This book has been on and off the radar for several years but I didn’t start researching, testing and writing recipes until 2011. But the book took a while because I wanted it to be more than just another “southern cook book”. I wanted it to reflect my family’s history while paying all due respect to the major influences in my cooking and the recipes shared within the book. I tried to approach the book from an instructor’s perspective. By this I mean I did not want to assume that everyone who will acquire the book will be a skilled cook or chef searching for new or old lost recipes. But, it’s also for the first time cook who really wants to learn and then perfect the same recipes that have been served for generations. My philosophy is that if you can read today, you can cook today. And in time, you too can become a great cook. This cook book touches on some of the historical elements of southern cooking. It also covers some of the various substitutions that we can and should use in the dishes when a more sensible option is needed with less fat, sodium and calories. In the past, calorie counting had never been a huge concern when cooking southern food. Generations ago our grandparents and great grandparents had physically demanding days which burned large sums of calories and thus could afford the calorie rich meals lovingly prepared for the family. Over the years our work day has gone from the farm to the fields and on to the corporate office. Lifestyle changes like this have caused us to take a more active interest in what we eat and how it’s prepared. So, creating dishes with the old familiar tastes that are good to us but have fewer calories and are good for us.
The plain and simple truth is that every holiday has always had a signature menu item that was rooted in tradition and purpose. On New Year’s there were black eyed peas and cabbage, on Easter there was a baked ham, on Memorial Day there was a smoked pork shoulder (butt), on 4th of July we enjoyed barbecue ribs, and on Labor Day there was an incredible brisket. The winter holidays always seemed to take things to another level of care. Thanksgiving always marked the beginning of some special times. I could always count on those times to be filled with lots of love, family and food like home made yeast rolls. And Christmas just wasn’t Christmas without my mom’s Red Velvet cake and Aunt Jean’s Christmas candies. And throughout the year there were countless Sunday dinners where we experienced that special love and care. It never really occurred to me that everyone didn’t have these kinds of skilled cooks and wonderful foods growing up. It wasn’t until I got much older that I came to understand that being around the incredible food (love) of my childhood was truly special and a blessing.
What Is Verglo? I’ve been asked many times what “Verglo” means. Basically it’s the names of the two people that influenced my passion for cooking. My mom, (Vernell) and my aunt, (Gloria) or “Aunt Jean”, VER-GLO or Verglo!