Monthly Archives: July 2012

CATCHING FAIR FEVER AGAIN! LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR, 2012

This year, 2012, should be the 92nd anniversary of the L.A. County Fair. This year, the fair begins August 30th and runs until September 30th!

From the L.A. County website we learn, “In 1921, a merchants exposition held along the Southern Pacific Railway in downtown Pomona set the stage for things to come…at the time, Los Angeles County did not have a county fair, and local  businessmen saw this as an opportunity to bring recognition to the city of Pomona. A reporter for the Pomona Bulletin overheard two Lions Club members discussing the idea and put it into print. One of those men, was a local music store owner who had been involved with fairs in Iowa. He was asked to present his plans to the Pomona Chamber of Commerce, which then took the idea of a fair to the city council.

Although half a dozen attempts to bring a fair to L.A. County had failed, the board set out to start the first L.A. County Fair. A fair board was formed.  The city of Pomona agreed to purchase a 43-acre beet and barley field from the Ricardo Vejar estate for use as a fairground. Research revealed that the name “L.A. County Fair” was not registered. Afflerbaugh contacted Sacramento and the name was adopted at once.

The inaugural L.A. County Fair opened Oct. 17, 1922, and ran for five days through Oct. 21.  Fair attendance in 1925 topped the 100,000 mark for the first time (102,991). It also marked the first time the Fair was held in September instead of October.  The L.A. County Fair has an illustrious history but it should be noted that the fair closed down in 1942, due to

World War II, and was suspended for six years. The grounds played an important part in the war effort as they were taken over by the U.S. Army. The grounds were converted into a motor base in January, and headquarters were established in the home arts building. ..”

For some years, beginning in the 1980s, Bob and I made a trip to the County Fair in September, spending a night at the wonderful Sheraton Fairplex Hotel after it opened, (which provides a separate no-line-entrance for fairgoers) and in general, just having a ‘really good time’. We spent most of our time in the HomeArtsBuilding, admiring all the beautiful quilts that were on display, the hand-created gowns and dresses, hand-crafted dollhouses and homemade breads, cakes, cookies, jams and jellies.  The theme for 2001, “A Tapestry of Tradition” included a quilt show with more than 250 quilts from “A Tapestry of Tradition” quilt competition, which also included a display of antique quilts.

There are woodcarvers and table top displays, exhibits of hand-decorated Christmas trees, a wide variety of recipe contests which always includes the Weber barbecue contest and homemade beer and wine competitions—and for the past decade or more, a SPAM® recipe contest. One of the recipe contests 2001 was a 1970s type one-dish cooking contest, which was inspired by the 25th anniversary of the L.A. County Fair cookbook. There was also a spaghetti eating contest and a savory cheesecake contest, a pie eating contest and a butter churning contest.

The Los Angeles Fairgrounds in Pomona has, on site, a huge greenhouse and garden center called the Flower and Garden Pavilion. It offers one of the most spectacular floral exhibits on the west coast and, the fair people say, has delighted fairgoers with its various themes and décor for more than 50 years the many floral displays are always breath-taking beautiful. Behind the greenhouse, there are many vast decorated gardens to explore—or for fairgoers who tire a bit from the crowds and bustle, you can sit on the grass or on a park bench and rest a while under the trees.

There are dozens of carnival rides and a petting zoo, pig races, and more than 250 food concessionaires offering everything from oversize fried onions to a deep fried Snickers bar.

We enjoyed walking around, drinking freshly made lemonade and eating hot dogs, while admiring the many different displays. There are always huge model train displays assembled by a model train club in the area, and thousands of vendors selling everything under the sun, from kitchen utensils to hot tubs. We were both interested in the model train displays so that was always a must-see.

We stayed at the hotel whenever we went to the fair, so that I could return to the room and rest periodically, and that evening, our friends Pat & Stan who lived in Covina would meet us at the hotel and go with us to dinner at the hotel restaurant. It was wonderful and a delightful way to end the evening.

One of the main reasons I always wanted to go to the fair was—to buy a stack of the cookbooks, which I liked to give out as presents at Christmastime.  I became enchanted with the L.A. County fair cookbooks in the late 1980s, at which time I also began entering some of my canned foods and winning some red and blue and pink ribbons.  Then, I began searching for earlier L.A. County Fair cookbooks. I’ve been successful in finding all but one of the early cookbooks and have a few duplicate issues to use as bargaining chips to find what I am missing.

In 1978, the people at the Los Angeles County Fair were besieged with requests for copies of the winning recipes. The people in charge decided it might be a good idea to put together a little cookbook collection.  The woman responsible for compiling that first cookbook was a lady by the name of Nadine Lowery, who was the home arts coordinator for the L.A. County Fair from 1971 to 1986. In an interview for the Los Angeles Daily News (September 3, 2003), Lowery recalled, “…then the requests for the recipes started. Oh, so many people wanted them that we decided to put together a little cookbook collection. I don’t remember the actual size of the first one but it was pretty small…”

I have a copy of the first L.A. County Fair Cookbook and can tell you – published in 1979, the first cookbook proudly boasts, “LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR FIRST EDITION OF AWARD WINNING RECIPES, COMPILED BY THE HOME ARTS DEPARTMENT”. The recipes were a collection of the 1978 prize-winning recipes and the little book, (even though the pages are unnumbered and the recipes un-indexed) reflects the prize winning recipes of the 1970s with a heavy emphasis on home baking – home made breads, pies, cakes, and cookies. (As a yardstick for comparison, the 1978 prize winning cookbook contains 23 winning recipes for preserved foods…the 2002 issue contains over 70 recipes! – and if I were to go back and count, I’m sure I’d find that the cookbooks of the 1990s, which contained first, second, and third place winning recipes, would have a far higher total).

“With our first cookbook” said Nadine Lowery, “we sold out in four or five days. We had no idea back then that this was going to be so popular…”

The 1980 Fair cookbook, titled “Blue Ribbon Recipes” reflected the winning recipes from the 1979 fair and also was a small un-indexed cookbook. By the time the Ls Angeles County Fair Award Winning Recipes published in 1983, reflecting the winning recipes for 1982, the Home Arts Department had produced a much better cookbook and it was indexed. And, a few years later, by the time the Home Arts Department   published “Award Winning Recipes – Discover America – L.A. County Fair September 7-30, 1990 (for the winning 1989 recipes), the cookbook had become a best seller, a big thick cookbook with the price remaining at $10.00.  And by the mid 1980s Bob & I had begun to enter jams and jellies, pickles and other canned items into the L.A. County Fair.

