Monthly Archives: September 2011

“WHAT’S UNDER THE BED?” by the Retired Friends

COLLECTED BY SANDRA LEE SMITH

Elinor wrote:
About a third of all Americans do this just once a year. They should do it more often. What is it? It’s..Vacuum under the bed. Hmm, The housekeeper comes once a week but spends a limited time in each apartment. I have underbed storage containers under my bed. I’ve been here 3 years and I doubt that territory has been invaded by a vacuum cleaner.

Marge Sallee wrote:
That’s a new question we can bounce around. What have you hidden under your bed and why? Guess it if means we have to get down on our knees to really see what’s under there, it might take us a while to do the research. I remember when I used to clean under things, move large pieces of furniture almost every week. Now Dorman runs the vacuum most of the time, and I know he doesn’t move anything because his knees aren’t in such good shape either. To tell the truth, what we need is a good young person to do our housework the way we used to do it years ago. Seems like the cleaning agencies want a lot to do house clearning and have a long list of things they don’t do (THOSE ARE THE THINGS I REALLY NEED TO HAVE DONE).

Elinor, I think you are feeling pretty smug because some one comes in and cleans for you. I’m envious. I used to go to my great grandmother’s house next door every Saturday and cleaned her little house and wrote her letters to relatives for her. I loved doing it. The only teen aged girls in our family live in Houston, and boy could I keep them busy and in spending money if they lived closer. I’m not sure if they think it would be so wonderful though. ***__
Sandy wrote (in response to Marge N’s waxing and vacuuming her floors) hmmm. When waxing and vacuuming did you go under the bed??? (couldn’t resist asking). By the way, I keep all of our baggage—suitcases and tote bags and duffel bags – under mine & Bob’s beds. You can’t put anything under the trundle bed although I have stashed some boxes of things on the lower bed a few times. Out of sight, out of mind!

And Marge N. replied “NO!! I have so much stuff stored under the beds – about once a year I do take everything out and clean under there so I guess it fits right in with yesterday’s question. When I vacuum, mop, wax – I just go under the edge of the bed until I run into something! Boxes of stored items, games, gift wrapping paper, you name it – it’s under the beds!

Rosie first wrote:
I have a big, long, low box filled with lots of old Workbasket magazines. I have entire volumes (decades) of them, going back into the ’40’s and maybe even earlier. I collected them back in the 70’s and just never got rid of them. I keep thinking I’m going to go thru them and copy down some patterns (I have 2 cousins who had patterns published in the magazine). People keep telling me they’re probably worth money. Maybe so, but first I want to thumb thru them. Of course, I’ve only had them for 30+ years and still haven’t spent the time I want to go thru them! But I will – someday.

Then Rosie wrote:

I didn’t think about our guest room. Under the day bed is a collapsible twin bed.

I had someone clean my house for nearly 10 years when we lived in Chicago, in the 90’s. I just couldn’t clean that large a house with my arthritic condition getting worse by the year. When we moved here, I found someone to clean (a private individual as it was in Chicago) and then she quit to go back into nursing. That was okay, though, because our budget was getting tighter, but I wish I could still afford her. She was very good. I only had her come in every other week and she only charged $40. Of course, we live in an apartment with just 4 rooms plus bath and laundry room, and she was usually done in 3 to 3 1/2 hours. She did anything I wanted her to do. She’d of changed the bedding and laundry if I’d of asked her to, but we did that ourselves. But she did anything and everything else.

Sharon wrote:
As I mentioned before, I have a scale under the end of the bed but I just took another peek. Outside of the dust bunnies and a couple of dog toys which I have removed, that’s it. I used to shove the many photo albums underneath the loveseat in the living room and now I have stopped doing that.
Under the spare room bed are a couple of jigsaw puzzles which have been put together and glued and are ready to be framed. They were for family who are no longer here so I’m not sure what I will do with those.
Strange as it might seem, I have never been comfortable with someone else coming in and doing the cleaning of my house. When I was laid up with my broken leg a couple of winters ago, I had one of my nieces come and do a little vacuuming and clean the upstairs bathroom. She spent most of the time talking with me and drinking coffee lol.
My mother always had a housekeeper when she taught school because my dad worked long shifts in the canning factory during the warmer months. He came home at lunch for a hot meal every day plus my grandma lived with us and my brother and I came home from school for our lunches. In later years mom had someone come and help with the cleaning every second week.

