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March 29 , 2011

Dinner at Miss Lady's

Memories and Recipes from a Southern Childhood


Back when people spent their whole lives in one place, life was all about family and family rituals. It was about the whole clan gathering at dinnertime over meals to be remembered forever. Luann Landon's cookbook/memoir transports us to that world of formal midday dinners, closely guarded recipes, and competitive cooks.
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Dinner at Miss Lady's takes us back there through the memories, meals, and recipes of one Southern family. Landon recreates the old Southern way of life in comic and tender anecdotes – from the near disaster of losing the tiny dinner bell to revenge exacted by giving the wrong recipe for a cake. This is the world of Landon's extended family: the glamorous and indolent Aunt Clare; the industrious, proud grandmother Murlo; the other grandmother, spoiled, indulgent Miss Lady and her good-humored husband, Judge; and most important, Henretta, the protective cook, able to mend family battles with a perfect blackberry-rhubarb cobbler.

Adding to the vividness of this memoir are menus from those memorable meals, including birthday dinners, homecoming feasts, graduation celebrations, and sumptuous spring and fall parties. Landon shares detailed recipes for over sixty heirloom dishes: Cousin Catherine's Chicken Vermouth with Walnuts and Green Grapes, Beets in Orange and Ginger Sauce, Tennessee Jam Cake, Caramel Ice Cream.

A rich portrait of a life almost lost to us, Dinner at Miss Lady's is a memoir cooked to perfection, one to savor both for its stories and for its food.
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