Valdosta Daily Times

October 21, 2012

Cookbook author coming to Valdosta

Elizabeth Butler
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A Valdosta native who has been cooking and writing about food in Savannah for more than three decades will be coming here at the end of this month.

Martha Alice Giddens Nesbit will be here Monday, Oct. 29, for a booksigning at Mockingbird, 117 W. Central Ave., followed by a luncheon at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts, where she will speak.

Nesbit will sign her cookbook, “Savannah Celebrations: Simple Southern Party Menus,” from 10 a.m. until noon at Mockingbird. An hors d’ oeuvre recipe from her cookbook and a drink will be served.

“I am looking forward to having Martha come to Mockingbird for the book signing,” said owner Pam Akins.

“I have carried ‘Savannah Celebrations’ for almost two years, and everyone raves over it. It will     be like a ‘homecoming’ to put her face with her book.”

Tickets for the luncheon at the arts center are $20 and may be purchased at Mockingbird, Steel’s Jewelry, and the arts center.

Nesbit will be familiar to many Valdostans: Her mother, Alice Jo Giddens, operated Alice in Wonderland kindergarten for more than 30 years starting in the mid-1960s.

A graduate of Georgia Southern University, Nesbit served as food editor, food columnist, and restaurant reviewer for the Savannah Morning News     for 25 years and been a regular food columnist for Savannah Magazine since 1998. She has collaborated with Food Network star Paula Deen on four cookbooks.

“Savannah Celebrations” has beautiful photos by potographer Erin Adams and photo stylist Elizabeth Demos and what woman doesn’t want a pretty cookbook on display in her kitchen.

But what makes this cookbook so great are the uncomplicated recipes anyone can prepare — whether they are a college student, new bride or someone who doesn’t list cooking among their favorite pastimes.

For example, take the four-ingredient recipe for fried chicken for a tailgate party.

“My mother, Alice Jo, had her own ritual,” Nesbit writes in the cookbook. “She’d stand at the chicken sink, water running, and with a few quick stokes with a sharp knife cut the chicken up just the way we children liked it — with a breast, two side breasts, and a pully bone ... Then she’d throw the pieces into a brown paper sack filled with seasoned flour (plenty of salt and pepper) and she’s shake it vigorously. When the grease (vegetable oil) was good and hot, she’d hand-deliver the pieces into the deep, heavy frying pan she preferred ... She’d place the lid on the fryer for about 10 minutes. Then she’d turn the chicken to the other side and keep the lid off so the crust could crisp up, another 10 minutes. She made a point of cooking the pieces with larger bones — legs and short thighs — longer than the others.”Among the other easy recipes for 16 parties in the book are Tomato Pie and Apple Cheese Casserole for a christening party, Chicken Tetrazzini and Cheese Biscuits for a Casual Bridge Supper, and Turnip or Collard Greens, Corn Pone and Sweet Potato Pie for a Salute to Gullah (a combination of African and Low Country cultures) Cooking.

Nesbit comes up with the complete menu for the party “so that you don’t have to worry about how the dishes will taste or look side by side.”

And, according to Paula Deen, these dishes are “delicious.”