, and both turned out great.
We took serious liberties with the lemon icebox pie. We took Martha’s traditional pie and turned it into fun and tasty individual servings in cosmo glasses. Yeah, we’re rebels, but we still had a friendly guiding hand.
The subtitle of the book is Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook. Like a good friend, it is the stories that really bring you together. In her introduction, Martha says, “all in all, this book is about my home, and I know no better way to tell its stories than through food.” Martha is a superb cook, and her stories are just as delightful as her food. She really got me with her “Sold my Soul to the Devil-ed Eggs”. Of course I loved the reference to bluesman Robert Johnson, but what really got me was the chickens. Martha writes about giving day-old pastries as chicken feed in trade for the eggs. The thought of fresh eggs is just one of many things that spoke to me.
Get the book. You’ll love it. You’ll get a great collection of recipes to enhance your Southerner street cred. And you’ll get those stories. And stories is what it’s all about.