Monthly Archives: May 2012

LET’S TALK ABOUT COOKBOOKS!

DESERT TREASURES COOKBOOK FROM JUNIOR LEAGUE OF PHOENIX

One question I am asked a lot is “How on earth did you acquire so many cookbooks?” I say I’m not quite sure – I remember a time when I was proud to boast of having 300 cookbooks. Now there are thousands and I am starting to lose track of where everything is. I blame that on not having the space I once had to keep all of the cookbooks in sight on shelves and grouped together in categories. It’s frustrating to know you have a book and not be able to lay your hands on it. But like Topsy would say, my cookbook collection just grewed and grewed. Periodically, I pack up a boxful of cookbooks to send to a niece—but I fear I buy them—or have them given to me—faster than I can give a few away!

(Incidentally, the other question I am asked most often is “Do you actually read all of these books?” The answer is yes, but I am admittedly non-plussed when that question is posed to me. I am tempted, sometimes, to shrug, and say “oh, no, they’re just for looks”).

Most of the time I have things under control. All of the Christmas cookbooks are in a bookcase in the living room right by the front door. I put all the cookie and candy cookbooks with the Christmas ones following a line of logic that they “go together” – at least when Christmas is getting close. I have all the dessert cookbooks together in the same bookcase, other side – plus all the celebrity cookbooks but they are outgrowing their space and I haven’t figured out a solution yet. My favorite cookbook authors are in bookcases in the spare bedroom. All of the “Best of the Best” series by Quail Ridge Press are next to authors. There are also some shelves of just-various cookbooks beneath the Quail Ridge Press ones. Opposite wall holds all of my baking/bread cookbooks.

Ohio cookbooks are group beneath breads. Michigan is under Ohio (maybe Michigan should be above Ohio but I have more Michigan than I do Ohio. All of Ohio fits on one shelf (double rowed). Another bookcase—same room—holds all of my radio/TV personality cookbooks, which I have written about a few times.

MY bedroom walls hold all of my favorite-cookbooks-to-cook-with; those are on one wall and the opposite wall holds all of my California cookbooks which are overflowing their shelves. My Americana cookbooks (any cookbook with “America” in the title) fill two bookcases in two bedrooms. Some of my favorite cookbooks are grouped under this topic.

The room that was Bob’s bedroom (and is still referred to as such) holds two walls of bookcases; one wall holds all of my foreign cookbooks—also overflowing—while another bookcase holds all of my canning/preserving cookbooks, as well as all my appetizer/hors d’oeuvre cookbooks.

The opposite wall is filled with community cookbooks – one bookcase is filled with EAST of the Mississippi cookbooks and the other with WEST of the Mississippi cookbooks. You may find this a strange filing system. It is.
Bookcases in the garage library hold all of my diet/weight loss cookbooks (predominately Weight Watcher books) but a lot of others – meat cookbooks, chicken cookbooks, fish and seafood cookbooks, all of the Joy cookbooks, Settlement cookbooks, Betty Crocker, Better Homes & Garden cookbooks (why just one? There are different editions and the thing that is so appealing about BH&G cookbooks is that readers were encouraged to add their own recipes, to make the book their “own” and these could also fit in the manuscript cookbook category. Some of them are bulging with handwritten recipes.

All of my bake off cookbooks are on these shelves as well. (The rest of the library, which Bob built in 2010, is our collection of fiction, plus my collection of Presidential biographies and autobiographies plus my First Lady collection). There is also one entire bookcase given over to celebrity biographies and auto biographies). I almost forgot—I have a section filled with children’s fiction, several shelves full of African-American fiction, non-fiction and cookbooks, another shelf of titles by or about Holocaust victims and/or survivors, yet another one or two shelves full of Royal family biographies or autobiographies.
But getting back to cookbooks! There are so many cookbooks that are delightfully unique and individual, recipes well chosen (especially the Junior League cookbooks) with mouth-watering photographs of various recipes or dazzling photographs of the region they represent. I have often finished reading a cookbook thinking “I’d really like to go THERE!”

Well, if you can’t “GO THERE” sometimes reading a cookbook is the next best thing to being there.

I’d like to start a series with you, devoted to some of my favorite “I’d really like to go THERE” cookbooks. And the first one I have selected is the cookbook that gave me this idea.

The title of the cookbook is “DESERT TREASURES” by the Junior League of Phoenix. It was published in 1992 and is a beautiful cookbook. Along with lush food photographs (including a wonderful hammered silver treasure chest opened to display an inviting array of fruits and vegetables on the cover), there are breath-taking photographs of places around Phoenix. (Another plus is the washable cover of the book).

On the back cover, we learn that the Junior League of Phoenix (Arizona) is an organization of women committed to providing volunteerism and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable. All profits from the sale of this book will be used to support their present community projects, including Healthy Touch, Christmas in April, Immunization Saturday and YWCA/JLP Women in Transition.

The book itself is beautifully designed in turquoise and white and begins with Appetizers with mouth-watering recipes ranging from Goat Cheese Torte and Coyote Caviar (made with black beans) and another Caviar pie that is made with hardboiled eggs. There is a Pecan Apricot Canapé, Parmesan and Artichoke rounds, Guacamole Chili Chips (sure to be a crowd pleaser), Pot Stickers and Phyllo Blossoms (might take a while to make but are sure to be a hit) as well as some easier recipes such as Hot Crabmeat Spread, or Shrimp Butter Spread as well as some yummy do-ahead recipes like Paloma Plantation Pecans, Green Indian Relish, or Salsa Fresca. (There is also a recipe for making Green Pepper Jelly—and that, like any canned recipe, requires a little time and effort but will surely get rave reviews.

