The Junior League– whether here or elsewhere– is known for it. Terry’s quite the aficianado– he’s got Junior League and church cookbooks from all over the country, including the best selling River Road cookbooks from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They sell more copies than the best-selling chef cookbooks around. Why?
There’s a lot of memories, a lot of traditions, and a lot of staples. To be honest, sometimes I see a Junior League or church cookbook and feel a bit taken back in time– to my grandmother’s cookbooks, where jell-o salads and Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup were haute cuisine. When the book was published anytime after the turn of the millennium, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
So, when Katy Crossen (you may know her as Kate the Great) told me that Cincinnati’s Junior League cookbook was in the works, about two or so years ago– I was intrigued. I’d flipped through their previous edition, “When Pigs Fly” and while it was cute, it wasn’t really innovative. She told me that this cookbook would have a few rules: no cheese balls (unless they taste good), no cream-of-whatever soups, and the recipes had to be simple yet sophisticated.
They got it right.
Katy provided me with an early copy– first person outside the League to get a copy! I was incredibly excited. The book is casebound (and will stay open while you cook without being spiral bound!) glossy, and features sophisticated tablescapes from all over Cincinnati. The food styling, done primarily by Chef Renee Schuler, is attractive and professional, and the photography is gorgeous and full-color. The recipes are approachable, fun, and simple– some as simple as two ingredients (hearts of palm with prosciutto) and others more involved.
This isn’t your mama’s Junior League cookbook. It does, however, pay homage to previous generations of Junior League in Cincinnati, as it celebrates the Junior League’s 90th birthday. There is lots of history, lots of pictures from the 20s and 30s, and interesting little tidbits. I’m looking forward to really reading through it and trying out some new recipes (maybe The Boyfriend, the connoisseur of JL and church cookbooks, will “cook the book” for us?).
Do you want your own copy? You can buy a copy at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Metronation and other local stores (who are TBA). You can also purchase one directly from the Junior League here.