The heat is creeping in, promising that summer is soon to follow. And WE ARE READY! This week, our 15th volume, Summer Squash, is being printed and will soon be in the hands of subscribers (and you, if you’ve pre-ordered the book). We’re already planning our next brunch menu with zucchini “Green Marys” and Old Bay-seasoned Egg-in-the-Squash.
To get us even more excited about Summer Squash’s release, we sat down with the author, the New Orleans-based food writer Sarah Baird. Read on to learn more about Sarah and don’t forget to order Summer Squash here!
SS: What's your earliest food memory?
SB: One of the first tasks assigned to me in the kitchen (as a very busybody 3-year-old) was to help with shucking corn as well as snapping string beans each summer. However, my favorite activity quickly became cleaning out ducks for roasting. I was a weird kid, maybe.
SS: Make the guest list of your dream dinner party (attendees can be living or deceased).
SB: Warren Zevon, Nina Simone, Guy Clark, Dolores del Rio, Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton (only as a couple), Wendell Berry and Steve Buscemi. It would probably end in (glorious) disaster.
SS: Which cookbooks couldn't you live without?
SB: This is such a loaded question! I’m deeply devoted to all my yellowing, falling apart vintage cookbooks (especially community cookbooks) above all others. There’s just something so deeply intimate about them. I love the scribbles that come along with those cookbooks and tell the stories of people who have used them. It gives context. A guy I was seeing bought the first Momofuku book for me when it came out and wrote on the inside cover, “You’ll probably get mad at me eventually and mail this back on fire, but nonetheless…” That’s some fantastic marginalia. (Don’t worry, the cookbook is still safely intact and well loved). If I had to pick just one, though, it would probably be The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery (1984) just because it’s so closely tied to my heritage. Plus, it’s pretty exhaustive.
SS: Who is your food hero?
SB: I think Bill Best—a legendary seed saver and farmer from Berea, Kentucky who operates the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center—really embodies what I think is important about preserving culinary traditions and ensuring those roots stay deep, especially when it comes to raising summer vegetables. He has this amazing, one-day-only seed swap that’s the biggest in the South (maybe the country) each year where people come from all over to trade seeds and connect over heirloom plants.
SS: What is your go-to late night meal/drink?
SB: I love floral teas (marigold or lavender) with maybe just a nip of Buffalo Trace.
Also, I can’t count the number of times in my life I’ve made 2 a.m. carbonara. There’s just something about that time of night that really says, “I need everything salty, rich and starchy all at once, right now!”
SS: What is your absolute favorite thing to cook with summer squash?
SB: Making any dish with squash blossoms (in either sweet or savory form) always feels magical to me.