Author Interview: Author shares a taste of old-time recipes in ‘Florida Cracker Cookbook’

Many people have probably heard of the five love languages: quality time, gift giving, acts of service, words of affirmation and physical touch. I would like to propose a sixth: food.

Joy Sheffield Harris, author of “The Florida Cracker Cookbook,” agrees.

“This project started because I wanted to find out why we eat what we eat in different parts of the state,” she explained. “But I also wanted to capture the recipes from the foods I remember eating as a child growing up in North Florida.”

Harris will talk about the cookbook at Midtown Reader on Friday and Jeri’s Midtown Cafe is providing the snacks.

As we talked, I shared with Harris my fear that in this digital age, we’re losing the art of the hand-written recipe. I’m fortunate to have inherited my grandmother’s recipe cards and more from her mother and other women in our family, but what will the next generation inherit? My Pinterest boards? Harris chuckled.

“I don’t use a lot of recipes online,” she said. “I have my hand-written recipe cards and recipe notebooks. But that could also be because I’m not as computer-savvy!”

These recipes didn’t come easy, though. As Harris was putting the cookbook together, she struggled with them, trying to get them to taste the way they tasted according to her memory.

“My grandmother could look at something and just tell if it was right or if it needed more,” she said. “So many of these family dishes were made by taste, by feel… and it’s also difficult to replicate them exactly because the ingredients are so different now.”

In many ways, this cookbook is Harris’s own love letter, both to her past and to her future.

“My son will never have the experience of visiting my grandmother in her cracker cabin, but he’ll have these recipes,” she said. “If you have older family members, spend time with them in the kitchen. Ask them what they’re doing, why and how. I wish I had done more of that.”

This article was first published in the Tallahassee Democrat.