New Southern cookbook eschews pomp for purpose 

It's All Good

It's All Good

Eggs should be stored with the large end up, to center the yolk. One pound of almonds yields five cups of sliced nuts. Don't buy lightweight melons. These are just some of the helpful hints loaded into Tammy Algood's anthology of Southern fare, which debuts this month. The Complete Southern Cookbook: More Than 800 of the Most Delicious Down-Home Recipes is one part kitchen manual, one part ode to life at the family table. Algood promotes local agriculture for the UT Extension and is a familiar culinary face in the pages of The Tennessean and on local television. She brings a no-nonsense instructional voice to the ambitious inch-and-a-half-thick tome — which is conveniently organized around 85 ingredients — and plates it with an endearing side of nostalgia for her grandmother's kitchen. With multiple dishes per page, Algood's short recipes are practical and manageable, ranging from basic white bread and lemon meringue wafer pie to peach cobbler and watermelon granitas.

In an era of chef-personalities who fill their cookbooks with glamour shots of themselves holding even more glamorous dishes, Algood relies on the character of the recipes. Hers is not a coffee-table book; it's a kitchen-counter book. There are no photographs in this sparely designed red-and-white volume, but there's plenty of white space for taking notes in the margin. And the non-glossy paper will absorb the tomato stains and pudding prints that will inevitably adorn this helpful reference.

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