Monthly Archives: September 2012

THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: THAILAND

Although I’m not a vegetarian, I seem to have acquired over the years a number of vegetarian cookbooks. It seems to me that vegetarian cooking has gone mainstream—if you check the new vegetarian cookbooks offered by your bookstores and libraries, you will happily discover new and exciting recipes, such to tempt any palate (carnivore or otherwise).

And, since most of us in the health-conscious new millennia are concerned about calories, cholesterol and fat grams, it’s well worth our time to take a second look at vegetarian cookery.

Such a discovery is THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: THAILAND by Jacki  Passmore, published by Chronicle Books in 1997.

Jacki Passmore has written more than 25 internationally-renowned Asian cookbooks, including the award-winning ASIA: THE BEAUTIFUL COOKBOOK. She is also the author of FIRE AND SPICE. Passmore lived and worked in Asia for more than 12 years as a food writer, teacher, and researcher, and is a frequent speaker on Asian and New World food in history and the new direction of Asian foods.

In Thailand,” explain the publishers, “the preparation of food is considered a true form of art, resulting in dishes with unforgettable taste and stunning visual appeal. Gleaming white mountains of rice or glasslike noodles are presented in exquisite bowls: they are strewn with fresh vegetables.  Cooked to the perfect degree of tenderness, and never more–and the whole is graced with just the complement of herbs or spices.  The tantalizing fragrances of a Thai meal can bring diners to a state of near gastronomic nirvana before they even taste the feast laid before them….”

However, we learn, the people of Thailand bring a philosophical sense to the kitchen as well. Thailand has a long-standing vegetarian tradition, influenced by the Buddhist beliefs that have held sway there for centuries.

In the introduction, Ms. Passmore continues with the explanation that vegetarianism is an ancient tradition in Thailand. “Where saffron robes and Buddhist temples color the landscape and the people enjoy a varied diet of delicious dishes based on legumes and soybean products, and native and introduced vegetables. They gather spinach-like water vegetables  from the banks of their klongs (waterways) and paddies (flooded rice fields), and edible leaves like the betel (bai champluu). They grow the unique, frilly, ribbed winged bean and yard-long green beans. They cultivate a plethora of eggplants, some as tiny as peas, and the Chinese cabbages of many varieties.  They plant corn and potatoes, pumpkins and melons, and have a native supply of edible fungus, bamboo, lotus and water chestnuts from their mountains and wetlands…”

The author tells us that she relishes the pungent, herbaceous flavors that are unique to Thai cooking and in presenting this cookbook to us she tried to achieve a compromise between Thai tradition and lifestyles beyond their borders. She asserts that Thai cooking is easy and you don’t need to go out and buy any special equipment although she does praise the practicality of the Chinese Wok and the perfect pan for deep frying (personally, I’d be lost without my two woks – one electric and the other top-of-the-stove).

Ms. Passmoe also says that approaching a new cuisine is always easier if you have an understanding of the cooking procedures and the basic principles of seasoning. She says that equally important is a knowledge of how the food is served, and that “Thai food, even the most humble meal, can be a flamboyant display of artistry, color, and flavor. The first impression is of the table. In restaurants and homes, food is served with ornately worked silver spoons from gleaming silver tureens onto decorative blue-and-white porcelain. Even if the silver is merely aluminum, it is highly polished, rendering it as impressive as the real thing. Serving dishes are raised on pedestals, so they grace the table with distinction.

As for the food, in Thailand, writes the author, every dish is presented for maximum visual appeal. Rice and noodles are mounded high in a bowl, and dishes are lavish with fresh herbs, draped with delicate shreds of golden egg crepe, or crowned with a tangle of finely shredded red chili or scallion greens. Vegetables and fruit are never just sliced, but carved elaborately to decorate platters to serve with dips or to finish the meal. Desserts and sweet snacks are brightly colored with edible food dyes.

Ms. Passmore leads us gently into Thai cuisine, providing a list of “essentials”, vegetarian alternatives, notes on preparation and cooking methods, recipes for making the special sauces and relishes which are so much a part of Thai cookery, a comprehensive glossary and—oh yes, –recipes with mouth-watering photographs. I wish you could all just see   the photograph that accompanies pumpkin and coconut cream soup, or that of salad rolls in rice paper. Mushrooms in coconut soup with crisp noodle croutons is gorgeously captured in a silver tureen while asparagus and bean sprout salad is enough to make a salad eater out of the most finicky eater.

I don’t know if you’ve ever enjoyed Thai food before. Here in southern California, there are restaurants for every cuisine the world has to offer, so that over the years we have been exposed to, and developed a taste for, Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Filipino, Mediterranean and Indian food.  Often, I have been reluctant to try my hand at making some of these foods at home.  However, a book like THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: THAILAND takes the worry and guesswork out of the cooking.  There are so many wonderful and exciting new recipes to try – I rather suspect that my next dinner party with have a Thai flavor. THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: THAILAND can be found in bookstores such as Amazon and Alibris.com

Both Amazon.com and Alibris.com have pre-owned copies of THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: THAILAND; the copy from Amazon.com is $3.75 and the one being offered by Alibris.com is $3.72.

Other cookbooks in the series from Chronicle books  include THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: AMERICA, THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: FRANCE, THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: MEXICO and THE VEGETARIAN TABLE: NORTH AFRICA.

Happy cooking!

Sandy

WHEN THOSE BED AND BREAKFAST PLACES PUBLISH A COOKBOOK

Years ago, you could refer to community cookbooks as “church & club” cookbooks and that pretty much encompassed most of them and everyone knew what you meant. Then “Community” cookbooks became the general reference name.  Well, nowadays there are cookbooks for virtually everyone and everything—not just churches (although I suspect church  cookbooks make up the highest percentage of cookbooks in my collection—but I was searching for more “bed and breakfast” cookbooks this morning & was struck by how many other types of cookbooks are out there.

There are the Junior League cookbooks, of course and their existence doesn’t go as far back as you might think. In 1940, the first Junior League cookbook, a compilation of recipes by The Junior League Augusta titled “Recipes from Southern Kitchens”, was published and began a tradition of fundraising through cookbook publishing. (It should be noted, however, that church and club cookbooks, the first community cookbooks, originated during the American Civil War when women wanted to raise money for the Sanitation Commission. Sanitation was a huge issue during the Civil War) – so community cookbooks have been around for a very long time – almost 150 years! But the first Junior League cookbook wasn’t published until 1940. And I think it’s nigh high impossible to find a copy of that original cookbook.

Community cookbooks, however, the ones published by thousands of churches and schools, religious groups of Amish, Hutterite, Shaker, and Mormon, hundreds of different women’s clubs, State fairs all over the USA, famous restaurants and inns—all publish cookbooks. Today, I want to share a few Bed & Breakfast cookbooks with you. And I hasten to add—this is not all that I have in my collection but it would take me a week to go through all of the books that are on shelves inside the house and in my garage library. The idea for this post came from a comment in one of Marion Cunningham’s cookbooks—the Breakfast Book—in which she wrote, in the Introduction to The Breakfast Book, that she had found there were almost no books on the subject of breakfast.  Now, I loved Marion Cunningham dearly and not for the world would I contradict someone as famous as she—but I couldn’t help thinking – wait, that’s not exactly true. In my own collection, I had a cookbook titled “Breakfast With Bunny” by Bunny Cameron, published in 1992. OK, I checked – Marion Cunningham’s BREAKFAST BOOK was published in 1987 so Breakfast With Bunny didn’t exist yet.   And then I began thinking that I had other Bed & Breakfast cookbooks and wouldn’t that make a good topic for my readers on Sandychatter?

