The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Cooking & Food

Okra Stew by Natalie Daise

You can almost smell the salt marsh in this stunning homage to Gullah culture, father-son love, and Okra. With art reminiscent of Lois Ehlert or Faith Ringold this one is a must for all young southern foodies.

Okra Stew by Natalie Daise, (List Price: 19.99, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 9781250849663, October 2023)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book is a Harvest of Stories

The Southern Bookseller Review Newsletter for August, 2023

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The Southern Bookseller Review: A Book for Every Reader

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August 2023

Stories are food for the soul.

SBR Harvest Issue illustration creid Hleb Krykov

A book is a harvest of stories. This month’s special edition of The Southern Bookseller Review celebrates that which sustains us; food for both body and soul.

More books tagged "Cooking" at SBR

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world." — J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

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Recommended by Southern indies…

Butcher On The Block : Everyday Recipes, Stories, and Inspirations from Your Local Butcher and Beyond by Matt Moore


Butcher On The Block : Everyday Recipes, Stories, and Inspirations from Your Local Butcher and Beyond by Matt Moore
Harvest / April 2023

Sometimes, the best way to get the best recipes is to just talk to your butcher. It’s an age-old adage that Matt Moore, author of Serial Griller and South’s Best Butts and grandson of a butchertook to heart—he’s traveled around the country and beyond to do just that. In Butcher on the Block, he shares stories, coveted family recipes, and expert tips from the people behind the counter who sell your meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, and trimmings.

"Compelling stories. Drop-dead gorgeous photos. And recipes that not only make you hungry but make you think. Matt Moore’s book will make the heart of every serious griller beat faster and make you want to run, not walk, to fire up your grill."  -Steven Raichlen, author of the Barbecue Bible cookbook series and host of Project Fire and Project Smoke on PBS, on Serial Griller

Bacon Bloody Mary

4 ounces tomato juice
2 ounces Bacon-infused Vodka (see below)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper
2 dashes Tabasco hot sauce
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Ice cubes, to fill glass 3/4 full
Cooked bacon, crumbled as garnish
Lime wedge, as garnish
Pickled okra, as garnish

Combine the tomato juice, vodka, lime juice, horseradish, celery salt, pepper, Tabasco, and Worcestershire in a shaker and shake a few times to combine. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with the bacon, lime wedge, and okra. Serve.

Bacon-infused spirits

Combine the drippings from 8-10 strips of baked bacon and one 750-milliliter bottle of bourbon or vodka in a large pitcher. Stir the mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Next, place the pitcher in the freezer for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight. The fat will congeal, separating it from the spirit. Using a spoon, remove the congealed fat. To finish, pour the spirit through a fine-mesh strainer line with cheesecloth to remove any particles. The infused spirit is best kept cold and stored in the freezer.
Matt Moore photo credit the author

About the author

Matt Moore is an entrepreneur, cook, musician, host, pilot, and the quintessential Southern gentleman. He is the author of Serial GrillerSouth’s Best Butts, and A Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen. His food writing has garnered critical acclaim from publications including the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and New York Times. His Southern charm has landed him on the TODAY show, Fox & Friends, VH1, and CBS.

Bookseller Buzz


Spotlight on: Land of Milk and Honey by C Pam Zhang


C Pam Zhang, photo credit Clayton Cubitt

And then there was this moment when the food actually came to the table. And everything just changed; the tenor of the conversation paused and when we started eating, I could just see both of us fall out of our anxious brains back into our bodies. ― C Pam Zhang, Interview, This Is TASTE 271

What booksellers are saying about Land of Milk and Honey

Big Gay Wedding by Byron Lane
  • Land of Milk and Honey is a feast for the senses. C Pam Zhang’s control of language is simply remarkable; her words pour off the page like peach juice drips down your arm in the heat of the summer. Lush descriptions of fresh fruit, aged cheese, and fragrant wine mixed with the heady rush of queer desire in a broken, fragile ecosystem works to create a landscape so vividly rich and complex that I wanted to eat it all with a spoon. Good food can light up the palate; this book lit up mine.
      ― Gaby Iori from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, NC | Buy from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews

  • I can’t stop thinking about this sensuous fever dream of a novel. A deadly smog has decimated earth’s food supply in this dystopian novel about pleasure, gluttony and greed. Land of Milk and Honey will make you savor and appreciate the bounty we have and think about ways to be better stewards of our resources. Excellent writing.
      ― Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC | Buy from Main Street Books

  • Set in an eerily plausible near future ravaged by climate catastrophe, Land of Milk and Honey takes readers on a journey alongside a chef who accepts a rare opportunity to not only escape dismal environmental conditions but also use some of the world’s most coveted ingredients cooking for some of the world’s wealthiest individuals in a private mountaintop community. This story celebrates the joys of food and pleasure while exploring themes of privilege, humanity’s role in science, and our complex relationship with nature. Zhang’s writing moved me to tears more than once; this book celebrates food in a way that Station Eleven celebrated the arts. This is my favorite book of 2023, and I expect the same will be true for many readers!
      ― Beth Seufer Buss from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

C Pam Zhang is the author of How Much of These Hills Is Gold, winner of the Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Award and the Asian/Pacific Award for Literature, longlisted for the Booker Prize, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award and the National Book Critics’ John Leonard Prize, and one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of the year. She is a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honoree and a New York Public Library Cullman Fellow.


