Cookin’ With Grass

bu Susan Marquez

 

What started as a way to pass down some favorite recipes to a beloved daughter has turned into a popular cookbook series.

“I was walking back to my office one day and thought it would be a good idea to type up some of those typical recipes families make – the ones you don’t really find in cookbooks anymore,” says Becky Cantrell. “I was really thinking about breakfast casseroles and the like. I planned on typing up the recipes and putting them in a notebook for my daughter.”

But then Becky got a bigger, better idea. “One day, I thought it would be a good idea to gather recipes from bluegrass performers and put together a cookbook of their recipes along with their stories of the recipes.”

That sounded like a simple, clear cut idea. After all, Becky’s husband, Kyle Cantrell is the program director of SiriusXM Radio’s Bluegrass Junction. Prior to that job, he had a 21-year career at WSM Radio and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. So Becky had a leg-up on contacting the artists she wanted to submit recipes. “Well, not all of them,” she says. “Kyle knew some of them, but I had to track the others down, which was probably the hardest and most time-consuming part of the whole process.”

Determined, Becky searched out the artists she wanted in the book on the Internet. “I would message them on Facebook and send emails through their websites. I spent about a year and a half to two years gathering the recipes.

And that was just the beginning. Becky followed each recipe to the letter in her own home. “Each recipe is kitchen-tested by me!” Most recipes were just as she thought they’d be, but one, in particular, came out different from expected. “It tasted good, but it was denser than I had imagined it would be, so I called the person who submitted the recipe and told him I must have done something wrong. I called out each ingredient, and when I came to the flour, I said all-purpose flour. He said ‘no, it’s supposed to be self-rising flour!’ I tried the recipe again, with self-rising flour and it was delicious!” Becky admits she wasn’t an avid cook prior to producing the cookbooks, but she has become one. “I really enjoy trying all these recipes and spending more time in the kitchen because of it.” She edited each entry, but never changed the recipe. Instead, Becky added editor’s notes to the end of many of the recipes, with suggestions on how to enhance it, or tips she learned while making it.

 

cookin with grassHer first cookbook, Cookin’ With Grass, Recipes from some of your favorite Bluegrass artists, was published in 2016. The book sold well, with many of the artists selling it at their merch table at concerts and festivals. “There were even artists selling the book who didn’t have a recipe in it!”

The book was popular with seasoned cooks as well as novice cooks. “I tried to write this cookbook in a way that even the most inexperienced cook could be successful in the kitchen,” says Becky. In the front of the book, Becky writes, “Please be merciful to me if the directions are too detailed or too specific.” She outlines tools for a well-appointed kitchen and how to use them, and details ingredients, how to cook with eggs, cookware and temperatures, definitions, and “this and that.” Like most cookbooks, Becky’s book is divided into sections that include appetizers, soups, salads, breads, main dishes, side dishes, desserts and miscellaneous.

cookin with grassNever dreaming she’d ever do one book, let alone two, Becky is now actively working on her third book. The second book, Cookin’ With Grass II, Recipes from some of your favorite Bluegrass artists, includes more detailed tips for the novice chef, which covers such topics as measuring flour, the wonders of paper towels in the kitchen, tasting food, how to keep ice cream from getting ‘icy’ and even an ode to Crème Fraiche. “I dedicated my first book to my husband, children, mother, and father, and the second book was dedicated to my friends. If I had known I’d be doing so many books, I would have spread the dedications out!”

Donna Ulisse wrote the blurb on the back of the book, part of which says, “The bluegrass genre is rich in Americana living so the contributions made by this talented group represented here know the delicious and down-home goodness. These troubadours will floor you with soul-filling music when they are on the stages of America and soulful food within these pages packed with Becky’s dream of sharing wonderful recipes.” The books are available on Amazon, or by contacting Becky through her Facebook page. And of course, you’ll find them on merch tables at bluegrass festivals and concerts around the country!

cookin with grass

 

Walking Tacos

By Lou Reid (Lou Reid & Carolina and Seldom Scene)

Cookin’ With Grass, Recipes from some of your favorite Bluegrass artists

Each person can make their own walking tack – buffet style. This one is a favorite at the North Iredell High School concession stands; our daughters, Regan and Mackie, are athletes at North. We spend a lot of time at games! This is also a great meal idea when entertaining lots of teens. Easy and quick clean up! – L. R.

1-2 pounds ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 packet (1 ounce) taco seasoning

Variety case of small bags of Doritos®

1 bag shredded lettuce

1 jar salsa

1 bag finely shredded cheddar cheese

1 container (16 ounces) sour cream

In a large skillet, brown the beef with the chopped onion. Drain and discard grease. Add taco seasoning, mix well.

Before opening a bag of chips, gently crush chips inside the bag. Open the bag, add the meat and choice of other ingredients into the bag. Grab a fork and eat out of the bag. Voila! Walking tacos!

bgs cantrell

Killer Mashed Potatoes

By Kyle Cantrell (SiriusXM Radio)

Cookin’ With Grass, Recipes from some of your favorite Bluegrass artists

There are mashed potatoes – then there are Mashed Potatoes! These are moist and full of flavor. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll know why we call them “Killer Mashed Potatoes!” – K.C.

2 ½ pounds potatoes

1 container (16 ounces) sour cream

1 stick butter

1 package dry ranch dressing mix

Cook potatoes until done, either by an oven, microwave, or boiling. If microwaving or baking, be sure to cut slits in the potatoes to keep them from exploding. Peel potatoes (while hot if possible – it helps in melting the butter) and place potatoes in a mixing bowl, discarding the peeling. Add sour cream, butter and ranch dressing mix. Mix until everything is well blended.

You can make a day or two ahead and refrigerate. Warm them in the oven before you plan to serve them.

You can use this as stuffing for twice-baked potatoes. Bake the potatoes in the microwave or oven. Cut an oval in the top of the potato, scoop out the pulp and mix as per the above directions. Spoon mashed potatoes back into potato skins, top with shredded cheese, and heat in the oven or microwave.

 

Cantrell bluegrass standard

Hot Feta Artichoke Dip

By Donna Ulisse

Cookin’ With Grass, Recipes from some of your favorite Bluegrass artists II

I love cooking Italian dinners up for family and friends and had always longed for an appetizer that would taste good with ante pasta salad. The initial recipe hooked me with the words, “feta cheese” – one of my all-time favorites! After making it several times I added tastes I loved and reduced tastes I wasn’t crazy about and this is the result. It’s a gooda! – D.U.

1 can (24 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained

2 packages (8 ounces each) crumbled Athenos® feta cheese

¾ – 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

¾ cup mayonnaise

1 jar (4 ounces) diced pimiento, drained

1 large clove garlic, pressed

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped green onion

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, combine artichoke hearts, feta cheese, mayonnaise, pimiento, and garlic. Mix well. Spread in a 9” pie plate or shallow dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Garnish with tomatoes and green onion.

 

ORDER BECKY’S COOKBOOKS HERE

 

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