Elinor wrote: So “Under the Bed” is another topic for retired friends? I should add that underbed containers are one of the ways to find extra storage space in an apartment, especially a studio apartment. I have suggested them in my retirement articles about downsizing from a house to an apartment. It may be necessary to raise the bed on risers to fit the the storage carts under the bed. But having the bed a little higher makes it easier to get in and out of. Underbed storage is useful for seasonal clothing, extra blankets, etc.

OFF-THE-WALL FASCINATING COOKBOOKS

There are a lot of these cookbooks in circulation and they possibly get overlooked at times because if it’s not a church or community cookbook, and it’s not a cookbook from Michigan, Ohio or Florida – so what IS it?

Let me tell you about a few of my favorites and you can decide for yourself where they should be filed on your bookshelves.

First there is Mel Baldwin. Well, originally I just filed Mel Baldwin’s books with the rest of my California cookbooks. And I am unable to offer any explanation as to why I didn’t know anything about Mr. Baldwin in the 80s or 90s when his cookbooks were being published. Well, one possible explanation (or excuse) is that I had a lot going on in my life in the 1980s, including a divorce after 26 years of marriage – and in the 1990s, I began traveling in my spare time but was also writing articles for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, a newsletter for (who else?) cookbook collectors – but it gave me an opportunity to branch out and write about ANYthing. I tackled a lot of different topics – what was cooking in the white house kitchens for two hundreds years, what our forefathers (or mothers) were cooking on the Oregon trail – oh, a lot of different subjects. Many of the articles on my blog today are taken from articles originally written for the CCE.

Mel Baldwin actually grew up in a small town in Oregon. On the back cover of “Down Home in L.A.” we learn “The over 400 recipes in this book have been tested y the finest collection of home cooks one could hope for…the listeners who tune in daily for the KNX Food News radio program in Los Angeles which Mel co-hosted with chef and professional caterer Melinda Lee.

A member of the CBS/KNX staff since 1951, many will remember Mel as host to the all-night ‘Music ‘Til Dawn’ program sponsored by American Airlines and heard six nights a week from 1953 to 1971. He has served as co-host of the Food News since 1979….”

I remember listening to a lot of radio recipe programs in the 1960s and well into the 70s and quite possibly Mel Baldwin was one of them. Quite honestly, one radio chef I WAS following back in the day was Mike Roy, host of one of the earliest TV cooking shows, Secrets of a Gourmet, beginning in 1944, on Los Angeles TV station W6XAO. W6XAO later became KTSL, then KNXT. For many years, Mike Roy’s cooking shows could be heard on radio stations KNX in Los Angeles, and CBS-Radio. But getting back to Mel Baldwin! Baldwin’s mother was a “down home” kind of cook having come from a rural, farm back ground and starting her cooking chores at the age of 14 by cooking for the hearty eaters who worked in wheat threshing crews in Oregon.

By contrast, writes Baldwin, his father came from a rather sophisticated background from the Rochester, New York area, with servants to do the kitchen chores. “One would think this would lead him to a life of kitchen leisure or incompetence,” says Baldwin, “and yet he was an excellent cook”. The senior Baldwin learned to cook on an Alaskan fishing boat when he was young, and later as a cook on freighters running between the West Coast and the Orient. Baldwin thinks he inherited his love of the sea from his father, especially since he lived on a houseboat on Portland’s Willamette River for most of his teen years and on Sequim Bay in Washington State later. Most of the preface deals with Baldwin’s early years and how cooking was an integral part of these experiences.

Baldwin also co-hosted with Jackie Olden on KNX for some years (I am also very familiar with Jackie Olden’s radio recipe shows but more captivated with Jackie Olden’s series of cookbooks which are delightful to read and interesting to choose recipes from—I’ll have to do an article about her later on).

Baldwin says “You have no idea the number of recipes we get in our office daily. Listeners send in those they wish to share, those that we perhaps did not have in response to a caller’s question. It is almost impossible to include even a small portion of these in our daily radio show, and many of the recipes in this book are from that collection. Rather than discard them, as once was the procedure many years ago, I have held onto them. Not to do a cookbook but just because I hate waste!”

He also solicited recipes from the great cooks in his family and among his personal friends. The title of the cookbook is “Mel Baldwin’s Down Home in L.A. Cookbook” but it’s not just a cookbook – the pages are replete with stories and reminisces and anecdotes – for all of you out there who “read cookbooks like you read a novel” this is exactly the kind of cookbook that you really can read the way you would a novel. I consider it my kind of cookbook because Mr. Baldwin addresses his readers much the same way I do – the way you would sitting around your kitchen table talking about recipes and food with your friends.