In past cookbooks, the top three winning entries were published in each category, but the collections became too big. (Well, this is what the Fair people say.  I love those big thick fair cookbooks!).  As reflected in the 25th anniversary edition, only 2002’s first place winners are listed. Even so, the cookbook provides 297 pages of recipes which gives you some idea of the magnitude of the Los Angeles County Fair, considered the largest county fair in the entire USA.

Fair cookbooks are, I think, regional Americana at its finest. I was addicted and began collecting regional fair cookbooks and state cookbooks.  But the L.A. County Fair remains my favorite.

My L.A. County Fair cookbook collection ends with the book published in 2005, offering the winning recipes from the 2004 Fair. Even though only the first place winning recipes are in the book, there are over 300 recipes -  demonstrating how popular our fair cookbook has remained over the years.

You can visit the Los Angeles County Fair’s website at www.lacountyfair.com  If you are interested in collecting fair cookbooks – wherever they are and where ever you are, much can be found just by googling “fair cookbooks”

A few years ago, my younger sister and I were in San Diego for a few days with one of our nieces and we found many San Diego cookbooks at a used cookbook store there. The three of us loaded up on many of our favorites.

I’m hopeful that by NEXT year I will be able to enter some of my prize jellies and jams or pickles in the Antelope Valley fair! I’m also asking myself how well I might be able to make the drive to Pomona from the Antelope Valley.  I miss the Home Arts Department most.

In a 2010 article in the Los Angeles Times, considerable attention was paid to the Home Arts Department. It reads, in part:

“This year, we’ve seen quite an increase in the number of people entering their work,” said Sharon Autry, a spokeswoman for the Fairplex. “Last year, we had more than the year before, but not quite like this.”

“In 2009, 694 contestants entered 1,940 items in the fair. This year, 750 people made 2,248 items to be judged. Crafts contestants ranged in age from 17 to over 90.

“The competition has always been one of the more popular parts of the fair,” Autry said. “But it seems to have really gotten people’s attention this year.”

Maybe it’s the Great Recession that has sent people searching for the comforts of homemade. Perhaps it’s a defiant push back at the netherworld of Facebook and Foursquare and Twitter. Whatever the reason, it’s exhilarating to see, in this digital age, actual digits at work”.

Will I see you at the Los Angeles County Fair this year?

For cookbook collectors who like to collect FAIR cookbooks here is a partial list of the books published by the L.A. County Fair:

Date Published         Title

1979 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR FIRST EDITION OF AWARD

WINNING RECIPES, COMPILED BY THE HOME ARTS DEPARTMENT  FOR 1978 WINNING RECIPES.

1980 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR BLUE RIBBON RECIPES 1989 RECIPES

1981 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 4TH EDITION

1982 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 5TH EDITION

1983 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES, 6TH EDITION

1984 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 7TH EDITION “STRUTTIN’ AMERICA’S STUFF”

1985 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 8TH EDITION

1986 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 9TH EDITION “THE FAIREST OF THEM AL”

1987 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 10TH EDITION “MAKE TRACKS”

1988 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES11TH      EDITION “AMERICA’S COUNTY FAIR” *

1989 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 12TH EDITION “DISCOVER AMERICA LA COUNTY FAIR SEPT 7-30, 1990”

1990 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 13TH EDITION “CAROUSELS CREITTERS & FUN SEPT 6-29 1991

1991 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES14TH EDITION “FUN UP OUR SLEEVE LA COUNTY FAIR 1992

1992 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES15TH EDITION “GOOD TIME JAMBOREE, SEPT 10-OCT 3 1993*

1993 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 16TH EDITION “THE BIG HOWDY” SEPT 9-OCT 2 1994

*missing 17th edition

1995 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 18TH EDITION “AMERICA’S FAIR”

1996 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES19TH EDITION 75TH ANNIVERSARY COMMEMORATIVE EDITION

1997 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 20TH EDITION “ A COOK’S GARDEN” 1998 AWARD WINNING COOKBOOK

1998 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 21ST EDTION “A COOK’S GARDEN 1999 AWARD WINNING COOKBOOK

2000 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 22ND EDITION “A TAPESTRY OF TRADITION;  2001 COUNTY FAIR

2001 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 23RD EDITION  2002 LA COUNTY FAIR

*missing 24 edition

2002 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 25TH EDITION “A TAPESTRY OF TRADITION”  from the 2003 county fair

2003 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 26TH EDITION 2004 COUNTY FAIR “A TAPESTRY OF TRADITION”

2004 LOS ANGELES COUNTY FAIR AWARD WINNING RECIPES 27TH EDITION “CULINARY STYLES COOKBOOK” printed for 2005 county fair

 

I do not have anything printed after 2005 country fair. I have several extra copies, like new, of 2001 award winning recipes from the 2002 county fair and one extra copy of the 2002 award winning recipes from  the 2003 county fair.

Happy cookbook collecting!

Sandy

THE BREAKFAST BOOK BY MARION CUNNINGHAM

 

 After writing a post about the life and passing of Marion Cunningham, a most distinguished California cookbook author , I found myself wondering more about her.

In 1972, Marion, at age 50, wanted to go to Oregon to attend cooking classes led by famous food writer/cookbook author James Beard. It was her first experience traveling out of the State of California. Talk about a life-changing experience!

James Beard took to the tall, blue-eyed homemaker (perhaps in much the same way that he took to Helen Evans Brown, another California cookbook author) and for the next 11 years Marion was his assistant, helping him establish cooking classes in the Bay Area. The job gave her a ringside seat to a period in American cooking when regional food, organic produce and a new way of cooking and eating were just becoming part of the culinary dialogue.

Marion caught the golden ring on a Merry-Go-Round when James Beard recommended Marion to do the revision of Fannie Farmer’s cookbook to Judith Jones. It was a huge success and she followed up in 1984 with The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. (Please refer to my article “MARION CUNNINGHAM, COOKBOOK AUTHOR” for more information).

