Jennifer Nettles is easily one of the busiest women in country music. Now the songwriter, performer, broadway star, TV host, film actress, philanthropist and full-time mom can add two more things to the list: Author and culinary inspiration. That’s because her new cookbook “Sweet, Savory, and Simple” is finally available to fans everywhere. Co-authored by Nettles and her mom Carla Temple, the book takes a unique approach to the increasingly popular kitchen spinoff. “This idea came from my mother,” Nettles tells Taste of Country with a laugh. “My very creative and fiery mother. She really formatted the whole thing and picked out the stories and pictures she wanted to share along with the recipes.”
The “greatest hits” recipes, so to speak, of Nettles childhood include fun stories and insights into the Sugarland singer’s upbringing. “I still do a lot of these recipes, like the tomato cracker salad and the potato soup, and a lot of them I still request of her,” Nettles says. She attributes the legacy of strong women in her family for keeping many of these recipes and traditions alive. Dishes like the “Johnny hoecake” instantly transport Nettles to her great-grandmother’s kitchen where she used to watch her make the Southern favorite.
But there is at least one recipe Nettles will take the lion’s share of credit for. “The pecan sandies, which are like a shortbread cookie—I did win a 4-H cookie competition with when I was in elementary school,” Nettles laughs.
So why put out such an intimate cookbook? It’s part of Nettles’ pattern of putting good into the world, and food adds a different dynamic from the other mediums she so deftly navigates. “I think what you’re best able to express through food that you can’t with other mediums is how culture can be nurturing,” she explains. “Food is not only sustenance, but it’s part of your history, your heritage and your culture.”