Skip to content

Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations

in stock, ready to be shipped
Save 13% Save 13%
Original price $29.99
Original price $29.99 - Original price $29.99
Original price $29.99
Current price $25.99
$25.99 - $25.99
Current price $25.99
The very first cookbook to celebrate Juneteenth, from food writer and cookbook author Nicole A. Taylor—who draws on her decade of experiences observing the holiday.

On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3, informing the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free. A year later, in 1866, Black Texans congregated with music, dance, and BBQs—Juneteenth celebrations.

All-day cook-outs with artful salads, bounteous dessert spreads, and raised glasses of “red drink” are essential to Juneteenth gatherings. In Watermelon and Red Birds, Nicole puts jubilation on the main stage. As a master storyteller and cook, she bridges the traditional African-American table and 21st-century flavors in stories and recipes. Nicole synthesizes all the places we’ve been, all the people we have come from, all the people we have become, and all the culinary ideas we have embraced.

Watermelon and Red Birds contains over 75 recipes, including drinks like Afro Egg Cream and Marigold Gin Sour, dishes like Beef Ribs with Fermented Harissa Sauce, Peach Jam and Molasses Glazed Chicken Thighs, Southern-ish Potato Salad and Cantaloupe and Feta Salad, and desserts like Roasted Nectarine Sundae, and Radish and Ginger Pound Cake. Taylor also provides a resource to guide readers to BIPOC-owned hot sauces, jams, spice, and waffle mixes companies and lists fun gadgets to make your Juneteenth special. These recipes and essays will inspire parties to salute one of the most important American holidays, and moments to savor joy all year round.

ISBN-13: 9781982176211

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: 05-31-2022

Pages: 288

Product Dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Nicole A. Taylor is a James Beard Award–nominated food writer, master home cook, and producer. She has written for the New York Times, Bon Appétit, and Food & Wine. Nicole is the author of The Up South Cookbook and The Last O.G. Cookbook. She is the executive producer of If We So Choose, a short documentary about the desegregation of an iconic southern fast food joint. Nicole is the cofounder of The Maroon, a marketplace and retreat house focused on radical rest for Black creatives. She lives in New York City and Athens, Georgia, with her husband and son.

Read an Excerpt

Spice Blends, Hot Sauces & Pickled Things Some of the most common questions I receive from novice and experienced cooks alike are about adding flavor with seasoning blends, dashes of sauces, and spoonfuls of vinegary vegetables. I answer the spice-and-sauce question in two parts: I make my own blends, but my cabinets and counter are filled with small-batch specialty products like single-origin nutmeg from Diaspora Co., mambo sauce from Capital City, and smoked yellow peach jam from Trade Street Jam Co.

Of course, in families that are the most serious about their culinary traditions, spice blends and hot sauce recipes often get passed down. I wasn’t fortunate enough to inherit such wealth. But I do love the idea that in addition to these premade options, I can create my own seasonings to help give my food a uniquely consistent flavor. These recipes might well be the most valuable things my young son will inherit from me.

I use a spice grinder to make my peppercorn rub. Before I grind or smash seeds, nuts, or whole spices for blends, I toast them. In a small skillet, I heat ingredients like whole fennel seeds over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Be sure not to burn the spices, and let them cool down before grinding and mixing with other ground spices. For the other salts and rubs and the fry mix, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl with a small wooden spoon; mix well until everything is evenly distributed. Be sure to label your mixes with the date you made them, because while they won’t spoil, they will lose their potency over time.

The sauces require a heavy saucepan with a lid. Once made, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge; I’ve noted the shelf life in each recipe. I’ve paired sauces like the rhubarb BBQ sauce with meatless baked beans, but they also work well with pork ribs, and the green garlic chimichurri is perfect for more than lamb chops—try it with rib eye, too. I encourage mixing and matching sauces for your celebration dishes and everyday meals.

Throughout the cookbook, I’ll direct you to use these staples. Buy store-bought mixes, spice blends, or hot sauces if you’re in a crunch. But you should try to make your own, complete with your personal variations, too. Let the circle be unbroken for the next generation.