Under the chapter titled “SOUPS” you will find Southwestern Soup (which I am looking forward to trying—I love making soup!) as well as Squash Bisque, Green Chili Soup, Tortilla Soup, Mexican Corn Chowder, Pumpkin shallot Soup, Zucchini Soup, Harvest Soup—as well as many others, all reflecting strongly of their southwestern heritage. (I look forward to trying their recipe for Chunky Chili—to see how it compares with my own!)

The following chapter of SALADS provides a rich array of recipes, ranging from Hearts of Palm with Tangy Lemon Dressing, Chilled Herbed Tomatoes, Marinated Mushroom and Cauliflower Salad, Stoplight Salad (which I think could be made in advance), Southwest Black Bean Salad, to an Apple Walnut Salad with Feta Cheese, Spinach Chutney salad, Spicy Oriental Chicken Salad—as well as others that I leave you to discover for yourself.

Under BREADS look for Herb Bread , Dilly Bread, Fresh Herb Butter, as well as Irresistible Cheese Bread, Green Chile Cornbread—and a Guilt-Free Carrot Bread that is low in sugar and fat grams (this one really sounds like a winner) but you will also want to try the Cranberry Coffee Cake, Mini Orange Muffins, Spicy Buttermilk Coffeecake and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins—which also contains buttermilk (I almost always have buttermilk in the frig—I love to cook and bake with it and also use it to make my “from scratch” ranch dressing.)

I love the chapter titled BRUNCHES as I love brunch recipes and enjoy having brunches during the holiday season. There is a recipe for Fiesta Corn Tamale Torte that may be a little time consuming—but it can be made, covered and refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen, and then defrosted at room temperature and reheated, covered, for 30 minutes—it would make a dazzling presentation at your next brunch and it serves 6-8 people. Also look for recipes such as Triple Cheese Bake, Spinach/Mushroom Brunch Bake (I love anything with spinach in it), Sausage Enchiladas—a twist on your average enchiladas—as well as Spinach Quiche with Mushroom Sauce—which doesn’t sound difficult at all and can be made with an 8” pie shell. You might want to double this recipe and keep one on hand, in the freezer, for another meal.

After BRUNCHES comes POULTRY with tantalizing recipes such as Chicken Acapulco (made with chicken breasts, serves 8), or Chicken Balsamic, Cumberland Chicken which has a sauce I can’t wait to try, Dijon chicken Wraps or, if you prefer, Grilled Margarita Chicken (made with lime juice, tequila and triple sec—sure to become a family favorite) – but also try Parmesan Chicken, Imperial Chicken, Santa Fe Kiev—Artichoke Chicken Casserole (made with a jar o f marinated artichokes, or Chicken Chimichangas, or Red Chicken Enchilada Casserole. Each and every recipe sounds like a winner…you may want to start with the first one and work your way through the pages.

Then, following POULTRY is a section titled Phoenix Treasures—not recipes—but an inviting invitation to visit Phoenix and see for yourself why it is known throughout the world as a vacation destination. “Glimpse a few of our treasures,” the Junior League of Phoenix coaxes, “they speak of a lifestyle in harmony with nature and with a diverse cultural heritage…” What follows is a visual invitation to downtown Phoenix, the resorts, golf courses, tennis facilities – all accompanied by sample recipes from the cookbook –Spinach Mushroom Brunch Bake on gorgeous china Phyllo Blossoms against a background of architectural tools—which offers, in part “…the Frank Lloyd Wright influence is present in many public buildings, such as the Biltmore Hotel, and the Grammage Center for the Performing Arts (I would GO to Phoenix just to see those!).

There is a page dedicated to the desert, accompanied by Picante Corn Casserole in a lush southwestern background, as well as Native Americans featuring Hearts of Palm Salad with Tangy Lemon dressing. The League notes that “…All of Arizona and especially the Gila and Salt River Valleys near Phoenix have been home to Native American tribes since ancient times…Today, festivals, ceremonials, and dances carefully preserve Native American culture. World-renown museums, such as the Heard, beautifully exhibit the intricately designed pottery, basketry and textiles that help tell the story of the Indian heritage.”
Next is a tribute to “OLD WEST” (accompanied by a display of Caviar Pie on exquisite china), in which the cookbook authors write, “From staged Old West shootouts and Pony Express rides retracing the mail route to colorful rodeos and costumed riders on horses in festival parades, cowboy lore lives on in Scottsdale and Phoenix.

Famed for his rugged individualism in Western films, the cowboy and his horse seem at one with nature, riding off into a spectacular Arizona sunset. His touch is evident today, not only on the real working range, but also in the southwestern influence mirrored in food, art, fashion and interior design.” Below is a beautiful photograph of three cowboys riding off into the sunset.

The next chapter is dedicated to ENTREES and offers a wide range of delicious recipes beginning with Tenderloin Beef with Tarragon Sauce, Beef Grand Marnier, Sonoran Shredded Beef but including Veal Strips with Artichokes, Grilled Leg of Lamb and Indian Lamb Kabobs, plus pork recipes such as Pork Loin Roast with Orange BBQ Sauce—these and other recipes will whet your appetite and offer interesting variations whether you are cooking for family or for company.

A Section on SEAFOOD offers Halibut with Tomato and Leek Sauce, Red Snapper Vera Cruz, Ahi with Sesame-Cilantro Marinade, along with recipes for Orange Roughy, salmon, shrimp and crab. Crab Spinach Fettuccini is high on my list of recipes to try!
ACCOMPANIMENTS provides a variety of new ways to prepare vegetables, from Sum Kissed Carrots to Orange Walnut Broccoli, Onion Quiche or Eggplant Ramekins—your choice of five new ways to cook potatoes or Rice Pecan Casserole, Mushroom Barley casserole—or Cranberry Walnut Relish. Any one of these recipes would be a delightful way to dress up a meal.