I wondered how Marion decided to write something next called THE BREAKFAST BOOK. She tells us in her own words in the Introduction to The Breakfast Book. “As my interest in breakfast intensified over the last few years” she writes, “I became more and more inspired to write this book. I found there are almost no books  on the subject—no tempting recipes and nothing to encourage people to cook breakfast. There are lots of brunch books,” she concedes, “but brunch, with its undefined ingredients and preparation is entirely different from breakfast—it could be any meal. Brunch is almost always a partylike affair, served with wine and liquor, and with an assortment of unrelated dishes…”

Marion notes that “Breakfast, on the other hand, involves no alcohol and usually consists of grains, dairy products, fruits and maybe eggs or a little meat or fish.”

Marion said that she often asked people what they thought of breakfast and most would instantly reply that it was their favorite meal—but when pressed to tell what they eat for breakfast, their answers become vague. She concluded that people liked the idea of breakfast but needed some guidance and recipes        to get them to cook it.

“Breakfast,” Marion wrote, “has remained pure amid all the food trends with their stylish dishes and chic ingredients. The honest simplicity of breakfast is so captivating. The most delicious breakfasts usually derive from the humblest of ingredients…” Money alone does not buy good food, Marion wisely advises.

Then, she writes, “The deeper reason that breakfast inspires me is that we have become so busy maintaining our lives in the working world that we often find ourselves sharing the same house with strangers. The meaning of “home” has disappeared.” [I can’t help but wonder if Marion was talking about her own home and her own life]. She continues, “Surveys report that families no longer sit down together for the evening meal. Eating is a lonely experience for many, and we can be lonely without even knowing it sometimes. Standing up by a microwave oven or refrigerator or in front of the TV, automatically eating, leaves out a precious human element from our lives….” Elsewhere she writes, “if it is true  that d inner is becoming a solitary fast-feed-yourself experience, I’m hoping that breakfast, with its easy, wholesome honesty, will be an opportunity to be with and share oneself with friends and family. There is no greater inducement to conversation than sitting around a table and sharing a good meal…”

Marion also says that her sense of health is that getting a good start with breakfast makes it the most important meal of the day.  She writes, “After the night’s abstinence, it important to break fast and eat a nutritious meal..”

The Breakfast Book begins with Yeast Breads and oh, that’s something I really love to make. She provides us with a wide range of Yeast breads, starting with a Basic American White Bread from which you can also make Cinnamon Swirl Bread.  There is a recipe for Granola Breakfast Bread or Raisin Cinnamon Wheat Bread, Oatmeal Orange Bread   or Mexican Bead. She provides recipes for Glazed Cinnamon rolls as well as Hot Cross Buns, Sticky Buns and Crumpets and English Muffins—these are just a sampling of what you will find in the first chapter of The Breakfast Book. (and I’m heading for Trader Joe’s to see if they have rye flour. I love rye bread (all the Schmidts* do – in my family whenever a group of Schmidts are in a restaurant ordering breakfast, invariably we all ask for rye bread) – and Marion’s recipe for Orange Rye Bread sounds delicious! Then I discovered Marion’s recipe for Chocolate Walnut Butter Bread…that sounds absolutely perfect for a Christmas morning breakfast!

(*Sandy’s note – I didn’t misspell Smith. I was a Schmidt before I married a Smith).                 **

The second chapter is titled TOASTS, FRENCH TOAST, AND BREAKFAST SANDWICHES –Choose from a wide array of recipes – from Melba toast to milk toast, cinnamon toast or French Toast, Breakfast Sandwiches that range from fig and Ham on Rye Bread to Sausage and Melted Cheese, Date and Breakfast Cheese or Ham and Farm Cheese Butter-Fried – or try Mexican Breakfast, which sounds great too.  A breakfast sandwich is a great thing to take along with you in the morning when you are just too pressed for time to sit down at the table and eat. Let’s face it; we can’t all, always sit down and eat a proper breakfast. My son Kelly has become an expert at his own version of a Mexican breakfast – a breakfast burrito that is a tortilla filled with scrambled egg and maybe some bits of bacon or sausage.   And my children grew up on French bread –it was something I could always afford to make because we often didn’t have very much money; I bought day-old bead at the thrift bakery and French bread was always the perfect way to use the bread.

The next chapter in THE BREAKFAST BOOK is QUICK BREADS and there are so many from which to choose – I love making muffins and that has always been a staple recipe in my household when my children were growing up. Marion offers such a range of muffins – raw apple muffins, for instance, or Bran Muffins, Boston Brown Bread Muffins and Fig Muffins, Lemon Yogurt Muffins and Orange walnut muffins, Persimmon muffins and Last Word in Nutmeg Muffins. Other quick breads include Blueberry Cranberry Bread and Date Nut Bread which also offers variations made with figs, or prunes. There is also a Christmas Bread recipe I am looking forward to trying – and you might know, most quick breads can be made in small loaf pans for gift-giving at Christmas—a nice gift with a jar of homemade jam!

There is a chapter on Cereals, both hot and cold—and I have made many hot pots of oatmeal when my children were growing up; Marion also provides recipes for making granola. This is followed by a chapter on Doughnuts and Fritters while Griddling has its own chapter with a wide assortment of pancake and waffle recipes, including the Raised Waffle recipe that became one of Marion’s signature recipes.

Some of the biggest names in food have enjoyed Marion’s waffles,  driving through the hills east of San Francisco to the low-slung house on an acre of land where Cunningham lived for 42 years. They sat at her kitchen table, near a wall of snapshots that told the story of a culinary life: there’s Ruth Reichl holding a baby, a boyishly young Chuck Williams, Edna Lewis sitting in the sun, MFK and Julia, and James Beard goofing off as a teenager.

People journied to Cunningham’s house to eat pepper bacon, gossip, and watch one of America’s most famous cooks pour thin, yeast-leavened batter into a pair of waffle irons. She used an old recipe*, one she discovered when she first revised the “Fannie Farmer Cookbook.”

Going to Marion’s for Waffles became almost a badge of honor for some of the best professional chefs and food writers in the country. But for Cunningham, the informal gatherings are simply an extension of what she has been preaching for much of her cooking career: sharing simple, delicious food around a family table is the most important thing in life.

There, in the Breakfast Book is Marion’s recipe for Raised Waffles. Indeed, there are plenty of other recipes for pancakes and waffles but none will ever be as famous as Marion’s Raised Waffles.