So, I will start with the 1987 BREAKFAST WITH BUNNY. In the Introduction, Bunny Cameron, Innkeeper of the BOMBAY HOUSE BED AND BREAKFAST tells us first about the House which was built in 1907 in the former “milltown” of West Port Blakely  by the Beck family.  Frank Beck, a shipwright, along with his wife, raised nine children in this house.

The house, Bunny writes, sits on a half acre high on a hillside overlooking Rich Passage, the waterway that separates Bainbridge Island from the Kitsap Peninsula.  She writes “We watch the ferries pass and see the distant city lights at dusk. The setting is wonderfully reminiscent of the past with a widow’s walk, a rustic rough cedar gaze4bo, and masses of unstructured gardens exploding with seasonal color…”

She says that every family who has lived there has made improvements to the grounds and home; their first improvement was to paint the exterior of the house which took three men a month. The house was purchased in 1982 by a couple who intended to open a bed and breakfast.

“After six months of paperwork,” she writes, “they were off and running.  The business was purchased by Bunny Cameron and Roger Kanchuk in 1986….we moved in on a Monday and rented our first three rooms Saturday!”

At the time this cookbook was published, the Bombay House was in its eleventh season. As nearly as I can determine, the Bombay House has been under a different ownership for the past 25 years  and now goes by the name of Hotel Bombay House. My searches on Google weren’t exactly satisfactory—the place still exists; I’m just not positive who owns it. Regardless! I would love to go there.  Meantime, we have  Breakfast with Bunny to leaf through and mark recipes with post-it notes, those tiny sized ones. (Please, please don’t mark your favorite cookbook pages with paper clips or by turning down the corners of a page! I BEG of you not to do this—it detracts from the value of your cookbook and I have often removed old paperclips and found the pages permanently marked, often with rust.)

Bunny tells us that the recipes in her cookbook were developed for good cooks who have a busy schedule (that would be all of us) – but for those who still desire exceptional food for their family and for home entertaining as well. She says most of the recipes can be made completely from scratch or by starting with a convenience product; most are simple to prepare and quick to cook and represent American cooking with an international flair.  Her favorite recipes, she offers, are those that taste like she’s been working on them for three days but took 30 minutes to prepare! Bunny also likes to have recipes at her fingertips that are prepared from ingredients on hand without making that special trip to the market. (me, too!)

Some of the recipes in Breakfast with Bunny represent different times in her life; some came from her years as a caterer in Anchorage, some from her experience in the kitchen at Bombay House, and others were given to her by guests. She also tell us that  twenty percent of her recipes are good – eighty percent are fabulous!

Breakfast with Bunny starts out with House Specialties which include Apple Crisp, Bainbridge Island Raspberry Cake, Bombay House’s Bran Muffins and Orange Coffee Ring – plus others.

She writes “The Bombay House breakfast presented each morning may include fresh fruit, juices, muffins, sweet breads, yeast breads, coffee cakes, pastries, jams, jellies, homemade spreads and cereals….”  Bunny serves this morning meal in a large country kitchen that looks out on a deck, and further down the valley to a water view of Rich Passage…oh, my!  I can just picture it and wish I were there!

The Appetizer recipes are going to take up an entire packet of post-its – here you will find everything from Artichoke Spread to Texas Chili Dip, with Pickled Mushrooms and Smoked Salmon Spread in between.  (Her pickled mushrooms is different from mine and I am going to have to make it to have on hand during the holidays!)

Beverages include a Brandy Ice made with Kahlua, Champagne Punch, and “Hop, Skip, and Go Naked Punch” which sounds delish but we are warned “when you have finished your first drink and feel totally refreshed, don’t make another batch—the name of this cocktail should explain the nature of this drink!”

Under the section for CAKES is a wide array of recipes to try and I found some excellent baking tips that I did not know.  In DESSERTS look for treats such as Black Bottom Cupcakes, Bombay House Bread Pudding and Orange Coffee Ring, listed in the House Specialties, but also check out the Blueberry Cheesecake and Hot fudge Sauce. There is something called Daffodil Dessert that sound utterly decadent.

Breakfast with Bunny provides a list of Entrees without Meat—ranging from Angel Eggs to Mexican Quiche, Spinach and Broccoli Casserole and Vegetable Pie – any one of which would be a great “side” dish to take along to a party. I thought my Sweet Potato Casserole was special but there is one  in Breakfast with Bunny that sounds even better!

Meat Entrees offers recipes such as Beef Stroganoff, Glazed Corned Beef, Lasagna and Steak with Fresh Herbs. Other categories are Griddle Cakes and Corn Breads, Muffins, Biscuits and Dinner Breads, Salad Dressings, Salads, Sandwiches, Sweet Breads and Yeast Breads.   And I know we’re all familiar with breads such as Lemon Bread and Banana Bread – but Avocado Bread? Pear Bread? Pineapple Zucchini Bread? Raspberry Nut Bread? These are just a sampling of what you can find in BREAKFAST WITH BUNNY. And I’ve been salivating – would love to visit Bainbridge Island and go see Bombay House the next time I visit my niece who lives near Settle.

Amazon.com has a few copies – a couple of pre-owned copies for under a dollar, and a new copy for  $4.99.  Just type in “Breakfast with Bunny” – when I added cook book to the search, I didn’t get any hits. However, alibris.com has several copies for 99c each.

Then I came across ANGEL OF THE SEA BED AND BREAKFAST COOKBOOK, published in 1994,  contains 200 of the Angel’s Most Loved Recipes. This B&B can be found at Cape May in New Jersey.  The Angels of the Sea was built around 1850 as a “summer cottage” for William Weightman, a Philadelphia chemist who discovered and manufactured quinine for medical application.  Built as a single structure, the house originally stood on the corner of Franklin and Washington Streets where the Cape May Post Office now stands.

In 1881, Mr. Weightman’s son, William Jr., decided that an ocean view from the broad porches of his “cottage” would be appreciated by family, friends and guests. To accomplish this goal, he hired a number of local farmers to move the house to a piece of property on the corner of Ocean and Beach avenues which the Marquis de Lafayette now stands.

The farmers discovered the house was too large to move as one unit. Not wanting to lose the winter work. They decided to cut the house in half, move it in sections and then reconnect it after the move.  Their task took all winter long, pulling the sections on rolling tree trunks with mule and horse power! Unfortunately, after both halves of the house were moved to the new location, the farmers discovered that, although their mules and horses were quite adequate  for “pulling” the house, they proved totally ineffective in “pushing” it back together. Summer was close upon them and Mr. Weightman would soon be returning to Cape May. The Farmers enclosed the sides where the cut had been made, renovated as best they could and hurried back to their farming chores. The results of their efforts are the two buildings as they stand today.

The house remained in the Weigthtman family until Mr. Weightman’s death in 1907.  In 1962 a powerful Nor’easter ripped through New Jersey and devastated the city of Cape May…,.the Angel survived but not without considerable damage…it was  going to be torn down when it was saved by Reverend Carl McIntire and moved from the site to their present location on Trenton avenue. This time the houses were moved on flatbed trucks…from 1962 to 1981 the houses were used to board employees from several nearby inns and used as a dormitory for students from Shelton college…during this time there was very little maintenance and  the buildings were left abandoned to vandals an the elements until December 1988.

A builder and developer, John Girton, purchased the property and began renovations in January, 1989. The first of the two buildings opened in July of 1989…after its first two successful seasons as a bed and breakfast, the Angel of the Sea was acknowledged as one of the top Ten B&Bs in the United States…there is considerable more information about the renovation of Angel of the Sea, which was purchased in 1996 by John Girton’s daughter and her husband who expanded upon the angel’s tradition of excelle3nce and refurbished many of the guest rooms….

