Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

The Southern Living Cookbook Library

Jerry Stratton, October 3, 2018

The Southern Living Cookbook Library is probably the series of books I rely on most when looking for new recipes. I found the first of these cookbooks, the Cookies and Candy Cookbook, at one of the local flea markets about four years ago. It was filled with great recipes; it seemed impossible to make a bad recipe from the book. So when I happened to see the Meats Cookbook in Franklin, Tennessee, I picked it up. And then the Holiday Cookbook a few months later in Birmingham. I then quickly picked up several more on a pre-Hallowe’en run through Franklin and Nashville.

As I came to rely more and more on the books in the series, I picked up new ones whenever I ran across one; of all old cookbook series, they seem especially scarce. I have a feeling that people don’t get rid of these books when they start culling their collections.

I have not been able to find any official list of the books in the series. There are a couple of lists online, but these lists each miss at least one of the books. By my count, which could easily be wrong, there are twenty-two books. I made this count by searching for various permutations of Southern Living cookbooks; there are a couple of collections for sale with the spines out.

Molasses ginger sandwich cookies

Molasses ginger sandwich cookies from the Cookies and Candies book. Easy sandwich cookies, very good. Buttery.

Glazed donuts

Glazed donuts from the Holiday book, made in a bread machine and deep-fried.

Popovers with butter

Popovers from the Holiday book, made in the bread machine and then slathered in butter.

If my count is correct, I managed to pick up the last missing book in the series, the Soups and Stews Cookbook, in August. And just like the first book rapidly became the first place I looked for cookies and candies, this has become the pre-eminent soup book in my collection. The uncooked tomato/yogurt soup alone is worth the book; it’s very simple, and very much something I would never have thought to try without seeing the recipe here.

Tomato-Yogurt Soup

A pretty-in-pink tomato-yogurt soup from the Soups and Stews book. This requires no cooking, just blending.

Tuna-salad melt

Tuna-yogurt salad from the Party Snacks book on Easter-raisin bread from the Breads book. Easter bread makes a great grilled cheese!

Sweet-sour short ribs

Very colorful sweet-sour short ribs from the Meats book. The color comes from pineapple and bell peppers.

From what I’ve seen in used bookstores, there were three Southern Living series running semi-concurrently. The Southern Living Cookbook Library is distinguished by:

  1. Publish dates between 1971 and 1979.
  2. No cover text. The title is on the spine.
  3. The publisher is either Oxmoor House or Favorite Recipes Press. From 1975 on up all of the books I have are from Oxmoor House. Before that they vary. The spine for Favorite Recipes Press books says PF/SL, for Progressive Farmer/Southern Living1.
  4. There is no author/editor named.

There was also a double-sized series, of which I’ve only seen two; they have authors and cover text. And there was a Southern Heritage series with a twee font and recipes that, glancing through the books when I see them, do not appeal to me enough to start collecting another series.

Molasses raisin bars

Gooey molasses-raisin bars from the Outdoors book.

Caraway biscuits and hamburger gravy

Caraway crackers from the Party Snacks book and ground beef gravy from the Ground Beef book. These crackers are amazing.

Fresh mushroom soup and Lone Star

Fresh mushroom soup from the Soups and Stews book. Goes very well with Lone Star.

This is very clearly a seventies library. There are recipes that rely on canned soups, and recipes that rely on gelatin—especially in the salads book—but fortunately not too many of either. The cover photos are solidly in the seventies or earlier, with the Lovecraftian olive-loaf cover of the Meats Cookbook leading the pack, although the devil-worshipping ritual on the cover of the Fondue and Buffet Cookbook comes in at a close second.

In one or two cases, I’ve picked up the book because once you get caught in a serious cookbook collection, the tendency is to take it as far as you can. So even though I don’t can foods, I do have the Canning & Preserving Cookbook. I’m not sure I’m going to do any Fondue, but the Fondue and Buffet Cookbook is still fascinating. And the buffet section remains useful past the 1976 print date. It’s the kind of stuff I would more call pot-luck: potatoes au gratin, stuffed round steak, Creole bean salad. It’s a great companion to the Party Snacks Cookbook.

Black beans and rice

Black beans and rice with ham from the Vegetables book. Simple, colorful, tasty.

Dilly avocado ham sandwich

A ham sandwich with dilly avocado spread from the Party Snacks book on Easter-raisin bread from the Breads book.

Blueberry cornbread

Blueberry cornbread from the Deep South book. Wonderful for breakfast with bacon and eggs.

The photos I’ve included here are a small representation of the various dishes I’ve made from recipes in this collection. Most of the recipes I’ve chosen are simple ones, as that’s what I prefer. You can certainly find more complex recipes. Looking at them is making me hungry, especially that blueberry cornbread and those wonderful sandwich spreads.

Finally, I have also included a list of the books in the series. As far as I know this is the entire series. I know these exist, as I have them, and I have never seen any others either in bookstores or doing searches and image searches online. This may not be a complete list, but it is the most complete list I’m aware of.

Volume Year
The Southern Living Holiday Cookbook 1971
The Southern Living Poultry Cookbook 1971
The Southern Living Pies and Pastries Cookbook 1972
The Southern Living Deep South Cookbook 1972
The Southern Living Outdoor Cookbook 1972
The Southern Living Salads Cookbook 1972
The Southern Living Ground Beef Cookbook 1972
The Southern Living Creole Cookbook 1972
The Southern Living Seafood Cookbook 1972
The Southern Living Low-Cost Cookbook 1973
The Southern Living Canning & Preserving Cookbook 1973
The Southern Living Meats Cookbook 1975
The Southern Living Vegetables Cookbook 1975
The Southern Living Cookies and Candy Cookbook 1976
The Southern Living Fondue and Buffet Cookbook 1976
The Southern Living Quick and Easy Cookbook 1976
The Southern Living Southwestern Cookbook 1976
The Southern Living Desserts Cookbook 1976
The Southern Living Breads Cookbook 1976
The Southern Living Casseroles Cookbook 1977
The Southern Living Party Snacks Cookbook 1979
The Southern Living Soups and Stews Cookbook 1979

I’ve put the table in order by year, by default, but you should be able to sort by name if you click on the Volume column header.

Hush puppies

Hush puppies from the Low-Cost book.

Lazy-day broiled scallops

Lazy-day broiled scallops, from the Seafood book. A great choice for the broiler.

Meatball delight

Meatball delight from the Party Snacks book.

  1. During the period that these cookbooks came out, Southern Living was published by The Progressive Farmer Company.

  1. <- Sesame-Lemon Bread