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What am I thankful for? Great food

Opening the mail the week before Thanksgiving, I came across a new cookbook published by Mississippi Magazine. As the cliché goes, I can’t cook but I like to eat, so I thumbed through “At the Table with Patty Roper.”

The 262-page volume runs through a full range of recipes from appetizers to desserts, and I found a few that had me ready to leave early for lunch. Roper, the magazine’s editorial director, has taken a thorough and balanced approach to her presentation with this book, and as any good Southerner knows, food is a key part of our cultural heritage.

“Many of our favorite foods are deeply associated with people we love, occasions we cherish and memories of special times and settings in our lives,” Roper says. “As Southerners, we have many traditions to share and to pass on to the next generation.”

And that tradition is one of the reasons that Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year. It’s the aroma of a turkey smoking out on the deck, the televised parade hoopla with the kids, classic NFL matchups, and family and good friends coming together for a special meal.

Favorite things

For my family, that meal is an opportunity to enjoy our favorites — the foods that we love the most. But it’s also a great time to introduce something new to the lineup. A few of the possibilities in “At the Table” that caught my taste buds: Pumpkin Squares, Roasted Garlic Asparagus, Quail Casserole, Veggie Bars, Italian Herb Bread and on and on my list could go.

Man, is it time for lunch yet?

Something new for you

This year, “At the Table” could be a starting point for finding something new to add to your holiday meals, too.

“Many of these recipes are passed down through generations of accomplished cooks,” Roper says. “Others are favorites prepared for special occasions, while some are from parties shared by gracious caterers, some are winners of our recipe contests, and still others are simply recipes from our mothers, grandmothers, aunts and friends that we use over and over and could not leave out.”

In addition to “At the Table,” Roper is the author of “Easy Does It: Entertaining,” “Easy Hospitality” and two “Easy Does It” desk calendars.

So, during this special holiday season, check out “At the Table,” along with other homegrown gifts. When you can, shop local, buy Mississippi, and of course, eat Southern.

Contact MBJ editor Jim Laird at jlaird@msbusiness.com.

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