The next chapter is simply titled “EGGS” but the assortment offered is anything but simple. Instructions follow for soft-boiled eggs, coddled eggs, hard boiled eggs, goldenrod eggs, scalloped, scotch, fried, poached, shirred, baked, scrambled, – you name it, it’s all here. And omelets! (I love omelets and fortunately so did Bob for whom I cooked breakfast for several decades. Marion provides recipes for filled omelets: ham, apple, cheese, bacon, herb, mushroom, jelly, smoked salmon, mushroom, Mexican, – on and on. What we discovered about omelets back in the day was this: I could make a fairly substantial omelet and then cut it in half – then one half was cut into two and we had a good size omelet portion for each of us. The uneaten half was refrigerated for another day. It was easy to reheat an omelet; you just have to be careful not over heat it.

At the beginning of this chapter, Marion shares a story about her childhood. She writes, “I grew up in the small rural foothill town of La Crescenta, California, in the twenties. I was an only child and my mother was twenty-seven when I was born (which is like being forty-five today). As a result, she was an anxious mother, always sending away for government pamphlets for advice on how to feed me. One of the things the pamphlets said was that an egg and a glass of goat’s milk were perfect whole foods for a growing child. So, my father had to get a goat to join the chickens we already kept”.

She still liked eggs, Marion wrote. She doesn’t mention the goat’s milk (which, incidentally, my first grandchild lived on the first years of her life, since she was extremely allergic to cow’s milk). But Marion writes, “If I’m going to have one small thing for breakfast, I cook one egg until its almost hard, shell it [peel], and have it with lots of pepper on it…”

Marion advises, “It is easy to cook eggs properly if you follow a couple of basic guidelines. With few exceptions, eggs should be cooked slowly and over low heat, because both egg white and egg yolk coagulate at well below the temperature of boiling water.  When cooking an egg in its shell, if you first pierce       its large end with an egg-piercing gadget or pushpin, it will help keep the shell from cracking as it cooks…”

Sandy’s cooknote: I discovered this method of cooking eggs – whether hardboiled or softboiled, and  now keep a straight pin within reach in the kitchen. A safety pin works, too.

The next chapter is titled FRUIT FIXING and what a treat this is – how to prepare mangoes, apples, dates and figs, oranges and grapefruit, grapes, berries and many other fruits. There are some I wouldn’t have thought of, such as baked bananas and baked pineapple, or cranberry poached apples.

And then there are POTATOES. Some you will be familiar with, such as hash brown potatoes and oven fries—but you may not know about Rough and Ready Potatoes or Raw Potato Pancakes or Potato Bacon Pie.

The next chapter is titled MEAT AND FISH and contains some of my tried-and-true favorites , such as corned beef hash and pork tenderloin with biscuits and gravy. (I’ve used cube steak and sausage as the meat when I am making biscuits and gravy, too. Something that provides a lot of drippings makes a great gravy).

Marion provides recipes  for Ham and Bacon, Ham Loaf, Fresh Fish, Trout Fried with Oatmeal, Fish Hash, Red Flannel Fish Hash and salt cod cakes as well.

A chapter titled CUSTARDS AND PUDDINGS came as a surprise; I wouldn’t have thought of custards and puddings as breakfast fare, but then again – amongst the choices offered by Marion include a Cornflake Pudding, Steamed Persimmon Pudding, Maple Oatmeal Steamed Pudding and lots of other recipes. Included is The Coach House Bread and Butter Pudding recipe. This Coach House is the legendary  New York  Restaurant.

Another surprise is the chapter titled COOKIES, PIES, AND CAKES in which Marion provides recipes for Mother’s Cooies, Cereal Cookies, English Digestives, Oatmeal Bran Breakfast Cookies—of course! I thought. What could be better on a busy morning than a few oatmeal bran breakfast cookies to take along with you to work to have with your coffee?  And most Midwestern farmers and groups such as the Amish are familiar with having pie for breakfast.

“The cookie recipes are not too sweet” Marion advises. And, she adds, “The breakfast cakes in this chapter are meant to be sliced, toasted, and buttered, not frosted.  With good cake the wholesomeness will shine through without the added frill of frosting. Breakfast cakes are wonderful, particularly if you are a sweet and not a savory breakfast person…”

Look for Indian Loaf Cake, Madeira Poppy Seed Cake, Fresh Ginger Cake or Soft Gingerbread—and possibly to become my favorite, Great Coffee Cake which comes with several great variations.

My favorite chapter, I don’t mind admitting – is one titled CONDIMENTS because these recipes are the type I collect and can’t wait to try on family and friends. There is Raw Fresh Fruit Jam and Peach Rose Jam, Strawberry Llump Preserves and Orange Marmalade – and one I’ve never heard of, Beet Marmalade!  There is Lemon Pineapple Apple Relish and Date Raisin Condiment, spice Walnuts and many other recipes, the kind of presentation I love to display for a breakfast or brunch at my house.

There is a chapter  titled Breakfast Beverages in which you will find tea, coffee,  hot chocolate or Mexican Chocolate, Cuban Orange Juice                                          or Airy Eggnog, Garden Tomato Juice or even Malted Milk.

Marion concludes The Breakfast Book with an assortment of Breakfast Menus to inspire you.

I know that Marion was afraid that real breakfasts were being overshadowed and lost in our busy lives, but I have spent years preparing breakfast and it’s still a favorite meal to prepare for family or friends. Sometimes in our busy lives, it’s not possible to prepare breakfast but you could keep some of these things on hand for your family members—and you can always focus on nice breakfasts on the weekends.

THE BREAKFAST BOOK is sure to provide you with a lot of inspiration!

THE BREAKFAST BOOK by Marion Cunningham was published by Alfred A. Knopf, NY, in 1987.  I found THE BREAKFAST BOOK on Amazon.com, new for 15.00 or pre-owned for $7.45. Alibris.com has copies starting at $1.02, pre-owned, with a recommended copy at $1.19.  They have new copies for $12.95.

Happy cooking & happy cookbook collecting!

Sandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEST OF THE BEST RECIPE HALL OF FAME DESSERT COOKBOOK

 

Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley, whom we all know as the inspirational creators of the “Best of the Best” state cookbook series, appear to be branching out.

In the preface to the “Hall of Fame Dessert Cookbook” the daring duo explain “Where did all these incredible recipes come from? Well, in a word – AMERICA. Its many cultures, many tastes, many cuisines are all represented within the pages of this cookbook. America the Beautiful is also America the delicious!

