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Trisha Yearwood and family write best-selling cookbook

By Sharon Dowell Published: April 30, 2008
Trisha Yearwood knows how to write a successful cookbook as perfectly as she sings a country ballad.

The Georgia native's cookbook, "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen: Recipes From My Family to Yours” (Clarkson Potter, $29.95), has been in bookstores just a few weeks but has climbed to the No. 4 spot on The New York Times best-seller list for hardcover advice books. She wrote the book with her mother, Gwen Yearwood, and her sister, Beth Yearwood Bernard. The three women will be in Oklahoma City on Tuesday to sign copies of the cookbook at the Oklahoma City Borders bookstore.

Yearwood, who has made the Tulsa area her home for several years and is married to Oklahoma-born country superstar Garth Brooks, discussed how important this book was to her and her family in a telephone interview last week from her Oklahoma home. Her excitement at how well the book has been received was obvious as she giggled and laughed while describing details of putting the book together.

"It was one of those things where we were so specific — my Mom and my sister and I — about exactly how we wanted the recipes to be laid out and what we wanted the book to look like and the photographs, everything. And we just couldn't have been happier” with the end product, she said.

"These are recipes we have been making for our whole lives, and this is a lot of family recipes, a lot of family stories and history, so it was really sentimental for us, and we wanted it to be right,” Yearwood said.

"We didn't have any idea how it would go over, because I've never done this before. And the response has been so overwhelming. We're just like — oh, my gosh! We're really glad we didn't have other things planned, because it's just gotten crazy,” she said.

Yearwood has prepared the German Chocolate Cake With Coconut Frosting (that's Garth's favorite birthday cake, she said) on Rachael Ray's television show, and has done a live call-in segment on Martha Stewart's weekday Sirius radio show. But Yearwood said the most fun show she appeared on to promote the cookbook was "The View” on ABC-TV.

"I've done ‘The View' probably a dozen times,” Yearwood said, ‘but this time, well, I've never done a segment where everybody just ate and nobody talked. They were supposed to be asking the questions, and they just ate the food, and it was so funny. I think they sold a lot of cookbooks that day because they had a lot of people who came into the bookstores after that and said they had to make the ribs after seeing ‘The View.'”

Yearwood said she, her Mom and her sister were actively involved in producing the book, right down to preparing the food photographed on location in Georgia. "I love cookbooks, and I have a lot of cookbooks, and the ones that have things I want to make are the ones with a lot of photographs. I like when the photographs are throughout the book with the recipes, not with one little section in the middle and you have to keep flippin' back and forth. So I had specific ideas about how I wanted it to look.”

They did photo shoots in New York and Georgia, then a day in Nashville, Tenn., for the book, Yearwood said. "On the New York shoot, there was a food stylist who prepped the recipes, and 99 percent of what she did was perfect. There were a couple of things she made that we did again, because we felt it was really pretty, but it didn't look like ours. It was really important for it to look like our food, and so we sent our own dishes to New York. All the dishes and everything are ours. And then we went to Georgia; we didn't have a food stylist; we had my Mom, my sister and I, so in two days, we cooked about 30-something dishes.

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Book signing
Trisha Yearwood, her mother, Gwen Yearwood, and her sister, Beth Yearwood Bernard, will sign copies of "Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borders Books, Movies, Music & Cafe, 3209 Northwest Expressway. Tickets for the signing will be available that day at Borders. For more information, call 848-2667.

Farmers markets and gardening
Trisha Yearwood said she's not shopped the local farmers market in Oklahoma yet, "but I need to learn about the farmers markets here, because I used to do that a lot in Nashville.” She relies on local friends who bring her produce from their gardens and local produce stands in the summer.

"I was raised on a farm with a garden and there's nothing like it. We don't have a garden out here yet because I'm usually on the road and I would be the one to do the gardening, and there's a lot of rock out here,” she laughed. "I'd have to find a way to completely enclose it because we have a ton of deer and I'd have to share with them.”

Tomatoes and watermelons
Her favorite summer produce, Yearwood said, is tomatoes and watermelon. "Watermelon is a big Southern thing for us, but when those first, real summer tomatoes start coming in, that's my favorite,” she said. "I like tomato sandwiches. Sometimes I make homemade bread and that's the best way to have them — homemade bread, a little mayonnaise, salt, pepper, tomato slices and that's it. That's just my favorite.

"You're making me want summer to get here now,” she said.

As for watermelon, she recalled childhood memories of trips to the watermelon patch to "pick a watermelon and bust it open on the tailgate of the truck, and eat it like that. My memory is just I've never had sweeter tasting watermelon than then.”


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