There is a substantial section on DESSERTS—some easy, some a little more difficult—but all certainly well chosen, such as Bread Pudding with Drunken Sauce, three different cheesecake recipes (I have my sights set on the Chocolate Cheesecake) or you may want to try Macaroon Ice Cream Cake—or Chocolate Surprise Cake which has an unexpected ingredient – another one I can’t wait to try and present to my family. No, I won’t tell you what the secret ingredient is! There are also recipes for pies, cookies, and a Chocolate Raspberry Trifle that will knock your socks off!

Next is a section titled FIESTA FAVORITES and this took me by surprise. It features some of the all-time favorite recipes taken from FIESTA UNDER THE SUN, an earlier Junior League of Phoenix cookbook published in 1982. (The Junior League of Phoenix also published SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN back in 1972; it went through a number of printings—mine was from the fourth printing in 1979). Featured in DESERT TREASURES, 1992, are such all time favorites as Fiesta Dip (which I remember “discovering” when we lived in Florida around 1980), Taco Soup, Nachos Grandes, Sedona Salad, Chicken Chutney Salad, Satin Caramel Flan (another fav!) and Black Russian Cake—these and other all-time favorites will bring back memories and perhaps start a new trend with a younger generation.

Last, but not least, is a section titled VALLEY’S FINEST CHEFS—signature recipes from chefs serving up masterpieces at restaurants and resorts in the greater Phoenix area. You may want to try making Black and White Bean Soup from Executive Chef Anton Brunbauer at the Hyatt Regency’s Golden Swan in Scottsdale (bearing in mind that Desert Treasures was published 20 years ago), or Pumpkin Soup from Chef John Bartiloma at the 8700 Restaurant, or Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette from the Registry Resort in Scottsdale—or for a totally different twist, how about Blueberry Tamale with Mexican Crema from Chef Tozer of the La Hacienda at the Scottsdale Princess Resort? These and other Desert Dessert treasures will surely whet your appetite!

DESERT TREASURES* may be out of print but it is still available. I found seven new copies available on Amazon.com from $10 and up. Amazon lists 45 pre-owned copies starting at 21 cents (remember that copies purchased from private vendors, via Amazon, will cost you $3.99. Still, you can own a copy for under 45.00. I found copies on Alibris.com starting at 99c.

SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, the 1972 cookbook by the Junior League of Phoenix is still available through both Amazon and Alibris—BEST BUYs are with Alibris.com (usually it’s the other way around) – you can get good copies on Alibris starting at $2.39 and up. Amazon is offering copies starting at $13.99.

I was unable to find any copies of FIESTA UNDER THE SUN on Alibris.com; however, Amazon.com has copies starting at $4.30.

While searching through many of my southern and southwestern cookbooks, I noticed quite a few cookbooks with “sun” in their titles—it made me think perhaps this would be a good topic to explore with you another time. I’ll gather the books from the shelves and see what I can put together for you.

*My copy of DESERT TREASURES has order forms at the back of the book; I tried the phone number listed on the form and it was no longer in service—so I am guessing that the book is no longer available directly from the Junior League of Phoenix.

–Happy Cooking!

Sandra Lee Smith

AN UPDATE ON THOSE INCOMPARABLE BROWNS: CORA, ROSE, AND BOB BROWN, COOKBOOK AUTHORS

(Originally posted February 13, 2011)

Back in 1965, when I first began collecting cookbooks, one of my first cookbook penpals was a woman in Michigan, Betsy, who has remained my friend to this day. I have been the happy recipient of many of her cookbooks as she began to downsize.

Betsy was the person who “introduced” me to the Browns – Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, authors of over a dozen really fantastic, outstanding cookbooks.  Betsy had some duplicates of the Browns’ cookbooks and sent them to me. Well, I was quickly hooked.  And it was the Browns’ “America Cooks” (published 1940 by Halcyon House), that really turned me onto church-and-club community cookbooks. (I was stunned to see “America Cooks” listed at $300 by an antiquarian book dealer. I bought an extra copy for $5.00 some time ago and gave it to someone who didn’t have a copy!)

Everyone of you who reads cookbooks like novels (and thinks you are the only person in the world who does this) would find “America Cooks” a most readable cookbook.  Since “America Cooks” was published in 1940, others have followed in the Browns’ footsteps with dozens of cookbooks with “America” in the titles.  None can compare with The Browns’ “America Cooks”.

In the foreword, the Browns wr0te, “We put in   twenty years of culinary adventuring in as many countries and wrote a dozen books about it before finding out that we might as well have stayed at home and specialized in the regional dishes of our own forty-eight states. For America cooks and devours a greater variety of viands than any other country. We’re the world’s richest stewpot and there’s scarcely a notable foreign dish or drink that can’t be had to perfection in one or another section of our country….”

