After I finished college, I spent two years living in Nairobi, Kenya, which is East Africa’s largest city and a hub of sorts for the region. It’s the place to shop, eat, visit doctors, everything…especially if you live in the bush (i.e. anywhere you can’t get anything). One of the things you often become when you live in Nairobi is host or hostess to everyone who doesn’t live in Nairobi. You take them to and from doctor’s appointments, you take them shopping, you take them to all of the good restaurants…It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. And, to be honest, I loved it!
In addition to taking friends for their “American” restaurant favorites when they came to town, I also enjoyed being able to give them a good home-cooked meal when they came in from the absolute ends of the earth. One meal in particular came to mind when I first looked through my new copy of Southern Living Home Cooking Basics: A complete illustrated guide to Southern cooking recently. Let me explain….
A friend of mine lived on a remote compound in Southern Sudan. Even if he’d had access to lots of groceries and things, he honestly wouldn’t have known what to do with them. Anyway, whenever he came in from the bush, a friend and I would treat him to a home-cooked meal. And, when I say that “we” would treat him, I mean that I would cook and she would be there. For the kitchen control freak in me, it was a perfect arrangement.
Anyway, my little flat in Nairobi (that’s an apartment, if you don’t know) had the tiniest kitchen ever. Well, there was room for a stove and a fridge, but it held two people max and not comfortably. So, there really wasn’t any visiting while I cooked like we’re used to here in the States. The kitchen did have a little square cut-out in the wall for passing things through to the dining area. It was interesting because to pass plates through you pretty much had to turn them sideways so it wasn’t all that helpful, but it did allow me to keep up with the conversation in the other room at times. During this particular meal, I kept hearing whispers and then laughter so I walked out and demanded to know what was so funny.
My friend said, “We’ve decided you’ve got some serious wife value.” Wife value? What? It seems they had been discussing my ability to cook and had decided to call it “wife value.” It really became a joke among our friends and even led to “wife value lessons” in which I taught some girls to make spaghetti and introduced them to the fine art of just sprinkling the spices until you like how things taste. Serious life lessons, you know?
Long story short…When I received my copy of Southern Living Home Cooking Basics: A complete illustrated guide to Southern cooking, I thumbed through it and thought, “This would give anybody some ‘serious wife value’!” Let me tell you why.
First, it’s enormous. This book is big and filled to the brim with information and recipes for everything. The first chapters take you through essential ingredients, tools and tricks in the kitchen. Do you need to know how to peel an avocado? They’ve got step by step photos for that and much, much more!
Are you like me and walk through the meat section at the grocery store stunned by the different cuts and clueless as to what to do with them? This book will tell you. Actually, this book will SHOW you. The photos are so helpful.
And the recipes? Amazing. I’m going to be sharing one of my favorites with you tomorrow.
When they called this book “A Complete Illustrated Guide to Southern Cooking,” they were not kidding. 419 pages packed with information and instructions to guide any novice….or gourmet. I’ve decided that it’s going to be my new go-to wedding shower gift…I’ve got to share the wife value wealth, after all.