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Home cooks supply recipes straight out of Georgia
0304Shrimp-Creole
The “Georgia Hometown Cookbook” is a compilation of recipes and stories from Georgian home cooks. One recipe is shrimp creole, courtesy of Billy Nelson and submitted by Wild Georgia Shrimp.

‘Georgia Hometown Cookbook’

The book is available online at www.shop.greatamericanpublishers.com or at bookstores such as Book-A-Million.

For a recipe from the book, click here.

All across Georgia at any given time, you can find a grandma in the kitchen working on one of her family recipes, passed down from her momma and her momma’s momma.

Or at least Kent Whitaker and Sheila Simmons, authors of “Georgia Hometown Cookbook,” think so.

“We really liked talking to people,” Whitaker said. “Suddenly, you’re having a cold glass of tea on the back porch and the nicest lady you ever met gives you a peanut butter pie recipe.”

Interactions such as this with Georgians inspired Whitaker and Simmons to deem Georgia as the state for their second hometown cookbook series.

And the “Georgia Hometown Cookbook” is more than just a cookbook, Whitaker said. The author, who lived in Georgia for 10 years, wanted the cookbook to capture the culture of Georgia.

“Sheila and I are both big foodies, so we wanted to include as much cool backstory about the recipe, the cooks, the state and the festivals,” he said.

Whitaker said some family traditions came from not just mothers, but aunts and grandmothers.

“(They) taught them how to make it when they were kids,” he said. “And it’s more than just recipes.”

The writing duo also wanted to keep the recipes simple, using ingredients a grandma might have in the pantry or above the fridge. Of these recipes, Whitaker said his favorites are the sweeter dishes.

“The dessert recipes were some of my favorites because of the good, fresh produce — the strawberries and the peaches, of course,” he said. “I’m a sucker for anything sweet.”

Simmons preferred the savory recipes, although some of them were new to her since she is a Mississippian.

“The Brunswick Stew wasn’t something I was familiar with, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was,” she said.

The first time she read the recipe and saw the combination of ingredients for the stew, she said it didn’t sound like it’d be very good.

“It has chicken and spices, and barbecue sauce and ketchup, diced potatoes and canned corn,” she said. “Then you’re going (to) stew that all down.

“Once you make it, it actually tastes a lot better than you think it’s going to be from the list of ingredients.”

Another favorite recipe is the cast iron skillet cheese potatoes. She explained the very Southern recipe involves making fried potatoes in a cast iron skillet and topping them with Vidalia onions and cheese.

“The ingredients are extremely simple, but the process of how it’s done is really interesting,” Simmons said.

The book includes more than 300 recipes from all across the state, from the Appalachian Mountains to the Savannah coast. But what Simmons loves most about the book has more to do with the people.

“I fall in love with every state that we do in the series, because you learn so much about the state just by talking to the people,” she said.

“And Georgia was a wonderful state.”

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