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. (There was apparently a supermarket printing of these volumes that did have the title and volume number in the upper right of the cover. The cover photos are the same; and it appears that the volume number may be fluid.)
  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. The earlier, PF/SL books are on non-glossy paper where the Oxmoor House books are on glossy paper. The latter makes the photos pop more but also makes the recipes harder to read.
  4. There is no author/editor named.

Very rarely, some of them may have come with a dust jacket. I have never seen one in person, but have seen a copy of the Deep South volume online that looks exactly like the standard version, but with a dust jacket. The dust jacket did include the title, and the subtext, “Homemakers Cookbook Library”.

There was also a double-sized series, of which I’ve only seen two; they have authors and cover text. They look a little similar, but are a completely different series, and not as special as this one has been. 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.

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.

Title Year Volume Oxmoor Year Favorite Recipes Year
The Southern Living Desserts Cookbook 1971 1 1976 1971
The Southern Living Fondue and Buffet Cookbook 1971 9 1976 1971
The Southern Living Holiday Cookbook 1971 ? 1971 1971
The Southern Living Poultry Cookbook 1971 7 1971
The Southern Living Meats Cookbook 1971 2 1975 1971
The Southern Living Breads Cookbook 1972 15 1976 1972
The Southern Living Cookies and Candy Cookbook 1972 4 1976 1972
The Southern Living Creole Cookbook 1972 ? 1972
The Southern Living Deep South Cookbook 1972 16 1972 1972
The Southern Living Ground Beef Cookbook 1972 5 1972
The Southern Living Outdoor Cookbook 1972 8 1972 1972
The Southern Living Quick and Easy Cookbook 1972 3 1976 1972
The Southern Living Pies and Pastries Cookbook 1972 13 1972 1972
The Southern Living Salads Cookbook 1972 6 1972 1972
The Southern Living Seafood Cookbook 1972 10 1972
The Southern Living Southwest Cookbook2 1972 ? 1976 1972
The Southern Living Vegetables Cookbook 1972 11 1975 1972
The Southern Living Canning & Preserving Cookbook 1973 14 1973
The Southern Living Low-Cost Cookbook 1973 ? 1973
The Southern Living Casseroles Cookbook 1977 12 1977
The Southern Living Party Snacks Cookbook 1979 ? 1979
The Southern Living Soups and Stews Cookbook 1979 ? 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 Title 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.

March 10, 2021: Mark the date for π Day!
Southern Living Date Pie

What’s better than pecan pie? Pecan pie with dates!

You’re going to lose an hour on Sunday. Make up for it with pie! And take advantage of the ability to celebrate Pi Day on a natural celebratory day! The last time Pi Day was on a Sunday was 2010; the next time is 2027. Invite friends and family to drop in for a slice.

And if you’re in a state or community that will arrest you because you had people over for pie, make it a good pie.

For the last two Pi Days, I’ve recommended lemon pies, one completely unbaked and one lemon meringue. I thought I’d break it up by recommending a heavier pie, and another one of my favorites. I’ve always been a fan of pecan pies. This ups the pecan pie by adding just about as many dates.

Like the lemon meringue pie that I used for my inaugural Pi Day post, this date pie is from the Southern Living series from the seventies. But where that was from the Buffet book, this is from the actual Pies and Pastries book. It’s from Mrs. Rubye Shepherd of Wills Point, Texas, east of Dallas. The recipe that follows it in the book is another date pie from Floresville. We like our dates in Texas; I bet a whole bunch of date palms died last month in the extended freeze, and I’m also betting there’ll be a whole bunch of new plantings this spring.

My copy of the book is dated 1972. One of the weird things about this particular recipe is the detail. A lot of old cookbooks assume prior knowledge of baking, and leave things out. Not this one:

Beat the egg yolks with salt, then add the remaining ingredients except egg whites and pie shells.

Just in case you were tempted to mix the unbaked pie shell into the filling.1

March 13, 2019: Perfect lemon pie for Pi Day
Whole perfect lemon pie

Meringue is perfect for pi day because it’s all about the volume.

Tomorrow is Pi Day, and to celebrate, you should have erudite circular discussions of mathematical philosophy, over a sector of pie. I’m generally partial to fruit pies or nut pies, but every once in a while I have a craving for a good lemon meringue.

Until recently, custards have always bedeviled me. I never seem to cook them long enough, no matter how long I wait. Because of my impatience, the custard ends up too runny or burnt. I’ve been doing a lot better lately, and mainly because of the incredible Southern Living Cookbook Library series. The Holiday volume has an amazing almond-silk pie, for example. The Food & Wine series has also been helpful—you can see the edge of their annual collection in the previous post but I’ll have more about that later.

So when I saw that this lemon meringue pie from the Fondue and Buffet volume of the series was labeled Perfect Lemon Meringue, it was impossible to pass up even if the name does seem guaranteed to disappoint. What in this world is perfect? This pie comes close. It is in fact very easy. And it is easily the best lemon meringue pie I’ve ever made. It manages to make the dangerous part of lemon pie, the filling, easier, at least for me.

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

  2. The Oxmoor version is titled “Southwestern”. This is the only installment I have seen where the title differs between the two publishers.

  1. <- Sesame-Lemon Bread
  2. Bread slice guide ->