I found a recipe for making your own baking powder which is so unique and ideal for anyone who really BAKES. If you find your baking powder is no longer active, you can easily make your own by sifting together 2 TBSP cream of tartar, 1 TBSP baking soda and 1 TBSP cornstarch. Store in an airtight container. And if you are like me, you will triple or quadruple the recipe in order to have enough on hand for a while.

There is a recipe for Betty White’s homemade dog biscuits, another for Tick Tock Restaurant’s Orange Rolls. Tick Rock Restaurant was a family operated dining tradition that dated back to 1930. It finally closed its doors in 1988– but almost anyone who grew up in or around the San Fernando Valley remembers going to the Tick Tock.

There is a recipe for prime rib in rock salt that, to the best of my knowledge, was one of Lowry’s recipes – this one was submitted by someone named Wayne; Baldwin says it looks a lot like Mike Roy’s old standard for Prime Rib Roast.

Also in the book is “Modern Mincemeat” which does not contain meat. Baldwin offers an essay on “The Origin of Mince Meat Pie” that I will discuss with you another time. I have made a lot of meatless mincemeats in my time. I also found a basic lemon sauce recipe that I am looking forward to trying – you know, many sauces and puddings are really simple to make from scratch. Just so you know. And a sauce made from scratch beats a boxed mix hands down.
Well, having told you about a few of my favorite recipes in “Down Home in L.A.” – how about my sharing a few of them with you? Let’s start with the Basic Lemon sauce since I am on that page.

To make basic lemon sauce, you will need a double boiler. You don’t have to run out and buy a double boiler – usually you can put one together with two pots – one larger than the other – or even use a ceramic or glass bowl for the top half – you just don’t want the top part to touch the water in the bottom pot. (This is always good to know about melting chocolate in a double boiler too – if the top container touches the boiling water underneath, your chocolate will “freeze up” and become a gritty mess—useless for anything other than giving it to the kids to eat. Anyway, blend the following in the top half container:

¼ to ½ cup sugar
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 cup of water
Cook and stir until it thickens. Remove it from the heat and stir in
2-3 TBSP butter
1½ TBSP lemon juice
½ tsp grated lemon rind*
1/8 tsp salt

Sandra’s cooknote: I may have mentioned this before but it bears repeating. When you HAVE lemons on hand and are using the juice – I pour any extra juice in a small bottle. But I like to grate all the lemon peel and put it into a small Tupperware container to keep in the freezer. Then you have lemon rind all the time. I do the same with orange peel. I have to admit, we were terribly spoiled having three orange trees and three or four lemon trees, including a Myer lemon, when we lived in Arleta. Now I cringe every time I see lemons selling for something like fifty cents each. And citrus doesn’t grow in the high desert so – it’s not like we can grow more citrus trees. Sigh.

Here is the Tick Tock Restaurant’s recipe for Orange Rolls

2 cups Bisquick mix
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp grated orange peel
1 6-oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
4 TBSP butter

Prepare the Bisquick according to directions for making biscuits and roll dough out into a rectangle, ¼” thick. Mix ¼ cup of the sugar with the cinnamon, cloves and orange peel and sprinkle over the dough. Beginning with the narrow end, roll up the dough and cut into 9 slices, across the roll.
Heat the frozen orange juice concentrate with ½ cup of the sugar until sugar dissolves, then add the butter, blending well. Pour orange juice mixture into an 8×8” baking pan* and place the roll slices evenly on top. Bake at 425 degrees in a preheated oven for 20 minutes or until browned. Take out immediately and invert on a serving platter to cool. Makes 9 rolls. Were said to be “gorgeous and gooey!”

Sandy’s cooknote: I would spray the baking pan with Pam or other vegetable spray before adding the rolls.

And to make Betty White’s homemade dog biscuits:

Combine ½ tsp baking soda
1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ to 1 cup whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups chicken broth or stock
¼ up dry dog food

Mix well and drop onto greased cookie sheet, flatten with bottom of glass and bake at 350 degrees 40 mins or until browned. Betty says this is a three ARF recipe.

Sandy’s cooknote: I have a dog-bone shaped cookie cutter I’d like to try on this recipe. And who doesn’t love Betty White?

