The Guilty Cook - author of "I'm Guilty of Loving Southern Cooking, A Soul Food Cookbook"

"I'm Guilty of Loving Southern Cooking, A Soul Food Cookbook"

 
St. Louis Post Dispatch "Let's Eat"

Soul of a family for this cookbook
By Joe Bonwich
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
12/26/2007

About a year ago, Renée Hardin-Tammons was balancing her home life, her full-time-and-then-some career as a lawyer and municipal judge, her active participation in her church, and other religious, civic and social pursuits. RECIPES
Smothered Cabbage

Then she decided to write a soul-food cookbook.

"I realized that I had a wealth of all these recipes that had been passed down from generation to generation," Hardin-Tammons says. 

So she wrote down what she could remember on her own and solicited the help of her parents, the Rev. Thomas Hardin Sr. and Hattie Hardin. "As I say in the book, my parents made me some of the most delicious meals I've ever tasted," Hardin-Tammons says. Advertisement

Her husband, Charles — by day a federal contractor — took many of the pictures in the book. Their son, C.J., 10, helped taste-test and was also a big part of Hardin-Tammons' inspiration in writing the book.

"I wanted it to be a legacy to my son," Hardin-Tammons says.

She also asked other relatives, friends from church and legal colleagues for recipes. She even began to develop her own versions of favorite restaurant recipes.

"After night court, on weekends or whenever I had a free moment, I was jotting down recipes," Hardin-Tammons says. "Sometimes, at 1 in the morning, I'd still be working."

One of her other major inspirations was "Big Mama" — Hardin-Tammons' maternal grandmother, Sarah Ross, at whose feet Hardin-Tammons had cooked as a child.

"This cookbook started in my soul when I was a little girl watching my grandmother cook," Hardin-Tammons says. Ross died in 1986, when Hardin-Tammons was in her first year of law school at the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

And although she's a St. Louis native, Hardin-Tammons has no qualms with calling her cookbook "Southern."

"My mother and grandmother came here from Tyronza, Ark.," Hardin-Tammons says. "A lot of these recipes are very typical of what you'd find in a Southern kitchen.

"Or let me use more of a vernacular: Anytime you see a recipe that calls for fatback, it's got to be Southern cooking."

"I'm Guilty of Loving Southern Cooking" (self-published, $19.95) contains more than 100 recipes. It's available at RSI Kitchen & Bath, 9700 Manchester Road in Rock Hill; at Ga Ga's, 258 South Florissant Road in Ferguson; and from www.theguiltycook.com.

jbonwich@post-dispatch.com | 314-340-8133

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