Category Archives: COOKBOOK REVIEWS

THE CRANBERRY CONNECTION BY BEATRICE ROSS BUSZEK

THE CRANBERRY CONNECTION by Beatrice Ross Buszek

While I was still mulling over the multitude of single topic cookbooks, I found a few more to share with you.

Three of these, about berries, were written by the same cookbook author, Beatrice Ross Buszek, of Nova Scotia.

The author tells of leaving her home in Nova Scotia and spending thirty years in different parts of the USA. However, in the introduction to The Apple Connection, Beatrice writes about her childhood in Nova Scotia, how everybody in the town had at least two apple trees and there were orchards as far as the eye could see.

Beatrice recalls how her father would put a barrel of Northern Spys and a barrel of Winter Gravensteins as well as a box of Russets in their basement.

Beatrice writes that in the thirty years before she returned to Nova Scotia, she was fortunate to live in apple country—Massachutsets, Washington State, Michigan, Northern California, and up-state New York (which is where I got the idea that her first cookbook was the apple connection—but I was mistaken). She says it was her experience to find such a similarity between the cooking customs, temperament, attitudes, and values of apple country people. She thinks the link was not so much the climate as the rural ambience, plus an unconscious reaching out and finding familiar traits and ways when far from home.

In the Introduction to the Cranberry Connection, the author writes, “Someone asked me where I got the idea for a cranberry cookbook. It was a simple question but with a not so simple answer. I thought on the many events of the past year and it occurred to me to put them together, to write the story of the bog adventure before getting into the berries…”

She continues, “As the tale unfolded the pages soon outnumbered the recipes. It would fill a second book to recount the many beginnings, diversions and intrigues of the cranberry caper; for example after many years away, I returned to the land of my childhood and bought a little old house overlooking a deserted cranberry bog in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. What a wonderful spot! I shall always remember the first time I stood in the yard and looked all around me…”

The author recounts that the house sits on a knoll alongside the post road just off the main highway. Her nearest neighbor was an old Baptist church and the earn morning sun rising out o f the mist and shining through its windows, blessing the little house with its golden rays.

In June [of that year] the author moved into the house and in October came the Crimson harvest. Beatrice fired up the old kitchen range and began to cook and experiment, beginning with a spiced version of cranberry sauce. The cookbooks were not much help as, like herself, most cookbook editors thought of the cranberry mainly in terms of the turkey but here and there should found creative and tested ideas using this inexpensive native fruit .

Beatrice goes on to write, “some Nova Scotia mothers still believe that a daughter who goes off to the “States” is automatically neither interested in nor skilled in kitchen happenings…” She says her mother was amused at the sudden cranberry craze but she was also astounded. She thought it was silly to bother with “those sour berries” when “everybody knows they are only good to make sauce”. Her mother became a cranberry convert.

“And”, Beatrice continues, “there are things that only obscurely relate to the origin of the cookbook”, like the day she climbed into the attic of the little house and found a bundle of old diaries. (Be still my heart! What I wouldn’t give or just to be able to READ such a find!) Beatrice read and read; the diaries upset her. She began to feel very close to the woman who wrote them. Her life was a yearly repeat of the same routine and the only diversion from her duties were Church and the cranberries. Beatrice writes that she now thinks she only had no choice about Church and cranberries either. She was glad when she read that the author of the diaries like to walk across the lane in the wet early morning July grass to find spots where the cranberry blossoms were most plentiful and pinkest and that she would pick a sprig and put it in a jar on the windowsill in the kitchen. (I had, perhaps, a sensation of kinship while reading the above—after spending the last two summers canning tomatoes and tomato juice from the produce in my son Kelly’s garden).

Beatrice writes that the cranberry quest opened many old and new doors to the past, revealing, for instance, the many links between the “Boston States” and Nova Scotia. She read of the planters from New England, prior to the coming of the Loyalists, who developed this section of the province, sowing seeds of their culture wherever they settled. Beatrice read of old Cape Cod and how the cranberry was first cultivated in Canada. Now, over a hundred years later, Beatrice found herself in the midst of another cranberry adventure. (*note: Beatrice’s cookbook, the Cranberry Connection, was first published in Canada in 1977; a second Canadian printing took place a year later, in May of 1978).

In November of the Beatrice’s first cranberry adventure, she spent a few hours in the botany laboratory at Canada’s Arcadia University where, among other varieties, the large American cranberry and the wild foxberry, were well researched. Her mind wandered, she writes (still in the introduction) as she wandered across the campus, pondering all that she had learned about the cranberry—its colorful past and even brighter future*. As she wandered, a cranberry cookbook took shape in her head and she could imagine the pages with bits of fact and folklore as could be fitted in between the pages. (*It should be noted that the beautiful sketches in Beatrice’s cookbooks were created by her daughter Christine and Jeanie, a friend from Ontario

Beatrice continues to explain, in the Introduction. “How the long winter weekends at Cranberry Cottage were spent collecting, sorting, testing and printing recipes”. (It should be noted that all the recipes in Beatrice’s cookbooks were handwritten).

Beatrice recalls “the country smell of the wood stove in the kitchen and the apple wood flames in the Franklin* filled the house and me with a feeling of warmth and excitement.” (*a kind of wood stove. I have one in my living room–sls)

Beatrice continues, “it was uncanny how accurately my mood or liking for the recipe, or time of day or night was reflected in the handwritten recipes. Later I could easily spot those recipes printed over the holiday season when I was snowbound for eight days or those printed during a long dreary rainy spell…”

Beatrice also explains how many recipes were discarded,keeping those she liked best and hoped would win over cranberry skeptics.

THE CRANBERRY CONNECTION reads very much like a kitchen diary; the recipes are all hand-printed; the drawings done by her daughter and a friend. It wouldn’t be fair for me to copy any of the recipes but I hope that readers who love cranberries will get a copy of the Cranberry Connection. There are many cranberry recipes in the cookbook—all tested by Beatrice. It is a testament to the Cranberry Connection that it went through more than one printing.

I found it on Amazon.com for various prices, new copies are available for about $18.00; pre-owned are available on different websites starting at one cent & going up. I recommend this book.

–Sandra Lee Smith

COLLECTING COOKBOOKS OR COMPILING THEM

The Friends of the California Lancaster Library book sale that I wrote about the other day was especially profitable from my point of view—I have been collecting cookbooks since 1965, little dreaming how the collection would grow, little imagining how many cookbooks are published year after year. Somewhere in my files is buried an article about how many cookbooks are published every year—but the author was writing about published cookbooks, those with a copyright and meeting requirements for publication—not included are the thousands of little church and club cookbooks wherein the good ladies of the church go around collecting favorite recipes from parishioners of the church and frequently published by a member of the church who works for a printing press. Many others are put together by the ladies of the church themselves, typed up and put together by whatever means available to them.

When the San Fernando Beachy School PTA ladies decided to put together a cookbook, I immediately volunteered my services—based on the fact that I collected cookbooks myself AND had a working knowledge of how to go about getting the cookbook published. By this time I was aware of cookbook publishers who often published their ads in women’s magazines.

Several PTA ladies collected the recipes and delivered them to me. I was too busy with four young sons, two of them toddlers, plus a home typing job, to do more than type up the recipes as they were collected and delivered to me. I held a meeting at my house and told the women how we could go about putting together a cookbook and this was how I became acquainted with Mary Jaynne (who drew the illustrations for our cookbook), and Rosalia, who both became lifelong friends.

In time all the recipes were typed, the illustrations drawn, and submitted to a cookbook publishing company. The year was 1971. Our little cookbook has stood the test of time; I refer to it occasionally when I want a particular recipe.

Years passed and I was involved with several other cookbooks being published but none to the extent of that first cookbook which we titled “Recipe Roundup”.

And years after that, I was involved with the compilation of an office cookbook that, after being referred to as the Office Cookbook for years before it was officially published, was given the title of The Office Cookbook.

In the 1990s, my sister Becky and I began compiling a family cookbook that we named after our paternal grandmother—who had managed to make each grandchild firmly believe that he or she really WAS Grandma’s Favorite. My sister Becky died from breast cancer but lived long enough to give copies of our cookbook to her children and grandchildren. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks, because so many of the family favorites, including some of grandma’s recipes, are in it.

This has been a long round-about way of wanting to tell you about some of the cookbooks I found at this week’s Lancaster Friends of the Library’s booksale which I am especially delighted about. (You can never have too many cookbooks!)