Here is Baldwin’s recipe for making Modern Mincemeat. He doesn’t say where this one came from just that it was a recipe adapted from the original mincemeat that is traditional for preparing the famous Christmas pie:

To make Modern Mincemeat (which I just discovered is a misprint – in Baldwin’s book the title is “Modern Micemeat” (ew, ew)

You will need
2 cups of orange juice
½ cup Bisquick
1 TBSP apple pie spice
3 cups peeled, diced apples
2 cups raisins
16-oz can crushed pineapple, undraiend
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 package (small) lemon Jello (regular or sugar free)

Put first 3 ingredients in blender on high seed for half a minute or ‘til smooth. Pour mixture into a 2 ½ quart sauce pan, adding next three ingredients and cook til mixture begins to thicken and becomes smooth, stirring constantly. Should take 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter, walnuts, and Jello-powder. Transfer mix to grased 2 ½ qt baking dish. Cover with tight fitting lid and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Refrigerate to use in recipes within 30 days. Can be frozen and then thawed for use in six months. Makes 8 cups.

And finally, Wayne’s recipe for rock salt encrusted prime rib recipe:

You will need 1 prime rib roast
Pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce*
MSG (optional)
1 cup water
10-15 lbs of rock salt

Bring meat to room temperature. Rub both sides with the Worcestershire sauce, pepper & MSG, if using. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place ¼” of salt in the bottom of a roasting pan and sprinkle with water. Place roast on salt, and with your hands, cover the entire roast with at least ¼” of rock salt, and sprinkle with water.

Roast at 15 minutes per pound at 500 degrees. To remove salt crust, use a hammer and brush away bits and pieces of salt that may cling to roast. Remember the salt crust will be HOT. Enjoy! -

Before I move on, let me finish with something sweet – walnut/pecan pralines*

To make Walnut/Pecan Pralines you will need
2 cups of walnuts/pecans
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
1 cup sour cream
½ stick butter (2 oz)
½ tsp vanilla

Bring ingredients, except vanilla and nuts, to a boil in a saucepan, simmer 15-20 minutes stirring constantly. Add vanilla last. Pour over nuts. Stir til they begin to sugar. Spread on buttered plate.

Sandy’s cooknote: I have a soft spot in my heart (and stomach) for pecan pralines. The first time I ever tasted them was when I first started working at the SAG Health Plan and our office was in Hollywood. You could JUST make it to Farmer’s market and back on a lunch hour – if you didn’t loiter – but we’d often head directly for the candy stall and buy these huge pecan pralines. When Connie went to Farmer’s Market with Patti on their lunch hour, they usually brought back a praline for me. So I learned how to make them—and for many years, a penpal in Louisiana sent me 2-3 lbs of whole pecans for Christmas every year. Yum! It’s still my almost-favorite candy, up there along with See’s Butterscotch Squares which is kind of like Mexican penuche, a brown sugar fudge covered with chocolate. Double yum! ***

Presumably, Mel Baldwin’s first cookbook, “Down Home in L.A.” was a huge success and/or he had a lot of left over recipes because a year later he published “This is Not Just Your Ordinary Cookbook” that went through at least two printings because my copy is a Second Printing.

Some of the recipes you may want to look for – There is such a wide range of recipes in “THIS IS NOT JUST YOUR ORDINARY COOKBOOK” – for instance, President Reagan’s Macaroni and Cheese, Pear Mincemeat (which I have made and will make as soon as I find myself being gifted with Asian pears again), but also recipes such as Green tomato Mincemeat which I will have to copy and send to a friend… and there is Muhammed Ali’s Bean Pie recipe (did you even KNOW that Muhammed Ali had a bean pie recipe? I certainly didn’t!).

I found a step by step detailed instructions for making chocolate Grenache. Also found a recipe for Tillamook Bay Cheese Bake (I love Tillamook cheese!) which is accompanied by other Tillamook cheese recipes.

I have some gumdrop cake recipes but like the one submitted to KNX by someone named Cindy who said that she likes to cut the gumdrops in half with a moistened scissors, she usually leaves out the dates and adds more gumdrops instead. (Most gumdrop cakes suggest leaving out any black gumdrops. No one mentions black gumdrops in Mel’s cookbook. I suggest eating them while you are mixing together the recipe. A note to all of you who do not know this – gumdrop cake was and is intended to be a suitable substitute to fruitcake. But back in the day, we didn’t have the wide variety if dried fruits available today. I have written about fruitcake before – and probably will again—perhaps soon, because it’s time to start making your fruitcakes if you want them to age and be doused periodically with some kind alcohol, such as brandy or bourbon. I digress.

So before I wander too far off the beaten path, let me share a few of the recipes from Mel Baldwin’s “This is Not Just your Ordinary cookbook”!