Open year round the Angel of the Sea is Cape May’s largest and most elegant bed and breakfast. Each guest room is uniquely furnished and decorated; most have ocean views and all of course have private baths. All guests have access to the Angels many porches and verandas. Mornings at the Angel begin with a hearty, sumptuous full breakfast. Guests can help themselves to a buffet of fresh fruits, cold juices, a variety of cereals, mouth-watering freshly baked muffins and coffee cakes…guests then choose one of two gourmet entrees which are served piping hot to their table.

Some of the recipes you will find in the Angel of the Sea cookbook are Bacon Pie,  Farmer’s Breakfast, Glazed Sausages & apples, Fruit Kugel, Dutch apple French Toast, Mushroom Cheese Strata and many more…yum!  The Spinach Cheddar Bake has caught my attention along with “Christmas” Breakfast Casserole!  There are dozens more recipes, each on a separate page inside hidden spiral binding – the book will lay out flat or can easily be propped on a kitchen counter.  Angel of the Sea cookbook is about to become one of my favorite cookbooks, residing on a baker’s rack in my kitchen along with other favorites.

Angel of the Sea is available on Amazon.com starting at one cent for a pre-owned copy; Alibris.com has pre-owned copies for 99 cents. Some new copies are ridiculously priced; if I am to believe them, my 1994 copy is worth almost $200.00.  (Just remember, a book is only that valuable if someone is willing to pay that much. I am never going to be willing to spend that much money on one book!) However, that being said, I love, love, love the format of Angel of the Sea – and I am thrilled by so many of the recipes –I can’t wait to try so many of them!

Next on my list of favorites is a place called Trout Springs Bed & Breakfast, located in Hamilton, Montana. In the introduction we read “Nestled against the backwaters of the Bitterroot River in the heart of Bitterroot Valley lies an elegant and spacious Bed & Breakfast. The location is a haven for Beaver, Birds and Deer with trout ponds and beautiful gardens in the yard…a true paradise for nature lovers and sportsmen alike. “

We’re told that all bedrooms have king size beds and private baths. There is a honeymoon suite and a Jacuzzi room available. The bedrooms and rest of the house feature original western art designed and built by the proprietors in their own gallery on the premises..there are fireplaces, TV, laundry and spacious decks overlooking beautiful gardens. In the evening there is a campfire for all guests to share and get acquainted with each other. Recipes in Trout Springs Bed & Breakfast quite logically follow a western theme—Western Ham Steaks with Lemon, Montana Grasshopper Pie, Russler (Rustler?) Punch,  and Lil Buckaroo Chocolate Pie—but there are plenty of other recipes to try and appreciate.

This one may be a little harder to find—I didn’t find any listings on  Amazon or Alibris but you may find a copy somewhere else; I am trying to reconcile the idea of going trout fishing on your honeymoon—or for that matter, trout fishing from ponds. The last time I went trout fishing with my then-husband, he fished at a lake in the Sierra mountains  while I spent a lot of time reading.  But I am impressed with some of the recipes – smoked trout, for instance, and Smoked Trout Crepes, Trout Greek Almondie,  I even found a recipe for homemade soap!! Yowza!                                                                                                                                  **

My next  cookbook is a compilation of B&Bs – lucky you! COLORADO BED & BREAKFAST COOKBOOK is a collection from 85 B& Bs and Country Inns, by Carol Faino with Doreen Hazledine. I was admiring the cover and the hidden spiral binding when I noticed the publisher – Wimmer – a company I am well acquainted with. Wimmer publishes a lot of cookbooks and they are always well done.

In the Introduction, Carol Faino explains how she and her husband  had their first B&B experience  some years ago in Victoria, British Columbia. The hosts were delightful, their room was charming, breakfast was memorable and when they said their goodbyes, the owners presented them with a keepsake – and pen and ink drawing of their inn. “Needless to say,” Carol writes, “We were hooked! We have stayed din many B&Bs since and even dream of someday having our own”.

Carol says, “Combining my enchantment with the B&B concept, my longtime interest in cooking, the generosity and enthusiasm of 85 Colorado B&B owners, the invaluable guidance of special friend and mentor, author Gary Enright and willing co-author and friend Doreen Hazledine, COLORADO BED AND BREAKFAST COOKBOOK became a reality…”

She writes that the cookbook is a collection of recipes from the simple to the gourmet that have received rave reviews from B&B guests. Many dishes can be made the night before or have shortcuts to help make entertaining easier. (I almost always look for recipes that can be made in advance when I am planning a party or expecting out of town guests. If I am having guests for several days, I like to have at least two breakfasts prepared – and at least one or two casseroles to plan dinners around).

Carol says she and Doreen have researched and compiled B&B information and recipes with care so that  their cookbook is as reliable and accurate as possible.  COLORADO BED AND BREAKFAST COOKBOOK was first published in 1996 and my copy is from the 4th printing—always an encouraging indication of a popular cookbook!

The Table of Contents ranges from Bread & Muffins, biscuits, Rolls, Coffee Cake & Scones….to Egg Entrees, side dishes, evening Entrees, Desserts and B&B Potpourri. There is a Colorado map of B&B locations and an alphabetical listing of the B&Bs.  Inasmuch as this cookbook was published sixteen years ago, I suggest you check with any B&B to make sure they are still in business or—as sometimes happens—may have changed hands.

The format of COLORADO BED AND BREAKFAST COOKBOOK is a cookbook collectors dream; each featured B&B has its own page with an inkline drawing of the B&B, and all pertinent information—owners names, address, telephone number, the type of rooms and whether or not children (and pets!) are welcome.  The very first B&B featured is the Tudor Rose, described as “a stately country manor located high on a pinon hill. The land surrounding this unique tudor estate covers 37 sprawling acres that were once part of an 1890s homestead.” The Tudor Rose is accompanied by a recipe for Chocolate Bread with Raspberry Sauce (be still my heart!).

Dripping Springs Inn, described as a unique country inn located in the Roosevelt National Forest on the Big Thompson River boasts of seven acres of ponderosa pines and aspens that border a horseshoe bend in the river, allowing plenty of wildlife viewing for guests. Their feature is Bread Pudding Bread that sounds delicious! (And can be made with leftover French bread, croissants, muffins, etc—something to keep in mind when you have                                         leftover breads and don’t know what to do with them).

Meadow Creek, once part of the 250 acre Douglass ranch, was built in 1929…the property is nestled in a secluded meadow surrounded by stone outcroppings…Tall pines and aspens border a small spring fed creek—and the recipe from Meadow Creek is Pistachio Banana Bread—which I can’t wait to try for holiday baking this year!

There are a wealth of breakfast recipes in COLORADO BED AND BREAKFAST COOKBOOK—ranging from Upside-Down Apple French Toast to Crème Caramel French Toast, Crustless Quiche and Breakfast Rellenos.  B& B Potpourri piqued my curiosity so I had to check it out – Blueberry Vinaigrette from Romantic Riversong Inn, Black Bean Dip from Elizabeth Street Guest House and Grandma Kitty’s Little Quiches from Red Crags are just  a sampling of what you will discover.

I can’t describe all 85 of the B&Bs, and I discovered that the website domain www.bbcookbook.com is no longer valid. I then checked Amazon.com and discovered that Colorado Bed and Breakfast Cookbook was reprinted in hardcover in 2009; that one, pre-owned, can be bought for $8,.70.  However, copies of the edition that I have with the hidden spiral binding can be yours starting at one cent & up for pre-owned. I also found it listed on Alibris.com and available under their 99c books. Everything I have found in COLORADO BED AND BREAKFAST COOKBOOK makes me want to head for the kitchen and start baking!

“Angels” return to us under the title of BREAKFAST WITH THE ANGEL, An Angel Arbor Bed & Breakfast Recipe Collection, by Marguerite Swanson.

