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Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties: An Entertaining Life (with Recipes)

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  218 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Southern humorist Julia Reed celebrates Southern food, Southern women, and the Southern penchant for enjoying good times in this collection of her food writing.

Julia Reed spends a lot of time thinking about ham biscuits. And cornbread and casseroles and the surprisingly modern ease of donning a hostess gown for one's own party. In Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns and Other Sout
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 28th 2009 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published July 8th 2008)
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Jun 02, 2016 Andie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first encountered Julia Reed when she was on CNN in 2005 commenting on Hurricane Katrina and its effect on her adopted home of New Orleans. Since then I've seen her popping up everywhere from Vogue and Garden and Gun magazine to Anthony Bourdain's travel/food show on television. In this book she reminisces about growing up in the Mississippi Delta and learning how to entertain from her mother and her friends in a highly Ya-Yas Sisterhood manner.

The recipes are mostly old Southern stand-bys (o
Jul 28, 2008 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK - what is the idea of a cookbook with no index of recipes in the back? Very bad oversight on everyone's part.

And the fact that Reed knows everyone can get a little grating, but still a great summer read: breezy party stories and food for every occasion. I've already made the potato salad twice. Frankly how could I not be hooked on a book with a chapter titled "Friendly Persuasion" that was about Lee Bailey AND Mary Cantwell (Nan are you reading this??)

I bought Bailey's "Country Weekends" wi
Lisa Stanley
All in all, I enjoyed this light read about southern traditions, friends, and recipes. I dog-eared many of the recipes to try. Toward the end I skipped through some of the name-dropping I mean narrative and went straight for the recipes :)
Connie (Ava Catherine)
Julia Reed makes me laugh and inspires me to get in the kitchen and rustle up something delicious using one of her recipes. I always love her books because her essays make me feel like I am visiting with a girlfriend.
Jan 06, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-book
A delightful collection of essays and recipes for cooks fascinated by the traditions of Southern ladies. Loved it and look forward to trying out recipes for so many familiar treats.
Susan Freeman
Mar 02, 2017 Susan Freeman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this fun book full of tips, tidbits of Southern life and lots of great recipes.
Sep 25, 2012 Pam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I judge whether a book is really good or not by whether I hate for the book to end. I hated that this one ended. This is the most fun read I have had about food in a long time -- perhaps because I'm from the South and identify with Julia Reed. These essays on food, accompanied by recipes, are delightful, and though I haven't tried the recipes yet, but they all seem so simple, I'm eager to try them. By the end of the book, Reed, who is a journalist in New York, seems like a friend.
Jun 17, 2009 Sandy rated it really liked it
I read this at the same time I read Naturally Thin, and I learned that I am way more southern cook than skinny girl. It was a funny book, well written, and loaded with old Southern entertaining recipes. I remembered how much I liked pimento cheese after reading it and made a pound of it. Every recipe looks good and although none are anything less than southern fattening, they are mouth watering. I recommend reading it along side the skinny girl one to keep your balance.
Kate SouthernBelleSimple
I enjoyed this quick, light-hearted read. Towards the end, I found myself skipping her narrative to get straight to the recipes, but it was still a fun book. Some of the recipes are things I would never make (caviar, souffles, etc.) but others were really regular things that sounded good. I am definitely copying down a few of those!
Marianne Hetzer
Jul 01, 2013 Marianne Hetzer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love reading books about food -- cookbooks, mysteries, memoirs -- whatever! And I feel an affinity for "Southern" food and traditions which I grew up with even though my grandmother was from a long line of PA/OH/WV stock. Go figure.
Jane Riley
Mar 13, 2009 Jane Riley marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Suzanne loaned me this book. It is full of fabulous recipes and looks great. I'm trying to diet so putting it down for now! Making me hungry!
Amy Koch
Feb 07, 2013 Amy Koch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good recipes and nice stories to go with them. Ms. Reed has led an interesting life as well.
Oct 19, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: food
I can't wait to try some of these recipes.
Apr 11, 2010 Barbara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lots of good recipes if you're a pork eater...
Thoughts on good cooking and gracious entertaining from Reed, a contributing editor at Vogue and Newsweek. A pleasure to read--with recipes to boot.
Feb 03, 2016 Marne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started out strong, but after a while I recognized it as a cookbook with essays instead of a book of essays with recipes. I was disappointed, but plan to check out another book of hers soon.
Apr 30, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cookbooks
A collection of essays on southern food and quirks with several recipes per chapter.
Jun 11, 2015 Robin rated it liked it
It helps to have some appreciation and familiarity of Southern culture and all of its innate quirks and hilarity. I have read several of her books and they are great fun.
very entertaining book
i've been reading and savoring for months
thank you stacie
Maureen Flatley
Aug 08, 2008 Maureen Flatley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love Julia Reed.....reading her is like visiting a girl friend. This is a sweet little book about Southern cooking filled with funny narrative and great recipes.
Apr 02, 2009 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, cookbooks
Are you Southern? Do you cook? Add this book to your collection, and pass the ham biscuits, please.
Jul 04, 2012 Karennelso rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No index. That sucks! The essays kept me laughing,and I made the mayonnaise today. Can't wait to try the other recipes.
I love the author's writing style. Her books are always a combination of memoir and recipes. I'm planning on saving all of the recipes to try whenever I entertain.
Mar 28, 2011 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2010-11-season
A collection of NY Times columns with recipes, several of which I have added to my repertoire (including Lemonade Souffle).
Alice Dilbeck
Jun 08, 2011 Alice Dilbeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful mix of essays and recipes. hat could be better? Reed is a great essayist, and I so want to attend one of her parties one day.
Audrey Foreman
Audrey Foreman rated it it was ok
Sep 23, 2011
Christina rated it liked it
Mar 14, 2012
Tori rated it really liked it
Dec 28, 2015
Pat Sandlin
Pat Sandlin rated it liked it
Feb 09, 2014
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