I have a THING for cookbooks. Well, at least I USED to have a thing for cookbooks. Now I have a thing for Pinterest and cooking shows with recipes that I can save to Pinterest and read from my iPad. Still and all, the Joy of Cooking cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me many years ago remains one of my most precious possessions. Why, it even tells me how to dress a deer (and I don’t mean dress as in put it in knickers and a cardigan sweater and call it ready for church).
I rarely make it into bookstores these days, but when I visited a bookstore recently with a friend, I found myself wandering through the cookbook section. One of the cookbooks reached out to me: Kris, your southern roots are calling your name, it said.
I have no southern roots, but just as I would like to like to garden, I would love to love my southern roots. Unfortunately, I have never lived south of the Mason-Dixon line. At least not in this life. I am convinced, however, that I was a southern belle in a previous existence.
The book that caught my attention was Whiskey in a Teacup, with the unexpected author being Reese Witherspoon. Witherspoon, of course, is best know for being an actor, with my favorite of her movies being Walk the Line. What can I tell you? My southern roots from a different life.
In her introduction, Witherspoon says that her grandmother Dorothea always said that women’s combination of beauty and strength made them “whiskey in a teacup.” I love that description, and I equally love that title for the cookbook.
The cookbook does actually have a fair number of recipes; in fact, there is one or two in nearly every chapter of the book. Good southern recipes, in fact; recipes I’d like to try. But the book is more of a combination of nostalgia and common sense advice on handling an uncivilized world in a gracious manner. Knowing how to make a room beautiful or how to set a pretty table doesn’t make a person incapable of making strong business decisions. Beauty and strenth: whiskey in a teacup.
While I may not feel the need to monogram anything that isn’t moving, I agree that knowing and using (and teaching your children and grandchildren) good manners will make the world a nicer place. I loved Witherspoon’s memories of growing up, her stories of bringing up children with good manners and a kind spirit, and even her suggested playlists for different occasions.
I enjoyed Whiskey in a Teacup, and plan to rent Walk the Line sometime soon.