The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg: A Reed Reads! Book Rec

The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table by Rick Bragg

Where to find this book at Reed Memorial Library:

  • Adult non-fiction
  • Call number: 641.5975 B73
  • View it on our catalog

Love a good recipe? Our Youth Services Programming Associate Fran, known to storytime-goers as “Miss Fran,” recommends The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table by Rick Bragg. Although we have the physical book in our non-fiction collection, Fran says that she and her mother listened to the audiobook from Libby. The author narrates this book in his “southern drawl,” which helps set the mood and tone of his stories.

Fran explains, “The author relates his family history of passing down good southern mountain cooking, beginning with his great-grandfather down to his mother, whom he declares is the best cook in the world.”

The Best Cook in the World contains many recipes, such as buttered grits with a touch of cheese, stewed cabbage, fried apples, and wild plum pie, to name only a few. Each recipe includes personal stories and unique touches Bragg’s family added while preparing each dish.

After listening to this, Fran says she tried a couple recipes, including buttermilk biscuits and coleslaw, which she says turned out swell. “We thoroughly enjoyed the book!” she adds.

Thanks for the recommendation, Fran!

Chicken Gravy recipe (p. 116) from The Best Cook in the World by Rick Bragg

What you will need:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons drippings from the roasting pan
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

How to cook it:

“Combine the milk and water, and set aside. My mother sometimes does this dish with water alone, but the milk adds a slight creaminess.

In a 9-inch skillet, combine the drippings from the roasting pan with the butter, and bring it to a nice sizzle over medium heat. Stir in the flour. This is not milk gravy, in the traditional sense, so you want it to cook a little longer, still stirring, till you get a nice medium-brown color.

Slowly, add the milk-and-water mixture, continuing to stir as it thickens, and sprinkle in the pepper and about half the salt. Turn off the heat. It should thicken fine.

Thickness is a matter of preference. We like not a thick, pasty gravy but a fairly thin one–though not watery–which goes well on your potatoes. For biscuits, you may want to let it thicken a little more. Taste it. If it needs salt, add more until it makes you happy. If you think to yourself, “I could just about eat this with a spoon,” you have done well.”


For more Reed Reads! Book Recs, browse this page.

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