“For many years we Browns have been collecting regional American cooking lore, gathering characteristic recipes from each of the forty-eight states (Hawaii and Alaska had not yet become states in 1940) with colorful notes on regional culinary customs. Our collection is complete and savory. It has been our aim to make this America’s culinary source book, a means whereby each state and city may interchange its fine foods and dishes with every other, from coast to coast and from border to border. Here are forty-eight different cookbooks merged into one handy volume—a guide to the best in food and drink that this bounteous country offers. Obviously, no one person nor three, can cover every kitchen, even with such enthusiastic help as we have had from several hundred local authorities. But we believe this is our best food book, and in order to build it bigger and better in later editions, we should like to swap regional recipes and gustatory lore with all who are interested…”

And seventy something years later, I think “America Cooks” remains the Browns’ best food book.  However, that being said, I found the most elusive cookbook of the Browns to be “THE VEGETABLE COOK BOOK”, subtitled “FROM TROWEL TO TABLE” by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown. Published by J. B. Lippincott Company in 1939—I only recently obtained a copy through Alibris.com and paid a whopping $25.00 for a copy. (I justified it by it having the original dust jacket and being a first edition—although to tell the truth, I rarely spend that much on a book. And it seems that other copies are going for much higher prices.

Cora Brown, Robert’s mother, was born in Charlotte, Michigan, graduated from the Chicago Conservatory of music, married and brought up a family. She took up writing fiction and in 1920 went to Brazil to become co-publisher with her son and daughter in law, Rose.  Cora lived with Bob and Rose in Japan, China, France, Germany, etc, becoming familiar with foreign customs and kitchens and collecting recipes with Rose. Cora is the author of “The Guide to Rio de Janerio” and co-authored ten cookbooks with Bob and Rose.

Rose Brown was born in Middletown, Ohio (not far from my hometown of Cincinnati), and graduated from Barnard College and Teachers College. She was a teacher, interior decorator, and journalist, contributing articles on cooking to Colliers, Vogue, This Week and other magazines. Rose was co-author with Cora and Bob on most of their cookbooks. One cookbook that does not list Cora is “Look Before You Cook” which shows Rose and Bob as authors. One cookbook authored solely by Bob Brown is “The Complete Book of Cheese.”  “Culinary Americana” was written by Eleanor Parker and Bob Brown—Eleanor becoming Bob’s wife after Rose’s death.

According to Lippincott, the initiation of Rose into the mysteries of cooking was over a camp fire with game and instruction by her father. During World War I, she worked as a writer for the Committee of Public Information in Santiago, Chile.  In Buenos Aires, Mrs. Brown became co publisher with Bob Brown of weekly magazines in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico and London.  Rose Brown had her own kitchen in a dozen countries and traveled all over the world, always pursuing her hobbies of collecting recipes and cooking lore—and going fishing with her husband. Rose Brown passed away in 1952.

Bob brown was born in Chicago and was graduated from Oak Park High School and the University of Wisconsin. He arrived in New York in 1908 to enter the writing lists, contributing verse and fiction to practically all the periodicals of the time.  One of his first books, written after the end of Prohibition, was called “Let There Be Beer!” He then collaborated with his mother and wife Rose on “The Wine Cookbook,” first published in 1934 and reprinted  many times. A 1960 edition was re-named  “Cooking with Wine” .

Robert Carlton Brown (1886-1959) was a writer, editor, publisher, and traveler. From 1908 to 1917, he wrote poetry and prose for numerous magazines and newspapers in New York City, publishing two pulp novels, “What Happened to Mary” and “The Remarkable Adventures of Christopher Poe” (1913), and one volume of poetry, “My Marjonary” (1916).

In 1918, Bob Brown traveled extensively in Mexico and Central America, writing for the U.S. Committee of Public Information in Santiago de Chile. In 1919, he moved with his wife, Rose Brown, to Rio de Janeiro, where they founded Brazilian American, a weekly magazine that ran until 1929. With Brown’s mother, Cora, the Browns also established magazines in Mexico City and London: Mexican American (1924-1929) and British American (1926-1929).

Following the stock market crash of 1929, the Browns retired from publishing and traveled through Asia and Europe, settling in France from 1929-1933. Brown became involved in the expatriate literary community in Paris, publishing several volumes of poetry, including” Globe Gliding” (1930), “Gems” (1931), “Words” (1931), and “Demonics” (1931), as well as “1450-1950” (1929), a book of visual poetry. While in France, Brown also made plans toward, and wrote a manifesto for, the development of a “reading machine” involving the magnified projection of miniaturized type printed on movable spools of tape.  Arguing that such a device would enable literature to compete with cinema in a visual age, Brown published a book of “Readies”—poems by Gertrude Stein, Fillipo Marinetti, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and others, typeset in a manner appropriate to operation of his projected reading machine. Although Brown’s reading machine was never developed, his papers include letters and papers pertaining to its projected design and technical specifications, as well as a collection of his own published and unpublished visual and conceptual writing. (Bob Brown was way ahead of his time – today, we have the Kindle and Nook. I can’t help but wonder if someone came across his manifesto and ran with it).

In 1933, Brown returned to New York. In the 1930s, he wrote a series of international cookbooks in collaboration with Rose and Cora Brown. He also lived in cooperative colonies in Arkansas and Louisiana, visited the USSR, and wrote a book, “Can We Co-Operate” (1940), regarding the parameters of a viable American socialism. In 1941, he and Rose returned to South America. While traveling down the Amazon they amassed a substantial collection of art and cultural artifacts and collaborated on a book, “Amazing Amazon” (1942). The Browns eventually reestablished residence in Rio de Janeiro, where they lived until Rose Brown’s death in 1952.

After thirty years of living in many foreign countries, and following the deaths of Cora and Rose, Bob Brown closed their mountain home in Petropolis, Brazil, and returned to New York, where he married Eleanor Parker in 1953. Brown continued to write and ran a shop called Bob Brown’s Books in Greenwich Village and ran a mail order business until his death in 1959. Shortly after Brown’s death, a new edition of “1450-1950” was published by Jonathan Williams’s  Jargon/Corinth Press.

