Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking: Cookbook Review and Giveaway

Heather says:

Let’s start with transparency. I have had the honor of meeting Ms. Nathalie Dupree on several occasions at local book signings. She is well known in Charleston and is a pleasure to speak to. So I may be tad biased in this review, after all she calls my city home and has praised me for writing Home-Ec 101. I will have the pleasure of seeing her again on Sunday at the Center for Women’s Annual Local Author Signing held at the Citadel Alumni House. (If you’re local you should try to attend, if  for no other reason than to keep me company for a little while).

Cover ImageI was contacted by Gibbs Smith, the publishing house, to see if I was interested in reviewing Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.

You know the answer to that, right? I didn’t even have to look up the book to decide.

Then I learned it was by Ms. Dupree and Ms. Cynthia Graubart.

And then the book arrived. All 720 pages of my culinary heritage. (Later, while reading the book I learned they had cut out 300 additional pages.)

I’m not disciplined when it comes to reading cookbooks, I open to the middle, to a page at random, and let the book share what it will.

Chicken-Fried Steak with Flannel Sauce p438

Chicken Fried Steak is steak fried in the manner of chicken. Merle Ellis, a butcher turned television and cookbook food authority, was famous in the latter part of the twentieth century for his easy explanation of meat cookery. We cooked together several times, and his food was as top-notch as his writing. We debated such things as salting or not salting meat ahead of cooking, and he was obdurate about salting first, always. We both agreed salting and peppering flour is an excellent way of flavoring meat and chicken.

I had never heard of  gravy referred to as flannel sauce, but then I looked at the ingredients: onion, heavy cream, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce. Without even looking at the technique, I knew the velvety texture from which the name was derived. And my mouth watered and I began looking deeper into the book.

The recipe is written much like the ones you see here, in plain language with practical advice -use one hand to keep the other clean and free to turn the meat- and parenthetical notes. Naturally, I’m a fan of the writing style.

I love that there is a thorough explanation of  Southerners that goes well beyond those born and raised within the specific geography. Heck, I was born in Vallejo, CA, I’m a military brat and we moved here when I was two. Some would say I don’t qualify. Yet, Charleston is my home and I identify Southern, because it is what I know and love. The South is what I longed for when I spent five years in Minnesota -okay, maybe it was the climate as much as the food, but you get my point.

This book is in part an homage to Julia Child -you caught the title, right? It has thorough explanations of techniques, with only the barest reliance on processed foods  (pantry staples like canned tomatoes). This book isn’t for those looking to shortcut their way out of the kitchen. Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking is for those who want to appreciate what honest food can be, it honors the history and tradition that gives Southern food its unique characteristics. And no, it’s not all about adding a stick of butter, no, not this at all. It’s about appreciating the history of the ingredients and the cultures that brought them here.

Rick McKee’s photography shines, to say more would detract from his work.

This book is not cheap, but this isn’t a gimmicky cookbook, this is a reference. This book deserves a place of honor on the shelf. It’s the one you’ll open when you can’t remember exactly how to make a roux (and for some reason don’t have internet access and don’t visit me).

It’s the book you’ll curl up with at night and fall asleep dreaming of shrimp burgers, collards with pot likker, and hot pepper jelly. You’ll follow their advice and spend a dreary winter morning practicing the art of biscuit making and even if you’ve never met Nathalie or Cynthia, you’ll hear them guiding your efforts.

I’m keeping my copy (and getting it autographed on Sunday, maybe by both Ms. Dupree and Ms. Graubart). However, I’ll ALSO be buying a copy for one of you at the signing and having it autographed, as well.

To enter the random drawing for the giveaway all you have to do is comment.

(Please make sure you use a valid email address, this is the mandatory entry).

This giveaway is open to US residents only, due to shipping costs, I’m sorry rest-of-the-world.

Additionally, each entrant can have up to three additional entries, by tweeting about the giveaway,  signing up for the daily or weekly version of the Home-Ec 101 newsletter, or pinning this post on Pinterest. For the additional entries, just leave a new comment with the url (link) to the tweet or pin or say you’ve signed up. (If you already receive the newsletter, you can leave a comment saying so, I will be checking the email addresses to be sure they are truthful) And, to make sure you get the additional entries you are entitled to, only leave one url per comment. If you do all three, you should have 3 extra comments. Got it?

