We were honored to have Nicole A. Taylor on BSB Live as our recent guest to share her new cookbook Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations published by Simon and Schuster. Nicole is a James Beard Award–nominated food writer, master home cook, and producer. She has also written two incredible cookbooksThe Up South Cookbook and The Last O.G. Cookbook. She’s Black Southern Belle who resides in New York City and Athens, Georgia, with her husband and son.
We invited our dear friend and Black Southern Belle Hilari Younger of Habitually Hilari, Texas native to chat with Hilari. Hilari is a tastemaker and Howard University alum who went on to start a boutique design firm & catering business. Hilari now lives in the Washington DC area with her family.
During the BSB Live, Hilari & Nicole connect on the new cookbook, Juneteenth, Texas heritage, Black culture, entertaining, & how anyone can celebrate the holiday. We have some great highlights below and you can watch the live conversation at https://fb.watch/dqcEVCaok8/.
Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations is the very first cookbook to celebrate Juneteenth that draws on Nicole’s decade of experiences observing the holiday. The cookbook features over 75 recipes that we invited a few Texas tastemakers to create and share.
So let’s recap the conversation:
Easy Tip for Celebrating Juneteenth – Support a Black-Owned Business (Nicole has an entire cookbook section dedicated to Black, Indegionous, POC-owned businesses)
Nicole knew in the summer of 2020 she had to create a Juneteenth cookbook that centered on Black Joy, sharing a blueprint of how to pause, relax, and gather with family & friends.
Homemade Ice cream – Nicole dedicated an entire chapter to ice cream, highlighting its history and significance. Nicole & Hilari discussed the significance of ice cream as a right of passage and the importance of working together to make ice cream. The making of ice cream isn’t just about the flavor it represents happiness, family, perseverance,
The Watermelon & Red Birds the recipes are rooting it in history, giving space for the now and the future.
It is important to share your own stories and pass along the knowledge of your culture and family history first and then celebrate.
Who makes the potato salad in your family? – Ask yourself who made it before them, and then before that family member. The stories, the laughter, passing down these recipes. It’s important to write down family recipes, put your spin on them and share. Take Juneteenth and other Black celebrations as an opportunity to pass on your family’s traditions. “These are the ties that bind” shares Hilari Younger
There is not one way to celebrate Juneteenth! Every family, community, and person can celebrate it in the way that is best for them
A Juneteenth Staple – Red Drink – It’s a vital traditional drink to enjoy on Juneteenth but there are so many options, Nicole has a great Strawberry Lemonade, you can drink Red soda or a fruit infused drink.
Festivals & Fairs – Parades are a great opportunity to connect with your wider community, Nicole has some delicious recipes to recreate classic parade food at home, turkey legs, funnel cake with mango topping,
Tip: The vendor with the longest line is the best.
BBQ – Nicole created multiple sauce recipes to pair with your bbq recipes. Texans love a good dry rub and there is a dry rub recipe. BBQ is completely different from various regions even within Texas.
“Important to bring the spirit of freedom and jubilation to your life in even small moments” shares Nicole A. Taylor
Desserts, Desserts, Desserts
Watermelon and Red Birds: A Cookbook for Juneteenth and Black Celebrations is the first cookbook dedicated to Juneteenth. Nicole A. Taylor is honored to open up the door to even more Juneteenth cookbooks from others.
For more Juneteenth stories vist www.blacksouthernbelle.com/bsb-latest-stories/juneteenth and we’d love to hear your Juneteenth stories, share with us on social using the hashtag #blacksouthernbelle more about Hilari and Watermelon and Red Birds cookbook and get more
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.
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.
About Hilari Younger
Hilari Younger is a Black American interior designer and lifestyle architect. Born in 1980 in South Dallas Texas, she is a true daughter of the diaspora and a maverick for cultural representation and inclusion.
Hilari Younger is a South Dallas Texan living in the DMV area! She is a mom of a toddler and a teen and the wife of a corporate attorney! As a social architect, interior designer, cultural enthusiast and media personality, Hilari loves to explore, entertain and create. She believes wholeheartedly in the anthropology and ethnography of Black people.0