But more specifically, they continue, “These recipes were chosen from the more than 4,000 dessert recipes in our BEST OF THE BEST STATE COOKBOOK SERIES, each of which was already a chosen favorite from their state…”

Some 2000 cookbooks from around the country who are contributors to their state’s individual  “Best of the Best Cookbook” sent in their selections. Below each printed recipe throughout the book you can see which cookbook and state the recipe represents. At the back of the cookbook you will find a list of the many contributors.

How did the Best of the Best Recipe Hall of Fame Dessert Cookbook come about? Prior to the publication of this cookbook, Quail Ride Press compiled a “Recipe Hall of Fame Cookbook”. When they were putting it together, they7 realized there were so many dessert recipes, the easiest solution would be to compile a book just with dessert recipes.

The new cookbook contains over 300 winning dessert recipes from all over the country. Illustrations of many of our favorite landmarks are also included – from the White House in Washington, D.C. to the Space Needle in Seattle, and from the West Quoddy Lighthouse in Lubec, Maine, to the very old Taos Pueblo in New Mexico (believed to be over a thousand years old). You will also find interesting little sidebars, facts about our wonderful USA.

And recipes? Well, who hasn’t at one time or another wondered what to make for dessert, what to serve the ladies with coffee at a Tupperware party, what to take for a pot luck at work, what to make for a bake sale, to take to a church social, or to serve company at a dinner party?

And there is a familiar theme at my house (sort of like Murphy’s Law) – the recipe you want is the one you can’t find. How does one lose a recipe? It’s like losing a sock in the washer or dryer—it shouldn’t be missing but it is.  Well, RECIPE HALL OF FAME DESSERT COOKBOOK might be the solution! With over three hundred favorite dessert recipes from which to choose, the debate might now be – which one  to make for the ladies luncheon, the church social, the potluck at work.

And another thing. This is the new millennium, by go0lly. I don’t have time to spend hours putting together a dessert where there’s so many other things to do. One of the features I really, really like about the RECIPE HALL OF FAME DESSERT COOKBOOK is the simplicity of most of the recipes.

As noted by McKee and Moseley, “People vote for recipes that are easy to make, that are most often requested, and that they like making over and over again because they enjoy the compliments! We call these recipes ‘unpretentious’ because they may use package mixes and any shortcuts possible to bring    about the quickest, most delicious results…”

I was bemused to find that the very first recipe is one for Red Velvet Cake (It wasn’t so very long ago that I embarked on a lengthy search for a recipe like red velvet cake). There are other all-time favorite cake recipes, everyone’s favorite Mississippi Mud Cake and Caramel Apple Cake. Including also are recipes for Pumpkin Cake in a Jar (which my daughter in law made one year for all her friends and neighbors) and surprise, surprise! Mexico City Earthquake Cake—not very long ago I spent an entire weekend searching for this recipe at the request of my friend, Pat.

Under pies and pastries you will find such all-time favorites as Hershey Kiss Pie, Old Fashioned Lemon Meringue Pie, French Silk chocolate Pie (my son Kelly’s favorite) and Mystery Pecan Pie.

Trifles and Tortes include Death by  Chocolate, Strawberry Tiramisu, and a luscious Black Forest Trifle.

The Cookie Section contains many of my all-time favorites, such as Brownie Meringues, Peanut Butter Blossoms (a Christmas favorite) and some new ones that will surely become favorites, such as “Goof Balls”. There are also sections on brownies and bars, puddings, frozen desserts, candies and “Other” desserts.

And, for those occasions when you want to really impress your guests, check out the recipes for Frangelico White and Dark Chocolate  Mousse, or Pistachio Pineapple Dessert, or something like Bailey’s Irish Cream Turtle Torte (yum!) As for me, the one I want to try the most is called “Twinkle Treat” and it starts out with two boxes of Twinkies!!

RECIPE HALL OF FAME DESSERT COOKBOOK from Quail Ridge Press is sure to become one of your all-time favorite cookbooks.  At the time of publication in October, 2000, it sold for a reasonable $16.95. You can find pre-owned copies on Amazon.com for as little as one cent (remember you will pay $3.99 for shipping and handling whenever you buy something from a private vendor) and Alibris.com has copies for 99c and $1.00.

In 2003, Quail Ridge Press issued RECIPE HALL OF FAME DESSERT COOKBOOK II.  Amazon.com has copies of that  cookbook for as little as 02 cents for a pre-owned copy or $4.84 for a new one.

Happy cooking – and happy cookbook collecting!

Sandy

*This  review was originally written for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange and published April, 2001.

 

 

COOKBOOKS WORTH COLLECTING BY MARY BARILE

Sandy’s cooknote: This article was written in the 1990s when there were a lot more used bookstores than there are today. It has given me so much grief to go to visit a favorite used bookstore and find its been replaced with a furniture store. Consequently, today, I buy most of my pre-owned cookbooks from an internet website, such as Alibris.com and Amazon.com. I also resort to finding a lot of my pre-owned cookbooks at Friends of the Library book sales.

The following was written around 1994:

Within our world of cookbook collecting, possibly nothing creates more heated debate than the subject of the value of cookbooks and possibly topping the list may be books on the subject of the value of cookbooks.

Having said that, let me say that I had read and propose to review without bias the book COOKBOOKS WORTH COLLECTING BY Mary Barile Published by Wallace-Homestead Cook Company, in 1994.

As cookbook collectors, you may know, reference books on the Subject of cookbook collecting are a double edged-butter knife. It’s fun to read through books like these and sometimes we find references to books that we have in our collection. The downside is that every used book dealer is certain to buy the reference books too, and they price the books on their shelves accordingly.

What this means is that cookbooks are often greatly overpriced and you are less likely to find used cookbooks in book stores at reasonable, fair prices.

This is not to say that you won’t find the bargains in your search for cookbook treasures.  Years ago, I found a #1 Bake Off book at a rummage sale in Palm Springs—and bought it for $1.00! I didn’t find it in a bookstore – and the seller’s folding table was filled with boxes of cookbooklets and pamphlets, marked 50 cents each. I almost didn’t buy it when the seller said “Oh, I need a dollar for that one”. I almost balked—I don’t approve of that kind of salesmanship. But I bought that one and two others for $2.00 and it wasn’t until I was back in the car with my sister Becky that I took a look at what I had bought and I realized I had a #1 bake off book. (I’m sure you must all know, there isn’t anything on the cover indicating it’s the first one. Pillsbury didn’t know what they had started. It was the only bake off book I needed to complete my collection; I would have even purchased a facsimile edition if Pillsbury had published one. Now we are up to something like #45. As for the bake off booklet, I have seen #1 listed at different prices ranging from $50 to $75.00—and no, I would never have paid seventy five dollars for a cookbooklet. I don’t think I would spend that much on ANY cookbook.

