Southern cooking was an act of art and love at one time, according to restaurateur Martha Stamps, but during the middle of the twentieth century an "abomination of honest southern cooking" took place. As women joined the workforce in ever-increasing numbers, their lives became so busy that eating became an inconvenience and cooking a chore. Anything that could make the job of feeding the family more convenient was hallowed. Instant meals, frozen foods, microwaves - these became the staples of "cooking," replacing the knowledge and techniques previously handed down from generation to generation. Casserole cuisine - "just add Velveeta and a can of cream of mushroom soup" - pushed aside the traditional hearty cuisine of the South.
Blessedly, a change is occurring throughout the nation and particularly in the South. Today's homemakers are looking to get back in touch with the foods and character that previous generations took for granted. The cuisine celebrated in The New New Southern Basics performs that role, reaching back to a generation that took the time to do things right and recreating the basic southern foods in ways that accommodate the tastes and nutritional concerns of our time. Martha Stamps exalts the use of fresh ingredients and cooking from scratch, noting that this is more than a matter of style; it tastes better and is much more valuable nutritionally and economically.
The first edition of this book, The New Southern Basics, was published to much critical acclaim in 1997. "This is the food that has found its way to the hottest restaurants in New York and Los Angeles, but which tastes even better at home," Stamps writes. This food is "worth taking a little time and giving a little effort, for your friends, your family, your own satisfaction."