During his lifetime, Bob Brown authored more than a thousand short stories and thirty full length books.

The Browns appear to have used a number of different publishers for their cookbooks. While “Soups, Sauces and Gravies,” “Fish and Sea Food Cookbook,” Salad and Herbs” were published by Lippincott, “The Complete Book of Cheese” was published by Gramercy Publishing Company. “America Cooks” and “10,000 Snacks” were published by Halcyon House and “The European Cook Book” by Prentice-Hall, Inc. A few were published by companies I am unfamiliar with; “The Country Cookbook” by A.S. Barnes and Company, and “Most for Your Money Cookbook” by Modern Age Books.  “Culinary Americana”, co-authored by Brown Brown and Eleanor Parker Brown, was published by Roving Eye Press (Bob Brown’s own publication  name). For whatever reason, the Browns appear to have shopped around whenever they had a book ready for publication. (Or did they copyright them all first, and then shop for publishers?)

Recently, I began to rediscover the fabulous cookbooks written the Browns. Some unexpected surprises turned up—for instance, as I was browsing through the pages of “Most for Your Money” I found a chapter titled “Mulligans Slugullions, Lobscouses and Burgoos”—while I am unfamiliar with mulligans and lobscouses, I’ve written about slumgullion stew in sandychatter  and have received messages from readers from time to time, sharing their stories about slumgullion stews of their childhoods. It starts out “Jack London’s recipe for slumgullion is both simple and appetizing…” providing some enlightenment about the history of slumgullion.  (some other time, perhaps we can explore the obscure and mostly forgotten names of recipes).

And – synchronicity – I had just finished writing about sauces for my blog when I rediscovered, on my bookshelves, the Browns “Soups Sauces and Gravies” which simply reaffirmed my belief that the best cookbooks on sauces will be found in older cookbooks. This cookbook by the Browns was published in 1939.

The most complete list I have of the Browns’ cookbooks is as follows:

The Wine Cookbook, by Cora, Rose & Bob Brown, originally published in 1934, revised edition 1944, Little Brown & Company. In 1960 Bob Brown published a reprint of The Wine Cookbook with the title “Cooking With Wine” and under his Roving Eye Press logo.

The European Cook Book/The European Cookbook for American Homes is apparently the same book with slightly different titles. Subtitled The Four in One book of continental cookery, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France. I saw and nearly purchased on the internet an English version of the same book from a dealer in England. I already have three copies, don’t need a fourth! However, it should be noted that the original European Cook Book for American Homes was published in 1936 by Farrar & Rinehart. The 1951 edition with a shortened title was published by Prentice-Hall.

The Country Cook Book by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1937 by A.S. Barnes and    Company.

Most for your Money CookBook, by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1938 by Modern Age Books

Salads and Herbs, By Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1938 by J.B. Lippincott

The South American Cookbook (what I have is a Dover Publication reprint first published in 1971. The original was published by Doubleday, Doran & Company in 1939  – Cora, Rose and Bob Brown

Soups, Sauces and Gravies by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1939 by J.B. Lippincott Company

The Vegetable Cookbook  by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1939 by J.B. Lippincott

America Cooks by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1940 by Halcyon House.

Outdoor Cooking  by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1940 The Greystone Press (*notes that parts of this book appeared in Collier’s and Esquire magazines)

Fish and Seafood Cook Book by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown, published 1940 by J.B. Lippincott Company

Look Before you Cook by Rose and Bob Brown, published 1941 by Consumers Union of the United States, Inc.

10,000 Snacks  by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1948 by Halcyon House—the format and chatty style of 10,000 snacks is quite similar to “America Cooks”.

The Complete Book of Cheese, by Bob Brown, published 1955 by Gramercy Publishing

Culinary Americana by Eleanor Parker Brown and Bob Brown is a bibliography of cookbooks published in the cities and towns of the United States  during the years from 1860 through 1960.  It is believed that the first fund-raiser cookbook was compiled and published during the Civil War, by women to raised money for the Sanitation Commission.  Culinary American focuses primarily on “regional” cookbooks, and notes that, “Certainly, it was after the War (i.e., the Civil War) that we find them printed in many states of the union,” writes Eleanor Parker Brown in the Introduction to Culinary Americana, “A survey of 200 cookbooks of our own collection, published at various times during this last century  in Massachusetts showed that they came from seventy-four different cities and villages. In the case of many of the smaller places, these titles constitute the only books ever printed in these localities, which makes them important landmarks in the history of bookmaking in the state.

The regional cookbooks are a treasure trove of original recipes, as well as a record of   old ‘receipts,’ reflecting the nationality background of the settlers of the community. Thus you will expect, and find, German foods in the old books of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Scandinavian receipts in the pamphlets of the Midwest, and Spanish dishes in the booklets published in the southwest…the little books, some in the handwriting of the contributor, often with signed recipes, gives us a glimpse of the gallant women who proudly cooked these meals and generously gave up their  secrets ‘for the benefit of…others…”

Eleanor Parker Brown also shares with us, in the introduction, “Bob Brown first got together a cookbook collection for reference when he began to write about cooking. He had 1500 volumes which were purchased promptly by a grocery chain store as nucleus for their research library. It was then necessary for him to start a new collection. This was the origin of an interest in cookery books which lasted, and grew, to the end of this life. Bob saw cook books as social and cultural history in America; particularly, those regional books which were so close to the heart of the country…”

Eleanor says that after Bob’s sudden death, she continued work o this bibliography.” Culinary Americana includes listings of all the regional cookbooks we could either locate or obtain information about. It runs the gamut from ‘fifteen cent dinners for families of six’ to the extravagant and elaborate collations of Oscar of the Waldorf….”

