“Mag­nolia Table” by Joanna Gaines cul­ti­vates a sense of home. Col­legian | Carmel Kookogey

When my youngest sister turned 10 years old, we went to brunch at a place called Kitchen Notes, and I ate the best biscuit I’ve ever tasted. Since that moment, I’ve been looking to recreate it. 

I tried just about every recipe I knew, but none was fluffy enough. None, that is, until I found a recipe in “Mag­nolia Table.”

The 2018 cookbook was written by one half of the famous house-flipping couple, Chip and Joanna Gaines. While most people know Gaines and her husband for their HGTV show “Fixer Upper,” or perhaps the Mag­nolia Market, the couple’s new artisan market in Waco, Texas, that has become a popular tourist spot since it opened in 2015, it turns out she’s not just an interior design goddess: Joanna Gaines knows food, too. The cookbook boasts many show-stopping recipes, but none quite so inter­esting to me as “JoJo’s biscuits.”

Gaines’ approach to the book is refresh­ingly simple: She aims to make good, hearty food. Some recipes are healthier (garlic and herb tomatoes, or beef stew with jalapeno corn­bread), some are delight­fully indulgent (fried chicken with sticky poppy seed jam). 

But what makes Gaines’ cookbook great is how approachable it is: brussel sprouts with crispy bacon, toasted pecans, and bal­samic reduction are both a genius idea and also some­thing that can be made with ingre­dients already in your freezer. It’s common food done creatively.

Unlike so many con­tem­porary cook­books, “Mag­nolia Table” also does not try to cut corners to make things healthier. If Gaines is making a burger — the “Gaines brother burgers with drip jam,” to be precise — it’s big and it’s juicy and it’s topped with Gruyere cheese, arugula, and a jam made of brown sugar and bacon drip­pings. She doesn’t do things by halves (though you may need to with this burger). 

A lot of the hype around the Gaines’ popular home ren­o­vation show is due to Joanna Gaines’ interior dec­o­rating style, and her sig­nature “rustic farm­house look” has taken over Pin­terest boards and home mag­a­zines since 2013. Perhaps the most appealing aspect of the Gaines’ style, though, is the fact that it is both clean and cozy. It’s min­i­malist without losing depth of char­acter. It’s the ideal home.

Gaines brings this under­standing of home to the cookbook: She’s neither overly simple, nor overly showy. It’s good food with good ingre­dients, nothing more. Even the names of the recipes are straight­forward: Try “cod in parchment with lemon and veg­etables” for a fresh summer dinner.

The beauty of this is that it’s an excellent all-in-one cookbook. From the perfect roast chicken to straw­berry shortcake, the gang’s all here, like the best ver­sions of your mom’s standby recipes, but all in one place. Every­thing is fresh, every­thing is hearty, every­thing has the warm famil­iarity of home.

I bought “Mag­nolia Table” — and some but­termilk, flour, and a pound of salted butter — and two years after that first life-changing Kitchen Notes biscuit, I finally repli­cated it. With three types of rising agents, JoJo’s might be the fluffiest bis­cuits you’ll ever eat.