I  do find much of the text in Mary Barile’s COOKBOOKS WORTH  COLLECTING to be informative and helpful—if you just focus on the TEXT and what she is sharing with you, and not on how much a cookbook in your collection might be worth—you’ll find it a good book to have.  I’ve also found references to books I’ve never seen or heard of before which inspires me to keep searching. There were even a couple of rhymed recipes, taken from community cookbooks, that I wish I had had when I was working on an article on that subject.

(*Sandy’s cooknote Rhymed recipes and kitchen-related poetry has been a pet project of mine for many years—I finally collected enough to do a series on this blog titled The Kitchen Poets. There are ten parts to the series).

COOKBOOKS WORTH C0LLECTING is interesting and well done. Like all cookbook reference books, you must take it all with  grain of salt—keeping in mind that price lists are, or perhaps should be, GUIDES and aren’t cast in stone. Also keep[ in mind when you buy a cookbook reference compilation that the featured books are usually the personal property of the writer and generally not for sale. Virtually everything I write in Sandychatter is based from books in my own collection.

State the publishers, “Whether you’re a chef, bibliophile, collector, historian or simply a cookbook lover, you’ll enjoy this guide to collectible cookbooks…it takes a look at the history of cookbooks from ancient Rome to colonial America to the nineteenth century. Charity and fundraising cookbooks as well as ephemera and related items are also discussed.

There are over 100 black and white photographs with detailed captions…over a thousand captions…over a thousand listings include bibliographic information and current values.

Mary Barile specializes in recreating menus and dishes from America’s past for historical societies and serves as food editor for Kaatskill Life magazine*. She is also the editor of JUST COOKBOOKS, for which I couldn’t find any references on either Amazon or Alibris.

(*Sandy’s cooknote: There is a Kaatskill Life Magazine, a quarterly that has been published since 1986. I don’t know if Mary Barile is still writing for the magazine).

But I could have had a field day ordering other books from Amazon—on the page featuring Mary Barile’s COOKBOOKS WORTH COLLECTING (which you can purchase on Amazon.com for $1.24, pre-owned,) while Alibris.com doesn’t have any of her books—however! I saw the following titles listed on Amazon:

Vintage cookbooks and Advertising leaflets, lowest price $9.56

Price Guide to Cookbooks and Recipe Leaflets, Linda Dickinson, paperback copy starting at 1 cent,

Guide to Collecting Cookbooks, Colonel Bob Allen

Collectors Guide to  Cookbooks. Identification and Values.

So, you can assume—there are books of this genre to be had but you might have to do some detective work finding them.

Happy Cooking & Happier cookbook collecting!

Sandy

500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES FROM MARTHA STOREY & FRIENDS

Do you have any Storey Books?  No, not story – STOREY!  As in Storey Books, the publishers in Pownal, Vermont.  My first introduction to Storey Books was when we decided to brew our own red wine with grapes grown in our minuscule arbor. At a wine and beer making supply store in the San Fernando Valley, we found everything we needed, but while Bob was inspecting fermentation locks and carboys, I was drawn to a little revolving rack of little booklets from Storey Books, devoted to a variety of subjects—but more importantly in a wine and beer making store, how to create your own brews of these particular beverages. I have a particular fascination with how to make almost anything we eat and drink, whether it is wine or cordials or liqueurs, bread or cheese—but sometimes finding instructions can be a real challenge. The first time Bob & I decided to make our own sauerkraut, I spent hours  wading through my vast collection of three-ring binders, amassed over a period of fifty years, until I found a newspaper article on how to make your own sauerkraut. (I know, I always say “never again” –we make it in vast batches, about 30-40 quarts at a time—and I always swear this time is the last. Well whenever cabbage was less than 10 cents a pound in March as St Patrick’s Day was drawing near, who could resist? And there we were, busy shredding head after head of cabbage.

Well, if you are interested in how to make a wide variety of things—whether it is sauerkraut (Martha Storey provides a recipe for making small batches) or butter, wine, chutneys, ice cream yogurt or cheese (including directions for building a cheese press!) –now it all can be found in one book! Check this out: “500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES FROM MARTHA STOREY & FRIENDS”– this is such a comprehensive column that it could have been overwhelming but it isn’t. The format is easy to read and follow with directions anyone can understand. There are even directions for carving a pumpkin, making a gingerbread house (complete with templates), butterflying a leg of lamb, making jellies and jams, curing meats, bottling your own soft drinks – and cutting up a chicken.

And recipes? Oh, my yes! Loads of recipes! Whether it’s Mimi’s Sunday Pot Roast or Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Cock-a-Leekie Soup or Boeuf Bourguignon, there is something here to tantalize every palate. Try Baked Brief with fresh fruit or the Sweet Potato & Carrot Casserole (a lovely change of pace from ordinary sweet potato casserole), from Apricot Salsa to Granny Smith Apple Pie, there is a vast array of recipes from which to choose.

Another great feature of this oversized, comprehensive cookbook are all the “sidebars”—whether Martha Storey is writing about Pasta or Soups you will find margin sidebars explaining, for example, the definition of different kinds of soups to directions for making the perfect pasta. There are sidebars for brewing the perfect pot of tea to making perfect gravy, hints for steaming vegetables to the best way of making pumpkin puree.

For instance, in writing about olives, there is a margin sidebar on the subject: “Olives are a fixture in Greek salads, and they can be used in many other combinations as well. In addition to the familiar seedless black olives and pimiento-stuffed green olives, look for their stronger-flavored briny cousins from the deli. Huge, fleshy GREEN OLIVES, COAL-BLACK, OIL-CURED TANGY Kalamatas, and tiny Nicoise olives add interest to salads.  To pit a ripe olive, press on it firmly with the flat side of a knife until it splits; the pit should come out cleanly.

But wait! There’s more! 500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES FROM MARTHA STOREY & FRIEDS is packed with other helpful information, such as a chart listing spices and their uses, measurement charts, a comprehensive Equivalent & Substitutions chart, a dictionary of Techniques and terms (such as the differences between chopping, dicing, grating, poaching, or steeping. I couldn’t tell you how many times over the years, one of my sons, daughters in law, nieces or nephews have called to ask “What does sauté mean? What do they mean by fold? 