Angel Arbor Bed & Breakfast Inn was built in 1923 for John and Katherine McTighe and is a stately red brick Georgian-style residence and a City of Houston Historic Landmark. Marguerite and Dean Swanson acquired the property in 1994 and immediately began a thorough restoration which resulted in a comfortable 5-bedroom inn that it is today, just 5 minutes from downtown Houston.

While I found references to the Bed & Breakfast in several travel sites, I was unable to find a copy of the cookbook in either Amazon or Alibris. Unusual recipes to be found in BREAKFAST WITH THE ANGEL would certainly include Sweet Potato Bread (a good way to use up an excess of mashed, cooked sweet potatoes after Thanksgiving!)  or Pumpkin apple Muffins. I found a recipe for Lemon Zucchini Muffins that I wish I had noticed about a week ago when I was trying to use up an excess of shredded zucchini – but I think the recipe for Cranberry Oatmeal Dutch Crunch Muffins has to be a winner (it uses fresh cranberries, not dried ones!) I am also interested in trying Marguerite’s recipe for Apple Oatmeal Bread (as soon as the weather cools down here in the high desert!) but there are lots of other recipes as well – sausage and egg breakfast casserole, potato ham and egg casserole—or perhaps Bountiful Breakfast Bake—it sounds like a winner. I wish I had some ordering information to share with you; you might keep a lookout for it, especially if you visit Houston.

Another beautifully compiled cookbook with a washable cover is THE HOUSE ON THE HILL/A Bed  & Breakfast Inn that comes to us from Ellsworth Michigan, Published in 2002. This B&B has only been in business since 1997 but over 3000 couples and singles have visited the B&B since it opened its doors. There are a lot of recipes, as you might expect, but I am especially interested in a wealth of muffin recipes—so many that it has its own category. There are a wealth of egg recipes—Baked Eggs and Mushrooms in Ham Crisps,  Bake Green Chile Eggs – or how about Baked Blueberry-Pecan French Toast with blueberry syrup (including directions for making your own syrup). I like the sound of Baked Brie Strata and Favorite Breakfast Casserole.  As a matter of fact, I plan  to keep the B&B cookbooks together on a shelf because I have discovered that I’ll have all the recipes for almost any kind of party at my fingertips.

I didn’t intend for this post to be quite  as long as it is—and no doubt will start finding other B&B cookbooks as soon as I post this on Sandychatter…but I hope this gives you some ideas and what a great resource for your own future brunches or breakfasts when you have guests.

Happy cooking!

Sandy

FINDING MORE COMFORT

 

There are ever so many cookbooks with “comfort” in the titles – and that’s not even including all the other cookbooks with “mom” or “Grandma” in their titles (surely another form of comfort foods). I just want to mention a few more titles for those of you who might be interested in this genre of cookbooks (Please see my August, 2012 blog post titled TAKING COMFORT for more information).

One of my all-time favorite cookbook authors, Marian Burros, wrote COOKING FOR COMFORT, published by Simon & Shuster in 2003.

In the introduction, Burros writes “Roughly three years ago, for reasons  that now seem as unfathomable  and obvious as a shift in the weather, I began to long for the simple, straightforward food of my childhood…I wanted the food my mother made for me…”  Burros was not alone—by my casual calculation (by which I mean it’s totally unscientific—I just go from room to room counting up titles) I think several dozen cookbook authors began focusing on our comfort foods, the dishes of our respective childhoods, the pudding that mom or grandma made from scratch, raisin nut oatmeal cookies and oh, yum! Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese frosting!

This comfort food cookbook contains more than 100 recipes; included is one of my favorites, Hungarian Goulash, but look also for Beef Stew in Wine, Great Roast Chicken, Braised Short Ribs, Mom’s Apple Pie, and another old favorite that is new again, Butterscotch Pudding. (when I returned to making chocolate pudding from scratch, I couldn’t believe how tasty it was!)

These are just a few of the many recipes you will want to make your comfort foods.

Amazon.com has it in soft cover (mine is hard bound) for $3.73 for a pre-owned copy or $3.88 for a new copy from a private vendor. Alibris.com does not appear to have this one on file.

A CUP OF COMFORT/subtitled Favorite Comfort Foods to Warm your heart and lift your spirit, by Jay Weinstein, Chef de Cuisine and Colleen Self, Editor.  This is definitely for those of you who say you “read cookbooks like novels” because this is a collection of stories, from numerous sources, each accompanied by recipes that fit the category. For instance, if I say to you “FIRST, YOU EAT” you would be introduced to Carol M. Hodgson of British Columbia, writing about her grandmother Josephine and her classic Polish kitchen. Included is a photograph of a young Josephine but the piece de resistance is Grandma Zatylny’s BORSCHT—but if you don’t like borscht (what’s not to like?) there are other soup recipes ranging from Chicken Noodle to Hungarian Paprikash Soup (I am swooning over the anticipation of cooking some of these soups when AUTUMN finally arrives in the Antelope Valley). There is also an entertaining recipe (and story) from Lynn Ruth Miller for her Zucchini-Basil Soup who planted a whole packed of zucchini when she first moved to California—she tells about the bountiful crop of Zukes that filled her yard and threatened to break down her patio doors; they climbed over the woodshed into the garage—Ruth writes that she pickled them, canned them, mashed them and used them to garnish desserts and then she began to invent zuke recipes (I wish she didn’t live so far away from me – I would have taken some of those zucchini’s – and I did  create a recipe box just  for zucchini recipes. Included with pages of soup and chowder recipes you will find tips and maybe even a poem or two, such as one for “Mama’s Gumbo”.

Other chapters in A CUP OF COMFORT  include Friends Gathering: Appetizers and Nibbles, Packing a Basket, Taking a Break, dedicated to Salads and Sandwiches, Heartwarming Feasts—meat, poultry and seafood….and lots, lots more.

A CUP OF COMFORT was published in 2002 and is a soft-cover cookbook published by Adams Media Corp. My favorite story may be FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL COOKIES.

This book is available on amazon.com starting at one cent for pre-owned and $2.00 new. (It originally sold for $12.95.  there are a surprising number of books that have “A CUP OF COMFORT” in the title – add cookbook or the subtitle to your search.

Another favorite book of mine is THE LITTLE BIG BOOK OF COMFORT FOOD/200 of the Best Home Recipes co-authored by Katrina Fried, Natasha Tabori Fried and Lena Tabori and maybe my favorite feature of this little gem is the graphic artistry—what appears to be very old copies of prints from eons ago. Well, maybe not eons but certainly from a long time ago! Published in 2006 by Welcome Books, some of the favorite comfort food cookies include everyone’s favorite chocolate chip cookies but oatmeal cookies, molasses crisps, peanut butter cookies, and one of my favorites, Swedish Gingerbread cookies, lemon squares and Marshmallow Rice Treats, fudge brownies and Snickerdoodles. There is so much to love in this little big book – I suggest you go through it page by page and admire all the illustrations before getting down to the serious business of cooking and baking. The little BIG book of Comfort Food is available on Amazon.com for $6.98 for a pre-owned copy. New, the book sold for $24.98 but Amazon has a new edition for $14.42.  Alibris.com has pre-owned copies for $8.98. (*if I were not so adverse to cutting apart books—any books—and I had very young children in my household—I think I would get an extra copy of the Little Big Book of Comfort Food and cut it apart – to frame all the wonderful illustrations! Don’t tell anyone you heard me say that).

From Land O Lakes came a cookbook titled COMFORT FOOD, published in 1999. Sample comfort food dinners such as Chicken Soup & Dumplings, Simple Shepherd’s Pie, Country-Style French Onion Soup, All-American Beef Stew, Busy Day Chili (which can be made with ground turkey), everyone’s favorite Midwest Macaroni & Cheese, Easy Lasagna and my favorite Beef Burgundy & Mushrooms…those are just for openers.  There are a lot of other great-sounding recipes (Layered Tortilla Pie? Or how about Quick Veggie & Cheese Quesadillas?)

