I had the opportunity to interview the author of Sweet, Savory and Simple cookbook, Carla Temple, who also happens to be the mother of Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles! She shares favorite family recipes, southern stories and more in this precious book. Take a look at our interview.
Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, your family and what inspired you to write this cookbook.
I was born in Douglas, GA and raised on a farm. My paternal grandparents were farmers their entire lives. My maternal grandparents also owned a farm and my grandfather was a railroad engineer. I was fortunate to have both sets of my grandparents live nearby, so I grew up nurtured by both. I have a younger brother and sister, whom are twins, and they both still live in Douglas. Both my mother and my maternal grandmother were avid readers which inspired me to read and later to pursue a degree in English education. I have always loved reading and writing, and I wrote my first book when I was in the 8th grade. I also enjoy drama and have written and directed several plays for my hometown church, as well as teaching drama at the first school where I taught. I was inspired to write the cookbook first of all because the recipes are a reflection of my family – simple, wholesome goodness. I was also inspired by fans of my daughter. So many fans over the years seemed to love any snippet of personal information that was shared about Jennifer or our family. So, I decided to share the recipes that we all enjoy along with some of the stories of our lives.
Q: In your new cookbook, you share treasured family recipes and stories. How do you think food keeps families connected over the years?
Gathering for family occasions always centered around food and usually a lot of it! Whether it was someone’s birthday, or a family reunion, a holiday or a church gathering, food was the center hub usually seasoned with laughter and love. Many of the recipes in this book are deemed “Greatest Hit” or “Top 10.” Each of them is a favorite of someone and often requested when we gather. Some, like the Potato Soup, are not only delicious but have evolved as comfort foods. So, for my family, these recipes reflect shared happy and sometimes sad times, but all connected to family.
Q: What is your favorite meal to make?
The Pork Chop Casserole on page 20 of the cookbook was the first thing I ever learned to cook. It remains today one of my favorites. I like to pair it with green Zipper peas and traditional broccoli salad. Another favorite meal of mine is country-fried steak with brown onion gravy and white rice paired with English peas.
Q: What recipe would you suggest readers trying first?
The Baked Chicken Salad on page 8 of the cookbook is a favorite, not only of my family and me, but also with almost anyone who has ever eaten it. It is easy to make and great for guests.
Q: Any meal time tips or tricks? I am feeling discouraged lately as it seems my kids don’t want to eat anything I make!
The apples and toffee dip on page 54 are an excellent way to get them to eat fruit. I used whatever trick I could to get my kids to eat semi-healthy. My son, who was a picky eater, loved broccoli as long as I cooked it until it was tender and then melted cheese over the top.
Q: What is your favorite place to go in Nashville?
If you mean restaurants in Nashville – there are so many good ones! I love Wendell Smith’s Drive-In on Charlotte Ave. We take a lot of out of town guests to Wendells. It is great food and the waitresses and staff have mostly been there for years and all have a sense of ownership. I also love several of the food vendors at the Nashville Farmer’s Market. Going a bit out of Nashville, I love the Beacon Light Tea Room in Bon Aqua – their fried chicken is the closest to my Grandmother’s I have had (that is a major compliment).
The cookbook has simple recipes that have been tried and tested over many decades in my family and beyond. The ingredients required are ones most people have on their shelves or are easy to procure. I hope to inspire new cooks and add delicious recipes to seasoned cooks. In sharing the stories, I hope to inspire others by showing that success is attainable for all. We are just ordinary people, rural small- town, regular people. Jennifer was born with her talent – our family and I nurtured that talent and supported her as she relentlessly pursued her dream. AND like the lyrics from “Baby Girl,” …”Dreams Come True!”
Order your copy of Sweet, Savory and Simple here.