Here is Cindy’s Gumdrop Cake recipe:

1 cup shortening at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups applesauce
2 tsp baking soda
4 cups flour, divided
3 cups gumdrops, cut in half
1 cup dates, coarsely chopped
1 cup golden raisins and 1 cup chopped nuts
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP vanilla

In a large bowl of electric mixer, combine shortening and sugars, beating until creamy. Add eggs and beat until well blended, scraping sides of bowl often. In medium bowl, combine ½ cup of the flour with the gumdrops, dates, nuts and raisins stirring so all are dusted with flour. Set aside. In another bowl, combine remaining 3 ½ cups of flour with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt and mix thoroughly.

Add flour-spice mixture to egg-sugar mixture and beat until smooth and thoroughly blended. Stir in flour-gumdrop mixture and vanilla until well distributed. Line three 9x5x3” loaf pans with wax paper or foil. Place a pan of water on bottom rack of oven. Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for about 2 hours or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in your pans on wire rack. Remove from pans and carefully peel away wax paper or foil. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to store. Cake is best store for a week or two before serving.
Makes 3 loaves.

Sandy’s cooknote: it doesn’t say so in the recipe but I would keep the cakes wrapped in plastic and then foil over that, and store in the refrigerator.

PRESIDENT REAGAN’S MACARONI AND CHEESE

½ lb (8 oz) uncooked macaroni
1 tsp butter
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
3 cups grated, sharp Tillamook cheese

Boil macaroni in water until tender and drain thoroughly. Stir in butter and beaten egg. Mix mustard and salt with 1 tsp hot water and add milk; set aside. Add cheese to the macaroni reserving enough to sprinkle a light coating on top. Pour into greased casserole, add milk and sprinkle with reserved grated cheese. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until custard is set and top is crusty.

Sandy’s cooknote: Again, the author of the recipe doesn’t SAY SO, but if you add raw egg to hot macaroni – I think it could cause the egg to cook. My suggestion is to rinse the macaroni and drain it thoroughly as directed, but make sure the macaroni is cool before you add the other ingredients.
The following recipe for pear mincemeat was submitted to Mel Baldwin by a lady in Huntingon Beach, who said she found the recipe in a Yankee magazine article. Fruit-based mincemeat recipes are a good substitute for vegetarians – but also for people like myself, who do a lot of canning but only use boiling water baths. Anything with real meat in it, in a canning recipe, would require a pressure cooker. And why even bother with “meat-based” mincemeat when you can make a variety of wonderful mincemeats using different fruits? I guess that’s an oxymoron – mincemeat that doesn’t contain meat!

To make Pear Mincemeat you will need:

7 lbs peeled and cored pears
½ cup water
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 lb golden raisins
1 lb dried currants
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 lemon
1 cup orange marmalade
¼ cup Cointreau
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp mace
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground allspice

Finely chop the pears by hand or in a food processor. Transfer chopped pears to a non-reactive sauce pan of suitable size and add water and the vinegar and blend. Bring to a gentle and add raisins, currants and walnuts. Blend in the sugar. Remove the zest from the lemon and cut it into thin strips. Squeeze the lemon juice into the mixture and add the lemon zest strips.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered for 1½ hours or until mixture has thickened to a juicy relish-like consistency.

Cool to room temperature and refrigerate. This may also be frozen until later use. To CAN the pear mincemeat, spoon the hot mixture into hot, sterilized 1 quart jars, leaving ¼” headspace. Seal jars and process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes. Makes 4 quarts (or 8 pints.)

GREEN TOMATO MINCEMEAT

You might want to make this version of mincemeat, if you happen to have a glut of tomatoes in your garden and as the weather dips into fall, have a lot of green tomatoes you aren’t sure what to do with. To make Green Tomato Mincemeat you will need:

6 cups chopped, firm cooking apples
6 cups chopped green tomatoes
4 cups brown sugar
1 1/3 cups cider vinegar
3 cups seedless raisins
3 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
¾ tsp ground allspice
¾ tsppepper
2 tsp salt
¾ cup butter (1½ sticks)

Mix apples with tomatoes and drain. Add the remaining ingredients except butter. Gradually bring to a boil cooking until thick, stirring occasionally. Add the butter and ladle into hot sterilized jars. Process 20 minutes in a boiling water Bath.