“Culinary Americana” is the kind of book that cookbook collectors simply drool over.

As an aside, I find it curious that the Browns flooded the cookbook market within the span of a few years; from “The Wine Cookbook”, published in 1934, to “Look Before You Cook” published in 1941, the Browns published eleven cookbooks. Then they appear to have gone on hiatus until 10,000 snacks was published in 1948.  However, given the extent of their travels and living in countries all over the world – it crossed my mind that perhaps all of these cookbooks were “in the works” while they lived abroad—and perhaps came home to get their cookbooks published.  I’m speculating, of course. The first time I wrote about the Browns (for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange in 1994) – information was scarce. Almost everything I wrote about was gleaned from the books or their dust jackets. Today, thanks to the internet, there is more biographical information available but not enough to satisfy my greedy soul. Of all the authors I have collected in the past 45 years, those by The Browns remain my all time favorites. I was stunned to discover Bob Brown had a bookstore and that he wrote over a thousand short stories and 30 full length books. Yowza – this trio did it all.

Another update!  Some months ago I was stunned to receive a message on my blog from Rory Brown—Bob Brown was his great grandfather; Cora Brown was his great-great-grandmother.  It isn’t the first time (and hopefully won’t be the last) that a descendant of someone I have written about on Sandychatter has written to me. It was with Rory’s assistance that I located a copy of the Browns’ Vegetable Cookbook. I’m not sure why this particular cookbook has been so elusive—possibly because it was never reprinted like some of the other cookbooks have been? The Brown descendants have mentioned the possibility of having the books reprinted—wouldn’t that be nice?

Meantime, here’s a bit to chew on from The Vegetable Cookbook – it starts out “Speaking of Spinach” and introduces us to Cora’s great-granddaughter, Sylvie—then age 4—at a Thanksgiving dinner of the whole Brown family “Last Thanksgiving” which I assume to have taken place in 1938, since the book was published in 1939. The Browns noted that “She possessed herself in patience until the napkin was knotted in place and the plate set before her. Surveying  the many good things, she made a quick choice, jabbed her fork into the beans with a forthright gesture, appraised the mouthful, wiped a buttery trickle from her chin, beamed around at everybody and gave a little squeal of delight—‘Oh, I just love string beans, don’t you, Bob?’” and the authors take it from there.

Well, I love Spinach and home-grown cooked green beans (aka string beans) and the Browns write that “Greens are only an appetizing nibble at our subject, for in Florida alone, the State Department of Agriculture lists more than sixty local favorites” which they go on to list. The Browns stated they had, for years, been ardent readers of seed catalogs and had gardens of their own whenever they had the chance.  It was from growing their own that they had the idea of writing The Vegetable Cook Book – from Trowel to Table”.  They wrote of being fed up with “woody turnips, wilted spinach, limp beans and peas that would give you some bruises on the gullet, frayed heads of cauliflower, broccoli and iceberg lettuce past their prime, as well as those terrible lopsided little scallions that are sold for spring onions by grocers nowadays, we got a head start with a compost bed and survey of half a hundred catalogs…”

I wonder what the Browns would think if they could observe the produce department in many supermarkets  more than seventy years later—the array is, admittedly, dazzling—but I find too often that whatever I buy fresh needs to be used almost immediately. A few days later, most lettuce and other greens has to be thrown out.

But returning to The Vegetable Cook Book – I was entertained (and reminded of personal experiences) as they wrote of their first vegetable gardens, forgetting what was planted where when the little sticks identifying various veggies would be lost or blown away and other hit-or-miss experiences…everyone who has had similar experiences will relate.  For almost 25 years, I had a house-mate also named Bob, who tended our compost and planted the veggie gardens at our home in the San Fernando Valley, until we moved to the Antelope Valley in 2008 and discovered the need to re-learn gardening in the desert.

But getting back to my favorite cookbook authors,  following their introduction and induction into vegetable gardening, the Browns move forward, alphabetically from Artichokes and Asparagus to Avocados (with a side-trip into the variables of vegetables that are a fruit, or fruits that are a vegetable, such as tomatoes and avocados). There are chapters on cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery and chives, Kohlrabi and parsley, parsnips, peas – and many more…all the way down to Yams. I suspect that possibly one reason why The Vegetable Cook Book is so difficult to find is that it’s a dictionary of sorts, listing all the vegetables available to the Browns—with ways to cook them—maybe it belongs with my reference books rather than the cookbooks! 

“The Vegetable Cook Book, From Trowel to Table” may pose a challenge for sandychatter readers to find a copy—but it’s sure to become a favorite reference cookbook if and when you do. (Cookbook collectors love the challenge of searching for a particular book).

—Sandra Lee Smith

COOKBOOKS FOR BRIDES & GROOMS

I’m sure you are all thinking that I have forgotten my blog members but I haven’t! For one thing, my granddaughter was seriously, seriously sick for several weeks; she was in the hospital for 12 days and had major surgery. She is now recuperating at home. That was one thing.

Another was – my curiosity was piqued with the discovery of so many brides’ cookbooks—so much so that I ordered several of them to take a closer look. (yes, I am some kind of book buying fool at times—there isn’t ANY shelf space left either inside the house or out in the garage library that Bob built for me…and still I go around buying more cookbooks). PLUS have a girlfriend in Michigan sending boxes of cookbooks faster than I can read them (but don’t stop, Betsy! Don’t stop!) I’m a firm believer that you can’t be too rich or too thin or have too many cookbooks. Ok, its not an exact quote but close enough.