There are sections devoted to Salads and Sides, Starters and Snacks, Bread Board and Sweet Comfort.  Along with recipes there are many mouth-watering photographs to whet your appetite. This cookbook is available on Alibris.com starting at $1.00 for a pre-owned copy or from Amazon.com starting at 60c for a pre-owned copy.

Sandy’s cooknote – there is a similar cookbook from Land O Lakes containing many of the same recipes as the larger edition Comfort Food – but the size of those recipe booklets you find in the checkout stands of the supermarket, and this one has the title Comfort Foods. It contains many of the same recipes. The smaller booklet originally sold for $2.99. The larger Comfort Food, sold new for $14.95. Have I completely confused you?  Well, let me add this – the larger cookbook, which has hidden spiral binding features an illustration of Simple Shepherd’s Pie on the cover, while the smaller (booklet size) Land O Lakes cookbook features a Deep Dish Turkey Pot Pie on its cover.

Two other titles in my collection are COMFORT FOOD/102 RECIPES TO NOURISH THE SOUL AS WELL AS THE BODY, by Sue Kreitzman, a softcover collection which, to my immense pleasure, contains quotes from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings as well as Nika Hazelton! There is even a recipe for Fried Green Tomatoes.

Another cookbook from Project Open Hand is COMFORTING FOODS/feel good recipes from America’s top chefs. Compiled and edited by Norman Kolpas, published in 1995.  This is the third Project Open Hand cookbook and the list of 64 contributors reads like the who’s who of American chefs. This one is available in like-new condition from Alibris.com.   Amazon.com has pre-owned copies starting at one cent or new from $1.93.

Happy cooking!

–Sandy

THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER BY ELISABETH ROZIN

Here’s proof that big things can come in small packages THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER (1994)by Elisabeth Rozin is not  very BIG book…but don’t be fooled into thinking there isn’t much substance to such a little book.

Ms. Rozin, you may recall, is the author of BLUE CORN AND CHOCOLATE (1992) and ETHNIC CUISINE THE FLAVOR PRINCIPLE COOKBOOK (1983), THE UNIVERSAL KITCHEN and CROSSROADS COOKING (1999) and possibly a few others I haven’t tracked down yet.

Say the publishers of THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER, “Here is a witty look at the powerful appeal of that ubiquitous American classic and universal food phenomenon, the cheeseburger platter.

Elisabeth Rozin traces the historical, cultural, and culinary roots of each element (not just the burger itself!) but burger, cheese, bun, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, fries and of course – Coca Cola – in search of the significance of its tantalizing allure.  After all, this unique combination of red meat, fat, sugar and salt violates all t his is nutritionally and politically correct in the 1990s (not to mention the 2000 to 2012) –yet, we can’t resist it!

THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER is an entertaining exploration of why this particular mix of textures, tastes, and smells evokes our carnivorous cravings and touches such a deep chord in our collective food consciousness.

What I have found particularly amazing in THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER is the wealth of food history it contains. If you are familiar with (and enjoyed) in-depth tomes such as

FOOD IN HISTORY (REAY TANNAHILL)

THE DELECTABLE PAST (ESTHER ARESTY)

COOKS, GLUTTONS AND GOURMETS (BETTY WASON)

THE JOY OF EATING (KATE STEWART)

Or, perhaps, SIX THOUSAND YEARS OF BREAD (H.E. JACOB) then I am sure you will want to add THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER to your collection. This is not a cookbook! Rather, it is an enchanting, well-written food history lesson, which, taken separately, leads us through the pages of history from bread in ancient Egypt to the curious evolution of tomatoes in the middle ages. Most of us have, for instance, heard the story of tomatoes being rejected by Europe and thought to be poisonous. But did you ever wonder why?  And, did you know that such wasn’t the case in southern Europe and the Mediterranean where tomatoes were accepted quickly, grown as a common garden crop and adopted into Mediterranean cusine.

Tomatoes, we learn, were introduced to Europe after the discovery and conquest of Mexico in 1529 by Cortes. But, whereas Southern Europe and the Mediterranean adopted tomatoes and cooked them in a variety of sauces, the rest of Europe largely rejected tomatoes, often considering them poisonous, possibly because the tomato is a member of a family of plants which includes deadly nightshade.  Conversely, though, the same areas of Europe that rejected tomatoes accepted potatoes which are also a member of the nightshade family!!

Ms. Rozin explains that she thinks tomatoes were unacceptable because of their color, that their redness (like meat) and vegetable meatiness may have been offensive to meat and dairy focused cuisines of Northern and Central Europe. She says that some highly orthodox Jewish sects in Poland initially rejected the tomato because of its “bloodiness”, its red meaty qualities.

I hope I have whetted your appetite to learn more – there is much to be learned from THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER and, as an added bonus for those of you interested in bibliographies, THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER has quite an extensive one.

I found THE PRIMAL CHEESEBURGER on Amazon.com starting at six cents for a pre-owned copy, and $7.27 for a new copy. I have never seen this particular book in  hardcover edition—what Amazon has to offer is soft-cover, as is my copy. A number of other vendors (such as Barnes and Noble) have copies but I couldn’t find one at all on Alibris.com.

Good reading!

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

 

 

 

PRAIRIE HOME COOKING BY JUDITH FERTIG

Judith Fertig is the author of a comprehensive cookbook about America’s heartland. Published in 1999 by Harvard Common Press, PRAIRIE HOME COOKING contains 400 recipes that “celebrate the bountiful harvests, creative cooks and comforting foods of the American Heartland.”

As explained by the publishers, “The food of the Heartland is the flavor of America itself: fresh and creative, adventurous and abundant. Judith Fertig brings to life in stories and tales, all the immigrants and settlers, old and new, who have come together in the Midwest, and she interprets and perfects in 400 dazzling recipes, all the tastiest contributions they have made to the American table…”

It was a vast undertaking for the gal from Cincinnati, my hometown. Who but Judith Fertig could have taken on such a mammoth project? The author is an authority on the foods of her native Midwest and writes a weekly column “COME INTO MY KITCHEN” for the Kansas City Star. She has also written for SAVEUR, COUNTRY LIVING, and the NEW YORK TIMES.

The thought occurred to me that taking on the entire Heartland, encompassing all of the Prairie states, was a daunting enterprise. Whereas most other parts of the country are predominately one ethnic group or another, the great Heartland is made up of many different immigrants and pioneers from various parts of Europe.

“For the European immigrants who came here in the nineteenth century,” writes Judith, “the sea of grass that was the prairie was an alien environment. Many of the new arrivals settled, of course, along the banks of rivers, where trees and brush broke up the monotony of grass. Inland, too, groves of oak and walnut provided more relief, as did wild scrub plants, like mulberry, chokecherry, and wild plum, common in low-lying areas…”

That prairie has changed, Judith notes, “Less than one percent of the original four hundred thousand square miles of prairie survives in its natural state. Enclosed by fences and windbreaks, tamed by machinery and the will of man, the prairie is rangeland, dairyland, and breadbasket…The eastern prairie, from Ohio to Iowa, now is the Corn Belt.

