Folks from the South take their food seriously. No one knows that better than certified Southern belle Reese Witherspoon. The actress shares several of her favorite recipes in her new book, Whiskey in a Teacup: What Growing Up in the South Taught Me About Life, Love, and Baking Biscuits ($21, Amazon). For those scratching their heads at the book’s quirky title, Witherspoon elaborates on the inspiration behind it in the opening pages, writing about her grandmother Dorothea: “[She] always said that it was a combination of beauty and strength that made Southern women ‘whiskey in a teacup.’ We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery.”
And of course, biscuits are a huge staple when it comes to Southern comfort food. Witherspoon is happy to share her mama’s own recipe, but that’s not the only beloved homemade dish she's included. You’ll find applesauce cake, her brother John’s ribs and BBQ sauce, Dorothea’s brined-and-battered fried chicken, and sweet potato casserole among the mouth-watering recipes. As delicious as those sound, it wouldn’t be complete without including shrimp and grits. Obviously, Witherspoon had to spotlight her family’s version of the coastal Southern classic, too.
Rather than using quick-cooking options, the actress opts for more traditional stone-ground grits with salt and butter for her recipe’s foundation. Witherspoon also recommends serving them in an elegant bowl if you’re throwing a classy party. As for the shrimp, she goes for a diced-tomato and tomato-paste base with garlic, Cajun seasoning, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. She then adds onions and green peppers for a perfectly scrumptious meal.
The book also contains heartwarming stories from Witherspoon’s childhood in Tennessee. Any tidbit featuring her grandma, whom she describes as the “epitome of Southern womanhood,” are particularly sweet. Grab a copy and whip up your own batch of shrimp and grits to enjoy while reading up on all of Witherspoon’s charming Southern tales.