Three years ago, I stumbled onto the show Mind of a Chef, a PBS show that found its way onto Netflix after several seasons. David Chang opened it up in season one, and I was in love. I was introduced to many inspirational chefs through the seasons including Sean Brock, April Bloomfield, Magnus Nilsson, Gabrielle Hamilton and David Kinch. Not to be forgotten is the author of the August Cookbook of the month, Edward Lee. This month, we explore Smoke and Pickles.
For years, I have walked past this book on the shelf of every bookstore I have ever been in. The fact that it’s been everywhere tells me that I ought to remember it, and now, during a lull in new cookbooks that catch my eye, I’ve finally made the time for it with good memories of this chef at the front of my mind. His passion for his roots was so evident in Mind of a Chef, and as a midwestern woman who has sat through years of disparaging comments on steak and potatoes, I love that shit.
ure, his roots are primarily in the Korean-American kitchen once dominated by his grandmother’s cooking, but he brought that with him to Kentucky to indulge in and transform a cuisine that most Americans have looked down upon in recent years. The image of chicken and waffles on the cover brings so much to mind, but as a modern southern masterpiece, it gives us an idea of what to expect inside the pages of Smoke and Pickles.
Within a cursory examination of the book’s first few pages, I can already tell there will be recipes I cannot test out. Barbeque is a feature of many of his meat centric recipes toward the beginning of the book, and I can’t get any kind of grilling done from a third story apartment and a tiny patio. That’s fine. It doesn’t eliminate the entire book.
I’m excited to use some of the ingredients that have been sitting in my pantry since I worked on Lucky Peach last year in some new applications. Most of them have a long enough shelf life that I don’t have to worry about replacing the more difficult ingredients to locate in a somewhat rural Delaware town. When you pick up this cookbook, you may need to be mindful of how useful Amazon can be for home cooks without international food markets nearby. Hell, you might even need it to find some of the uniquely southern ingredients that might pop up in this cookbook. I struggled to find a good molasses in Delaware when I first moved into the area.
I haven’t picked out any recipes yet that are sure to be tested during the month of August. I will be out of my kitchen the last month of August due to the NOVA Open, just like last year, so our time is short with Smoke and Pickles. Have you read this cookbook before? Are there any recipes I should move to the top of the list?
Let’s eat together this month. Keep an eye on our Eating Normal facebook page to see what I’m cooking from our cookbook.
An idea born in Normal, Illinois, Eating Normal hopes to chronicle the eating Experiences of a Red bird.
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