Carol Mann publishes a cookbook almost every decade. She’s assembled one in each of the past three. Her latest, Bountiful, is a big one: 238 pages containing close to 400 recipes. She credits the friendly people in Chocowinity, just south of Little Washington, for it.
Mann’s neighbors and friends there have swapped recipes with her for years. Whenever one of the women comes across a new way to do breads, casseroles, or cookies, she passes it to Mann. Everyone understands that a cook needs inspiration, Mann especially, because she’s an artist, too. Her watercolor paintings of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and birds appear in the cookbook on both covers and every section divider.
Mann welcomes all new recipes to her collection, which is huge. So huge it once filled two file drawers until she found a computer program to keep up with it.
Her recipes include traditional takes on old favorites like crab cakes — breaded, then browned in hot butter. Served with a sweet-tasting rémoulade sauce, they’ll make you feel like you’ve been transported to the beach, she says.
Other recipes are more imaginative, but no less comforting. One tells you to take refrigerated biscuit dough; divide it; and stuff it with cream cheese, grated cheese, and bacon. Bake it in a muffin pan, the recipe says, and you’ll have savory little tarts called Carolina Cups.
Mann’s cookbook feels down-home and familiar, and she credits her grandmothers for that. Both of them were excellent cooks, who motivated Mann to provide home-cooked meals for her three daughters as they grew up. Now she cooks for herself and her husband as they enjoy retirement.
Her grandmothers’ influence helped Mann learn not only how to cook, but also why to love it — cooking provides something of beauty, tasty to the tongue and pleasing to the eyes.
Perhaps that explains why Mann’s latest cookbook looks so elegant. If food is a thing of beauty, a cookbook should be, too.
Order a copy
To purchase Bountiful, email Carol Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center, located at 158 West Main Street in Washington.
Jeffrey Turner is an assistant editor at Our State magazine. His most recent stories were “Coming Together Again” and “The Church Cookbook” (April 2013).
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