Whether Trisha Yearwood is crooning one of her 20 Top 10 hits on the radio or cooking in the kitchen, she's all about expressing her country roots. Recipes suitable for church dinners or family gatherings are featured along with family stories in her second cookbook, "Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood" (Clarkson Potter Publishers, $29.99). So maybe you haven't had Shamrock Salad green Jell-O, pineapple, cottage cheese since your second cousin's baptism years ago. No worries. Yearwood's recipes bring back memories of all things Deep South. Yearwood will be signing her book at 7 p.m. Thursday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd. Wristbands for the signing will be handed out at 4 p.m.

We checked in with Yearwood via e-mail last week.

Austin American-Statesman: Who taught you how to cook? When did you start to learn to make family recipes?

Yearwood: My mom, Gwen, taught me to cook. She was, and is, such an amazing cook, that I didn't really do much cooking on my own until I left home for college. I missed home cooking so much, and I was used to fresh vegetables from a garden, so eating out of a can was a rude awakening. I remember the first time I made a recipe of my mom's. It was potato salad, and when I made it, and it tasted like hers, I knew I had found a special way to stay connected to home ... and to feed myself.

What is one ingredient you wouldn't dare cook without?

Hard to pick one, but if I had to, I guess it would be butter. I want to say garlic because I use garlic in so many things, but if you can't sauté garlic in butter, what good is it?

Most of your recipes make enough to serve your family. What do you cook when you're making food for yourself or you and your husband (fellow country singer Garth Brooks)?

I'm a big fan of leftovers and freezing, so I rarely pare down a recipe to serve one. For instance, if I'm making cowboy lasagna for just Garth and myself, I know I'll have leftovers for the next day and for some hungry teenager wandering through before a soccer practice needing something to eat.

What's the best kitchen advice you mother ever gave you?

Don't be afraid to try. If I've never made a recipe before, or if I'm worried that something won't turn out, I just tell myself, "Who cares?" The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn't come out right, you learn, and you try again, changing it up a little bit. The recipes should always be flexible enough to adapt them to your own tastes. I don't think you should be afraid to change it up and make it your own.

Are you sampling any food trends this year? How so?

I'm not sampling any new trends, but I am always looking for new recipes. One thing that putting together the second book has taught me is that there are a lot of wonderful recipes out there. I love it when someone gives me a new recipe that I make and it automatically turns out to be a family favorite.

How is this book different from the last?

In a way, it's very similar because it's really "Comfort Food, Part II." The biggest difference is that the first book was mostly done from the family recipes in my mom's, my sister's and my shoeboxes full of family favorites. For this book, we widened the net to include aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, to get that wonderful variety of recipes that make up "Home Cooking." It was great to finally get the recipes to some of these amazing dishes we've been enjoying at family reunions all of these years.

What is your favorite cookbook or go-to resource for new recipes?

I love cookbooks and have quite a collection. I particularly love Paula Deen and Ina Garten . Their recipes are simple and really tasty. As for as my finding new recipes, so far I've tapped my family members. Those family recipes that have been passed down generation to generation are my favorites.

Twice-Baked Potatoes

6 large baking potatoes

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. milk

3 Tbsp. butter

2 cups sour cream

10 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (about 21/2 cups)

1 Tbsp. garlic salt

Salt and pepper

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup finely chopped green onion

Preheat the oven to 400 degress. Wash potatoes and pierce them with a fork. Rub potatoes with olive oil and place them on a jellyroll pan or a large cookie sheet with a rim. (Do not wrap in foil or else skin will soften and won't hold mashed potato mixture.)

Bake potatoes for 45 minutes to an hour, or until done. Remove the potatoes from the oven and cut them in half lengthwise. Set aside. Reduce temperature of the oven to 350 degrees.

When potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out potato flesh into a large electric mixing bowl. Add milk, butter, sour cream, cheese, garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until creamy. Divide mixture evenly and spoon it back into the potato shells. Return the potatoes to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with bacon and green onion. Serves 12.

— From 'Recipe from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood' (Clarkson Potter, $29.99)

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