The entries will close at 9pm Eastern Sunday December 9. (If  The Walking Dead is on, you’ve missed your chance, sorry). The winner will be contacted via email on Monday morning and announced via Twitter -in case I don’t have a new post in which to include the news.


  1. says

    PS: Just signed up for your newsletter. I thought I already got it, but?? I also get your posts in my feed. Your site and your book have been VERY helpful to me.

  2. Kim says

    I am a more recent Southern transplant, though I still love the food from my region of origin (Buffalo-style chicken wings, anyone?), I would like to learn more about Southern cooking.

  3. Madison says

    I’m a northern Michigan girl born and breed, but I LOVE all food and southern style home cooking sounds DELICIOUS…yum. I’m actually planning a trip for later this year in which food is the main focus and driver of where we will be going. I’m searching for places along the east coast with exceptional seafood. Anyone have any suggestions? It doesn’t have to be just seafood either, like i said I LOVE all food.

    p.s. I found this website a few weeks ago and I love it. I have gotten in the habitat of checking it everyday like my email. Thanks!

  4. says

    COVET. Both my grandmothers were excellent Southern cooks (one high-brow, one low-brow), but I was too stubborn and impatient to let them teach me before they passed away. I’ve lived in the South all my life (except college in Massachusetts) and I would love to own this book. I already subscribe to your newsletter!

  5. Sue says

    I was born and raised in VA but moved to MA where I met my husband and am now raising our family. I love to cook and have some great books (Screen Doors & Sweet Tea, Bon Appetite Y’all) but would love to add this to my repertoire. I want to make sure that my children grow up loving and appreciating great southern food. Which reminds me, I need to order some ham hocks for black eyed peas!

  6. Mindy says

    Ooooh, I was wondering what to get my FIL for Christmas and you just nailed it for me. If I win yours then, yay!, bonus for me. Otherwise a trip to the bookstore is in order this weekend.

  7. says

    I lived in Summerville for a few years, and I so enjoyed reading Mrs. Dupree’s column in the Post & Courier. I’d love to have this book both as a reference and a souvenir of my time there!

  8. says

    Would love this cookbook as I’m a bit challenged in the kitchen and find myself now living in the south the same number of years as I lived in the north.

  9. says

    Hi! As a recent college grad, I first wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all the home-ec tips and advice. With that said, I’m finally off the cup of noodles diet and have been trying, with the necessary copious amounts of patience that it takes, to teach myself to cook. I’ve lived in the San Francisco area most my life, and although like you was born on a military base but in Arkansas, I have zero knowledge of proper southern cooking. I would love this book!

  10. Shari says

    Our local newspaper’s food section recently discussed favorite cookbooks on their FB page, and this one came up… I’ve had it on my Christmas wish list ever since!

  11. says

    I would LOVE to have a cookbook that was reliably non-processed (without being too “crunchy,” if you know what I mean – just because I want to cook with whole foods doesn’t mean every recipe needs to call for something exotic that my husband will never touch)! AllRecipes is my “goto,” but so often I’ll look up “biscuits” and get “put in 2 cups of Bisquick” or any type of casserole and get “two cans of cream of XX soup.” I can read the instructions on the back of a box and know very well how to dump a can of something in a casserole…what I need to know is how to make real food from real ingredients.

  12. says

    I wasn’t clear on the extra entries, but I think you said that if I subscribed daily then I’d get a second entry. I read Home Ec 101 through my feedreader. If that counts, then keep this comment. Otherwise, just ignore me. Apparently the brain isn’t quite full-speed this morning.

  13. DB says

    I remember Ms. Nathalie Dupree’s show. She cooked with diamonds on her fingers and a song in her heart about freezable goodies. Love her! This book has got to be beyond the beyond! Please send my kind regards.

  14. says

    I’m from Delaware, the only state East of the Mason-Dixon line. Everything I know about Southern Cooking comes from picking up a copy of Biscuits Spoonbread and Sweet Potato Pie from Bill Neal in 1994. Part cookbook and part southern history, I still re-read it for pleasure. Would love a copy of Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking! Sounds like my type of book.