Skilletheads : A Guide to Collecting and Restoring Cast-Iron Cookware  by Ashley L. Jones


Skilletheads : A Guide to Collecting and Restoring Cast-Iron Cookware by Ashley L. Jones
Red Lightning Books / May 2023

"If you want to learn more about cast-iron cookware, this book might be your Bible. Ashley traces the history of the cast-iron cookware industry, shows us how to restore and care for our cast iron, and leaves us with some amazing recipes so that we can put our favorite pans to use. This book is a celebration of what we Skilletheads love about our tools." ~Isaac Morton, founder of Smithey Ironware

From Ashley L. Jones:

Before Skilletheads, there was Modern Cast Iron: The Complete Guide to Selecting, Seasoning, Cooking, and More. As the title implies, this was written as a complete guide to cast-iron cookware. But there were two big topics it only briefly addressed: the collection and restoration of cast-iron cookware. And that is what I’ve set out to explore in this book…Whether you’re interested in finding the perfect skillet for your kitchen, or you’d like to start restoring cast iron as a hobby or side-job, then this book is for you. In these pages, you’ll find side-by-side comparisons of modern companies, step-by-step restoration guides, and helpful collection and restoration tips from the pros. And no cast iron book is complete without recipes, so you’ll find plenty of recipes, as well, all contributed by those who know cast iron the best.

But I do have to warn you: if you’re not already interested in collecting and restoring cast iron, you will be after reading this book. So gas up the car and clear a few Saturdays on the calendar, because you’re about to have some fun with cast-iron cookware!

You might be a Skillethead if…

  • You spent your vacation traveling out of state to purchase a bunch of cast iron from an old collector you met online.
  • You look for creative ways to use your cast-iron collection, such as hanging them in the garden as wind chimes.
  • You have a strong opinion about “textured versus smooth surface” and you’re ready to share it with anyone who will listen.
  • You spend all your extra money “rescuing” rust buckets.
  • You have a lot of pieces in your cast iron collection . . . and they all have names.

Henry Lodge’s Favorite Cornbread
Recipe courtesy of Lodge Cast Iron

This cornbread recipe has been in the Lodge family for decades and is often made for family meals by former CEO Henry Lodge’s wife. While there’s no sugar in it, the addition of creamed corn brings a hint of sweetness to the savory bread. Plus, the corn and sour cream keep the cornbread moist and prevent it from drying out, making it just as good leftover as it is fresh.

10.25” Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet

½ cup canola oil, divided
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
1 8-ounce can creamed corn
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
¼ tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. While oven is preheating, pour ¼ cup of oil into a 10.25” Lodge Cast-Iron Skillet and place in oven to preheat.
3. In a bowl, mix remaining ingredients together. Remove skillet from the oven and pour out the hot oil into the cornmeal mixture. Stir together.
4. Pour cornmeal mixture into the hot skillet and bake for 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Ashley L. Jones

About the author

Ashley L. Jones is author of Modern Cast Iron. An author, blogger, and teacher based in Tallahassee, Florida, Jones enjoys exploring the art of collecting and restoring cast-iron cookware. Learn more at

Family Meal by Bryan Washington


Family Meal by Bryan Washington
Riverhead Books / October 2023

More Reviews from Avid Bookshop

At times heartwarming, others heartrending, this tender work from Washington is delectable. Lust, hunger, grief, and a longing for belonging squeeze up against the forces that seek to tear us apart, but, what Family Meal serves is a generous familial communion made up of the people we love and those who, despite our flaws, love us back. A restorative novel to be shared, undoubtedly set to bring its readers together.

Reviewed by Luis Correa, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

A Very Gay Book by Jenson Titus


Still We Rise by Erika Council
 Clarkson Potter / August 2023

More Reviews from Main Street Books

A good cookbook needs inviting recipes and clear instructions. A great cookbook goes beyond to provide context, history, and a singular voice. Still We Rise is a great cookbook that elevates the humble biscuit while paying homage to African-American chefs and home cooks and expanding American foodways history. Council writes with sass, reassurance, and authority. Her introductory section on ingredients and tools made me both laugh and believe I could bake these gems. Great recipes (for fillings and butters as well as biscuits), beautiful and functional photographs, and historical notes make this a kitchen shelf essential.

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Welcome to Our Table by Laura Mucha


Welcome to Our Table by Laura Mucha
 Nosy Crow / August 2023

More Reviews from Bookmarks

Now I’m hungry! A Gastro Obscura for kids — and not so much on the obscurity but more on the shared experiences and comparing differences around the globe. And much like every time I handle the adult book, I get hungry. Kids are so willing to try things if they’re presented by people with a love of sharing neat stuff.