The titles of the books are as follows:

CUISINE OF THE WATER GODS by Patricia Quintan

LOWBUSH MOOSE (AND OTHER ALASKAN RECIPES) by Gordon R. Nelson

FARM FRESH SOUTHERN COOKING by Tammy Algood

AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DINNERS by Cheryl and Bill Jamison

LILIES OF THE KITCHEN by Barbara Batcheller

THE MINIMALIST ENTERTAINS by Mark Bittman – and –

HOW THE WORLD COOKS CHICKEN by H. J. Muessen

All of the books are in good-to-fine condition—in fact, Tammy Algood’s FARM FRESH SOUTHERN COOKING is brand-new, with a plastic wrap sealing it. Someone had donated this cookbook to the library without ever opening it. The cost to me was a dollar for each cookbook. (If I had waited one more day for the half price sale, I could have gotten the books for fifty cents each—but they might have been sold to someone else, if I had been patient enough to wait another day.

First on the list was CUISINE OF THE WATER GODS, subtitled “The authentic seafood and vegetable cookery of Mexico”, by Patricia Quintana with Jack Bishop. Published by Simon & Schuster, I was surprised to discover that Patricia Quintana   has also published The Taste of Mexico and Feasts of Life (plus 6 additional titles published in Mexico) and is a name unfamiliar to me and took me by surprise (not that I am any kind of an expert in any foreign cuisine—but several of my bookshelves are packed with Mexican cookbooks—you can’t live most of your adult life in Southern California and not be well acquainted with Mexican cuisine!

In the Introduction, the author explains “This book is somewhat different from the works we traditionally call ‘cookbooks’ and therefore needs some words of explanation to readers.”

She goes on to say that five years ago, she set out to write about the regional cuisines of coastal Mexico that rely o n seafood, vegetables and grains. She writes, “As I explored the coasts, rivers, and lagoons of my country, learning about the ways of Mexico’s first inhabitants, I felt an irrepressible connection with the past.

Although I make my home in Mexico City the inland capital of the country,” she continues, “I found myself drawn back to the sea for sustenance. It became the source of my spiritual and intellectual inspiration…”

When it was time to write, Patricia could not decide where to begin—how to capture her feelings and thoughts and put them into words. The scope of her project—to catalog the indigenous coastal cuisines and the changes that have occurred as a result of the introduction of new peoples and ingredients over the past five centuries—was massive.

As she tried to develop a logical organization for the book, it dawned on her that the shape of Mexico’s coastline, which swings south from the California border along the Pacific, then curves east to the Yucatan, and eventually rides back north along the Gulf coast to Texas, matches the mythical icon of Mexican culture, the snail. Water quite literally surrounds and encircles Mexico, with the Aztec capital—the sacred kingdom upon which Mexico City was built—at the center of this spiral.

Patricia continues to write that “the silhouette of the snail has inspired me to organize this book along somewhat unusual lines. The book is divided into sixteen chapters, each devoted to one coastal state…” (she adds that she has added the central region, which includes Mexico City, because of its role as disseminator of Mexican gastronomy and culture). She continues, “I also wanted to write about the customs, traditions, and culinary specialties of each coastal state, but found that a standard descriptive approach did not suffice…” Instead, Patricia created a number of characters—local individuals who relate their personal and cultural histories—at the beginning of each chapter. They speak in their own language  about their own experiences and describe how the waters of their lands have shaped their lives. “I invoke,” she explains, “among others, the spirits of a Seri grandmother from Sonora, a young Mayan from the Yucatan, a knowledgeable cook from Tamaulipas, and the learned Spanish friar Bernardo de Sahaguin (who witnessed the Conquest   firsthand) to tell their stories..l..”

This is just a portion of the Introduction—at the end, Patricia writes, “My goal is to awaken in each reader a sense of this history as well as an understanding of the unique gastronomy of each coastal region…” -and if she hasn’t whetted your appetite, she certainly has mine…not just for the recipes, but for the history of Mexico as well. (Coincidentally, just the other day I watched a program on Nova about Machu Picchu—not, of course, in Mexico, but high in the mountains of Peru—but it awakened in me a deep desire to learn more about South America).

“CUISINE OF THE WATER GODS” is a cookbook packed, literally, with recipes, history and much more.

Patricia Quintara is an internationally known Mexican culinary expert and teacher, whose students have included many of todays most prominent young chefs. Her cooking has been featured in Newsday, Bon Appetit, Connosseur, the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.

Jack Bishop is a food writer and the author of two other cookbooks . He is a senior writer for Cook’s Illustrated and has had articles published in EATING WELL, THE VILLAGE VOICE and other publications.

CUISINE OF THE WATER GODS was published by Simon & Schuster in 1994 and I am the happy recipient of a like-new copy with dust jacket with a clear plastic cover over the dust jacket. I will be reading the recipes for weeks to come. I checked with Amazon.com and found they have a hardbound copy of a new book, priced at only $12.79. (The original book price was $25.00! this is about half). I’m sure you will be as excited as I was with CUISINE OF THE WATER GODS.

Next on my list of bargain finds is LOWBUSH MOOSE (AND OTHER ALASKAN RECIPES) by Gordon R. Nelson. (I intend to send my copy to my Oregon penpal Bev, who was born in Alaska))—but in the mean time, let me share Lowbush Moose with you.

I am fascinated with Alaskan cookbooks—as evidenced by my purchasing Alaskan cookbooks when I was a new collector. Nelson provides Alaskan recipes ranging from clams, shrimp and other deep sea creatures, to moose, caribou, fresh water fish, salmon, and many other Alaskan recipes—not necessarily animal or seafood proteins. There are recipes for berries, soups, sauces, sourdough bread—and a variety of other foods not generally found in southern California where I live. What I like is Nelson’s chatty. Friendly manner of writing that precedes the recipes. His introduction is titled “How to Write a Book and Like it” which I was able to immediately relate to. Some of the recipes were his family’s favorites. His recipe for Latta Potted Shrimp is introduced with the story that after his parents passed on, a number of his mother’s recipes came to him. One recipe in particular was on very old and dry and yellowed paper; Nelson believes that the recipe, for potted shrimp, came from his great-grandmother who came from Nova Scotia and is over a hundred years old. Will I attempt to make Latta Potted Shrimp? You bet! I have a particular fascination with old-time recipes for making food-things when there wasn’t any refrigeration.

But recipes for fish and seafood isn’t all that Nelson has to offer. There are plenty of other recipes, along with Nelson’s friendly chatter—such as a recipe for making your own sourdough starter. (I had a sourdough starter back in the 70s when making sourdough bread was very popular). If I had to make an educated guess what happened to the sourdough starter, I would venture to guess that it went the way of the fruitcake I was aging and periodically dousing with brandy. When I asked my ex (then not an ex) what happened to my fruitcake, he said he didn’t know what it was, so he threw it out. I didn’t attempt to make another fruitcake until we were no longer married—and Bob, who was my companion for 26 years, never threw ANYthing out, no matter WHAT.

LOWBUSH MOOSE is available on Amazon.com—you can buy a new copy for $5.50 or a previously owned copy starting at one cent. Just remember, when buying pre owned books, there is a $3.99 shipping charge that goes to the vendor offering it for sale. **

The third book on my list of cookbooks to share is FARM FRESH SOUTHERN COOKING by Tammy Algood—no question about it, this book came to me brand-new and sealed in a plastic cover—AND I just discovered that it was published in 2012. Tammy Algood is a “food personality” on Nashville’s local ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates, as well as state wide on PBS; we can hear her food reports on Nashville radio networks, Clear Channel and NPR. Tammy also conducts cooking schools at various Tennessee wineries and has been published in numerous magazines and newspapers. (I don’t know how I missed her when I was spending weeks at a time at my sister Becky’s, from 2000 to 2004, unless Tammy wasn’t “out there” at that time.

FARM FRESH SOUTHERN COOKING is packed with tempting recipes, all presented in a friendly easy-to-follow format, whether it’s a recipe f or appetizers (from Crawfish Stuffed Mushrooms to Fresh Peach Salsa –and what did I find but a Green Tomato Salsa after Kelly removed all the vines after I told him I had enough with green tomatoes this year—mind you, I canned over 40 quart jars of tomato juice or blanched tomatoes in tomato juice. Well, I’ll be ready for green tomatoes next year! Actually was thinking I could fill a notebook or a blank cookbook with green tomato recipes)

There is a wealth of recipes using fresh ingredients in Tammy’s cookbook. Just for openers, also in the appetizer category you will find a wide range of recipes; Lazy afternoon Fresh Salsa, Spring Green Spread, Pickled Figs*, Roasted Eggplant Dip and more. (*We had 3 fig trees in Arleta and I can’t begin to tell you how much they are missed. I entered pickled figs in the L.A. County Fair for several years, winning blue ribbons for them). I am also tempted by a recipe for Roasted Bacon Pecans and Good to the Core Apple Chutney.

Under the chapter for Soups are recipes for Gulf Coast Corn and Shrimp Soup, Fall Squash and Sausage Soup, Roasted Sweet Potato Soup—and Smoked Tomato Soup that I will want to try when I get a new grill.

