On Monday of this week, Vivian Howard’s cookbook, Deep Run Roots, arrived via Amazon. At 576 pages, the book is an enormous bible of recipes, stories, and photos that tell Howard’s story. You can read her story for yourself here.
We became fans after watching her show, A Chef’s Life, on PBS last year. It’s not just another cooking show where the star is in a kitchen by herself and talking to a camera across a hot stove.
Each show focuses on one ingredient, often a vegetable, which Howard teaches the viewer all about. She doesn’t have the science teacher persona of Alton Brown, but the show does have that down-home country feel that I enjoyed from Paula Deen which makes Howard so fun and personable.
The difference is that Howard usually tells the story of a local farmer who grows the ingredient near her. She tells you how she likes to use the ingredient, and there’s often a story line of her creating a recipe in her restaurant or at an event that features the ingredient.
Her husband, family, and employees usually have a part in each show. Other real-life conflicts often pop up like Vivian writing her cookbook or planning photo shoots for it, being the grand marshal in a local parade, and losing her chef at her restaurant.
This season there were two episodes all about cabbage where Vivian packs cabbage to take to a food festival to smoke and serve like barbecue. Before she leaves, one of her friends shows her how to make cabbage and sausage. In another episode, Vivian visits a catfish farmer to pick up fish for the restaurant. Her mother serves the family some fried catfish for lunch, and Vivian attempts to make ceviche for dinner at the restaurant. I learned how to make the best potato salad ever by watching!
I have to say the cookbook is a direct reflection of Vivian and has the same feel as the show. It’s not just pages and pages of recipes and photos. Each recipe has its own story or memory. It’s simple. It’s approachable. You can tell she put just as much soul into it as she does a new dish in the kitchen.
With that being said, and with a new year approaching, I’ve decided my blog needed a new focus so I’m going to be blogging a lot about Vivian’s book as I attempt to make most, if not all, of the recipes in it. I believe there are around 250 recipes. I’m only about 30 pages in with reading it so far and have only covered a few recipes which focus on corn meal and grits. But I’m already inspired to start cooking.
So join me as I explore my own deep run roots with Vivian Howard by my side. See you in the kitchen!