‘’’The lush and rolling pastureland of the Dairy Belt, where America’s best cheeses are made, stretches down from Wisconsin to southern Indiana. The Wheat Belt fans north from Kansas through Nebraska into the Dakotas and Canada. Hard red winter wheat, which grows through the winter and is harvested in June, dictates the rhythms of the years in Kansas and much of Nebraska In the Dakotas, where the winters are harsh, spring wheat, planted       in the spring and harvested in the fall, takes over.  On the western edge of the prairie, where in most places it is too dry to farm, the wide open spaces provide rangeland for grazing cattle and buffalo…”

Judith says that “…the great expanse that you see from the plane window as you fly from one coast to another–is home to ethnic communities of all kinds, where festivals celebrating cultures as diverse as Czech, Norse, Russian Mennonite, and Sioux are occasions to remember the past and observe traditions in the present. In the pages of this book you will meet some of the people who contribute to this region’s culinary and cultural melting pot: great home cooks, farmers, specialty food purveyors, experts on regional foods, and even writers of essays and fiction…

“The settling of the Midwest coincided,” Judith explains, “with the flowering of a literature that was truly American. Prairie writers continue to discover and rediscover their regional identities. Not only do we gain a sense  of place from the works of authors as varies as Willa Cather, Susan Power, Louise Erdrich and Jane Smiley, we also savor the tastes of the region…in the novels of Willa Cather, the changing foods and wares on the dinner table reflect changes in families’ fortunes and status, as virgin Nebraska prairie gives way to hardscrabble sodbuster farms and then to lush fields of wheat and corn…”

Judith writes, “…In a description that is sheer poetry—as we read these writers, we sense how the kitchen was a haven, the farm a little world all its own, the root cellar a treasure trove of jewel-colored preserved and canned goods from the garden…”

Midwestern cooking, says Judith, in its long history and its present form, goes a long way toward defining what American cooking is all about. She writes that she and her mother and sister all treasure a old brown-covered school style notebook that belonged to her grandmother, Gertude Willenborg Vamnderhorst. The pages are brittle now, and the recipes she gathered therein, written in pale blue fountain pen ink on the lined paper, are sometimes barely legible, but a recipe like spiced tomato catsup brings back a rush of memories for her mother, who recalls the delicious spicy smell coming from her neighbor’s kitchen and Mrs. Seebohm bringing over a plate of still warm catsup that they would sample with pieces of homemade bread…”

For all of us who savor old manuscript cookbooks or old wooden recipe boxes crammed full of recipes, whether scribbled on pieces of envelopes or a sheet of paper torn from a school notebook, Judith’s description sparks a flame of recognition.

“Now imagine,” suggests the author, “an old quilt spread out under a big prairie sky. On this quilt an array of sweet and savory dishes from the small towns (and the small towns within big cities), farms, and ranches in America’s heartland beckons you to taste the best of prairie home cooking…”

And oh, my! What recipes! Discover America’s Heartland as you have never seen it before, with wonderful mouth-watering recipes, some I have never seen elsewhere: peach leaf syrup, honeysuckle syrup! Wisconsin Cheddar Beer Soup! Heartland Smoked Chicken and Corn Chowder!

Sample Potato Lefse, a Norwegian flatbread that you may discover is similar to flour tortillas, Great Lakes Goulash, Amana Pork Schnitzel and Hickory Smoked Pecans.

While you are delving deep into a melting pot of America’s Heartland recipes, you will surely enjoy, as well, the many food-related stories, such as Ma’s sourdough Starter, described by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

A newspaper columnist once asked me to name my favorite cookbook…I was hard pressed to limit myself to one.  “OK,” she agreed, “then name four.”

I couldn’t limit myself to four, either. But if that newspaper columnist were to call me now and ask me to name one, I think PRAIRIE HOME COOKING would be at the top of my list.

I was first asked to review PRAIRIE HOME COOKING in 1999 for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, for whom I regularly wrote cookbook reviews. I dug the book off my shelves (and amazed even myself that I knew exactly where to look – not easy if you have thousands of cookbooks) – and I found it just as charming and interesting thirteen years later.  And I’m not just saying that because I am from Cincinnati, too!

Most of the copies available on Amazon.com are pretty pricey—however, as it happens, you can get copies on Alibris.com for 99c plus shipping.

Judith Fertig has written several other cookbooks since PRAIRIE HOME COOKING and it appears that this book has also been reissued.
The book was published by Harvard Common Press and is a format that I like and appreciate – easy to read. The Prairie Pantry is my own personal favorite but I love canning fruits and vegetables and I’m always on the lookout for something new and different. Happy cooking! Happier cookbook collecting!

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith

 

 

A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST BY MADHUR JAFFREY

MADHUR JAFFREY, author of numerous cookbooks, wrote A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST back in the 1990s but it will still knock your socks off today…Ms. Jaffrey is one of those talented people being referred to when someone says “If you want to get a job done, ask a busy person”…in addition to being a superb cookbook author, she is also an actress who has starred in many award winning films, including Shakespeare Wallah, for which she won the best actress award at the Berlin International Film Festival.  Along with writing cookbooks and being an authority on Indian cuisine, Ms. Jaffrey is also a children’s book author, journalist, illustrator and-–director!  Jaffrey directed her first film, Cotton Mary, in the 1990s.

If that were not enough, A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST won the James Beard Award for Best cookbook of the year, in 1994.

A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. The photography is exquisite. Location photography was done by Michael Freeman, while studio photography was done by James Murphy.

Mr. Freeman is an established photographer who specializes in studio reportage, landscape and wildlife photography. His books include 35MM HANDBOOK, THE IMAGE and CAMERA AND LENSES.

Mr. Murphy is one of Britain’s leading food photographers who has worked with a number of prestigious cookbook writers and whose work has appeared regularly in GOOD HOUSEKEEPING and HOUSE AND GARDEN as well as other publications.

The recipes featured in A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST are from Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, Japan, Viet Nam, Korea and Indonesia.

In its introduction, the publishers lure us with the following, “Chicken flavored with lemon grass and ginger; a fish stew, aromatic with dill; okra in a sambal sauce; slices of duck pan-fried with scallops ice cucumber meade…these are just some of the flavors of the Far East that Madhur Jaffrey brings to her classic evocation of the region’s food and drink…”  They continue with, “On a gastronomic tour…she delves deeply into local traditions and history to describe  wit knowledgeable enthusiasm the cultural and culinary influences that have shaped each nation’s unique cuisine.

In A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST Ms. Jaffrey provides 150 recipes that include suggestions for accompaniments and advice on serving.  There are also separate sections on equipment and techniques and descriptions of ingredients called for in the recipes—even substitutions where necessary—so that if you aren’t all the familiar with Far East cuisine, you won’t be intimidated by it.

I must confess, until fairly recently, I was one of those timid creatures where Far East cuisine was concerned. A number of factors changed my attitude over the past decades, not the least of which was acquiring a Filipino girlfriend whose son is now my godchild.

When my friend would come to visit, she sometimes brought along an entourage of Filipino girlfriends who, unabashedly, took over my kitchen and produced many mouth-watering Filipino dishes.

Another factor, certainly, is living in southern California, where Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Filipino restaurants abound.  Little Asian grocery stores can be found throughout the San Fernando valley as well.

I am particularly intrigued with Ms. Jaffrey’s comments, in the Introduction, about the way foods travel…sometimes  more easily than people.  She writes “No country’s cuisine is written in stone. As foods move, they are changed, adapted, and remodeled in other images. Take Sushi, the little canapés   of raw fish and rice that we think of as quintessentially Japanese. They originated elsewhere, in the little villages tucked inside the much warmer regions of south-East Asia. Cooked rice, when put together with raw fish, preserves it for some magical reason. The ancient Thais knew this.”  Ms. Jaffrey goes on to say that she found herself by chance in a tiny village in north-eastern Thailand. “Here, as they have done for centuries, they were putting rice to ‘pickle’ in layers of cooked rice.  The rice would be thrown away and the preserved fish eaten. It was this dish that first traveled to Kyoto and was adopted there. Then, it began changing. The first step was to eat both the pickled fish and the preserved rice. They still do that in Kyoto today. In Tokyo, it was discovered that, with refrigeration, fresh fish could be put on top of freshly cooked rice and served  immediately. Only, it was decided to add a little vinegar and sugar to the rice to give it a faint pickled taste in memory of what it had once been. Hence was born the sushi we all know and love today.  So, while foods travel, at some point they get stamped with a national image.”

