Cookbook Review: The Homesick Texan's Family Table

Photos by Kaitlin Steinberg
This book is moving with me, should I ever leave Texas again.
As many of you know, I'm a native Texan. I was born and raised in Corpus Christi and went to college in San Antonio. Then, for grad school, I decided to branch out a little, and I moved to Missouri. I lived there for two years, and while there were things I loved about it (four unique seasons, crazy college football fans, burnt ends), what I missed the most about home was the food I grew up with.

I missed the Tex-Mex, the barbecue, the Cajun cuisine. I searched all over for decent salsa, and never found any. A few times I resorted to making my own, but I was usually too busy, so I just went without.

What I needed was this cookbook. Lisa Fain's newest cookbook, The Homesick Texan's Family Table, contains recipes for everything from peach salsa to Texas pecan pie, and everything in between. Fain is the author of the popular blog The Homesick Texan, which she started writing after she moved from Texas to New York. That led to her first cookbook, The Homesick Texan Cookbook, containing recipes that Fain created as well as dishes from famous Texas restaurants like Ninfa's.

There's some overlap between the two books, but this newer one is a collection of Fain's family's own recipes and favorites that the seventh-generation Texan has developed while living in New York and pining for the Lone Star State.

I have no doubt that this book will make you nostalgic for family dinners in Texas as well, even if, like me, you're living here right now.

Peach salsa always makes me think of the Texas Hill Country.
Recipes or food porn: Both. Fain not only wrote the entire book, but she took all the photos as well. She's known for posting great images of food on her blog, and this book is no exception. The photos are straightforward, but they're drool-inducing, because most of the dishes aren't diet fare. They're heavy Texan chow, and the images almost make you feel like you could smell the aromas wafting off the pages. The book also includes photos of Texas itself, from small town life to the pastoral countryside. The recipes are all relatively simple, and each one has an introduction (sometimes longer than the recipe itself) explaining why this dish is meaningful to Fain.

Ease of use: The book is divided into seven sections: Breakfast and breads; starters and snacks; salads and sides; chilis, soups and stews; the main event; sweets; and accompaniments. There's also a resource guide in the back that gives websites where you can order some of the potentially more difficult to find ingredients as well as a measurement conversion chart. The index lists all the recipes and ingredients, so if you want to find something that uses peaches, just look under "peaches," and you'll find several recipes.

The recipes themselves seem fairly simple to execute, and the explanations provided are easy to understand. Even a novice cook could probably prepare most things in the book with little stress.

Difficulty of finding ingredients: Some items might be harder than others to find. Because there is some Cajun and Tex-Mex food in the book, recipes call for masa, andouille and ancho, hatch or guajillo chiles. In Houston, that wouldn't be a problem, and, as stated earlier, the book does provide a list of websites where you can order spices, pecans, citrus and other items.

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Don't ever go kindle with beautiful books like this. Just... don't.

Diane Gott Konen
Diane Gott Konen

Someday I am gonna make her Chipotle Chicken and Dumplings. Unfortunately I am separated from the recipe (from the Dallas Morning News) by more than 1,000 miles.

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