Tammy offs nearly twenty salad recipes—plus one for making your own Mixed Herb Croutons. Salads include Fresh Spinach and Bacon Salad, Cherry Rice Salad, Grilled Corn Salad (I have been making one for this for several years—will have to try Tammy’s recipe) – plus a variety of other salad recipes.

Under Sides you will find a wealth of recipes—count them! There are nearly fifty side recipes from which to choose—just a sampling might be Black-Eyed Peas Stew with Rice Waffles, Setting Sun-kissed Parsnips, Pocketbook Zucchini, Summer Breeze Carrot Souffle, or Pan-Roasted Poblano Corn—but you could make a different side every day for a month and still have recipes left to try.

Under Breads, I confess to being partial to muffin recipes so I would surely have to try Pack a Picnic Pepper Muffins, Sage Cornbread Muffins, Sweet Corn Muffins and surely Cornmeal Yeast Muffins—but there are recipes for making Revival Strawberry Bread and Hot Water Ham Cornbread—surely something for everybody in your household.

Entrees offers a wide variety of dishes, ranging from an Easy Crust Chicken Pot Pie, to a Traditional Southern Pot Roast. I would like to try the recipe for Roasted Chicken Pecan Salad (Pecans in recipes is very southern!) as well as Spinach Stuffed Pork Roll. I also want to try Southern Catfish Cakes.

Under DESSERTS you will find much to tempt you—from Sweet Potato Caramel Pie, to Caramelized Strawberries with Meringue but there are many other very-southern favorites….FARM FRESH SOUTHERN COOKING has so much to offer. I found it listed on Amazon.com—a prime copy is $16.74 but used copies may still be available starting at 24 cents.

The next cookbook in my recent find is AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DINNERS by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. The Jamisons are a name familiar to me. I have a number of their cookbooks, the most cherished being AMERICAN HOME COOKING which is amongst my reference books. I also have their book SMOKE & SPICE on the shelf with other barbeque books. The title alone – AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DINNERS –is bound to pique your curiosity. It did mine. I was reminded of Myra Waldo’s travels to countries all over the world, resulting in dozens of cookbooks and along come Cheryl and Bill Jamison, traveling 50,000 miles, to 10 countries resulting in 800 dishes and—notes the dust jacket—1 rogue monkey. On the inside of the dust jacket, the publishers note, “after years of writing award winning cookbooks, renowned culinary experts Cheryl and Bill Jamison were ready to take a break. So in the fall of 2005 they packed their bags, locked up their house in santa Fe and set off on a three month long visit to ten countries—all on frequent flyer miles.

Among their stops were:

Bali

Australia

Thailand

India

China

South Africa

And Brazil

And in the process wrote yet another cookbook (It should be noted that the Jamisons are the authors of more than a dozen cookbooks and travel guides—wait! Wasn’t that what Myra Waldo started out with, travel guides? And while the Jamisons do provide some recipes in AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DINNERS, I find their book is more of a travel guide itself; I’m going to be kept reading for some time. Around the World in 80 Dinners is available on Amazon.com; a hardbound copy that is new can be yours for $12.70.

That said, the next book on my list of the friends library books is LILIES OF THE KITCHEN by Barbara Batcheller. It isn’t hard to figure out how Barbara came up with the title—the lily, after all, is related to the onion. (Many years ago, I wrote a poem about this). Barbara must have spent years collecting the recipes that make up Lilies of the Kitchen, whether Vidalia Onion Tarts or Spreme of Lees and Potatoes Gratinee—there are onion recipes for every dish and palate.

Barbara Batcheller has her own cooking school and at the time this book was published, she was living in Los Angeles. Lilies of the Kitchen was published in 1986. Amazon.com has copies for $19.99, (new) or starting at one cent (pre owned) – 9.95 for a collectible copy. This is a great reference book to have at your finger tips—if you like onions!!

The next cookbook I found is Mark Bittman’s The Minimalist ENTERTAINS, based on his popular New York Times column, featuring forty seasonal menus for dinner parties, barbecues and more. If this was any larger it would be considered a coffee table cookbook—but it isn’t that big.

I found the Minimalist Entertains on Amazon.com, hardbound coy for $4.43 (new) or preowned starting at one cent. Remember that shipping & handling for pre-owned books is $3.99.

Maybe I saved one of the best for last; HOW THE WORLD COOKS CHICKEN by H.J. Muessen offers over 375 tested recipes from all over the world Muessen provides recipes from the Pacific (Polynesia, Philippines, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand)—then he provides recipes from China, Korea/Japan, Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Indocikna, Burma and Malaysia), then the Middle East—Iran, Arab Nations, Turkey, Israel, Egypt)

On to Russia, Africa, East Europe (Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, Poland) followed by the Balkans (Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania)

And that is followed by Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg) then to Spain and Portugal, the British Isles (England, Ireland, Scotland),Scandinavia, Latin America (Caribbean. Central America, and North America (United States and Canada) –I listed everything on the dust jacket because this book was published in 1980 and I’m not sure how many of these countries have changed hands or politics in thirty-something years—even so, this is one of the most comprehensive chicken cookbooks I have ever encountered. If you love poultry and enjoy cooking chicken – this book is for you.

Amazon.Com has a copy of HOW THE WORLD COOKS CHICKEN, a hard bound cover, for 55 cents.

–Sandra Lee Smith

KINGS IN THE KITCHEN BY GERTRUDE BOOTH

Published in 1961,  KINGS IN THE KITCHEN was a distinct surprise as I began turning the pages the other day—I could read a different cookbook every day for the next five years and never get caught up, thanks to my penpal in Michigan who keeps me well supplied.

In the dust jacket, Gertrude Booth explains, “the traditional rule of the pot and pan domain is woman. But when something really special is created in the kitchen—the piece de resistance, the chef d’oeuvre of a meal—it’s a man’s job and every woman knows it. Here, collected in one volume by Gertrude Booth are the favorite recipes of more than one hundred and seventy men of distinction…”

She notes that “Affluence has opened the spice boxes of the Indies and the teapot of the Orient. The invasion of conquers, notably gourmets such as Napoleon Bonaparte, left a trail of changed eating habits in every land they visited. And always it has been the man of importance who has been the inspiration or the creator of the dish delectable. Whether he is the head of a royal house or the man in a woman’s life, he is a king in his own right—in his own kitchen—who by pomp or circumstance has glorified the kingdom of the kitchen….”

(Before I continue, let me point out that this book was published in 1961, some time before Women’s lib came along. AND it should be noted that now we have the Food Network and a many female chefs as well as male—so take those comments in consideration with the decade in which Booth’s book was published).

Gertrude Booth collected recipes from men such as the President of the United States (Eisenhower), his cabinet, ambassadors, governors, military officers, heads of industry, writers, artists, television and radio stars, publishers, editors, doctors and “hosts of other famous men from America and abroad…”

Gertrude Booth has spent years selecting and testing these fascinating recipes—and while many of the recipe contributors are names I am no longer familiar with—the recipes themselves are a great collection. Note the publishers, “Not only is this volume an intriguing glimpse of the tastes of successful and distinguished men, it is also complete and comprehensive cook book which includes recipes for everything from hors d’oeuvres to beverages, soups to sauces, fish to pheasant. These are the dishes which are served at the most famous tables in the world—the drinks which are consumed at the gayest cocktail parties and the desserts which are prepared for the most important guests…”

KINGS IN THE KITCHEN is available on Amazon.com with prices started just under $4.00. I am fortunate that my copy is in like-new condition with its dust jacket intact. FYI—I checked for any copies Albris.com might have and unfortunately, they don’t have any at all.

This is a great addition to your cookbook collection.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

SINGLE TOPIC COOKBOOKS PART 2

If I had done a little more searching through my bookshelves, I would have discovered quite a few more books on subjects already mentioned in Part One—and I think I will have to do one topic entirely on tomatoes; I have been collecting tomato cookbooks for quite some time (and love to can tomatoes and make my own salsa).

I came across FOUR more lemon cookbooks on my shelves. First is a lovely little book called “LEMONS! LEMONS! LEMONS” by Sarah Schulte and LaLitte. Sarah is a full-time artist. Lalitte is a professional calligrapher who is interested in horticulture. Both women live in NYC, enjoy cooking and love lemons.

There are all kinds of recipes using lemons, ranging from Guacamole (which I wouldn’t attempt without having lemons on hand) to a recipe for lemon marmalade, that I think I would like to try.

While I didn’t find “LEMONS! LEMONS! LEMONS” on Amazon.com—I was nonplussed to see how many other kinds of books are available –not just cookbooks but mysteries and (I hate to admit it) lemon cookbooks that I don’t have. Just to be thorough, I checked on Alibris.com and DID find “LEMONS! LEMONS! LEMONS” starting at $4.00.

