A few years ago, we fell in love with Gena Knox and her fresh approach to Southern cooking. We adore her cookbooks and love how her recipes come together easily and with great success. We’re excited to announce Gena as our newest Contributing Editor. In every other issue of Taste of the South, Gena will share an easy-to-prepare supper club menu that we hope inspires you to gather some of your friends for a night of cooking and sharing good food. Look for the Gena Knox Supper Club in our September/October issue, on sale August 26.
How do you describe Southern “your way?”
I grew up eating traditional Southern food like fried chicken, creamed corn, okra, peas, and cornbread on Sundays. I love the classics, but I also enjoy taking a lighter approach to my favorite foods. It’s fun to take a traditional Southern dish and update it with a modern twist. Merging some of my favorite ethnic cuisines with Southern ingredients always keeps mealtime creative!
In your books, you talk about growing up on a farm in rural Georgia. How did your childhood shape your view of food and family?
As often as I complained growing up, I am so thankful we lived in a town of 1,000 people. Having no fast food and only one restaurant (the famous Dealer Burger) left my mom no choice but to cook every meal (unless you count the occasional trip to Flint River Catfish near Thomaston, Georgia). She made sure my siblings and I helped in the kitchen, setting the table and cooking. The dinner table was a place for laughter, conversation, and togetherness. This childhood has shaped me into who I am, and I work hard to continue that tradition in my own family.
Your first Southern My Way book is dedicated to your mother. The second book honors your grandmother, the “Caramel Cake Queen.” How have these women influenced your life and cooking style?
My mom and grandmother instilled so many values, traditions, and lessons into my life—from learning to cook to being a good mom, wife, and entrepreneur… I have had amazing role models. I only hope I can do the same for my three children.
You talk a lot about buying local and seasonal produce. Do you use local and seasonal produce in all of your dishes?
We are spoiled with modern day grocery stores where we can buy produce year-round, but I strive to cook with seasonal ingredients at every meal. Having a garden is one easy way to do that and a wonderful thing to do with your kids. We are also members of a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We pick up a box of organic produce once a week, and it is always a surprise to discover what it holds. Fall and winter bring hearty greens, carrots, and beets, and come summer, we are loaded with fresh tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, and watermelon.
You now live in Athens, Georgia, with your husband and three children. How do you keep family and meal times a priority with your family’s busy schedule?
My children are young (4 and under) so life is hectic, and it takes work to feed everyone a healthy meal. Planning and preparing in advance certainly helps, and it is so rewarding knowing your kids are sitting down to a healthy, homemade meal that did not come from a drive-thru!
Tell us about the Gena Knox Supper Club.
We all need a night out and sometimes a little motivation to try a few new recipes. The Gena Knox Supper Club makes it easy to do just that. Gathering your friends (couples or just girls) and all pitching in with food and wine makes the task of hosting a dinner party a breeze. I include step-by-step instructions, easy recipes, and tips to make everything flow smoothly. It’s a wonderful tradition to start with friends, and I am so looking forward to feedback and stories from Taste of the South readers.
What do you hope Taste of the South readers gain from the Gena Knox Supper Club?
To start, I hope the Gena Knox Supper Club becomes a new tradition that readers look forward to with every article. I also hope my recipes encourage readers to try new dishes. Some of them may become favorites that make it to your family’s dinner table on a regular basis. My goal is to inspire everyone to try new things, create new traditions, and pass them down.
Here’s a sneak peek at the Gena Knox Supper Club Menu in our September/October issue: