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Chatting with cookbook author Gena Knox

Southern cookbook author Gena Knox will demonstrate healthy dishes made with local ingredients at the Women Helping Women luncheon on April 24 at the RiverMill Event Centre. Read more about that event here.

I had a great phone chat with Gena a couple weeks ago and her cookbook "Southern My Way: Simple Recipes, Fresh Flavors" is full of helpful tips, beautiful photography and easy-to-understand recipes. When I talk with cookbook authors, chefs and home cooks, I love to find out what kitchen gadgets they can't live without and where they get their inspiration to create their signature dishes.

Here are some of Gena's answers:

The kitchen equipment that Gena can't live without: Good knives. She reminds home cooks that dull knives cause more cutting injuries than sharp knives. She suggests learning basic knife skills by taking a cooking class or practicing with online videos. She also loves her Microplane, gourmet grater. She says her 2-year-old son will eat just about everything if there's fresh grated Parmesan cheese on it. She always keeps a giant hunk of Parmesan in the fridge and avoids the canned cheese. She says the Mircroplane is also great for zesting citrus to be used in sauces, marinades and garnishes.

Favorite healthy meal: Gena loves fresh fish and seafood and tries to eat meals from the sea as often as possible. She also admits that she has a weakness for dessert and regularly craves homemade brownies. "I wouldn’t cut out desserts," she said. She advocates eating dessert and sweet treats in moderation and only indulging in your favorites.

Least favorite ingredient: Dill. "I'm just not a fan," she said. She tries to eat light meals and doesn't enjoy super rich foods. She loves trying new things and most fresh herbs.

Cooking inspiration: She gets recipes ideas from cooking magazines and old-school cookbooks. A favorite food magazine is Cooking Light which she says gives her a lot of inspiration for kid-friendly, make-ahead meals. She loves the book "The Flavor Bible."

Want to know more? Follow Gena's blog at Learn more about the Women Helping Women Luncheon at