Book Review

Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food: Recipes & Stories from Mountain Kitchens

by Jim Casada and Tipper Pressley

‎ The History Press, 2023

272 pages; ISBN: 978-1467152778

Cookbook - Appalachian Food


We’ve all had that feeling when you can’t push yourself away from the table, and that’s exactly how I felt when turning the pages of Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food, as each chapter whetted my appetite for more and more.

Filled with authentic family recipes and heart-warming stories from Appalachian natives Jim Casada and Tipper Pressley, this marvelous new book presents and celebrates the distinctive, mouth-watering recipes from the kitchens of the Southern Appalachian region and heightens your desire to return to a time when wholesome, homemade food was consumed mainly at the peak of freshness instead of being made from a box.

Every chapter captures the essence of what each season offers and takes you on a visual adventure, from fishing a sparkling stream and baking fresh-caught trout in foil over an open fire to family gatherings where loved ones shared “must takes” such as tasty fruit cobblers, cakes, and pies filled with fresh-picked blackberries from the mountains. Summer celebrations included watermelon seed- spitting contests with Papa Joe always in the mix, and a salt shaker not far away.  The harvesting of fall root vegetables makes way for puttin up foods for winter. Recipes for treats such as Snow Cream made from freshly fallen snow, whole milk, vanilla, and sugar make you hunger for the days when little things provided so much happiness. 

Beyond the aforementioned Snow Cream, this wonderful book includes recipes for such delicacies as Hushpuppies, Tomato Dill Soup, Chicken and Dumplings, Strawberry Shortcake, Cocoa Bread with Peaches, Mint Lemonade, Mustard-Fried Venison Steak, Super Easy Walnut Fudge, Pecan-Crunch Sweet Potatoes, and more.

Sprinkled throughout the book are vintage photos showcasing life in the mountains, beautiful images that bring to life the recipes and stories in the book. The recipes are simple and efficient, reflecting the bygone era from which many of these dishes were handed downI

I especially enjoyed the “Glossary of Southern Appalachian Food Terms,” where the authors share some charming vocabulary that people entrenched in the distinctive Appalachian culture use every day. I was pleased with my familiarity with many of the terms, mainly because I’ve been an avid collector of Appalachian cookbooks Jim Casada has written over the years. I did get stumped, though, with the term Cathead Biscuits!

Tipper Pressley and Jim Casada are accomplished and notable writers, widely recognized for their vital contributions to preserving the unique culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Celebrating Southern Appalachian Food offers a glimpse into the region’s rich culture and heritage, allowing readers everywhere to enjoy the traditional dishes of this unique slice of the American South.

Signed copies can be ordered through Jim Casada’s website, or Tipper Pressley Etsy Store. The book is also available on-line through all the major booksellers such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.