But move over Betty Crock and Ira Rombauer – I believe 500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES FROM MARTHA STOREY & FRIENDS would be an excellent first cookbook for a new bride, for anyone who wants to learn how to cook –or for anyone who just wants to know how to do anything in the kitchen—this is the book for you.

And for all of you who are artsy-crafty, (I somehow got bypassed from this gene—both of my sisters were the artsy-crafty members of the family) – there is a chapter called Arts of the Country Home which deals with making your own dishwashing liquid, milk bath, herbal bath salts, a bouquet garni wreath (now this is something I would like to try to make) grapevine wreaths, pinecone fire starters – and oh, lots more. There is even a chapter for home gardeners with directions for growing herbs in your kitchen!

500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES FROM MARTHA STOREY & FRIENDS is the most comprehensive how-to book I have ever found in a single column. Published in 2000 by Storey Communications, it was published in 2001 and originally sold for $18.95.

Amazon.com has copies as low as $2.49 for a new copy and .33 cents for a pre-owned edition. Alibris.com has pre-owned copies for 99c under their 99c special, or new for $10.70.  I love this book—it’s one of my favorites—and one I can always lay my hands on despite living in a house of books.

Happy cooking!

Sandy

BEST OF THE BEST FROM WASHINGTON COOKBOOK

One of my nieces lives in Washington, just outside of Seattle, and I’ve been to visit her several times. I love Seattle with the ocean breeze blowing in off the coast, the view of Mt. Rainier off to the distance, the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, lots of good book stores! I adore Pike Place Market and the hustle and bustle of the market place.

On one visit, we rode a ferryboat out to Whidbey Island and drove all around the island, stopping here and there along the way.  Another time, we drove all the way to Mt. Rainier (a lot farther than it looks from Seattle); we hiked a ways up the mountain and had a picnic lunch along the way.  I confess, I wasn’t able to hike as far as my brother or his daughter but it was fascinating to stop and find tiny wildflower blossoms growing under melting snow. Coming home, we stopped at several little produce stands in small towns, to buy apples and berries. On another visit, my sister Susie and I gathered brilliant red and orange and yellow leaves and decorated my niece’s apartment with them.

I’ve heard that it rains a lot in Washington, but the weather has been gorgeous every time I’ve been there.

Washington has so much to offer, it should come as no surprise to you that “BEST OF THE BEST FROM WASHINGTON COOKBOOK” from Quail Ridge Press has a lot to offer, too!

Like I do so often when I have a new “Best of..” cookbook to read, I turned to the Catalog of Contributing Cookbooks to check out the titles, mark with post-its the titles I think I will want to order, and just to see what kind of regional cookbooks went into this latest Best cookbook. Why do I do this? I think it gives me a bit of sense about the cookbook I am about to read and I check to see which books I might already have (such as Carlean Johnson’s Six Ingredients or Less cookbooks).

Then I return to the beginning of the book and start to read.

“When you think of Washington food,” say editors Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley, “perhaps you envision delicious juicy apples.  And with good reason—more than half of all apples grown in the United States for fresh eating come from the seemingly endless acres of orchards, nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington…”

However, they explain, “Washington is also known for its cherries, plums, grapes, huckleberries and blackberries, to name but a few of its wonderful fruit resources.  The diversity of the land and climate contributes greatly to the many natural ingredients that bring a unique blend of flavors to the dinner table…”

“To the east of the Cascades,” they continue, “lie the apple orchards along the rolling fields of wheat and barley; bountiful crops such as potatoes, corn, hops, mint, peaches and apricots; and livestock, including hogs, cattle and sheep.  Here, too, you’ll find a booming wine industry. Farther west to the coast, seafood and fish abound”.

Recipes in “BEST OF THE BEST FROM WASHINGTON COOKBOOK” abound, too. Beverages and Appetizers features such yummy treats as Jeannie’s Famous Margaritas (I have to try this!) and Spicy Crab Dip with Corn Chips, and Sandy’s Smoked Salmon Spread (another Sandy—but it sounds wonderful!), Apricot Almond Brie (only four ingredients), and Butternut Pot Stickers with Raspberry Szechuan Sauce.

As you might expect from a Washington State cookbook, there are apple recipes such as Apple Blackberry Crisp and Apple Bread, Apple Strudel and Apple Crisp Muffins, Sautéed Apples and Pork and Apples with Granola and Cider Cream. However, don’t overlook the recipes using Blackberries, such as Blackberry Pizza, or raspberries, such as Raspberry Muffins,  or the wealth of Huckleberry recipes such as Huckleberry Dump Cake or Huckleberry Pork Chops!

You may want to try French Toast Decadence, or 24 Hour Wine & Cheese Omelet or Tortilla Torta, Baked Potato Soup, or Northwest Cioppino. Or, perhaps, the Best Avocado Caesar Salad or Taco Macaroni Salad?  How about Seafood Lasagna (made with shrimp, crab meat and scallops!) or Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Cream Cheese, Crab, Mushrooms and Sherry!

Washington is famous for its salmon (and many Native Americans hold an annual ceremony for the first catch of the season) so, as you might expect, you will find recipes for Herb Baked Salmon and Baked Dijon Salmon, Salmon Cakes (made with fresh, not canned salmon) that you serve with Tarragon Mayonnaise and Pineapple Salsa, and  a recipe for Baked Salmon a la Paul Heald (compliments of artist Paul Heald).  However, don’t overlook the other seafood recipes, such as Sturgeon Szechwan or Orange Broiled Shark, Asian Crab Cakes or Stuffed Olympic Oysters.

You can satisfy your sweet tooth with recipes such as Cranberry-Swirl Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Fudge Pie, Japanese Fruitcake, or Butterscotch Heavenly Delight…or any one of a host of recipes for cookies and candies, cakes, pies and other desserts.

Inevitably, when I am writing a review about one of the “Best of the Best…” series, I work up such an appetite that I have to stop typing and mosey out to the kitchen to try one of the recipes.

Coincidentally, I had all of the ingredients on hand for Morning Mix-Up so guess what we’re having for breakfast? And this just makes me wonder—how do Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley keep their girlish figures?

Like all “Best of the Best” cookbooks in this series, “BEST OF THE BEST FROM WASHINGTON COOKBOOK” is generously sprinkled with photographs, facts and features to provide you with a better understanding of this evergreen, ever-so-spectacular state.