Reviewed by Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Raw Dog by Jamie Loftus


Raw Dog by Jamie Loftus
Forge Books / May 2023

Adult NonfictionCelebrity & Popular CultureHumorTopic
More Reviews from Fountain Bookstore

America’s guiltiest pleasure: the hot dog. Following a road trip Loftus and her then-partner took in the summer of 2021, this is so much more than just a history book with a suggestive title. Stories of meth motels, the hunt for the best hotdog in the country, and brilliant musings on organized labor and the food industry in the United States, all wrapped into one, clever, laugh-out-loud book. Loftus’ humor transfers onto the page so well, it makes for a history book like no other.

Reviewed by Grace Sullivan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Parting Thought

“A book is a garden, an orchard, a storehouse, a party, a company by the way, a counselor, a multitude of counselors.”
—Charles Baudelaire

Publisher: The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance /
Editor: Nicki Leone /
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A Pinch of Love by Barry Timms

A Pinch of Love is an adorable picture book about spreading love and overcoming hard times through baking. With diverse characters, an emphasis on community, and a colorful quirky art style that is incredibly appealing, this tender book will be perfect to share with little loved ones with a love of baking (or baked goods)!

A Pinch of Love by Barry Timms (List Price: $18.99, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 9780711280199, December 2022)

Reviewed by Julia Lewis, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi

I don’t know how Kaya Doi does it, but even though this is EIGHTH book in the Chirri & Chirra series, it’s still just as magical and enjoyable to read as the first. The formula, rather than being tiresome, is soothing and reassuring—you know from the first “dring-dring!” that you are setting off on a charming adventure with tasty treats and friendly animals. This one, with a full moon festival in the forest, works particularly well for bedtime reading.

Chirri & Chirra, In the Night by Kaya Doi (List Price: $16.95, Enchanted Lion Books, 9781592703845, November 2022)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Welcome to Our Table by Laura Mucha

Now I’m hungry! A Gastro Obscura for kids — and not so much on the obscurity but more on the shared experiences and comparing differences around the globe. And much like every time I handle the adult book, I get hungry. Kids are so willing to try things if they’re presented by people with a love of sharing neat stuff.

Welcome to Our Table by Laura Mucha, (List Price: 21.99, Nosy Crow, 9798887770185, August 2023)

Reviewed by Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Pizza! by Greg Pizzoli

Okay, here is the non-fiction picture book I’ve been craving… I mean, it’s Pizza! A Slice of History! I can’t imagine any kid turning this one down for it’s subject matter alone, but topped with the vibrant illustrations of award-winning favorite, Greg Pizzoli? A real treat.

Pizza! by Greg Pizzoli, (List Price: $18.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780425291078,  August 2022)

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books and Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Sunday Pancakes by Maya Tatsukawa

The thing I love about a great picture book is the way anything can become magical. (Please note: this is not a book about literal magic pancakes. It’s a book about the magic of friendship while making pancakes together!) Cat, Rabbit, and Moonbear spend the day together making pancakes, eating pancakes, and taking a post-pancakes nap. The simplicity of their shared day reminds me of the power of sharing a special tradition with friends, even one as simple as Sunday pancakes.

Sunday Pancakes by Maya Tatsukawa, (List Price: $17.99, Dial Books, 9780593406632, May 2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Kalamata’s Kitchen by Sarah Thomas, Derek Wallace, Jo Kosmides Edwards (Illus)

Super cute and imaginative read! Kalamata is afraid to start school, but she takes a trip through a magical world of food with her alligator pal Al Dente where she finds her bravery admits the aromas and flavors she loves. It’s adorable and will make you hungry!

Kalamata’s Kitchen by Sarah Thomas, Derek Wallace, Jo Kosmides Edwards (Illus) (List Price: $17.99, Random House Books for Young Readers, 9780593307915, 7/6/2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

The Friendly Vegan Cookbook by Michelle Cehn & Toni Okamoto

The Friendly Vegan is far and away my favorite cookbook of 2020! The recipes combine easy-to-find ingredients with simple instructions for page after page of go-to recipes every vegan should have in their kitchen repertoire. I have been making tofu scramble for years, and this morning tried The Friendly Vegan recipe, and my husband immediately recognized the elevated flavor combinations. I can’t wait to cook my way through this cookbook!

The Friendly Vegan by Michelle Cehn & Toni Okamoto (List Price: $22.95, BenBella Books, 9781950665365, October, 2020)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Avocado Asks by Momoko Abe

Poor Avocado is thrown for a loop when he hears someone wonder if he is a fruit or a vegetable! Not only is this book ADORABLE, but it also teaches a great lesson about fitting in even if you’re a little bit different. Sometimes being different means standing out and being wonderful! The easy text and fun grocery store illustrations will be fun to revisit during story times.

Avocado Asks by Momoko Abe (List Price: $17.99, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 9780593177938, 1/26/2021)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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