MUHAMMED ALI’S BEAN PIE

You will need:
2 cups sugar
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 TBSP cinnamon
2 TBSP cornstarch
5 eggs, well beaten
3 cups cooked navy beans, mashed or put through a sieve
2 cups evaporated milk
5 drops yellow food coloring
1 tsp lemon extract

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium size bowl, cream the sugar and butter; add cinnamon & cornstarch and blend well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to blend. Add the mashed beans, beating well. Add the evaporated milk and food coloring and lemon extract. Blend all well and set aside.

WHEAT FLOUR CRUST:
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup corn oil
½ tsp salt
3 TBSP ice water
1 egg

Sift together flour and salt. Blend in the oil. Make a well in the center and add the ice water and egg, blending a little at a time. Divide into 3 parts. Roll out each 1/8” thick on floured board; put all three into greased pie pan and add bean mixture. Bake 5 minutes at 450 degrees; lower heat to 325 degrees for 45 minutes.

Sandra’s cooknote: I have questions but there’s no one to ask. Apparently, three pie crusts are baked together with the bean filling. This sounds odd but maybe someone will read this and shed some light on Muhammed Ali’s recipe. Wouldn’t one layer of pie crust be enough? Inquiring minds wanna know.
One more? I think I have the Chart Restaurant for blue cheese dressing somewhere else in my collection – but here it is in Mel Baldwin’s book, submitted to Mel by someone named Laverne.

To make Blue Cheese Dressing you will need:

¾ cup sour cream
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire* sauce
Blend for 2 minutes at low speed then add:
1 1/3 cup mayonnaise
Blend at ½ minute at low speed and then blend at medium speed an additional 2 minutes. After this mixture is blended, add:
4 ounces crumbled bleu cheese

Blend this by hand, mixing well, and pour into a jar. Refrigerate 24 hours before serving. Makes 2 ½ cups.

Sandy’s cooknote: it cracks me up that in the cookbooks, Mel refers to Worcestershire sauce as Whatsthishere sauce. I changed these references back to Worcestershire. Consider it literary license.

There are hundreds more recipes in the two cookbooks and dozens of entertaining stories told by the author. I found several copies of Down Home in L.A. starting at $2.90 on Amazon (add $3.99 for shipping & handling) and one copy of “This is Not just your Ordinary Cookbook” listed on a website called Bonanza – and the copy they have is signed. Actually, I was surprised not to find more issues available but if Mr. Baldwin self-published his two cookbooks, there could be a limited number of them in circulation. ***

“TURNIP GREENS IN THE BATHTUB” is a collection of recipes by Genie Taylor Harrison, a cookbook that I found when I was in Cincinnati in 1986 for a family reunion. It must have done very well since it was first published in 1981 and went through three printings by April, 1982. In the preface, Genie says that after 35 years of marriage spent in and out of the kitchen – mostly in – she decided it was high time to share her experiences with others and says this is a collection of recipes she collected from many states – from Georgia to North Dakota but mostly from her adopted state of Louisiana.
“Turnip Greens in the Bathtub” had enough of a quirky title to catch someone’s attention – mine included. I’m guessing that Genie Taylor Harrison made enough money selling her cookbook to recoup the cost of printing. For a short explanation of the title – this came from their so-called “honeymoon cottage”
Writes the author, “In 1946 the housing shortage in Baton Rouge was unbelievable. Our first home, after a wedding trip from Georgia to New Orleans, was a basement room in a dilapidated old house facing the Mississippi River. Sounds romantic? Hardly! The bath at the end of a dingy hall lit with a 10 watt light bulb was shared by three couples The tub was always covered with grease. The mystery was solved when, one night, we found the remains of turnip greens in the bathtub. One of our sharers was cooking in the room and using the tub as their disposal. Thought turnip greens had always warmed my southern heart, you won’t find a recipe here! [The housing shortage was universal throughout most of the USA as World War II came to an end and the servicemen began coming home – sometimes with Italian or English or French brides.]

Genie starts her cookbook out with a delicious collection of hors d’oeuvres – artichoke balls and artichoke squares or an artichoke casserole—chicken livers in bacon with water chestnuts, a couple of recipes for cheese straws. There is a recipe for spinach balls and cucumber did and a couple for oyster dip—but a lot of others as well. I’ve tried the recipe for drunken wieners made with little smokies but have marked (with post its) a recipe for mock pate as well as one for marinated mushrooms (I haven’t made those for a long time)—but there are 27 pages of hors d’oeuvres so you are sure to find something you like!

