Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review - Christmas All Through The South

If you love the south and especially if you love Christmas in the south, this is the book to have - whether you gift it to yourself, or someone else. I literally spent hours with this book, sometimes smiling in agreement, sometimes a little teary eyed. It took me a little while to write this review because I literally devoured this book over time.

Weighing in at a hefty five pounds and measuring 11-1/2 by 10 inches in size, Christmas All Through The South: Joyful Memories, Timeless Moments, Enduring Traditions is a substantial coffee table book, with over 400 full color photographs scattered throughout, essays, poetry and excerpts by writers, journalists and regular contributors to Southern Living on the web and in the magazine - Maya Angelou, Ace Atkins, Harper Lee, Truman Coapote, Rick Bragg, Julia Reed and others, writing on Christmas memories, homemade ornaments, the art of gift wrapping and more.

Christmas All Through The South is presented in 5 parts:

Part One, Joyful Anticipation will bring you back to childhood memories, from the traditional selection of a real Christmas tree through the trimming of the tree with ornaments packed with nostalgic family history and onto the decorating of the entire home. There is plenty of inspiration here for wreaths, entryways, living rooms and decorating with classic holiday florals. Menus for A Hearty Picnic in the Pines and A Casual Cocktail Supper are both perfect for this part of the season.
"The Southern Christmas is rich in its traditions, its own beauties, its own recipes and notions, and yes, peculiarities. It is why, no matter where we live in this world, we yearn to come home as time draws near." ~Rick Bragg

Delightful Destinations helps to bring us out of the introspection and into the range of outside sources of our Christmases, whether it be simple tours of neighborhood and local Christmas decorations, small town parades and local events, a trip to Grandma's house, or talking ideas for excursions outside of the norm.
"On the long drive home for the holidays, a Cracker Barrel signaled that we had crossed the Mason Dixon line back into God's country... it was usually one of the first stops on the trip." ~Ace Atkins

This beautiful book brings you peeks into places like the Williamsburg Inn and the Governor's Palace at Williamsburg, the Jefferson Hotel at Richmond, Riverwalk at San Antonio, decorated landmarks of Savannah, the lobby of the Roosevelt hotel in New Orleans and places like the Noel Acadian au Village near Lafayette, where more than half a million lights illuminate the buildings. These are only a small representation of the many destinations and stunning photographs shared here. Included in this section are menus for a Supper by the Sea, A Yuletide Feast and Cookies & Cocktails.
"The South may not be the only region that goes overboard for the holidays, but we like to think we do it with inimitable style." ~Kim Cross, SL editor at large

The Christmas season is all about the folks that we love and cherish and coming home and Heartfelt Gatherings is where that interconnection takes place. It begins with our religious Christmas programs and Christmas Eve church services, that serve to remind us of the true meaning of Christmas, and help to ground us for the rest of the year, Reveillon dinners in New Orleans and the feux de joie along the levees, and other Christmas Eve traditions that lead to the exclamation point of the season - Christmas Dinner.

And of course, there's the grand finale of the annual white holiday cakes Southern Living is known for and all of the Christmas desserts and treats we all look forward to every year. Menus in this section include A Merry Christmas Eve Dinner, as well as Christmas Morning Brunch, and, of course, a joyful Christmas Dinner and a menu of Christmas Cakes are included.

Sparkling Celebrations brings us into the New Year, a chance to celebrate the past 12 months and to anticipate those coming. Never-mind the ball drop in the Big Apple, because the South has their own countdowns that range from the sacred peach in Atlanta, the iconic Moon Pie in Mobile, the giant guitar in Memphis, or the fleur de lis over the Mississippi River in New Orleans. No matter where you are in the South, there's a countdown drop and fireworks to be found. New Year's Day in the South means greens and Southern peas for luck and money and there are menus for a New Year's Eve at the Lake and a Lucky Oyster Roast in the Lowcountry tradition of welcoming in the new year included in this section.
"I missed Christmas away from home, I thought. What I really missed was a memory, an old memory of people long gone, of my grandparents' house bursting with cousins, smilax, and holly." ~Harper Lee
The last section, Festive Recipes, is where all of the menus and luscious food photography scattered throughout the book come together, as detailed, easy to follow recipes. Both a recipe and subject index are included in the back.

Christmas All Through The South will have you in a simultaneous smile of "yep, I do that" to a wave of varied emotions about those sentimental traditions and routines you repeat every year, especially those in the absence of loved ones now passed, who may even have helped to create them. The photography throughout is just stunning, the menus and recipes simply mouthwatering, and everything is representative of the best of what Southern Living has brought to us over the years.

Even if you've let your Christmas traditions wane as family has changed, Christmas All Through The South will make you want to revive them. With all those things you love about Southern Living - travel, gorgeous decorating and food - it's a coffee table book that you'll be proud to pull out and use, every Christmas season. Pick up a copy of Christmas All Through the South, as a gift for someone you love, or even for yourself, at most major retailers, your favorite bookstore, or at online stores like Amazon.

The last few years, I've been bringing beef to the table for the small Christmas meal that I make for the Cajun and me and I splurge a bit on the cut of beef. Southern Living has graciously allowed me to share their recipe for beef tenderloin, included in the Casual Cocktail Supper menu, as a sampling of the kinds of recipes that you will find in Christmas All Through The South.

Perfect Beef Tenderloin
 with Homemade Hot Mustard and Horseradish Sauce

Makes 12 to 14 appetizer servings • Hands-on 10 min. • Total 50 min.

When seasoning roasts, this will generally do the trick: 1 tsp. of kosher salt per pound of meat. Plan on about 5 pounds of meat for every 12 guests.
  • 1 (5 to 7-lb.) beef tenderloin, trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, softened
  • 5 to 7 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3⁄4 tsp. cracked black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425°. Place beef on a wire rack in a jelly-roll pan. Rub butter over beef, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Bake at 425° for 25 to 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 135° (medium rare). Cover loosely with aluminum foil; let stand 15 minutes before slicing.

Note: We tested with Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt.

Homemade Hot Mustard
Makes 2-1⁄4 cups • Hands-on 20 min. • Total 13 hr., 20 min.
  • 1 cup dry mustard
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large pasteurized eggs, lightly beaten
1. Stir together first 2 ingredients in top of a double boiler. Cover and let stand 12 to 24 hours.
2. Pour water to depth of 1 inch into bottom of a double boiler over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer; place top of double boiler over simmering water. Whisk sugar and eggs into mustard mixture, and cook, whisking constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and cool completely (about 1 hour). (Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.) Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Horseradish Sauce
Makes about 2 cups • Hands-on 5 min. • Total 5 min.
  • 1-1/3 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks
  • 6 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 to 3 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
1. Fold together first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in lemon juice and sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste.

~ ~

Disclosure: I received one free review copy of "Christmas All Through the South: Joyful Memories Timeless Moments Enduring Traditions."

Material Disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, you should assume that post links to the providers of goods and services mentioned, establish an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection and that I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything when using my recipes and you should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.


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