And then when the brides cookbooks arrived in the mail, I had to READ them before I could WRITE about them, didn’t I? And, if you are thinking of buying a bride a book – either for a bridal shower or a wedding gift, – the three I am going to tell you about are all excellent choices. (if you don’t think one of these books is quite enough of a wedding present, I think a gift card for something like Williams-Sonoma or Kohls or Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond…would be a great thing to tuck inside one of the books. Isn’t June the month when most people get married? You can get started now and be ahead of the game.

So, my first choice is the Williams-Sonoma BRIDE & GROOM COOKBOOK/RECIPES FOR COOKING TOGETHER BY Gayle Pirie & John Clark. What a dandy wedding present this would make! Not only is it packed with recipes, it’s packed with photographs too. And not only is it filled with recipes—there are chapters on organizing your kitchen, outfitting the kitchen, keeping a well-stocked pantry, and information about wines and cheeses. (No one published anything like this when I got married in 1958 – it was hit or miss and trial and error learning things like outfitting the kitchen and stocking a pantry).
There are lots of recipes for breakfast and brunch, ranging from Vanilla-Pear Muffins to Classic French Omelet..as well as Huevos Rancheros, Eggs Benedict and Breakfast Hash. (I didn’t know a thing about Huevos Rancheros until I had been living in California about a decade).

There is a chapter on appetizers, or “Starters”—mostly simple recipes for a new bride and groom to try (I noted that the recipe for guacamole is similar to my own, except this one uses finely chopped white onion while I use some green onions, tops and about half of the green stems). There is also an easy recipe for Artichoke Dip that can be made with one jar of water packed or marinated artichoke hearts—SURE to please any new bride and groom!

A chapter on soups and salads is also sure to please…and don’t be afraid to serve soup and a salad as a company meal. Both can usually be made in advance.

I fell in love with the chapter titled Meat, Poultry and Seafood—the recipe for Rib-Eye Steak with Pan Jus is accompanied by a photograph and won me over! Grilled T-Bone with Garlic Butter is also sure to please (the grilling part is something that the groom can get used to doing!) Other recipes the bride & groom will surely want to try and present to dinner guests – recipes like Goat5 Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Grandmother’s Oven-fried Chicken, Roast Pork Loin with Apricots and Brined Pork Chops.

There are also chapters dedicated to Pasta, Pizza and Risotto, Vegetable dishes, Sides, and Desserts. Desserts! Think Blueberry Fool or Marscapone-stuffed figs (be still my heart; we used to have two big fig trees in our front yard). There is Nectarine and Blackberry Crisp, Ginger Cake with Hard Sauce and Raspberry-Lemon Tart (and most of these recipes are accompanied by full-page illustrations. (I like to know what something is supposed to look like even if mine doesn’t come out exactly right). The Bride and Groom will find so many recipes to try…you might want to try a recipe for just the two of you first, before you make it for company—it could be a good ongoing project for the newlyweds – to try one new recipe a week…maybe you could take turns being the chef while the other person is the sous chef. Doesn’t that sound like fun!

WILLIAMS-SONOMA’S BRIDE & GROOM COOKBOOK by Gayle Pirie and John Clark would make an outstanding bridal shower wedding gift—maybe with a gift card from Williams-Sonoma to make it complete. Can I just say I was married over 50 years ago and I know from hard experience that it takes a very long time to collect all the kitchen tools and cutlery that you will need in the kitchen.

WILLIAMS-SONOMA’S BRIDE & GROOM COOKBOOK is available on Amazon.com with 37 new copies from $18.21, new $23.07. or 62 pre-owned copies starting at $1.25. I’m quite sure the one I bought was from the low end, starting at $1.25. It has a dust jacket and is in pristine condition, aside from a “To” dedication and a “from” message on the inside cover. It’s dated 2007 and appears to have been a wedding gift. I think the bride and groom missed the boat letting this one slip through their fingers.
**

My next selection is the BRIDE & GROOM FIRST AND FOREVER COOKBOOK by Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford with photography by Susie Cushner. Chronicle Books is the publisher and you know, over the years of my writing cookbook reviews, Chronicle Books is a name that I have learned to respect.

This is a big thick cookbook that deserves careful attention. Before you start reading the recipes, there is a chapter on kitchen basics and the authors explain in careful detail why it’s important to have good kitchen tools to work with. They provide a list of essential cutlery, a list of essential pots and pans and a list of basic baking equipment. There is a list of baking cooking essentials plus a list of Basic Appliances. This is followed by a list of Kitchen Extras (not essentials but great-add-ons).

Chapter two is titled The Global Pantry and the authors state that their “pantry mantra is use, rotate, and replace” and this is followed by a long list of the items the authors consider absolutely essential to your pantry. (it came as a shock to me to discover that I have on hand almost everything on their list—but then I have had many years to build up my pantry. Our pantry in our former home was large and remained cool all through the years –Bob had put up shelves on both sides of the walls and across the back—everything was in order. My pantry today is most of my laundry room—a double-wide cupboard that I have converted into pantry products such as flour, sugar, oatmeal, etc, kept in Tupperware containers, while other items such as canned goods are stored in a kitchen cupboard. Bob converted a broom closet into a storage area for all of our wine glasses and a set of plastic-covered wire shelves hold products such as popcorn packages and barbecue sauce. But I digress! – sorry! The main point I wanted to get across is that a good solid pantry is really essential.

