Even her most ardent fans were surprised when Trisha Yearwood put her music career on hold to craft a pair of best-selling cookbooks with mother Gwen and sister Beth. But family was foremost on the songbird’s mind when Gwen, Trisha’s most ardent supporter, was in the throes of a cancer battle that ultimately took her life in October 2011.
Before she died, Gwen retooled the traditional Southern dishes on which she and her girls were raised into healthful cuisine. “She said, ‘I’d really like for the rest of my life to be good, and I want to take control of the things I can.’ ” Yearwood recalls. “She taught us to how make comfort food plant-based — and we address it in the show.”
“Trisha’s Southern Kitchen,” premiering Saturday, April 14, on Food Network, features the devoted humanitarian gathering family and friends to swap stories and whip up favorite dishes.
“We did an episode called ‘Gwen’s Girls’ that’s dedicated to my mom, and she loved this thing we call ‘chick-less pot pie,’ ” Yearwood tells Zap2it, “We figured out how to make chicken pot pie without any dairy or any meat in it, and it’s fantastic. When I make it now, I don’t tell people that it’s vegan, and they love it. It just tastes good.”
Yearwood also teaches her nephews to create the signature Brunswick stew her dad made for everyone in his Georgia hometown — another dish Gwen craved in her last days. “To be able to make that for her with what she was going through and have her say, ‘That tastes like your dad’s’ — it made me cry,” Yearwood says. “I want to teach them to make Granddaddy’s Brunswick stew because I want this recipe to be passed down.”
Yearwood, wed to fellow music legend Garth Brooks, incorporates song into the series when she deems it appropriate.
“I didn’t want it to be like, ‘OK, at the end of every show, Trisha’s going to sing a song!’ ” she explains. Instead, she and Beth serenade their Uncle Wilson with a favorite childhood duet, and a cooking session with band mates ends with an original lullaby for her best friend’s newly adopted child.
“I check my Facebook a lot, and people are like, ‘Look, we love the cooking thing, but when are we getting some music?’ ” she says, laughing. “So I’m working on a record, too. I’m not trading one for the other!”
What are you currently reading?
“I’m currently reading the ‘True Blood’ novels. Once I saw the show, I thought, ‘I want to read the books!’ “
What did you have for dinner last night?
“An experiment! I made tabbouleh, but I made it with quinoa. And then I did vegetable kebabs. Sometimes if stuff’s not great, Garth will say, ‘Um, yeah.’ But he really liked it.”
What is your next project?
“I’m ready to get back in the studio!”
When was the last vacation you took — where and why?
“Garth and I have traveled for a living, so vacation for us is not going anywhere. We don’t feel like we need to get away. We feel like we need to get home.”