Another little cookbook – this time shaped like a lemon, is small enough to be overlooked. “TOTALLY LEMON COOKBOOK” by Helene Siegel and Karen Gillingham was published by Celestial Arts in Berkeley, California in 1999. This is a winner – it contains my favorite recipe for Lemon Chicken, Lemon Curd, (which I love making) and Preserved Lemons—which I made one time when I was living in Arleta and we had three lemon trees. There is a recipe for Lemonade Wafers that I think I will have to make soon.

Alibris.com has “TOTALLY LEMON COOKBOOK” for 99 cents. Amazon.com has the book pre-owned starting at $1.49. Do I want to know that the author created another book called “TOTALLY CHEESE COOKBOOK” but the price on that one starts around $20.00, so I won’t be buying that one anytime soon.

Another book on lemons is “LIVELY LEMON RECIPES, for Gourmet and Everyday Dishes”, by Joyce Crumal. This book was published by Howell-North Books in Berkeley, California in 1967. This is a hardcover book with loads of lemon recipes and an in-depth introduction to the history of lemons. I don’t really remember buying “LIVELY LEMON RECIPES” but I think it may have been one of the books I inherited when two of my girlfriends passed away and I was given a lot of their books.

I have one other lemon cookbook from the Country Garden Cookbook series that I believe I received when I was reviewing cookbooks for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange newsletter.

Amazon.com has “LEMONS, A Country Garden Cookbook, by Christopher Idone, and prices start at only one cent for a pre-owned copy. The county garden cookbook series are all the same size, with beautiful illustrations. You really can’t go wrong with any of these lemon cookbooks.

While searching for more one topic cookbooks—and fortunately, all of my fruit and vegetable cookbooks are in the same bookcase—I realized I had more apple cookbooks – and the first one is a small spiral cookbook in the shape of an apple. The title is “THE BIG FAT RED JUICY APPLE COOKBOOK” edited by Judith Bosley and published by Grand Books in Middleton, Michigan. You wont believe how many recipes are in this little book!

Amazon.com has this cookbook for about $5.00 for a new copy and starting at 21 cents for a pre-owned copy.

Favorite Recipes from America’s Orchards is a soft-cover cookbook titled APPLES, APPLES EVERYWHERE by Lee Jackson. On the back cover we read, in part, ‘Outstanding recipes from some of America’s finest orchards, cider mills, and fruit growers are shared in the collection” – the author has collected recipes from various apple places, many which are featured in their restaurants. You will want to try all of these recipes.

APPLES, APPLES EVERYWHERE is on Amazon.com and can be yours, new, for $11.00 or pre-owned starting at one cent. (remember you will pay $3.99 shipping and handling for all pre-owned books that you purchase).

Next is THE APPLE BARN COOKBOOK FROM THE APPLE BARN AND CIDER MILL from Sevierville, Tennessee. This cookbook was published in 1983 and printed by Wimmer Brothers, a famous cookbook publisher—but I noted at the back of the book, order forms. You can write to THE APPLE BARN COOKBOOK at Riverbend Farm, 230 Apple Valley Road, Sevierville, Tenn 37862.

Nevertheless, I checked with Amazon.com and found the same cookbook, a later publication date by Bill Kilpatrick, published in 1998, paperback $4.95, pre-owned starting at one cent.

APPLE CELLAR is a spiral bound cookbook compiled by Ruth Blackett with illustrations by Karen Walker Porter. This has a fairly substantial collection of apple recipes. APPLE CELLAR is featured on Amazon.com, with a price of $7.50 for a new copy—no other copies are listed and it doesn’t provide a picture of the cookbook but since my copy was published in 1981 and so was the one in Amazon, I think it’s a fairly reasonable assumption they are one and the same. There is an apple spice cake featured in the cookbook and someone wrote “good!” alongside it. Since I just finished canning applesauce and the recipe calls for a cup of it, I think I will try this one myself.

Back in the 1970s, Penny, my penpal in Oklahoma, introduced me to Farm Journal cookbooks. We strived to own all of them – they were a cook’s bible. COOKING WITH APPLES by Shirley Munson and Jo Nelson with the Food Editors of Farm Journal produced this small soft cover cookbook which features dessert recipes I haven’t seen elsewhere. At the end of the cookbook a character doll, made by hand by a pioneer mother, is featured. The head of the doll was made with an apple. That’s one I haven’t seen anywhere else.
COOKING WITH APPLES took some deep searching on Amazon.com – I finally found a copy listed at $15.99 for a new copy and $3.32 for a pre-owned one. It was only $2.95 when it was brand new—so you may want to do some more searching depending how much you want a copy.

A larger lovely cookbook titled AN APPLE HARVEST/Recipes and Orchard Lore by Frank Browning & Sharon Silva is a beautiful hardcover cookbook. My copy was published in 1999 by Ten Speed Press and it appears to have been reprinted with a different cover. AN APPLE HARVEST took a bit of searching to find it. Amazon has it for $15.29 for a new copy and pre-owned copies available starting at $3.05.
**
There are several berry cookbooks in my collection. One is shaped like a basket of berries. It was compiled by Judith Bosley and published in 1991 in Livonia, Michigan. The book is divided into four categories—take your pick of strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries or Cranberries. Recipes are mostly easy to do—like Raspberry Cordial—4 ingredients, or Raspberry Liqueur (something I love to make) –another easy to do with 4 ingredients. There is one recipe to a page and with wire spiral binding, it will lay flat on your kitchen counter. I’m in love with Judith’s Blueberry Cream Puff Pie, having made cream puffs not long ago myself.

A VERY BERRY COOKBOOK is not very big in size but it contains 117 recipes. It is available at both Amazon.com and Alibris.com and neither website shows a true depiction of the book, which puzzles me. Amazon.com offers the book for 2.26 new or starting at one cent for pre-owned. Alibris.com offers it for 99c or for $2.26 new. This appears to be part of a “grand cookbook series”—in which the Big Fat Red Juicy Apple Cookbook was featured. Also in the series (but I don’t have any of the other books) is a book about cherries, another about potatoes, another on fish food and one about cheese.

Another berry cookbook is one called BERRY-GOOD RECIPES/Strawberry Patch Cookbook. This appears to be a fund-raising project by Allegan Dollars for Scholars and is a spiral bound cookbook. Strawberries are in season in the high desert where I live, so I am looking forward to trying some different recipes. Generally, I make strawberry jam or strawberry and blueberry jam, my granddaughter’s favorite.

Finally—not to be overlooked—A Country Garden Cookbook titled BERRIES was written by Sharon Kramis with photography by Kathryn Kleinman. The introduction is one of my favorites and there is a color glossary of all the different kinds of berries, which you will surely treasure. I love the recipes but confess I am most partial to recipes for jam, which is a favorite pastime of mine. You will love all the recipes—so, so mouthwatering from beginning to end. And—BERRIES was the first title to pop up when I began a search on Amazon.com. You can own a copy of BERRIES, a Country Garden Cookbook for $1.99 new or starting at one cent for a pre-owned copy. (and while I am on the topic—there are other books in the Country Garden Cookbook series—more about those later!)
**
Amongst the cookbooks in my fruit & vegetable files are a few of which I have just one copy. One of these is the SPHINX RANCH DATE RECIPES, compiled by Rick Heetland and published by Golden West Publishers (A publishing company I am familiar with). Sphinx Ranch Date Recipes by Rick Heetland is available on Amazon.com for $8.95 for a new copy, or starting at one cent for a pre-owned copy.

2. THE PRUNE GOURMET compiled by Donna Rodnitzky, Jogail Wenzel and Ellie Densen was published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco. THE PRUNE GOURMET is available on Amazon.com for $5.35 new, or starting at one cent for a pre-owned copy.

3. Marvelous Maple Masteries Cook Book compiled by the American Maple Museum is a New York State Cookbook and is not listed on Amazon.com or Alibris.com. Marvelous Maple Masteries is listed in the introduction located on Main Street, Croghan, Lewis County, New York. This may truly be one of a kind; I couldn’t find it on Amazon, Alibris, or on Google—but I can’t wait for Christmas baking and candy making! There are several pages of maple candy recipes I want to try!

4. THE VIDALIA SWEET ONION LOVERS COOKBOOK by Bland Farms is a spiral bound cookbook which you can order at 1-800-VIDALIA. This appears to have been compiled from recipes submitted by Vidalia customers all over the USA. Vidalia onions have a very short lifespan in your supermarket, if you don’t already know this—a girlfriend from work and I ordered them by the case directly from Bland Farms for several years, sharing the expense. I’ve learned to peel and finely dice the onions and pack them in 1 or 2-cup zip lock bags to freeze. (I have a Vidalia onion chopper that is absolutely dandy in the kitchen, not just for dicing onions (fine dice or larger) but good for so many other vegetables that are easy to chop, like bell peppers. When bell peppers are in season and a good price, I stock up on those and dice them up to go in zip lock bags, as well. I dice red, green, yellow, and orange bell peppers to freeze and have on hand.

