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December 1, 2022. You make it yourself. From the glorious recipes in Carla Hall’s Soul Food.

OK, I will never be a true soul man, but I love to listen and dance to Soul Men: The Best of Sam & Dave. I will never be a soul food chef, but I love to cook – and eat – anything and everything from Carla Hall’s Soul Food. Carla is a force of nature and everything she shows you how to make will rock’n’soul you.

This cookbook is not about fried chicken and mac’n’cheese. As Carla writes, “I tried to imagine what my ancestors would be cooking from the farm if they were alive today. By looking to our roots, I’m showing you how delicious and healthy true soul food is. African-Americans were cooking farm-to-table centuries before it was a label to slap on hip restaurants … We relied on seasonal vegetables, beans and grains, with meat on rare occasions … The bulk of this book is vegetable-centric weeknight recipes so comforting they taste like big ol’ hugs.”

Every recipe has a kick or two that makes it a party in your mouth. You make “Tomato, Basil and Mayonnaise Sandwiches” and you think, wow, why didn’t I think of that? That basil is so much better than lettuce. You whip up “Speedy Bacon and Three-Bean Skillet Stew” very quickly and savor it very slowly. The “Spoonbread Dressing” is the one every turkey wants and the one every turkey leftover desperately needs. “Superfast Seafood Stew with Fish and Shrimp” is a celebration in a pot. Hundreds of wonderful recipes. Wanna try one?

I tried this one immediately after I skimmed the table of contents. It just might be the world’s most delicious and versatile salad dressing. Makes chopped salads equally great with spring, summer and winter vegetables. Carla calls it “Buttermilk Dressing” but this is not the whole truth. It’s a spectacular combination of buttermilk, mayonnaise, horseradish, garlic, apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper. Whisk it all together and your salad is ready for lift-off. Like she says, “It’s tangy, creamy and just the right kind of hot.” It turned this zucchini into a thriller.

Whisk together:
1/2-cup buttermilk
1/2-cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh or bottled horseradish
1/2 small garlic clove, grated on a Microplane
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

This will dress 15 cups of chopped vegetables for eight salad servings. Make less; or, refrigerate for a week and your next killer salad(s).

You really should have Carla’s cookbook.

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