Hey spring, where are you? This winter loving girl is ready for a warm up yet all we seem to get is rainy days and cold temps. It seems a little unfair since we’re in April now, don’t you think? Anyway, I have another cookbook written by a lovely lady to share with you today. A while back, I heard a song on the radio that I instantly fell in love with, “Boondocks” by Little Big Town. It was country through-and-through and their harmonization was on point. This band turned into one of my favorites in country music. Little Big Town just seems like a down to earth, approachable group of people. Little did I know, almost ten years later one of their members would release a cookbook!
Kimberly Schlapman released Oh Gussie! back in 2015, 10 years after “Boondocks” hit radios. It’s a compilation of recipes divided into five sections: Family, Friends, Music, Home, & Away. The recipes in each chapter represent some kind of memory or tradition. For example, the chicken and dumpling recipe below was passed down by Kimberly’s mama and tweaked by her for a little personal twist. The apple cake is also in the family chapter and was inspired by a lady who taught her Daddy in school and was also a substitute teacher when she was a student. Finally, the fruit and cheese kabobs are in the music chapter and represent a tradition that Little Big Town has before every performance - squeezing a little honey into their mouths before going on stage. In case music and/or honey aren’t things you’re super interested in, honey is supposed to do wonders for the throat, and in effect, the vocal cords. The drizzle of honey-vanilla over the kabobs represents that tradition.
I love a great cookbook but I love when the cookbook has some sort of story or memory attached to it. Oh Gussie! is all that and more. Each recipe has a little story or reason for why Kimberly included it. It allows you to get to know her through food, and what a treat! I always say that food is so much more than a necessity for our bodies. Food feeds our soul, it feeds our memories. It comforts us when we’re upset, it brings us joy when we’re celebrating. Food is an easy way to find common ground with another human being. So if you love Southern cooking or great food, Oh Gussie! is exactly what you’re looking for.
Fruit & Cheese Kabobs
Kimberly’s Chicken & Dumplings
Fresh Apple Glazed Cake
I used a whole vanilla bean for the first time to make the Fruit & Cheese Kabobs, well, I used half of one. This is a simple appetizer that can substitute a traditional fruit and cheese board if you want something a little more approachable. Fruit, cheese and mint leaves spear onto a skewer getting a drizzle of honey mixed with fresh vanilla. Next time I make these, I’ll leave the honey-vanilla mixture in a little bowl on the side for people to drizzle with a spoon if they’d like. I’m not a fan of honey by itself, and the vanilla was a very powerful flavor. The combination was almost too sweet for me. I’d eat that fruit and cheese kabob any day though. Who doesn’t love muenster cheese and nectarines?!
With this weird transitioning weather, comforting dishes are still appropriate. Kimberly’s Chicken & Dumplings was one of those perfect comfort meals. If you’re willing to put in the work that this dish takes, the reward is incredible. Creamy chicken soup is made even more hearty with homemade dumplings. It was a dish that fed the soul as much as it fed the stomach. My whole family enjoyed this recipe and it was even better for leftovers the next day. The catch? It does take time and patience. I will not play that down. The soup needs to cook first which doesn’t take much time but afterwards, the chicken needs shredding and the dumpling dough needs kneading. Afterwards, the dumplings need to cook. Once you factor in labor, the amount of time the pot takes to boil, the time everything takes to cook through...this is a good 1.5 hour - 2 hour prep. I was not prepared for that when I originally made this recipe. We didn’t eat until 7pm and we had family coming over for a party at 7:30pm. Let’s just say, everyone enjoyed the soup but I got some nasty looks.
Finally, the Fresh Apple Glazed Cake may be one of my favorite recipes out of Oh Gussie!. It’s a really light, moist cake (don’t try and determine the nutritional facts though...yikes!). It’s a pretty simple apple cake that bakes in a bundt pan. After it’s done baking, a bunch of holes get poked into the cake before three-quarters of the glaze gets poured all over. This allows the glaze to seep into the cake making it even more moist and decadent. After it sets for about 30 minutes, the cake flips and the remaining glaze gets drizzled all over. I don’t want to know how many calories and how much fat is in this recipe but I’d like to think it’s somewhat healthy since there are apples! Regardless, it’s a fantastic dessert any time of the year.
Do you have Oh Gussie! by Kimberly Schlapman? How about Eat Like a Gilmore by Kristi Carlson that I featured a few weeks ago? She’s working on her second Gilmore Girls inspired cookbook! If you haven’t heard the news, get out of the rock you’ve been hiding under and check it out! I’m so excited, I can’t even tell you.