Carve out time for meals with loved ones with recipes that ease the effort of home cooking through a simple pantry spruce-up.
By Elizabeth Bonner
It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy, and with The Southern Pantry Cookbook, cooking can be, too. The carefree nature of summer lends itself to a laidback, nomadic lifestyle, and mealtime becomes a great way to gather friends and family amid the activity. However, this unstructured season can also make it difficult to get a home-cooked meal on the table. Jennifer Chandler seeks to remedy this with stress-free, crowd-pleasing concoctions using only ingredients readily available in a well-stocked kitchen.
Jennifer’s culinary background includes training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, years in the restaurant business—even opening her own in Memphis—and, most recently, cooking for her two daughters at home. Despite her expertise, she says these cookbooks are a reflection of the way she feeds her family, and in this one, she shares ways to ensure a homemade meal even on the most demanding days.
To accomplish this, Jennifer started with a streamlined ingredient list—“things that people can easily have on hand and keep on hand.” She explains, “If you have to go to the grocery store to make a recipe, it’s not going to happen—especially on a busy weeknight. There are so many different dishes you can whip up with these simple ingredients for the days you can’t run to the market.”
And when transforming go-to staples into a compilation of recipes, the cook called upon her eclectic Southern heritage. Born in Louisiana and raised in Tennessee, with family cuisine customs ranging from traditional New Orleans fare to down-home Alabama cooking, Jennifer refers to her kitchen as a “melting pot.” “The book is an extension of my South,” she says.
The Memphis native presents a mix of Southern classics and unique spins, including family favorites like Pa’s Herbed Chicken Parts, Trout Amandine, and a third-generation New Orleans Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce. Readers will also find time-saving innovations like Potato Chip Cookies that use the chip crumbs at the bottom of the bag and Jelly Jar Salad Dressing, which takes advantage of the remnants of a jar of jam.
In addition to its creative recipes, the book offers valuable resources and strategies to make the home cook’s life even easier—beginning with a comprehensive list to ensure a properly stocked pantry (and fridge, freezer, and cabinets). Armed with these essentials, Jennifer further enables her audience with a symbol system that alerts readers to supplemental cooking tips, pantry shortcuts and variations, make-ahead meals that freeze well, and quick-and-easy weeknight classics.
Jennifer says her inspiration comes from the special time that ensues from providing her family with a homemade meal, and with this book, she hopes to cultivate the same experience for readers and their families. “It’s about bringing everyone to the table to have a meal together—to just stop for a moment in this busy day and reconnect, catch up, and spend time with each other,” she says. “That’s why I write these books, and that’s why I cook.”