Chapter 4 is dedicated to appetizers, finger foods and snacks. You will be in bliss reading recipes such as Artichoke and Green Onion Dip (and so will your guests when you present this to them). For guests who are watching their weight you might want to present them with Crudités with Green Onion-Mint Dip. The only ingredients to be careful is the mayonnaise – and the authors don’t SAY so but you can get the very best Best Foods (Hellman’s east of the Mississippi) that comes in light or fat free versions.
There are also recipes for Guacamole (a very nice one, in fact, although I would leave out the tomato), another for Mexican Dip and one for Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Torta (the first time I ever tasted a Mexican Torta it was prepared for us by three young women from Mexico City who were in the USA visiting their aunt and uncle, friends of mine and came to our annual Christmas open house. They also taught all our guests how to dance the salsa! These and other tantalizing recipes are just waiting for a bride to try them out!

Under the chapter titled soups and salads the bride will find such goodies as Creamy Mushroom Soup with Brie Crostini, Gazpacho (which would be a good accompaniment to the Torta,) Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Crème Heart Swirls, or perhaps our bride will want to try Thai-Style Corn Soup with Shrimp and Green Curry. I like the recipe for Sherry-Spiked French Onion Soup and Mrs. Birdsong’s Cabbage Soup which, trust me, is a lot more than just a cabbage soup.

The authors provide a chart of Top-10 Tips for Terrific Salads as well as an “OFF THE CHART” SALAD COMBINATIONS that will help the bride understand what goes with what. This is followed with a dazzling array of salads that make my mouth water just typing up their names – Red Leaf Lettuce with Grapes, Blue Cheese, Pecans and Balsamic Vinaigrette! Arugula with Cranberries, Cambozola, Walnuts and Raspberry Vinaigrette! Asian Spinach Salad with Hoisin-Glazed Salmon! Mexican Chicken Salad with Taco-Ranch Dressing (a salad recipe that can easily double for an entrée on a hot summer night) as would Caesar Salad with Lemon Pepper Shrimp.

I just love Chapter 6 – titled CLASSICS of ALL-TIME FAVORITES. The authors write, in part, “There is a reason why foods like meat loaf, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and chicken pot pie are fondly referred to as comfort foods…” (This reference to chicken pot pie reminded me of a trip my sister and I took around Lake Michigan one year; she fell in love with the chicken pot pies we found in diners and small restaurants throughout Michigan, and which she ordered repeatedly–while I ordered fried fish—cod, I think—to satisfy my hunger for THAT dish.)

They also write “If you close your eyes and imagine your favorite childhood dish bubbling on the stovetop or warming in the oven, you can practically smell it cooking. There’s a reason why foods like meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, and chicken pot pie are fondly referred to as comfort foods….”

“…During our first few months of marriage” they write, “we were both homesick for the flavors of our childhood, so we fed our nostalgia by cooking our favorite comfort foods. As newlyweds, we incorporated our family recipes into our new lives as classics. These standbys have since evolved becoming more modern versions of our can’t-live-without-‘em favorites.

And so, it is here that you will find recipes such as Brie and Champagne Fondue. Four-Cheese Pizzas, Classic Lasagna, Roast Chicken and Vegetables for Two, Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Glazed Apples, Personalized Chicken Potpies and one of my long-time favorites, Beef Burgundy, as well as Macaroni and Cheese and Better than Grandma’s Meat Loaf, along with some other comfort food favorites.

The next chapter is devoted to Entrees with lots to choose from—recipes ranging from Wild Mushroom Risotto to Linguine with Scallops, Spinach, and Bacon in Champagne-Cream Sauce. I am looking forward to trying a recipe titled Pasta with Pesto, Shrimp and Sweet 100s – Sweet 100s being one of my favorite summertime tomatoes, tiny tomatoes that burst with sweetness and juice. There is Salmon with Honey-Mustard Glaze as well as more ambitious recipes for Holiday Turkey and Prime Rib with Red Wine Gravy—these are other recipes are just awaiting the attention of the newlyweds.

There is a generous helping of “sides” ranging from Roasted Asparagus (that I just began cooking this way a few years ago) to Maple-Glazed Spiced Carrots, from the more exotic Chipotle Black Beans to Creamy-Dreamy Mashed Potatoes or Killer Roasted Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes with Praline Topping or, if the bride really wants to impress, Wild Rice and Dried Cranberries, Green Onions and Pecans.

A chapter devoted to Breakfast & Brunch recipes offers Sausage and Cheddar Cheese Strata, or French Toast with Hot Rum-Maple Syrup, among other recipes. And, under sweets you will find a heavenly-looking Spiced Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, Chocolate Fudge Birthday Cake, Peanut Butter Pie and Silken Chocolate Tart. There is also a Nectarine Tart and a recipe for Apple Crisp (always an easy favorite) as well as recipes for making oatmeal cookies, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Caramel Candy Brownies. These and other recipes, plus suggestions and recipes for holidays complete the package.

BRIDE & GROOM, FIRST AND FOREVER COOKBOOK is a winner for any bride—and any groom (we know that more men are venturing into the kitchen and that’s a good thing. This cookbook is available on Amazon.com with 38 new copies starting at .98 – and pre owned copies available at 48c and up. I’m not sure what it sold for initially, but at 48c you can’t beat the price – with the shipping and handling charges from private vendors, you can still order this book for less than $5.00 including the standard shipping charge of $3.99. My copy is missing the dust jacket but otherwise is in fine condition.

These are just two of the cookbooks I bought though Amazon.com or Alibris.com when I realized how many cookbooks are “out there” aimed directly at newlyweds. I still like Betty Wason’s cookbook the most but I have to confess I am so partial to cookbook authors of the 30s, 40s ad 50s.

Happy cooking and Happy cookbook collecting!

Sandy