Damon Lee Fowler

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In History's Kitchen

18 April 2014 Easter IV—The Potatoes

April 18, 2014

Tags: Easter Dinner, Potatoes, Potato Gratin, Classic French Cooking

Classic French pommes de terre gratinée (potato gratin)
Regardless of whether you choose lamb or ham (or neither—or both) for your Easter feast, nothing will make the dinner seem quite as special as will this classic French gratin. The ingredients are simple and few, and the preparation requires almost no real skill on the part of the cook, but you will not finding anything more elegant and yet elementally satisfying to eat. (more…)

17 April 2014: Easter III—Paschal Lamb

April 17, 2014

Tags: Easter, Easter Lamb, Roast Lamb, Paschal Lamb, Easter Dinner

Boned and butterflied leg of lamb, roasted with thyme and oregano
For many Americans, Southerners in particular, the centerpiece of the Easter feast must be a fat, pink ham. Why and how ham came into this role is lost in time. The older, and more easily understood tradition, is lamb.

The ancient sacrificial lamb of the Passover came to be associated directly with the Christ’s sacrifice at the Crucifixion (“Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast.”), and in the early church, roast lamb was at the heart of the Easter feast. (more…)

14 April 2014: Easter II Spring Purees

April 14, 2014

Tags: Easter Dinner, Classic French Cooking, Purees, Spring Purees, Classic Southern Cooking

Spring Puree, in this case made with fresh young carrots.
One of the nicest ways of beginning an Easter dinner (or any other spring celebration meal) is an old-fashioned French puree. These are not the thick, mashed-potato like “purees” that have become so fashionable lately, but fresh vegetable soups that have been pulverized to a suave, elegant cream.

Not only do purees show off the fresh, full flavors of the season’s produce, they adapt beautifully to the unpredictability of the weather, being equally as good cold as hot. (more…)

9 April 2014: Easter I, Classic Deviled Eggs

April 9, 2014

Tags: Easter, Easter Dinner, Deviled Eggs, Eggs, Classic Southern Cooking, Essentials of Southern Cooking

Classic, Old-Fashioned Deviled Eggs, here garnished with capers and a light dusting of paprika
A recent poll on my social media author’s page confirmed something that any Southerner already knew: it isn’t Easter dinner down South if it doesn’t begin with deviled eggs. But it also gave away something I’ve long suspected: that the affection for these morsels has no geographical limits. They may come in and out of “fashion,” but they’ve never lost their front and center place on Easter’s table all across the country. (more…)

8 April 2014: Baked, Boiled, and Roasted

April 8, 2014

Tags: Beets, Classical Southern Cooking, Baked Beets, Spring Roots, Annabella Hill, Southern Cooking

Baked Beets, cooked whole and simply split and buttered while still hot
“Beets have a finer flavor baked than boiled; it requires longer time to cook them this way.”

— Annabella Hill, Mrs. Hill’s New Cook Book, 1867

Here’s an odd and suggestive historical puzzle: many nineteenth century American cookbook authors agreed with Mrs. Hill, conceding that beets taste best when they are baked whole rather than boiled. And yet, not one of them, Mrs. Hill included, provided directions for doing it. (more…)

31 March 2014: More Spring Carrots

March 31, 2014

Tags: Spring Carrots, Spring Cooking, Butter-Braised Carrots, Butter-Braised Root Vegetables, Classical Southern Cooking, Historical Southern Cooking

Butter-Braised Whole Spring Rainbow Carrots
Most of the nineteenth century cookbook authors treated all root vegetables the same way: scrubbed them well, trimmed, and sometimes “scraped them nicely” (that is, peeled them), boiled them in abundant salted water, and then dressed them with salt and butter. So long as the roots are not overcooked, it’s still a fine way to cook them. (more…)

29 March 2014: Spring Carrot Soup

March 29, 2014

Tags: Spring Cooking, Spring Carrots, Spring Leeks, Classical Southern Cooking, Carrot Soup

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Here on the coastal plain of Georgia, spring carrots have been turning up at the farmers’ market for a couple of months, but it is now that they’re really hitting their prime. Friend Relinda Walker, the proprietress of Walker Farms, grows both the usual orange and colorful rainbow varieties of sweet young carrots. Laid out with their bright, fresh greens still attached, they’re as beautiful to look at as any bouquet of flowers you can imagine. (more…)

4 March 2014: Feeding Body and Soul—the Introspective Cooking of Lent

March 4, 2014

Tags: Lent, Baked Fish with Potatoes, Ligurian Cooking, Southern Cooking, Mardi Gras

Baked Fish with Potatoes and Onions, an old Southern dish that bears striking resemblance to the cooking of Liguria, is just the thing to begin a Lenten discipline in your kitchen. Photograph by John Carrington Photography
Mae West, the sultry comic who made a career of poking fun at the straight-laced mores of her day, once approached a priest with her signature line, “So, Father, why don’cha come up sometime—and see me?” Thinking to get the better of her, he quipped, “Miss West, I’d love to, but it’s Lent.” Giving him a sidewise glance, she murmured, “oh, yeah? Well, when ya get it back, come on up!” (more…)

26 February 2014: Cornbread and Corn Whiskey

February 26, 2014

Tags: Julia Reed, Traditional Southern Cooking, Historical Southern Cooking, Cornbread, Corn Whiskey

Skillet Cornbread the way God meant it to be: naturally sugar-free.
I don’t know what you’re doing on this late February day, but it cannot be better than what I’ve been doing: sipping piping hot double-concentrated homemade beef broth while laughing and crying my way through Julia Reed’s new masterpiece, But Mama Always Put Vodka in Her Sangria!

This morning dawned cold, wet, and gray in Savannah and I’ve been taking advantage of a rare day on my own to put a batch of said beef broth through one last simmer while reading Julia’s delicious prose as background for a newspaper story. (more…)

24 December 2013: Christmas Eve Oyster Stew

December 24, 2013

Tags: Christmas Eve, Oysters, Oyster Stew, Fried Oysters, Southern Cooking, Historical Southern Cooking

Buttery oyster stew is not particularly photogenic, but it's awfully good to eat. Don't neglect to use plenty of butter: this is celebration food, for goodness sakes!
Nostalgia is a funny thing. Nothing stirs memories of the Christmases of my childhood more lucidly than Doris Day singing “Silver Bells.” Yet the memories conjured have nothing to do with city sidewalks, but of the rolling, red-clay fields and pastures of Grassy Pond, the farm community where we lived until I was ten.

There wasn’t one single silver bell, red and green blinking street light, or rushing shopper for miles. (more…)

Selected Works

Cookbooks
A collection of more than twenty-five years of writing about and teaching the history and techniques of the cooking of my native American South, the collection of cuisines that we loosely call Southern Cooking.
A portrait of Savannah's growing restaurant scene in recipes and stories.
A Celebration of the Cuisine of the Old South, hailed as a modern classic and Bible of Southern Foodways.
A loving portrait of a proud old port city in recipes
Classical Southern Cooking in today's kitchen
Traditional Southern Baking for modern cooks
A sampling of the South's Cookery for the hundreds of regional fruits and vegetables.
Seventy five recipes that were documented to have been used at Mr. Jefferson's Monticello during his lifetime, translated for use in a modern kitchen, with essays by the Foundation's curatorial staff.

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