This concludes part 2 of Single Topic Cookbooks – but look for part 3, soon as I get myself in gear and start writing it. (I am busy canning right now, too and have developed “sources” here in the desert. A girlfriend’s sister brought me pears and apples, as well as Asian pears; another friend brought me two little buckets of figs; my son has been bringing tomatoes and other vegetables to me—and I may have another source for tomatoes).

A thought crossed my mind as I was preparing this article to put it on my blog–any time I tell you about a cookbook being available on Amazon.com or Alibris.com –if you want to SEE the cookbook, they are almost always illustrated on the websites. I am incapable of downloading/uploading the covers–but you can see them on Amazon or Alibris.

–Sandra Lee Smith

SINGLE TOPIC COOKBOOKS – Part ONE

There is a particular kind of cookbook I am especially fond of, and that is the single topic cookbook.

Right now I am searching repeatedly for recipes to try from a cookbook titled 500 RECIPES USING ZUCCHINI or A BOOK OF FAVORITE RECIPES; A BOOK OF ZUCCHINI RECIPES – and for a good reason! My youngest son’s garden is producing zucchini and summer squash faster than I can use them. One year when Bob and I had a glut of zucchini in our veggie garden in Arleta, I tried shredding zucchini and freezing it – I won’t do THAT again anytime soon; when I defrosted the zucchini to make some zucchini bread for Christmas that year, I discovered it was totally slimy. (But if anyone out there knows of a good way to freeze shredded zucchini….feel free to write!).

Now, what you CAN do is make zucchini bread and then freeze it, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and foil. But I began reading through my 500 RECIPES USING ZUCCHINI/AKA A BOOK OF FAVORITE RECIPES COMPILED BY THE GARDEN CLUB OF SOUTHINGTON, OHIO and one day made a mock apple pie for a girlfriend I was meeting for lunch the next day—and she is unable to eat apples, due to a medical condition – so the mock apple pie* was a perfect dessert to make for her. There are SO many recipes in 500 RECIPES USING ZUCCHINI—I think it’s impossible to run out of recipes before you run out of zucchini. A new favorite recipe is one for a Hershey’s Chocolate Zucchini cake*; it calls for some buttermilk, which I love to have on hand when I am baking and a recipe calls for buttermilk.

I have been unable to find 500 RECIPES USING ZUCCHINI in Amazon.com, Bing.com or even on Google. However, Amazon.com has a wealth of zucchini cookbooks that you can select. The Zucchini Houdini by Brenda Stanley is one such cookbook. EVERYTHING ZUCCHINI by Katherine Hupp is another. A third title is LIFE’S LITTLE ZUCCHINI by Joan Bestwick.

A BOOK OF FAVORITE RECIPES/A BOOK OF ZUCCHINI RECIPES was compiled by the Garden Club at Southington, Ohio, in 1997.

You may want to try making Mock Apple Pie or Hershey’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake. Selected recipes will be at the end of this blog post.
**
When strawberries are in season—and delicious to eat “as is” or by making an easy strawberry shortcake with whipped cream.
I like to make strawberry jam (and my granddaughter likes my strawberry-blueberry jam) but I have two strawberry cookbooks in my collection. One is the 1973 National Strawberry Festival Cookbook, while the other is a strawberry-shaped cookbook titled A STRAWBERRY COOKBOOK FROM THE STRAWBERRY PATCH by Sharon Kay Alexander, copyrighted 1980. This cookbook has a jumbo collection of strawberry recipes, collected by the author who is known locally as the Strawberry lady.

I was unable to find Sharon Kay Alexander’s strawberry cookbook but was bemused to find another strawberry shaped cookbook on Amazon.com. This one is titled Totally Strawberries Cookbook, published in 1999 by Helene Siegel and Karen Gilling.

I was unable to find an author for the 1973 National Strawberry Festival Cookbook but it appears that “favorite Manistee County area recipes [were] reprinted from the Recipes Corner the Manistee News-Advocate. Manistee County is located in Michigan.

Sharon Kay Alexander knew a good thing when she found it; in 1984 she wrote the ALL AMERICAN APPLE COOKBOOK and it is shaped like an apple. THE ALL AMERICAN APPLE COOKBOOK is jam-packed with recipes; there is even a section for making apple butter, apple chutney and cinnamon apple jelly. (the latter is one of my favorite recipes that I thought I had invented. It reminded me of something I had told a co-worker years ago—there are NO secret recipes and what goes around comes around. (I have an apple tree and just recently finished making 4 quarts—and one pint—of apple sauce. It may not sound like a lot but for one person, it’s plenty).

While I did find ALL AMERICAN APPLE COOKBOOK on Amazon.com, what I found was a 1985 sequel that isn’t apple shaped. Amazon has the 1985 edition for $7.11 (used) or $7.95 (collectible.)

I have two cherry cookbooks in my collection; one is titled CHERRY CREATIONS, THE ULTIMATE CHERRY COOKBOOK BY Dr. Myles H. Bader. CHERRY CREATIONS focuses on lowfat and non-fat recipes that use a lot of tart cherries—which I would love to be able to GET here in the high desert. We get plenty of Sweet Bing cherries—you can even go cherry picking at some of the cherry farms. CHERRY CREATIONS is listed on Amazon, new $16.20 but pre-owned starting at 1 cent—or “like new” for TWO cents. Remember that when you purchase from a private vendor, you will pay $3.99 shipping and handling—so your one cent cookbook can cost you $4.00 but still a bargain.

Another cherry cookbook is titled 600 VERY CHERRY RECIPES, compiled for Elk Rapids Rotary Partners of Elk Rapids, Michigan, by Marjory Veliquette and Julia Pollister Amos, published in 1993. 600 VERY CHERRY RECIPES is a thick spiral bound cookbooks that will keep you reading recipes for a long time. I found two listings for 600 VERY CHERRY RECIPES on Amazon.com; one for $20.00 and another for $22.00.

I love lemon cookbooks—we used to have several lemon trees down in Arleta, including a Myer lemon. THE LEMON LOVERS COOKBOOK by Peg Bailey, while not a very big cookbook, is beautifully illustrated by Laura Seeley and contains some of the recipes we all yearn for but don’t know where to find – lemon oil and lemon vinegar, lemon syrup and lemon chutney, fluffy lemon pudding cake and lemon pound cake….plus many more lemon recipes. Amazon.com has THE LEMON LOVERS COOKBOOK new for $8.99, pre-owned for one cent—listings are good and very good for your one cent.

Similarly is another little book by Brian Glover, titled COOKING WITH LEMONS & LIMES. Photographs by Richard Jung are mouth-watering. Amazon.com has COOKING WITH LEMONS & LIMES new for $5.98 or pre-owned for $1.93.

TO MAKE MOCK APPLE PIE:

1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 TBSP cornstarch
4 cups zucchini
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cream of tartar
1 unbaked pie shell

Peel & remove seeds from the zucchini. Slice like apples; cover with water and boil 2 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Mix all ingredients together except the pie crust. Gently add zucchini and mix. Pour into the unbaked pie shell and top with Dutch apple topping. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until done.

To MAKE DUTCH APPLE TOPPING:

½ CUP SUGAR
½ CUP BUTTER (1 STICK)
½ CUP CHOPPED NUTS (I used pecans)
¾ cup flour

Mix together until crumbly.

TO MAKE HERSHEY’S CHCOLATE ZUCCHINI CAKE:

3 eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup buttermilk or sour milk
2 cups coarsely shredded raw zucchini, drained well
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped nuts
½ cup raisins
Creamy chocolate chip glaze

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. In large mixer bowl, beat eggs well. Gradually pour in oil until blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to egg mixture alternately with buttermilk or sour milk. Fold drained shredded zucchini into batter. Stir in nuts and raisins. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center. Cool 10 minutes; invert on serving plate. Cool completely. Glaze with creamy chocolate chip glaze. Makes 12 servings.

*to make sour milk, use 2 tsp vinegar plus milk to equal ¾ cup.

To make Creamy Chocolate Chip Glaze:

2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
½ cup Hershey’s semi sweet chocolate chips or mini chips
1 TBSP marshmallow crème
1 to 2 tsp hot water

In small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat; immediately add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Blend in marshmallow crème. Add hot water, ½ tsp at a time until glaze is desired consistency. Makes about ½ cup glaze.

END OF PART ONE – TO BE CONTINUED
–Sandra Lee Smith

PUTTING IT UP AND PUTTING IT DOWN

While searching (unsuccessfully) through my notebooks (for about two weeks) for a particular cherry tomato recipe that was requested by a friend of my penpal Bev, who lives in Oregon—it belatedly crossed my mind that I might have written something on my blog about the weeks spent making green cherry tomato pickles—and there it was.