BEST OF THE BEST FROM WASHNGTON COOKBOOK” does not appear to be available directly from Quail Ridge Press—it was published almost a decade ago. However, Amazon.com has copies starting at 22 cents or new for $8.99. Your best bet might be Alibris.com which has copies available for 99c.  When I saw a copy available for twenty-two cents I fought off the temptation to buy it even though I already HAVE this cookbook. (Before you think I am crazy, duplicate copies of cookbooks I think are spectacular – make great birthday or Christmas presents for my cooking-minded friends & relatives.

Originally reviewed by Sandra Lee Smith January 2003, re-reviewed July, 2012

Happy cooking!

THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK

THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK by Courtney Taylor and Bonnie Carter Travis is, guess what?  From Quail Ridge Press!  We all readily identify Quail Ridge Press as the publishers of the wonderful “best of the best” cookbook series which have covered all fifty states and then went back and did volume two on some states, such as Texas, which had so much to offer in the way of community cookbooks.

OK, just in case there’s someone out there who doesn’t know what the Best of the Best books are, this is a series of cookbooks compiled and edited by Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley who embarked on a journey not to just one of the fifty states – but to each and everyone – collecting community cookbooks from each one (To give you a better idea of what a Best of the Best cookbook has to offer, I will provide you will a review from Best of the Best from Washington, for which I provided a review for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange some time ago. But be forewarned – once you start reading one of these cookbooks, you will want ALL of them.)

Meantime – gradually Gwen Moseley and Barbara McKee branched out – with a wealth of other finely selected books such as the Recipe Hall of Fame collection – and THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK.

You may have a bookshelf full of southern cookbooks and if so, might be asking yourself, why do I need another one? Well, because, like the title implies, this is a handbook, a step-by-step guide to old fashioned cooking, with more than 200 traditional recipes. (Don’t be misled by the “southern” in the title – this book is a handy kitchen tool no matter what part of the country you live in).  Immediately, on the inside cover, is a Measure Equivalence Chart followed by cornmeal, flour and sugar equivalents (i.e., 3 cups of cornmeal equals one pound). On the inside of the back cover, you will find a chart of milk, butter, and egg equivalents (how many egg whites to make a cup? 8 to 10!) – along with a “miscellaneous equivalent chart which lists such things as bacon, cheese, pecans, lemon and oranges (how many oranges to make 1/3 cup juice or 2 tablespoons rind? One medium). And that’s just basic information inside the covers.

Authors Courtney Taylor and bonnie Carter Travis tell us, “Our love of Southern cooking has as much to do with our memories of the people who taught us as it does with getting the pastry on a peach cobbler to turn out just right. In our mothers’ kitchens, family cooks took us by the hand and showed us how to judge good pastry by the way it feels when it’s raw and hot to get it to bake flaky, sweet, and tender all at the same time….”

“In our own kitchens,” they recall, “every now and then, an imagine of a favorite old cook will arise with the steam escaping form a bubbling cobbler, and we’ll hear her voice telling us to chose the oven door and have a little patience…”

With THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK, they tell us, “we want to take you by the hand and bring that voice to you…”

As for the recipes, Taylor and Travis reflect, “Among people who love to cook, almost every conversation eventually turns to food. Mention down home cooking and invariably someone will say ‘Oh, let me tell you how my grandmother made biscuits’ or ‘My brother has the best way to cook shrimp…’”

“For decades,” they continue “We have listened and learned not only from our families but also from neighbors, gardeners, vegetable vendors, lawyers, doctors, county sheriffs, strangers on airplanes and countless others who generously shared their wisdom. We’ve copied down their recipes on everything from cocktail napkins to parking tickets and the hems of aprons. We’ve tested them, fiddled with them, combined the, andbeen inspired to invent new versions…”

THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK covers a wealth of basic information, beginning with kitchen equipment, providing definitions for everything from Dutch ovens (what my old friend Marvin used to call a Murphy Pot) to skillets, roasters, casseroles and baking equipment. They provide detailed instructions for “curing” your iron cookware which reminded me of a funny story. Years ago, I had a girlfriend named Rosalia. (pronounced Row-ZAIL-ya).  She gave me all her cast-iron cookware because, she said, “it always gets rusty”.  Well, yesss, because you have to cure cast iron cookware. We never put our cast iron cookware into soapy water. Taylor and Travis provide simple detailed instructions for “curing” and taking care of all your cookware.

Along with lots of recipes, THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK provides a glossary of seasonal produce (even instructions for blanching and freezing vegetables!), a chapter on making stock (I have written about stock before  and how easy it is to make it and keep it on hand). There is a chapter for making gravy and cream sauces (I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to explain to someone how I make gravy. THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK takes all the guesswork out of gravy-making.

There are chapters on frying foods, barbequing and grilling, (along with time and temperature guides for grilling and barbequing) chapters devoted to making cornbread, biscuits, pie crust, yeast dough and cakes.

Recipes in THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK covers everything from making eggnog for a crowd to pecan divinity with a plethora of southern favorites in-between. This cookbook would be absolutely idea for any young cook who wants to learn how and doesn’t know where to start (or even might feel intimidated to ask a seasoned cook). And for those of us who are familiar with the kitchen but aren’t always sure what the difference is between thin, flaky biscuits or drop biscuits, or gumbo or Jambalaya, this book is for you. There is even a comprehensive glossary of cooking terms which you will find useful and handy.

As the people at Quail Ridge Press so aptly put it, “THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK is a how-to manual, a primer for the new cook, as well as a refresher course for the old hand”.

You can find this book at Amazon.com starting at 5.11 for a pre-owned copy or $15.95 for a new copy.  But check Alibris.com – they have copies for 99c (pre owned) but there are a lot of copies available and I am sure you can find a copy that is in good condition. If you want to buy one for someone else, look for something “like new” or invest in a new copy. I was unable to find a listing at Quail Ridge Press, but this book was published in 2001 so – you may have to find a pre-owned or like new edition.

As promised, I have updated a review of a Best of the Best cookbooks—this one is about Washington and will be posted immediately after this blog post THE SOUTHERN COOK’S HANDBOOK.

Happy cooking and happier cookbook collecting!  And look for more southern cookbook reviews – a lot of new/old southern cookbooks have found their way into my bookshelves recently and I am looking forward to writing reviews of them for you. I know that many of you are as keenly interested in southern cooking as I am!

Sandy