Popular internet chef Hilah Johnson’s new cookbook gets right to the point as she focuses on some of the most popular Texas dishes, from nachos and chicken-fried steak to kolaches and peach cobbler.

Aptly titled Little Local Texas Cookbook: Recipes for Classic Dishes (The Countryman Press, $14.95 hardcover), the book covers a lot of familiar Texas cuisine in just 80 pages.

Main dishes include chili, Frito pie, brisket, ribs, fajitas, cheese enchiladas, tacos and King Ranch chicken casserole.

Regarding chicken-fried steak, Johnson — an eighth-generation Texan — writes, “I’m lucky that my dad taught me how to make the best chicken-fried steak on the planet, and now I’m teaching you.”

Desserts are limited to peach cobbler, Texas sheet cake, bourbon pecan pie and banana pudding, but isn’t that enough for most Texans?

Only 35 recipes altogether — just the good stuff, like guacamole, Texas caviar, fried green tomatoes (and okra), corn dogs and migas — as well as a little Texas food history tossed into the mix.

See more about Johnson on her YouTube show, Hilah Cooking.

Children’s book

Abilene fifth-grade teacher Matt Roemisch has published his first children’s book, and it’s a delight.

The Purple Polka-Dotted Peanut Butter Eater ($17.99 hardcover) is about being kind and accepting to the new kid in class, even if he or she seems quite different.

“When a new student joins your class,” Roemisch says, “it can be a little scary, especially if they happen to be a purple polka-dotted peanut butter eater.

“Sometimes,” he adds, “first impressions aren’t the best. You need time to see the big picture. And with patience and understanding, every new ‘it’ that comes into your life just might be your new best friend.”

Roemisch tells the story in rhyme:

“When we saw her walk in/’she’ was more like an ‘IT!’/It had a huge nose and sharp teeth/that could barely fit.

“Through the door it squeezed/and all we could see/was purple polka-dotted skin/from its head to its knees.

“Then came its long tail,/just sliding behind,/with more spikes and polka-dots/this thing did NOT look kind.’”

It turns out the new kid, Maggie Lou, was indeed kind, offering to share her peanut butter snacks with the class.

But the question remained: “We already have our friends./We already have our troop./How can she fit in here/without messing up our group?”

Certainly a question that comes up often in school, especially at the beginning of a new school year.


Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.

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