I know people who can fruits and vegetables on a mammoth scale so my attempts may sound puny by comparison. Then the other day I found this introduction to Chapter 11 in the Arizona Highway Heritage Cookbook. It was titled PUTTING IT UP AND PUTTING IT DOWN:

“From the beginning, women sought to preserve food at its peak for a later date. They either put it up—in baskets, pots and jars—or put it down—in the ground, in the cellar, or layered with care, mostly in crocks.

Pickling goes back to folk medicine. Cleopatra persuaded Caesar that pickles were a health food. Captain Cook took sauerkraut to sea to prevent scurvy…”

Writes the author, Louise DeWald, “Coming from Pennsylvania seven-sweet and seven-sour territory, I grew up with canning and pickling and jamming. Some of our family recipes went back before Civil War days. What a delight to discover some of those in the old handwritten receipt books of many families who came West.

Prickly Pear Preserves and Pyracantha* Berry Jelly were not among those. Arizona’s sweets and sours are distinctively its own, adding a tiny hot yellow pepper here and a cactus pad there.

Preservation and cooling prior to the ice box was ingenious. Dorothy Hubbell, daughter in law of Indian Trader Lorenzo Hubbell, described “the non-powered cooler made for storage of milk, butter, and other supplies. It was a cabinet of three large rimmed tin shelves covered with strips of heavy material which were wet down, then kept damp. Meat was in a cool dry place, usually well salted…”

ARIZONA HIGHWAYS HERITAGE COOKBOOK, with text written by Louise DeWald, color photography by Richard Embry and Photographic Food Stylist Pam Rhodes is a beautiful hard-cover cookbook with hidden spiral binding, published in 1988 by the Arizona Department of Transportation. The text and inviting photographs reached out to me; I haven’t yet attempted Prickly Pear Jelly, but I have made Watermelon Pickles and Pickled First Crop Figs. When Bob and I lived in Arleta, we had 3 fig trees; you couldn’t keep up with the crop of figs although birds did their part to eat the figs on the top branches.

What I love most about ARIZONA HIGHWAYS HERITAGE COOKBOOK is the wealth of historic recipes accompanied by the history of Arizona. (Ever since I bought three books of fiction by Nancy E. Turner, with history of Arizona woven into the storyline, I have wanted to know more about Arizona.

And to be honest, I had to look up Pyracantha which is a thorny evergreen shrub. Pyracantha, or firethorn as it is also known, is a pretty shrub with attractive flowers and magnificent red, yellow or orange berries in autumn. More Google research revealed that:

“Pyracantha berries are not poisonous as many people think although they taste very bitter. They are edible when cooked and can be made into jelly. Pyracantha jelly is quite tasty, and is similar to apple jelly in both appearance and flavor with a little tang. As Pyracantha are quite common and do produce masses of berries it is quite easy to gather enough berries to make yourself a few jars of jelly, be sure to wear gloves to protect hands from thorns.

We recommend using red Pyracantha berries, off varieties such as ‘Red Column‘, pick berries when they are bright red (in late autumn) if the birds haven’t got there before you.

Pyracantha Jelly/Jam Recipe

There are a few recipes for making Pyracantha jelly but we have tried a few, and this one seems to be the best and works well.

What you need:

3½ lb Pyracantha berries
2½ pts water
4 fl oz lemon juice (Pro Rata)
3½ lb sugar (Pro rata)
Liquid pectin
Pyracantha ‘Red Edge’

First pick your berries and measure out 3½ lb of Pyracantha berries and then wash them in water. Get a large pan and fill with water and bring to the boil. Now add the Pyracantha berries and bring to the boil and allow to simmer for around 20 minutes.

Now remove the pulp and strain (cooked berries) through a muslin cloth.

Next, remove the berry juice and measure how much you have. Add the juice back into the pan and for every 1½ pints of juice you have, add 4oz of lemon juice and 3½ lb sugar. Now bring back to the boil again and when boiling add one full bottle of liquid pectin and keep stirring, keep boiling for around one minute and keep stirring. A thin layer of foam will start to form on top of the contents in the pan.

Any excess berry juice can be frozen and used to make jelly later if preferred.”

I was so excited learning about pyracantha berries and want to ask my son Kelly to go with me to the nursery nearby to see if the pyracantha shrub grows here in the Antelope Valley, considering that our climate is similar to the desert regions of Arizona. I remember learning about fruits and berries unfamiliar to me when we lived in Florida. My next-door-neighbor’s best friend had a Mango tree and brought me huge amounts of mangoes. If not quite ripe, they could be put on a low window sill in our Florida room. I learned a lot about Mangoes but I think mango jam and mango chutney were two of my favorite recipes. Sorry, I digressed!!

Canning fruits and vegetables has been a hobby of mine for well over 20 years. We had a lot of fruit trees and a Concord grape arbor in Arleta; my family is helping me plant fruit trees here in Quartz Hill—we’ve planted apple, apricot, cherry, pomegranate, and pear trees so far and they have begun to produce fruit My son and daughter in law have promised me a pecan tree for the back yard. I’d like to try planting Concord grape vines too; the grape vines I have right now are all sweet grapes. A friend has been bringing Asian pears to me to make jam or relish and another girlfriend I met at bowling has been giving me figs from her back yard—I’d like to plant a fig tree or two here as well.

All of which, I hope, will provide more jams and jellies, chutneys and juices to put up or put down. No, we don’t have cellars here in the high desert—but I HAVE made batches of sauerkraut when heads of cabbage is inexpensive in March and as long as it stays cool in the garage, the kraut will ferment for 6 weeks so that I can put it up in quart jars. My son has had bumper crops of different kinds of squash—we couldn’t give enough of it away last year but I noticed that, as long as the weather remains fairly cool, the squash will keep in the garage or a pantry.

And if you are interested in putting up (canning) green cherry tomatoes, here is that recipe:

What You Need:

(For 12 quarts of green cherry tomato pickles)
14 pounds of green cherry tomatoes
12 cups of white vinegar
12 cups of water
12 tbsp. of kosher salt
dill seeds
whole black peppercorns

red pepper flakes or whole small chili peppers—dried or fresh

Jars — either quart-sized jars or 6 pint-sized jars, as well as lids and rings, a hot water canner (if you’re planning on storing your pickles long term)
Jar lifter

Prepping Your Tomatoes

(Note: If you’re planning to process your pickles in a hot water canner, you should fill the canner with water, add your jars, and turn the water on to sterilize and warm your jars. Just leave the jars in the water until you’re ready to use them. Place the lids and rings in another pan with simmering – not boiling- water until you’re ready to use them.)

Gather and wash 14 pounds of green tomatoes. I used green cherry tomatoes because they seemed to stay firmer after processing, but any green tomato will work. You can cut your tomatoes in half if they’re larger or cut them into quarters. (I left mine whole and used different sizes – large and small. The very small ones filled empty spaces in the jars.)

Now, make your brine. Add the vinegar, water, and salt to a pan, and bring it to a boil. Once it’s boiling, it’s time to start filling your sterilized jars.

Remove the jars from the boiling water canner with your jar tongs. Set them on a towel on your counter (so they don’t crack when they come into contact with the cool surface) and add the following to each jar:

• 1 tsp. dill seeds
• 1 tsp. black peppercorns
• 1/4 tsp (or more if you want them spicier) of red pepper flakes–or small whole red chili peppers (fresh or dried)

Once your spices are in, start packing your tomatoes into the jars. Really pack them in. Once they’re packed, add brine to fill the spaces between tomatoes. Use a chopstick or knife to go around the inside of the jar and remove any air bubbles, then fill with more brine if you need to. Leave 1/4 inch of headspace, then wipe the rims of your jars to clean up any brine, add your lids and tighten your rings.

Put your jars in your hot water canner, and cover with a lid. Once the water comes up to a boil, start your timer — you’ll be processing your pickles for fifteen minutes.
Once time is up, remove your jars and place them on a towel on a kitchen counter. They’ll have to sit there for several hours to cool. When they are cool, you can label the pickles and put them in a dark place to “age” – 6 weeks should be about right. This is the length of time I age my hot Hawaiian pineapple pickles.

Making Refrigerator Pickled Green Tomatoes–You can also forget about the boiling water processing if you just want to make a few jars of pickles to be eaten within the next month or so. Prep your tomatoes, add your spices, tomatoes, and boiling brine to the jars, and place in the refrigerator. They’ll be ready to eat in about a week.
What to Do with Pickled Green cherry tomatoes? You can snack on them or slice or dice the pickles to go on top of hamburgers or hot dogs. They can be diced and added to tuna or chicken salad for sandwiches—or cut up to go into salads. The sky’s the limit.

