The Beach House Cookbook by Mary Kay Andrews
This week, Buzz writer Andria Frankfort, who writes the weekly Back Porch Table column, and I decided to collaborate: I review a cookbook, and she chooses a recipe from the book to share. We agreed upon Mary Kay Andrews’ The Beach House Cookbook because we both enjoyed hearing her speak at a Conversations from a Page event, the author salon I created with my friend Krista Hensel to bring a variety of authors to Houston.
In fact, hosting Mary Kay Andrews remains a highlight of our Conversations from a Page author salons. For our second Conversations event last February, my co-founder Krista Hensel and I hosted Jennifer Robson, author of The Gown, and Elise Hooper, author of Learning to See. When Jennifer Robson left Houston, she went straight to Atlanta for an event with Mary Kay Andrews. While there, she told Mary Kay all about our event, and the next week we were contacted by Mary Kay’s publicist asking if we could host the same type of event for her when she came to Houston on her latest book tour in May. We were thrilled to have such a fabulous opportunity so soon after we launched our author salon, and this book party spurred us on to create our website and formalize other details for future events. In addition, this event was covered by Buzz writer Andria Frankfort, which helped us spread the word to fellow book lovers.
Mary Kay Andrews was so much fun to host, and we had a ball with her at the May author salon. She told one hilarious tale after another about her writing process, her various books, and her inspiration for certain characters and tales. She also highlighted her cookbook, The Beach House Cookbook, and told funny stories about everything that went into creating it. Unlike a standard fiction book, Mary Kay was financially responsible for hiring her photographer and the food photographer, paying a food tester for each recipe (something the publisher required), and coordinating the location for the cover shot. The day they photographed the cover for the book and the other personal photos included inside the cookbook, it was 102 degrees and the beach house had no air conditioning. She also mentioned that her favorite recipe from the cookbook is Trailer Trash Dessert, a combination of ice cream sandwiches, caramel, Cook Whip, and chocolate-toffee bits (on pages 12-13 of the book), and that her fans agree; she consistently hears from people about how delicious that recipe is. Hearing these anecdotes made me curious about her cookbook.
I rarely review cookbooks so this was a new experience for me. Moreover, I am not a very accomplished cook so I was hoping that The Beach House Cookbook was going to contain basic and/or straight-forward recipes, and thankfully the recipes are very doable and quite yummy. In the preface, Mary Kay discusses her childhood, her family’s yearly trip to the beach, her continued love of the seashore as an adult, and the house she and her husband purchased on Tybee Island in 2012. She states that she wanted to create a cookbook that evoked beach living and contained recipes that “let you be creative in the kitchen” and “can be achieved in even the most sparsely furnished vacation rental.”
The cookbook is structured around meals and events. Each recipe that I have tried has been fantastic and easy to make. My favorites so far are the Dark Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Bites (pages 76-77) and the Corn and Crab Chowder (pages 146-147). Mary Kay writes an introduction to each recipe describing something personal about that particular dish or item, which really adds to the book. The food photography is beautiful and makes each dish look so enticing. The Beach House Cookbook has become one of my favorite places to find new recipes, and I look forward to trying more of the yummy-looking dishes that she has included.
Editor’s Note: See Back Porch Table by Andria Frankfort this week for a recipe from Mary Kay Andrews’ The Beach House Cookbook.
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