The next chapter is titled Cheese and Eggs and a lot of cookbooks don’t make that a separate category. Many of today’s cookbooks don’t offer a separate category for bread either, and this was a pleasant surprise because I can never remember where my recipe for angel biscuits came from—I found one in this cookbook. I also found some muffin recipes to experiment with, as well as lace edged corn cakes and two hour nut rolls, hush puppies and wholesome homemade bread. I also found a recipe for English Muffin bread that sounds intriguing and Mexican Cornbread—Wow! And one I know for certain I will make, “Old World Rye Bread” – I made my own rye bread in the 1970s but didn’t keep the recipes.

The next chapter is soups and salads and I confess; my collection of soup recipes is so vast, I tend to skim over these but I did find a recipe for Spinach Soup that I think is worthy of trying. I love anything with spinach in it. Moving onto salads – another confession – anything with the name “congealed” in it tends to get passed by. “Congealed” is a southern word for jellied salads, isn’t it? Why not call it jellied? “Congealed” makes me think of blood (sorry all you southerners who make congealed salads. I do like layered Mexican salad and English Pea Salad sounds wonderful. And you would find taco salad at almost any office pot luck I attended for 27 years. (No offense to Genie Taylor Harrison).

I am really interested in the chapter on sauces and relishes – because I really like to make sauces and relishes, preferably from scratch. There are recipes for Caesar Salad Dressing and Cumberland sauce, Jezebel sauce and savory mustard sauce. From-scratch mayonnaise and honest to goodness chutney, marinated cucumbers and pickled okra, your choice of corn or pear relish – and one for a cherry fig preserves….well, let me tell you – we had 2 old fig trees in our front yard in Arleta – I always had more figs than I knew what to do with so I did a lot of experimenting. One experiment had to do with figs and whatever – almost any kind of jello powder worked but I liked an orange fig preserves that I added fresh orange juice and orange zest to the recipe (we also had orange and lemon trees). If you have access to figs, they are really versatile.

Under the chapter for meats, followed by poultry, there is an excellent recipe for green enchiladas, another for pork chops and apples and two recipes for brisket. I made a brisket over the weekend following my sister’s recipe but would like to try both of these. Under poultry you may surely want to try Genie’s recipe for Arroz Con Pollo.

There are chapters on seafood, (quite a few for crab and crawfish, to be expected in a cookbook from Louisiana, but many of Genie’s recipes are recipes I haven’t seen elsewhere). Under cakes there is a recipe for red velvet cake—made from scratch, not a mix! And then there are chapters for desserts and pies, another for cookies and candy.

One last thing – a lot of cookbooks aren’t really indexed very well, much less cross-indexed. It had to be a lot of work but Turnip Greens in the Bathtub” is very well indexed.

Here is Genie’s recipe for Red Velvet Cake:

½ cup shortening
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
3 ounces red food coloring
1 TBSP cocoa
1 TBSP vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2½ cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

Cream shortening and sugar. Add eggs one a time, beating after each addition. Add cocoa and food coloring. Sift flour and salt together and add alternately with buttermilk to the creamed mixture. Do not beat in baking soda and vinegar. Sprinkle soda over batter, then pour vinegar over batter mixture. Stir until well blended. Bake in 3 greased and floured cake pans* at preheated 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Sandy’s cooknote: author doesn’t state but I am assuming you want to use 3 round cake pans and divide the batter evenly.

Icing:
1½ cups butter or margarine
1 ½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 TBSP cornstarch
1 ½ cups water.

Cream butter and sugar until creamy. Cook cornstarch, vanilla and water until very thick. Cool. Combine with butter and sugar mixture and beat with electric beater until whipped cream consistency.

To make artichoke casserole you will need

1 large can artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (fresh, if available)
1 TBSP lemon juice
Dash garlic salt

Mash artichoke hearts well and combine with other ingredients. Put into a greased casserole and place in preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until bubbly. This can be heated in casserole and then place in a chafing dish to serve. Serve with your favorite crackers. **

Amazon has 4 pre owned copies starting at $14.99 and two collectible copies @ $13.98. That’s a switch! Usually collectible copies are a lot higher priced!

Happy cookbook collecting!

Sandy

FOR MY GODSON KEVIN

FEBRUARY 18, 1991, My godson, Kevin, accidentally shot and killed himself.