ARIZONA HIGHWAYS HERITAGE COOKBOOK is available on Amazon.com new, at $4.99 and pre-owned starting at one cent. Remember that postage and handling on pre-owned books is $3.99 at Amazon.com. My copy was pre-owned and is in very good condition.

—Sandra Lee Smith

MORE COOKBOOKS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT

It never fails to amaze me how many cookbooks are “out there” that I didn’t know anything about. Not only that, but some of my cooking magazines publish articles such as “Top 100 COOKBOOKS OF THE LAST 25 YEARS” and “TOP 100 COOKBOOKS OF THE LAST 25 YEARS”—or another one “OLDIES BUT GOODIES” and when I go to put these lists in some kind of date order, I constantly come up short.

I think the article OLDIES BUT GOODIES came from ALLRECIPES—their list, thankfully, is short and the authors suggest these would make good bridal shower or graduation gifts but point out that, if you buy a current JOY OF COOKING cookbook for a bridal shower, it won’t be the same as the original JOY (which I have written about on my blog—that being said, a few years ago, Joy was published in a facsimile edition. You can have a new copy of an old favorite.

The selection of OLDIES BUT GOODIES published by Cooking Light are:

THE SILVER PALATE by Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins, Workman publishers, $23.

THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD NOTES, LESSONS AND RECIPES FROM A DELICIOUS REVOLUTION, by Alice Waters, Clarkson Potter, $35

ALL ABOUT BRAISING: THE ART OF UNCOMPLICATED COOKING, by Molly Stevens, W.W. Norton publisher, $35

THE SPLENDID TABLE’S HOW TO EAT SUPPER: RECIPES STORIES, AND OPINIONS FROM PUBLIC RADIO’S AWARD WINNING FOOD SHOW, by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter Publishers, $35, and

BAKING FROM MY HOME TO YOURS by Dorie Greenspan, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, publishers, $40.

Well, this list makes me feel like a poor country cousin. Of the five, I am only familiar with THE SILVER PALATE—and I was under the impression that the authors had a falling out—but when I Googled the title, I discovered that Sheila Lukins passed away in 2009, so that may explain my misconception. While on Google, I discovered that THE SILVER PALATE Cookbook celebrated its 25th anniversary, so it’s been around a while. I am fairly certain that I have a copy of THE SILVER PALATE but I have no idea which edition I have—or where to find it.

MY BAD! The bulk of my cookbooks are in categories; if I don’t know which category to put it with, I am pretty much at a loss.

I do have a separate collection of favorite cookbook authors—but if its not one of my favorite cookbook authors it could be anywhere.

I know about The Splendid Table, having listened to the Public Radio’s program but I confess, I’m not an avid listener. That’s all I can say about the list in Allrecipe’s OLDIES BUT GOODIES—but the article tells us that these have stood the test of time and that “while the recipes may not always take the fastest route from raw to cooked, they certainly take the reader from novice to confident home cook in a matter of weeks”

and FYI – many roads lead to Rome; if you don’t want to spend $35 or $40 for one of these cookbooks, unless it’s a wedding or bridal shower present – you know I am an avid Amazon.com follower. They list over 300 copies, from one cent for pre-owned paperback to 44 cents for hardcover They are certain to have a copy that appeals to you and meets your spending requirements.
***
If you start to investigate the magazine COOKING LIGHT’s list of the TOP 100 COOKBOOKS—it’s easy to get lost in lists. They write:
“As we contemplate turning 25, we decided to pick our favorite 100 cookbooks, which we’ll unveil over the next year across 15 categories. We looked at best-seller and awards lists, and talked to editors, authors, and experts. For consideration, books had to be published in the United States since 1987 and either be in print or easily available online. Winners emerged after passionate debate about voice, originality, beauty, importance, and a clear mission or vision. Yes, we tested the recipes. Finally, we asked: To whom would you give this book? (Probably another Cooking Light reader: Our research shows you are omnivorous cookbook consumers.)

There is Cooking Light’s TOP 100 COOKBOOKS OF THE LAST 25 YEARS –
PART unknown
PART 2 unknown
PART 3 HEALTHY COOKBOOKS
PART 4 ASIAN COOKBOKS
PART 5 FRENCH COOKBOOKS

The COOKING LIGHT lists overwhelmed me, I confess. The publishers came up with 15 categories which had to meet the Cooking Light stringent requirements. MY BAD again—I don’t think I was a Cooking Light subscriber throughout all of their categories.

It has taken me almost 800 words to make a point. And not only am I unfamiliar with virtually all of the cookbooks featured in COOKING LIGHT, I don’t plan to get on Amazon.com and start buying them. For, as many of you know, the bulk of my cookbooks are club-and-church titles for that was my specialty in 1965 when I began collecting cookbooks. Back in the day, those were harder to find than they are now—and once the Junior League cookbooks became popular, they became more readily available.

Here, then, are my next five titles for you to think about—and #1 is a Junior League cookbook. Its title is MOUNTAIN MEASURES by the Junior League of Charleston, West Virginia. MOUNTAIN MEASURES was first printed in 1974. By its tenth printing in 1994, over 150,000 copies of MOUNTAIN MEASURES had been printed. Its theme was pioneer women, her recipes, arts and crafts.

I was initially drawn to MOUNTAIN MEASURES because my mother-in-law had been born and raised in Bluefield, West Virginia. I assume her husband, who died of lung cancer in 1957, had also been born there. Her husband, whose name was Paul Sanford or Sanford Paul Smith, went to Cincinnati to make a better living. My mother in law, whose name was Bertha, liked to tell the story of her traveling to Cincinnati by train, and she was so weak when they got there, that she had to be carried, in a quilt, off the train. Aside from poor health, she gave birth to three children – two sons and one daughter. Her youngest son, James, was my husband for 26 years. In his mother’s eyes, he could do no wrong. And despite her poor health, she lived to be ninety-something years old.

I was often tried, beyond tolerance, to put up with the family’s (particularly his mother’s) belief that Jim was too frail to be a proper husband much less hold down a full time job—as I write this, he is going on 78 years old and still going strong. He remarried about ten years ago.

Despite our being at cross purposes most of the time, I learned how to make biscuits and gravy from my mother in law, the proper way to make cornbread and beans (always pinto beans) and other “down home” favorites.

From MOUNTAIN MEASURES I found a lot of later day recipes, such as Crystallized Ginger Cream Cheese Dip, Parmesan-on-Rye Canapes, one of my favorite recipes – Pickled Shrimp which is so easy to make up in advance, and several recipes for corn bread – Double Corn Corn Bread and Grandmother Kiser’s Corn Bread. There are also recipes for Corn Pone, Hush Puppies and Johnny Cake, Dr. Maggie’s Old Fashioned Spoon Bread and Cornbread Dressing. There is an 1890 recipe for smoked turkey and a recipe for Leather Britches (string beans that had been dried) and many more recipes sure to become your family favorites.

So MOUNTAIN MEASURES is one of my favorites and ranks #1 on this list. Pre-owned copies are available for just under $3.00 each on Amazon.com. Not sure if this is one you need to own, you might check Amazon.com for a copy published by Quail Ridge Press. One of the features of Quail Ridge Press is that they provide an index of the cookbooks featured in each of their cookbooks, along with a photograph of each of the featured cookbooks, most with ordering information. **
The next one I like and is #2 has the unusual title of A TWISTER IN THE KITCHEN, by Chris Snyder. The author says “the name of this cookbook is a little odd so I figured it deserved an explanation. I love to cook. Even more than that, I love to cook for other people. Elizabeth used to tell her boyfriends, “My mom has a need to feed”” Strangely enough, having the need to feed others is actually a symptom of an eating disorder. Go figure…” (and everyone who knows me well knows I have a need to feed, too.

I think it’s related to a need to keep a pantry (and refrigerator and freezer) packed. My daughter in law, Keara, and I had a discussion about this—which she shares with me. It has to do with growing up in a home where there was never enough to eat. We had meals—but there was seldom enough for seconds or leftovers. In my mother’s kitchen, when I was growing up, you also had to ask the others if they wanted a bit of leftover peas or corn or whatever. If someone else wanted some, it had to be shared. My best example of what fed seven people (five children and two adults – this was before Susie & Scott were born) – my mother would feed everyone with one can of salmon that was 14 or 15 ounces, out of which she made salmon patties that may have been mostly crushed crackers than fish. Meatloaf was the same – a pound of meat had about a loaf of bread incorporated into the mix. We didn’t know what real meat tasted like until we became adults and moved out of the house.
But getting back to A TWISTER IN THE KITCHEN, Chris uses one of my favorite phrases—she continues, “Anyway, I digress. When I begin to cook, “ she writes, “I make sure the kitchen is very clean, neat and tidy before I begin and my goal is to finish one task, clean up and then begin another. However, its kind of like binge drinking. Once I get started, it’s like a whirlwind, or…a twister has been released in the kitchen. It begins with a slow building storm and soon I’m in such a flurry that I can barely have anyone in the same room with me as I dash from one location to the next, spoons dripping ingredients flying and pots boiling over. It’s almost like a trance I slip into. I am completely unaware of my surroundings. I’m just creating a path of destruction wherever I turn…” (this is where Chris lost me—because when I cook, I am cleaning up after myself as I go along.)
She goes on to say the food does turn out great, but when she puts the food into the refrigerator and turns to examine the kitchen, it’s an enormous mess.

