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11 Country Stars and Their Cookbooks

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1. Kitty Wells Country Kitchen Cookbook by Kitty Wells (1964)

The Queen of Country Music published three volumes of cookery over thirty years. In addition to down-home delights like 7-Up Poundcake (which contains a full can of the soda), she also offered Tex-Mex and Hawaiian recipes.

2. Cooking With Kenny Rogers by Kenny Rogers (1987)

Rogers was a TV pitchman for Dole Foods (he sang their tagline, "That's the nature of Dole"). That explains this cookbook, in which every recipe depends on some Dole product – from Pineapple Chicken Cheese Melt to Hawaiian Splendor Sponge Cake to a full menu for a five-course Backyard Luau.

3. Mother Maybelle's Cookbook by June Carter Cash (1989)

Scripture Cake, Helen's Drunk Chicken, Mush – the secrets to these colorfully named dishes and more are all presented with love by Johnny Cash's wife, along with anecdotes about the first family of country song.

4. The Tammy Wynette Southern Cookbook by Tammy Wynette (1990)

Wynette grew up on a sharecropper farm with no electricity and learned how to cook over an open hearth. Here she shares flavorful – and fattening – family recipes such as Mississippi Stuffed Bell Pepper, Cornmeal Fried Potatoes, and Pineapple Banana Pudding.

5. Fit for a King: The Elvis Presley Cookbook by Elizabeth McKeon, Ralph Gevirtz, and Julie Bandy (1992)

Graceland's former cook Alvena Ray reveals the recipes that kept the King happy (and overweight). Peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwiches topped the charts. Also, a glimpse inside Presley's pantry reveals items such as a case of Pepsi, fudge cookies, and a hefty supply of Doublemint and Juicy Fruit gum.

6. Naomi's Home Companion: A Treasury of Favorite Recipes, Food for Thought, and Country Wit and Wisdom by Naomi Judd (1997)

Life as a single mom and touring musician gave Judd a no-nonsense, healthy approach to cooking, which she shares in 75 recipes, ranging from flank steak with spinach to deviled eggs.

7. Hey Good Cookin' by Hank Williams, Jr. (2002)

Ol' Bocephus offers tips on hunting, cleaning, and cooking, with recipes for venison, rabbit, possum, and other wild critters. Hank says, "I won't be responsible for the way yours turn out, but when I fix 'em they're bodacious!" Hank's also got his own line of Bar-B-Que Sauces.

8. You're Cookin' It Country by Loretta Lynn (2004)

The Coal Miner's Daughter offers backwoods-style recipes (Kentucky Frog Legs and Hominy Grits), plenty of desserts (Gooey Cake and Lemon Whippersnappers), and tales of her rustic childhood. When Loretta baked some bread for Jack and Meg from the White Stripes, Jack said, "That's the best bread I've ever eaten in my life."

9. Dolly's Dixie Fixin's: Love, Laughter and Lots of Good Food by Dolly Parton (2006)

"I cook like an old mountain woman," says Parton in her book, which contains 125 recipes for breads, entrees, holiday punch, and butter- and sugar-rich desserts like Hello Dolly Bars. Parton adds her own brand of humor to each recipe. Example: "Hush puppies are to fried fish what pickin' is to grinnin'. You just can't have one without the other."

10. Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen by Trisha Yearwood (2008)

A family affair, Yearwood collaborated with her mom and sister on this book of family recipes with down-home faves like Pimento Cheese Spread and Hashbrown Casserole. She also lets fans in on how to recreate the cake she made for her wedding to Garth Brooks. In 2010, Yearwood published a follow-up book, Home Cooking.

11. ZBB Southern Ground Cook Book by Zac Brown (2010)

"Country Fried," the title of the country jam band leader's first single in 2003, was a tip-off that he takes his food seriously. His cookbook contains poems, stories, and recipes that echo his music – earthy and soulful. Serve up everything from Farmer's Fried Green Tomatoes to Perfect Pocketknife Coleslaw.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
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They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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History
Lost Gustav Holst Music Found in a New Zealand Symphony Archive
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English composer Gustav Holst became famous for his epic seven-piece suite "The Planets," but not all of his works were larger-than-life. Take "Folk Songs from Somerset," a collection of folk tunes composed by Holst in 1906 and largely forgotten in the decades since. Now, more than a century later, the music is finally attracting attention. As Atlas Obscura reports, manuscripts of the songs were rediscovered among a lost collection of sheet music handwritten by the musician.

The Holst originals were uncovered from the archives of a New Zealand symphony during a routine cleaning a few years ago. While throwing away old photocopies and other junk, the music director and the librarian of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Symphonia came across two pieces of music by Holst. The scores were penned in the composer’s handwriting and labeled with his former address. Realizing the potential importance of their discovery, they stored the documents in a safe place, but it wasn't until recently that they were able to verify that the manuscripts were authentic.

For more than a century, the Holst works were thought to be lost for good. "These manuscripts are a remarkable find, particularly the ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ which don’t exist elsewhere in this form," Colin Matthews of London's Holst Foundation said in a statement from the symphony.

How, exactly, the documents ended up in New Zealand remains a mystery. The BOP Symphonia suspects that the sheets were brought there by Stanley Farnsworth, a flutist who performed with an early version of the symphony in the 1960s. “We have clues that suggest the scores were used by Farnsworth,” orchestra member Bronya Dean said, “but we have no idea how Farnsworth came to have them, or what his connection was with Holst.”

The symphony plans to mark the discovery with a live show, including what will likely be the first performance of "Folk Songs from Somerset" in 100 years. Beyond that, BOP is considering finding a place for the artifacts in Holst’s home in England.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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