Ms. Jaffrey goes on to explain that the purpose of her book, A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST, was to give us some of the best recipes from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan—some quite unknown in the west*, others somewhat different versions of old classics—but to put the foods in their settings, to take us into the homes and restaurants and to give us a little bit of the culinary history of these eight nations.

(*A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST was published in 1994—and I suspect that most of the recipes within its pages would be far more familiar to most western cooks in 2012. I have seen so many Far East dishes on programs such as the Food Network in the past decade and last night watched a Food Network program on chefs in Thailand shopping for groceries on the water canals in Thailand.)

What to look for in A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST? How about Prawn/Shrimp Curry or Hot and Sour Chicken Soup, from Thailand…Grilled Chicken with Lime Juice and Lemon Grass, or Steak and Onions, Vietnamese-style, or Bananas Flambe, from Vietnam…a Grilled, Dressed Fish or Pan Grilled Chicken, from Korea, Fragrant Prawns, a quick mixed pickle or pineapple cake from Malaysia…a steamed soup-custard with chicken and prawns, rice canapés or quick cooked pork with garlic, from Japan…Chicken  and Asparagus with Portuguese Sauce, or Diced Chicken with Peanuts in Chili Sauce, or perhaps Sichuan-style Shredded Beef with Spring Onions from Hong Kong…Vegetable and Prawn Fritters, or Skewered Pork Kabobs  or Quick Stir Fried Cabbage    from Indonesia?  These, of course, are just a sampling of the recipes to be found in A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST.

Each chapter is preceded with an informal introduction to each of the Far-East nations, and you will come away with a much better understanding of that country than you will find in any tourist guidebook.

For those who enjoy the combination of culinary history and recipes…for those of us who appreciate beautiful photography—for those of us who are armchair travelers, A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST meets all of this criteria.

Ms. Jaffrey is the author of numerous cookbooks including AN INVITATION TO INDIAN COOKING, MADHUR JAFFREY’S COOKBOOK and MADHUR JAFFREY’S INDIAN COOKING, SPICE KITCHEN, and MADHUR JAFFREY’S WORLD OF VEGETARIAN COKING.  My Google sources credit her with writing over 15 cookbooks; she has appeared in over 20 films.

Jaffrey   also wrote Climbing the   Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India.
Her credits are enormous—best bet is to Google her and read   what Wikipedia has to say about this versatile author/actress/director.

A TASTE OF THE FAR EAST is available on Amazon.com for $39.95   new, and starting at seventy five cents for a pre-owned copy. New copies are   also available from private vendors at Amazon.com starting at $13.39.  (When first published it sold for $35.00 –   this is one of those unique cookbooks that    only improves with age…and value.)

 

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

 

 

TULSA STATE FAIR COOKBOOK AND AQ FEW OTHER FAVORITE FAIR COOKBOOKS

While I am on the subject of fair cookbooks, I came across another, titled TULSA STATE FAIR COOKBOOK.  This was the 2nd annual prize winning recipes cookbook, published in 1999. I have been unable to determine how many cookbooks were published.

I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Tulsa for many years.  Nearby is the town of Skiatook where my penpal, Penny, lives.  We became penpals in the late 1960s, I think. When my then-husband and children drove across country one summer to visit our families in Cincinnati, we were invited to spend a night with my friends in Skiatook.  It was a wonderful experience—so much so that the following year and the year after THAT, my children and I returned to California by BUS (after spending the summer with my family) so we could detour in Tulsa and spend more time with Penny and her children. It was during one of those vacation trips that we all visited a place called Woolaroc.  Some of the most beautiful paintings I have ever seen are housed in the Indian museum there.

(I’d like to add that I have had penpals all my adult life and have had the joy of meeting many of them. My parents were always perplexed by these friendships When we stopped to spend a night in Skiatook, my baffled father kept asking afterwards “WHERE do you know these people from?”)

So, it was a great delight to find the TULSA STATE FAIR COOKBOOK, and as you might expect, it’s jam packed full of award-winning recipes. There is even a kids section – and say, some of these recipes sound like something my nephews and nieces would enjoy putting together. “How does My Sweet dirty Grimy Pizza with Gummy Worms”  grab you?

Other (perhaps more traditional) recipes include ham BBQ, Gingered Orange Biscotti, Down Home Apple Cheddar Pie..and the winning Spam contest entries. (Spam Stuffer sounds especially good!)

You can get an idea of what is gaining popularity throughout the USA  when you read a state fair cookbook; aside from that there’s no better way to add really great recipes to your collection; you know these are all award winning recipes so they have to be good!

Amazon.com, alibris.com and several other vendors have available a 2004-2006 Tulsa State Fair cookbook which is, in my opinion, greatly overpriced. I haven’t found one for the 1999 cookbook I originally reviewed for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange.

In 2007, the Oklahoma State Fair celebrated with a cookbook, “Oklahoma State ‘Fare’” which provided some prize-winning recipes from past fairs as well as recipes provided by Oklahoma celebrities and plenty of Oklahoma Centennial-related information and recollections. (Amazon.com has one Oklahoma State Fair cookbook listed at $15.00).

However, some of the Blue Ribbon state and county fair cookbooks you might want to search for might include

BLUE RIBBON USA PRIZEW8INNING RECIPES FROM STATE AND COUNTY FAIRS by Georgia Orcutt & John Margolies, published in 2007 (hardcover)

FOOD FESTIVAL, USA, 250 RED, WHITE AND BLUE RIBBON RECIPES FROM ALL 50 STATES by Becky Mercuri, foreword by notable food writer John T. Edge, Laurel Glen publishing in San Diego (softcover)

BLUE RIBBON WINNERS AMERICA’S BEST STATE FAIR RECIPES, by Catherine Hanley, -1993, (hardcover).

Also from Catherine Hanley THE ALL-NEW BLUE RIBBON COOKBOOK/A TREASURY OF HOME COOKING, 1997 (soft cover HP Books)

And there are many more cookbooks of this genre just waiting for you to find them!

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

ARIZONA STATE FAIR BLUE RIBBON RECIPES

I’ve been partial to “Fair” cookbooks for a long time—whether they are county or state fairs, but I have to admit that state fair cookbooks are usually pretty impressive affairs (no pun intended),. My personal interest was first piqued when I “discovered” the Los Angeles County Fair and the Los Angeles County’s annual cookbook.  At the time I was entering canned foods, jellies and jams at the fair and if you were a first, second, or third place winner, you were invited to contribute your recipe towards the book that is published the following year. There’s only one slight drawback to this system; if you contribute your blue ribbon recipe  for something unique, like my Hot Hawaiian Pineapple Pickles, you can be sure that someone else will enter your  recipe the year after that.

In any event, fair affairs put a halt to our entering the Los Angeles County Fair—which is held in Pomona, about an hour’s drive from where we lived in Arleta, in the San Fernando Valley. Entering canned foods means making at least four trips to the fair grounds  – once to enter your products, the second to pick up your “tasting jars” (most of these food products require  two jars; one is for display and the other is opened and tasted). The third trip was our weekend at the fair where we spent a night at the sumptuous Fairplex Hotel—and the fourth trip was to pick up our jars, ribbons and winnings when the fair was over.

I am still enamored over the Los Angeles county Fair which is going on even we speak (all this month of September, 2012) and the cookbooks, which I began searching for as soon as I learned they existed. We’d buy at least ten of the current Fair cookbook to give as Christmas gifts, and I managed to locate copies of most of the other L.A. County Fair cookbooks published over the years, including the very first one.    Then—I began discovering other fair cookbooks and I’d like to tell you about one or two of these.

