The Book: Susan Carlisle Payne, compiler and editor; THE SOUTHERN LIVING COOKBOOK. Oxmoor House, 1987 (second printing). Good condition; dust jacket has small tears, some water damage, pages are slightly yellow with age.
First read: 1988 (approximately)
Owned since: 2007
When my siblings and I divided up our mother's belongings, I wanted only a few things; this book was one of them. I'm surprised that its publication date is as late as 1987, because I could have sworn I used it in high school -- but this book might have replaced an earlier edition.
Anyway, it's more than a cookbook; it's a manual for the suburban Southern lifestyle. It's suitable for even beginning cooks, with lots of photographs and explanations of basic cooking techniques, cuts of meat, etc. It also has a whole chapter on game birds, for families with hunters.
I pulled the book out this morning to send someone a recipe I used to make all the time: Cola Cake, on page 113. It's a fudge cake made with Coca-Cola (Pepsi really doesn't work as well, and if you can get the kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola, that works best), buttermilk, and marshmallows. I used to bring this in to my old office for birthdays. It might be time to make it again.