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Food writer and author Nicki Pendleton Wood’s new cookbook is packed to bursting with recipes, tips and secrets from some of the best dinner hosts in the nation: Southerners. Wood interviewed more than 100 people from the American South who take great pride in their dinner parties, especially the dessert portion of the evening. 

“I always figure out what we’re having for dessert first when I plan supper,” says Katy Houston of Ridgeland, Mississippi. Houston channeled her lifelong love for baking and desserts into healing help for a college student recovering from a disastrous cycling accident. For 62 weeks, Houston visited her son’s best friend each Monday with a homemade dessert, thinking, “If this brings you one ounce of happiness today, I will have done what I tried to do.” She collected all the recipes into a book, testing them with her friends, church groups, and anyone else she could recruit. Her Peach Almond Pound Cake turns out to be “great for a picnic or summery type party,” she says, because of the seasonal flavor, its generous 16 servings, and its ability to withstand hot weather. Let Houston’s generosity, and her recipe, inspire your own hospitality.

Reprinted with permission from Southern Cooking for Company