  15. Angelsong says

    I have loved learning from Ms Dupree for a long time. The new book sounds amazing! I’d love to add it to my collection.

  16. says

    I learned to cook by watching Ms. Dupree’s shows on PBS in the early 1990s, and have such a spot in my heart for her! I still get out Natalie Dupree Cooks for Family and Friends and many of her other books as well. Please pick me! Please pick me! Nothing would make Christmas better than a new book by the Fabulous Ms. D!

  17. Marie says

    What a beautiful book! I agree whole-heartedly that your home-and culture-is determined by your heart. (Though location doesn’t hurt!)

  18. Lindsey McCollum says

    I’d love to have this book! My mouth started watering when reading your review. I’m a Mississippian born and bred and never lived farther north than Memphis TN. I get your newsletter in my hotmail account and also follow your facebook posts.
    Merry Christmas!

  19. Tater says

    I LOVE Nathalie Dupree!! I miss seeing her on TV. This cookbook would make a wonderful addition to my collection. I can read them like novels. :)

  20. Steve Pelach says

    Us northerners have so much to learn about cooking from the South. Keep up the good work. My wife and I love to cook and love the website.


  21. says

    I was born and raised here in the South and I absolutely adore Southern Cooking. It was actually a rarity in my house, besides the occasional bowl of gumbo we never made anything really Southern and fresh. So, this book is just a blast from the past I never had. It’s simple enough to comprehend, the food just looks tantalizing, and when I’m done cooking really anything I feel accomplished when I look at the pleased faces of my family and friends. Home Ec-101 is just the bomb for loving this as much as I do! Miss Solos, you are a fantastic woman and I love your website! I hope I get picked for another copy to give to my mother, she needs it! Or I can just give her my copy and keep the autographed one ;D

  22. Debs says

    Oh, wow, would I love this book! I already get your daily newsletter, and have Pinned the cookbook, too.

    My Mom was from North Carolina, and I can cook some things (chicken and dumplings, chicken fried steak…kinda). I’d love to master more to show my adult daughter that she’s not all Yankee! She could learn a thing or two, too! I would pass this book onto her.

  23. Julie says

    I would love love love to have this book. I am a born and raised Southerner from Atlanta. My dad’s family is from North Carolina, and we have very strong ties to Charleston. Everything about this book speaks to my southern roots and my love and appreciation for southern cooking. I lost my grandmother when I was 16, and she was the best southern cook I have ever known. I feel like this book would be another tie to her. Thank you for the opportunity to win this book.

  24. Mandy says

    Just found your blog. The horrible incident of my husband leaving our freezer door ajar brought me here. I knew most of it was a loss, but wanted to see if the veg could be salvaged. The only thing we could salvage was the vodka lol. I would love to win this book please! I also signed up for your newsletter. Thanks for the opportunity!

  25. Carolyn says

    I also signed up for the weekly email. I’m already subscribed in google reader though. Is it the same information? I don’t need to get it twice.

  26. K.K. says


    Thanks for the fun contest. I would love to have this book. It takes me right back to my many years of living in the South, and when I first learned how to do this kind of cooking.

    Just found out about your blog via a YouTube review for one of Darren Rowse’s book, _31 Days to Build a Better Blog_.

    Here is the URL for my Tweet:

    I also just signed up for your newsletter via the same E-mail address I used for this comment.

    (BTW, if you want the YouTube link, please let me know, and I’ll be glad to come back to post it in the comments here, or simply give it to you via E-mail so you can decide what to do with it. :-D)

    Best of luck to all who enter here, and happy cooking. 😀

  27. Deb says


    I just found and subscribed to your weekly newsletter and I sure hope I get a chance to win a copy of the cook book! Boy, on boy am I excited. I lost all of mine in a fire a couple of years ago, along with everything else I had, and I have not been able to afford to replace anything because I couldn’t afford insurance. So I would love the chance to win one back. That would be awesome.

    I look forward to the newsletters too. Good luck to everyone.


  28. says

    Hi, Heather! Thank you so much for your kind words about our book! I know your readers will love this book – real food, real techniques and instruction. Nathalie and I loved writing this book and hope it finds a permanent place on cookbook shelves around the country. Thanks for sharing!

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