Recently, I came across the tribute that I wrote to my friend Penny, for her son, Kevin. “He had so many friends,” she wrote at the time, “No big problems—he had friends from little kids to old people 70 years old and older. He’d sit and talk to them and really enjoy their company. He had the largest service this town has ever had – over 400 people came to his service and there were so many flowers….from the day he was born I had this ‘unreasonable’ fear that something was going to happen to him and spoke of it to several people. Often it would come over me, out of the blue. I see now God was trying to prepare me that I wouldn’t have him long…”

So, I wrote this tribute for Kevin because I was a mother of sons, too.

FOR KEVIN

There are no simple answers.
There are no easy words.
Words come hard. Thoughts come and go.

From the time we bring them into this world, we are constantly in fear of and worry about the greatest of all our fears, that something, sometime, might happen to this child. We are struck dumb over stories of children being bused and battered by their own parents, and we ask ourselves how on earth anyone could do anything so cruel and heartless to their own child.

When they are babies, we watch them breathe and we listen for the slightest “wrong” sound in the night; we are up in a flash when they begin to cry. We encourage them to crawl and we hold our arms out to catch them when they take their first steps. We walk the floor with them when they are feverish and we rush to the emergency room with them when they break an arm or a leg playing baseball or soccer or basketball. We let them crawl into bed with us in the middle of the night, when they have had a bad dream. We hold them close and breathe the damp sweaty smell of their hair and we chase away the bad dreams.

We turn the pot handles on the stove around and we put covers on the electrical sockets and we lock up cleaning supplies and we put up little wooden gates in the doorways.

We let them out of our sight, sometimes, because we know we have to do that to let them grow and we heave a sigh of relief when they return unharmed. We warn them of the evils in the world, constantly, and our warnings fall on deaf ears for they are convinced that they are invincible. We tell them not to speak to strangers and to look both ways before crossing and how to handle a pair of scissors, and not to play with matches.

But they talk to strangers and they don’t always look both ways, and sometimes they handle the scissors by the wrong end and sometimes they light matches to watch them burn. They know that nothing can touch them.

We take them to little league games and band practice and we go to PTA meetings and teacher conferences. We walk them from house to house on Halloween night because it is no longer a world safe enough for them to go alone, and while they welcome our company when they are five or six years old, they chafe over having us along when they are nine or ten, far too old to have a parent walking alongside. But we tell them it’s our way or no way and they ungraciously concede defeat. Really, what could happen to them? They are invincible.

We go to open house and we admire their drawings on the wall and we stand foolish and open-mouthed over a teacher’s recitation…sometimes glowing, sometimes not so glowing.

We go looking for them if they are more than five minutes late getting home from school.

We fret with them over every test and we suffer with them learning multiplication tables and fractions and decimals.

We think we could say in or sleep did you do your homework, did you take a bath, did you wash behind your ears, did you pick up your towel, are you wearing clean underwear? And they say aw, mom, I’m not a baby. And then we drive to school half an hour later to deliver their homework or their lunch money or their science report.

They take driver’s ed and they drive too fast and eat too much junk food and sometimes they experiment with alcohol and smoking cigarettes. We lecture them on chewing their food and on brushing their teeth and eating the right foods and clogging their arteries with carbohydrates. They say aw, mom, and go right on doing whatever it is they were doing that we warned them about. They are, they know, invincible.

They acquire, along with baseball cards and Hot Rod magazines and their own telephone, their own TV and stereo system and several hundred cassette tapes of something loosely defined as Heavy Metal which they assure us is music but we are convinced is a plot to impair the hearing devised by hearing aid manufacturers throughout the country.

They acquire friends of the opposite sex and our heart does flip flops the first time they take a girlfriend into the bedroom and close the door. We find ourselves stuttering and stammering, explaining birth control. Condoms.

We hear ourselves sounding like our own mothers, when we open our mouths and start talking about what nice girls did or did not do ‘ in our day”. We were never going to sound like our mothers. Aw mom they tell us, they know about Trojans. They know what they are doing. Nothing can happen. We worry too much.

We hear other mothers bemoaning their offspring, hoping they will hurry up and grow up and get on with their lives, and we think they are crazy, because we aren’t ready for our offspring to hurry up and grow up and get on with their lives. People think we are crazy because we enjoy having them around and harbor secret dreams that they will stay with us for years to home.

Now, here we are. It’s come to this.

All the turned pot handles, all the incantations, the warnings, all the covered electrical sockets, all for —–

We stand on top of a hillside and we scream to the heavens. We cry to this child who no longer hears anything.

Why didn’t you listen?

Why weren’t you more careful?

And somewhere on the wind comes a faint whisper, aw, mom, you worry too much.

Nothing can touch me now

–Sandra Lee Smith