One of the most recent to come to my attention is that of the ARIZONA STATE FAIR’S BLUE RIBBON RECIPES published by Golden West Publishers. This issue is Volume One, published in 1996. You may have some of the other Golden West cookbooks in your own collection; they have published a number of great regional cookbooks, including ARIZONA COOK BOOK, WHAT’S COOKIN’ IN ARIZONA, SALSA LOVERS COOKBOOK, TORTILLA LOVERS COOKBOOK and others as well. All are reasonably priced around ten dollars each.

ARIZONA STATE FAIR’S BLUE RIBBON RECIPES is a collection of “the best of the best” proclaims Gary D. Montgomery, Executive Director, “Included are actual Blue Ribbon recipes, donated by dozens of recent Arizona State Fair Blue Ribbon winners…the money you spend on this cookbook will help ens7ure that the Fair’s Entries program continues to thrive. The money you spend on this cookbook benefits Cox Charities and the State Fair, and will help provide more avenues for creative Arizona cooks to display their talents…”

One of the things I love most about state and county fair cookbooks such as ARIZONA STATE FAIR’S BLUE RIBBON RECIPES is that it provides me with recipes for unusual ingredients. This particular issue features Pineapple Jalapeno Jam, pickled figs, lemon jelly, peach pit jelly, salt brine black olives, and lots of others. Of course it helps if you have your own peach, lemon, olive and fig trees (which we did, for the 19 years Bob and I lived in Arleta). But you don’t have to own fruit trees to make Cherry Almond Delight cake, Feathery Fudge Cake, Orange Chiffon Cake, or Chocolate Roll. Nor do you need to grow your own wheat to make Zucchini Pineapple Bread,   Honey Cooking Soft Pretzels, Amish Friendship Bread, Mom’s Date Bread or Boston Brown Bread.

I have tagged some of the candy recipes to try this Christmas—Quick Penuche, Peanut Butter Bon Bons, Easy Peanut Butter Fudge—and maybe even the Prickly Pear candy, if I can just figure out where to buy prickly pear juice!

ARIZONA STATE FAIR’S BLUE RIBBON RECIPES can be found on Amazon.com starting at $1.99.

If you know of a state or county fair I should know about, write to me!

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith

 

THE TASTE OF TIME, 1842-1992 by Judy Loughrin

THE TASTE OF TIME, 1842-1992,

150 YEARS OF GOOD COKING MADE EASY FOR TODAY’S KITCHEN

The TASTE OF TIME by Judy Loughrin, was published in 1992 in Santa Ynez, California, and therein lies a tale.

Says Judy, “The seeds for many of the…recipes were started in southeastern Michigan with the opening of the Hodges House early in 1842. This inn soon became known as the finest inn west of New York City. Early Detroit trains sent out special cars so that Detroiters could partake of the wondrous meals and Sunday banquets at Hodges House.

Under the Hodges family’s dedicated care, the reputation for excellence continued to grow and bloom for more than 150 years, well into the Gay Nineties.  Today the building still stands but is no longer a stop for travelers with sophisticated palates…”

“These recipes,” Judy continues, “show a maturing, tested at the famed tables of the Hodges House and later tested at the tables of the families and guests of the ever increasing Hodges clan. The family now numbers well over one hundred people, several of whom are in their ninth decade, and many of whom maintain reputations for being excellent cooks”.

She further explains that “Many years have passed and only the most popular recipes remain. Newer ideas have been tasted and found worthy of inclusion. The methods of cooking  have been changed. Many ingredients have been altered to show different times and different methods of preparation. However, the love of good nutritious foods, carefully and simply prepared, has remained throughout these recipes”.

Needless to say, Judy Loughrin is a member of the famous Hodges clan.

You will thoroughly enjoy this spiral bound cookbook which starts with a chapter on appetizers, hors d’oeuvres, punches and cocktails (and provides tips for preparation, including the type of kitchen appliance (i.e. food processor, microwave oven) needed to make the recipe efficiently. For instance, the recipe for Sombrero Dip can be made with a food processor and served in a chafing dish. The author notes that the recipe can be served with wide or Mostaccioli noodles to serve as a supper dish, instead of a dip—these are the kind of tips we all appreciate having. There is a recipe for Judy’s fried pecans—that I am most definitely going to try when I get stocked up on pecans again. (It’s September as I type this; time to begin re-stocking my supply of pecans and walnuts for holiday baking). Judy also provides some guidelines for the amount of punch needed at a cocktail party (I have a phobia about running out of things at parties…what could be simpler than a guide to explain how much  you will need per guest!).

Under Beef Main Dishes you will find quite a few great sounding Recipes. I will definitely try “Hole in One Stew (made in a crock pot) and Easy Beef Stew, which is made in a pressure cooker (one of my favorite kitchen appliances). Look also for Sweet Tamale Pie and a “Baked Hash” – or try Barbecued Brisket that sounds divine.

There are chapters on bread and rolls, cakes and frostings, cookies, bars, and puddings, (look for Kay’s Dipsy Doodles—I think this would be a good recipe for small children to help make during the holidays, or Isabel’s Christmas cookies—a no bake recipe containing dates that would be easy for children to help with. There is a chapter on egg and chicken ideas, another titled “Old Fashioned Answers to Harvest Time” which provides a number of pickle, relish, jam and other Hodge family favorite canning recipes. Look  also for a chapter on pies, crusts and meringues, another on salads and salad dressings, seafood and specialty meats…one devoted to soups and another to vegetables and side dishes. Under a chapter titled sauces, marinades and miscellany, look for unusual recipes for Avocado Butter…foaming sauce…or how about shrimp burgers?

There’s something to please everyone in THE TASTE OF TIME. Judy Loughrin says “Try several of these recipes; if you kike one or two, you are bound to be pleased by many!”

The Taste of Time 1842-1992: 150 Years of Good Cooking Made Easy for Today’s Kitchens by Judy Loughrin is available on Amazon.com, pre-owned starting at $10.84. Alibris.com and Barnes & Noble didn’t have any copies.

–Review By Sandra Lee Smith

 

 

 

DEAR S.O.S. COOKBOOKS WRITTEN BY ROSE DOSTI

I think the oldest cookbook by Rose Dosti that I have in my personal collection of cookbooks is LIGHT STYLE , subtitled the New American Cuisine, co-authored with Deborah Kidushim and Mark Wolke, first published by Harper & Row  in 1979. An updated version of LIGHT STYLE was published in 1991.

Rose Dosti wrote MIDDLE EASTERN COOKING in 1987

She had the longest tenure at the Los Angeles Times newspaper, starting in 1964, ending in 1994. During that time, Rose compiled and edited the three S.O.S. cookbooks:

DEAR S.O.S. – THIRTY YEARS OF RECIPE REQUESTS (to the Los Angeles Times) was first printed in 1994.

DEAR S.O.S. – DESSERT RECIPE REQUESTS (to the Los Angeles Times) was published in 1996

DEAR S.O.S. – FAVORITE RESTAURANTS FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES was published in 2001.

MIDEAST & MEDITERRANEAN CUISINES was published in 1993.

I confess to being unaware of Dosti’s THE NEW CALIFORNIA CUISINE published in 1987 – I have it on order, now, from Amazon.com.

If Dosti has written any other cookbooks since 2001, I am not aware of them. I read somewhere that she had eight cookbooks under her belt, and I have now accounted for eight.

Newspaper and/or magazine food writers are in a league all their own; I wish  more food writers would return to the format still popular in small towns throughout the USA – occasionally, a penpal will send me some of these newspaper columns and I love them.

Rose Dosti, where ever you are, we miss you!

–Sandra Lee Smith