Thursday, June 13, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday - Southern Cooking

Back before there was Southern Living magazine or Paula Dean and the Food Network, if you were a good cook in the South, you probably had a copy of Southern Cooking by Mrs. S. R. Dull sitting close at hand.  As blogger Scott Thompson says, her cookbook, first published in 1928, "is still defined by current culinary connoisseurs as the Bible of southern cooking".(1)  As you look through its pages, it is easy to see why James Beard Award winning chef Sean Brock refers to Southern Cooking as one of the top ten vintage cookbooks on southern cooking.(2)

For my mother, born and raised in Canada, Mrs. Dull was pretty much a necessity as she tried to learn the basics of southern cooking.  I'm not sure exactly when mother got her copy of "Mrs. Dull", as the cookbook was referred to in our house.  The front end paper has the name and address of an aunt who may have given her personal copy to mother after my parents married in 1942.  I just know that Mrs. Dull was always in our home as I grew up and is now in mine.  Some of the pages are soiled with food splatters, often directions in recipes are underlined, and several recipes cut from The Atlanta Constitution are tucked between pages of the cookbook.  Mrs. Dull was definitely my mother's go-to cookbook. 

To learn more about Mrs. Dull's life and how she came to write her cookbook, you might read Scott Thompson's brief biography of Harriet Stanley Dull whom he dubbed "The Queen of Southern Cooking".  The Orlando Sentinel also has a reprint of an article Jim Auchmutey wrote in 1999 for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution relating how she came to write her cookbook and its place in Southern cuisine.  Years ago I downloaded a copy of that same Auchmutey article and stuck inside my copy of Mrs. Dull.

Probably my favorite recipe from Mrs. Dull is her recipe for Lemon Cheese Filling (not her Lemon Filling No. 1 or the Lemon Filling No. 2 recipe).  This Lemon Cheese Filling combined with Mrs. Dull's recipe for Seven Minute Icing (recipe doubled to use the two egg whites left from the filling recipe) and a white cake was something my mother sometimes made whenever my husband and I were at home.  Today that same cake is often the cake he requests for his birthday.  Thanks, Mrs. Dull.

(1)  Thompson, Scott. "Henrietta Stanley Dull, The Queen of Southern Cooking." Scott Thompson. The Women of our Lives, Lauren County, Georgia, 7 Aug 2009. : 2013.
(2)  Street, Erin Shaw. "Top 10: Sean Brock Shares The Greatest Southern Cookbooks You've Never Read." 16 Aug 2012. Southern Process Corporation, Southern Living : 2013.

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