For nearly twenty-five years, Mildred Council–better known by her nickname, Mama Dip–has nourished thousands of hungry folks in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Her restaurant, Mama Dip’s Kitchen, is a much-loved community institution that has gained loyal fans and customers from all walks of life, from New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne to former Tar Heel basketball player Michael Jordan.

Mama Dip’s Kitchen showcases the same down-home, wholesome, everyday Southern cooking for which its namesake restaurant is celebrated. The book features more than 250 recipes for such favorites as old-fashioned chicken pie, country-style pork chops, sweet potatoes, fresh corn casserole, poundcake, and banana pudding. Chapters cover breads and breakfast dishes; poultry, fish, and seafood; beef, pork, and lamb; vegetables and salads; and desserts, beverages, and party dishes.

The book opens with a charming introductory essay, a savory reflection on a life in cooking that also reveals the story behind Council’s nickname. It is both a graceful reminiscence of a country childhood and the inspiring story of a woman determined to make her own way in the larger world.

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