The Brown Family Cookbook
Published by Cookbook Publishers, Inc.
By Charles McGuigan
There are no better recipes than those tried and true, prepared countless times and handed down generation to generation. And you will not find a greater cornucopia of such recipes in any cookbook I can think of than those that appear in The Brown Family Cookbook, chock full of sumptuous dishes of the comfort kind the South is known for. This is the same food that shows up annually each August on tables up to forty feet long at the Brown Family Reunion down in eastern North Carolina, a tradition that started more than eighty years ago. Lena Kay McLemore Scarborough, with the help of Clarence Cary Brown, lovingly compiled the recipes in this book from a wide assortment of family members, seasoning it liberally with family histories and anecdotes.
During his recent Christmas gathering held at Linden Row, Cary brought along a tin filled with his cheese biscuits—quarter-sized morsels tangy with cheese and spicy with Cayenne with the crunch of a single pecan half topping each one. Contents of the tin vanished as quickly as coins at a tollgate.
There are more than 500 recipes in this cookbook, enough to feed a family without repeat for a full year, with three squares a day. The recipes include soups and sandwiches, vegetable and salads, main dishes and desserts, pickles and condiments, bread and rolls, and appetizers and beverages.
One of my personal favorites is a Southern specialty that can be eaten anytime of the day or any season of the year. It’s called coffee jelly—more of a jell-o really—and is simple to make with double strength coffee, sugar, gelatin and salt. It sets up in a few hours and is served best in jelly jars with a topping of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon. It’s light, tasty and charged with caffeine.
There’s also the best recipe I’ve ever seen for baked country ham. The secret, of course, is in removing a lot of the excess salt and trimming away the rind, but it’s also this slow baking method that brings out all the hidden flavors of this Tidewater specialty.
And what Tarheel cookbook would complete without a recipe for real North Carolina barbecue, the right stuff, to the east of Interstate 95, with an apple cider vinegar base. There are outstanding recipes for Brunswick stew, hush puppies and slaw to accompany the mouthwatering pork. The dishes are varied and will please the palates of carnivores, herbivores and omnivores.
The cookbook costs $20 along with $3 for shipping and handling. It’s a great investment, something you can hand down from generation to generation, and in a sense become part of that indomitable Carolina family—the Browns of Bertie County. To order, simply send a check for $23 along with your address to: Kay Scarborough, 723 Greensboro Avenue, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23451