This is not how I cook and when I put a meal for the family on the table, all there is to clean up are the plates and serving bowls, pots and pans. I prefer to clean up the kitchen by myself because I am very picky about the process – silverware and glasses first, then plates, then pots and pans. I don’t have a dishwasher and it’s unlikely I will ever own one; my kitchen counter is the same counter put in with the house when it was built in 1955. I need a couple more inches to put in a dishwasher(per my son who works on appliances and knows these things).

For that matter, I don’t think my 1955 kitchen plumbing would tolerate a dishwasher. (When I had a repairman here to fix the sink, he observed that it was all “the original” from 1955. Not a good sign.

But getting back to A TWISTER IN THE KITCHEN, granted that Chris and I have nothing in common when it comes to keeping our kitchens clean; that being said, I think we are kindred spirits when it comes to recipes. I was pleased to find a recipe for pomegranate martini—a very simple recipe, at that, and Hot Dip For an Army can be made in your largest crockpot. The author notes that leftovers—if you have any—can be frozen and reheated later. I like the sound of BLT Dip too. Corny Bean Salsa sounds like a winner too. Her recipe for Honey Roasted Pretzels sounds like something I will make up—it calls for 9 cups of mini pretzels and I have 3 bags of them on hand from a previous addiction to Hidden Valley Ranch pretzels, a recipe from my friend Sylvia. These and many other mostly easy to fix recipes will keep you busy—either reading or cooking. I was unable to find A TWISTER IN THE KITCHEN on either Amazon.com or Alibris.com—so if you happen to find a copy at a book sale or where ever, snap it up. ***

I have referred to the BEST OF THE BEST cookbook series from time to time –The concept was an unusual one and highly successful. Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley set out to write a cookbook about all fifty states—for instance, I am looking at BEST OF THE BEST FROM OHIO and it is #3 on my favorite five list.

The two women traveled to all fifty of the states (one at a time, presumably) and once they were in a State – such as Ohio – they set out to collect as many church and club cookbooks from that state as they could find—and then would choose what they considered the finest from a collection of those cookbooks. The recipes would be collated into a cookbook, along with an index and a catalog of contributing cookbooks—and, when possible, ordering information for those cookbooks. When the Best of the Best first began publishing their cookbooks, my friend Mandy and I were not satisfied just to buy the Best of the Best cookbook—we began ordering many of the church and club cookbooks that became a part of the BOTB cookbook. The problem with collecting cookbooks is that the collector is never satisfied with just the cookbooks – we are addicted to cookbook lists or cookbook catalogs (I can spend hours reading cookbook catalogs such as the ones Edward R. Hamilton publishes.

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and consequently, have searched for Ohio/Cincinnati cookbooks whenever I am visiting family and friends—one year when I took the children to Cincinnati to spend the summer at my parents’ home, I bought so many cookbooks that we packed them into boxes. We took the Greyhound Bus back to California because there was no restriction on the weight of your baggage. A redcap assisting my husband at the train station in downtown Los Angeles inquired “what you got in here, lady? Fort Knox?” to which I replied “No, just cookbooks….lots of cookbooks.” Fortunately, at the time we had a station wagon and all the boxes fit into the back of the car. Those summer trips to Cincinnati with my sons—and trips downtown to find used book stores with my kid brother who was a teenager at the time—are some of my favorite memories. For, when it comes to collecting books – whether they are cookbooks or biographies, fiction novels or history—part of the joy is in the search and finding something special.

You can find BEST OF THE BEST FROM OHIO on Amazon.com new for $7.33 or pre-owned starting at 09 cents (bearing in mind, shipping will cost you $3.99 for a pre-owned book). Still, a little over $4.00 for a cookbook like this one is a good deal. I think I have all of the BEST OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS. I know that Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley have gone on to compile second editions of some of their cookbooks—for instance, there are two of Texas and two of Oklahoma. There may be others by now that I am not aware of. The BEST OF THE BEST series are amongst my favorite cookbooks. **

That being said, BEST OF THE BEST FROM OREGON is also a favorite and is #4 on this favorite five list.

I acquired an Oregon penpal back in 1974; we are still going strong forty years later. They have visited me (Bev and her husband LeRoy) more often than I have visited them. In 1978 we had a camper and my husband and children—and I—visited their farm in Oregon for the first time.

I didn’t make it back to Oregon until 2007, when we spent one day visiting lighthouses, and again in 2012. I had planned to visit them this year, 2014, and even had my plane tickets purchased—when an unexpected illness knocked me for a loop. I was in the hospital for 2 weeks and recuperating for the next three months.

Blackberries grow in wild abundance in Oregon. My friends have blackberries growing wild across the back of their property. Bev would bring me bags of frozen puree of blackberries or whole frozen blackberries. Blackberries have become my favorite fruit, whether for making jam or putting into recipes.

BEST OF THE BEST FROM OREGON offers recipes for blackberry apple pie, blackberry butter, blackberry dumplings, blackberry roll and blackberry apple crunch—but if you aren’t as crazy about blackberries as I am, you may want to try a recipe for rosemary-blue cheese potatoes, zucchini patties or zucchini fritters, asparagus chicken or cranberry chicken.

If you travel to Oregon (and not just drive through it on I-5, you will find, as noted in the Preface, “Home in the mountains, home in the plains..…stretching majestically across the state’s north/south expanse, the Cascade Mountains, create two separate regions, offering a dramatic topographical diversity to the state’s landscape…”

When I was there in 2007, we drove over the Cascades –and found it snowing; we drove out of the snow to nice sunny weather on the other side. The authors of BEST OF THE BEST FROM OREGON also note that east of the Cascades are highly productive farmlands overflowing with potatoes, carrots, etc. My friend Bev makes good use of all the fruit and vegetables they produce; she cans everything that isn’t nailed down.

During my 2012 visit she was making homemade V8 juice upon my arrival —so we went out and bought me a case of quart jars so we could make a batch of V8 juice for ME—and they brought it with them when they visited me in January. But tomatoes aren’t the only thing she cans—and that weekend, her family came to celebrate our joint birthdays and make apple cider. (I made a batch of Cincinnati Chili to feed her family on that occasion).

There’s something for everyone in BEST OF THE BEST FROM OREGON. It’s an excellent go-to cookbook for something new and tasty for you to try.

My fifth (and #5 on this list of favorite cookbooks) is a Gooseberry Patch cookbook. If you aren’t familiar with the series of Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, you are really missing out. I think I counted over 60 titles yesterday; a lot of them are Christmas topics but there are many other titles as well.

I am referring today to their cookbook DINNERS ON A DIME—it’s one of my favorites because of all the thrifty inspired recipes. I submitted a recipe to Dinners on a Dime and it was accepted for publication. If you submit a recipe and they accept it – you receive a free copy when the books are published.

The recipe I submitted was my Aunt Annie’s Chicken Paprika. I even found one for Roosevelt Dinner that was the contributor’s mother in law’s famous recipe. She had found Roosevelt Dinner in a newspaper many years ago. What caught my attention is that this contributor lives in Ravenna, Ohio, where my brother Bill also lives.

But DINNERS ON A DIME offers a great deal more than just my aunt’s chicken paprika and/or someone named Amy’s Roosevelt Dinner. The first chapter is devoted to Shoestring Suppers but there are Hearty & Thrifty Soups, Cent-sational Sides. Slow-Cooker Savings, Penny-Pinch Pantry Staples and a lot more. I think DINNERS ON A DIME is about the 6th Gooseberry Patch cookbook that I received free—you can submit some of your favorite recipes to http://www.gooseberrypatch.com – then wait and see if you get a letter congratulating you for your entry being chosen.

Gooseberry Patch is also on Facebook, if you are interested. I love the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks so much that I often give them for Christmas or birthday presents. I misspoke on my count of the spiral bound Gooseberry Patch cookbooks – I also have about a dozen oversized books, mostly dedicated to the holidays. You can order their books directly from their website – for example, DINNERS ON A DIME is listed on Amazon.com for $11.53, new, or $4.26 also new, or starting at 73 cents from a private vendor—but prepare yourself, when you see all the other titles published by Gooseberry Patch.

That concludes five of MY favorite cookbook titles you may not know about!

–Sandy