“RECIPES WORTH SHARING” from Favorite Recipes Press catches your attention right from the start, with a cover photograph of an old recipe box—for someone like me, who collects both cookbooks and recipe boxes – this is a twofer. And, the sub-title of the book is “Recipes and Stories from America’s Most Loved Community Cookbooks”. For those of you who love church and club, or community, cookbooks, “RECIPES WORTH SHARING” is a must-have for your collection. We know it isn’t practical to think we can own every community cookbook ever published, so this may be the next best thing—you will have some of the finest recipes to be found in over eighty regional cookbooks!
Sheila Thomas, Executive Editor at Favorite Recipes Press (or FRP for short), in developing this book put out a call for recipes and stories from organizations that have published community cookbooks. “Nothing could have prepared me for the flood of responses I received,” she writes in the Acknowledgments Page of “RECIPES WORTH SHARING”. “Many of the groups called special meetings to choose their most prized and trusted recipes, discussing the details with past and present committee members to be sure they were submitting only the best of the best…” The result is impressive –a cookbook filled with recipes from more than 80 regional cookbooks, representing 63 organizations and 61 communities throughout 26 states!
Sheila also explains how the idea for the cover with the recipe box was conceived, that she, like yours truly, loves recipe cards—the handwritten ones that were used to share recipes before computers came along (Actually, Sheila – since I collect recipe boxes as well as cookbooks, I know that a lot of people still DO exchange recipe cards. I regularly exchange recipe cards with some of my penpals). In any case, the design for “RECIPES WORTH SHARING: was conceived with this in mind, and Sheila told me that the box on the cover of this and one other FRP cookbook were her grandmother’s and mother in law’s recipe boxes.
In the introduction, we learn (if you didn’t already know this) that “Community Cookbooks are some of the most loved and treasured cookbooks. Containing recipes that are tested (sometimes three or four times) and tasted in homes by ordinary cooks and ordinary families, they are the most treasured. And since each cookbook comes from within a community, the reader can glimpse what it would be like to live there. The community cookbook often goes underappreciated, when readers (or even members) don’t realize the number of ways the cookbooks have contributed to their communities…”
As an avid collector of community cookbooks, this is something I can vouch for personally. And in addition to collecting community cookbooks, my sister, Becky, and I participated, for over four decades, in the creation of a number of community cookbooks ourselves—for our local PTAs, for local groups she belonged to in Cincinnati and I in Southern California—and lastly, for our own family cookbook that was finally published in 2004. These are generally the cookbooks we turn to first for favorite family or friends’ recipes. Whenever I am in Cincinnati, I make a trip to a favorite used bookstore that is downtown, to look for more local community cookbooks to add to my collection (I have expanded to all of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana as well. The first time I shipped a box of these cookbooks home, the entire box was lost in the mail. When I told my story to the bookstore owner, the next time I was visiting, he told me they would ship my books—and they did, for a very nominal book rate charge. I can’t begin to tell you how distraught I was over losing that box of cookbooks.)
“RECIPES WORTH SHARING” offers over 500 recipes on more than 300 pages, in a delightful format that pays homage to collecting recipes sometimes on whatever paper was available—also provides short stories and background about the various Junior Leagues that have created their own cookbooks and contributed their finest to this endeavor. There is a list of all the contributing cookbooks, nearly all of them Junior League. I have always maintained that Junior League cookbooks were a cut above most other community cookbooks—and I don’t mean to offend anyone by saying that; they just are. Many of the titles are cookbooks in my own collection, so I can promise you, they’re good. And over the years, I have often purchased a Junior League cookbook sight unseen – but with the knowledge that it was going to be a really good cookbook, well worth the price. There is also an extensive index of all the contributing recipes for “RECIPES WORTH SHARING” at the back of the book (something not all community cookbooks offer).
As for the recipes – this is such a vast collection of the very finest recipes over sixty organizations had to offer that one hardly knows where to start –you may want to start at the beginning of the book and work your way through, trying everything.
I’m especially impressed with the chapter for appetizers and beverages (for some years now, I have converted my larger parties to ‘all appetizer’ dishes—and when someone asks what they can bring, I can easily tell them “bring your favorite hors d’oeuvre or chip dip” – consequently, I have collected a lot of appetizer recipes along the way—but recipes for Sausage Blossoms, Herbed Cheese Spread, Bacon Cheese Bites, Spicy Chicken on Pita Wedges (makes a lot-64 wedges!), and Brie and Apricot Phyllo Bites are among the many appetizer recipes in “RECIPES WORTH SHARING” that I don’t recall seeing anywhere else. You may also want to try Chicken Nut Pate which contains both pecans and walnuts – and makes a whole quart of pate- or the Blue Cheese Logs (makes 50 servings). I think I will have to serve a recipe called “Savannah Sin” at my next party; as you know, I have a granddaughter named Savannah. There are a variety of dip recipes—ranging from Savory Artichoke and Spinach Dip (a kind of dip that has become very popular in restaurants), as well as an unusual corn dip, Vidalia onion dip, and Jackson County Caviar—no, no fish eggs went into the making of this caviar, which is made with chopped black olives and chopped green chiles—all the ingredients in this recipe are items always on my pantry shelves; it will be easy to make. I found a recipe for Bunco Jumble that is sure to please your next party crowd, and a grape salsa that sounds wonderful to serve either as an appetizer or a side dish (I’m thinking with grilled barbeque chicken breasts).
(With regard to Vidalia onions, I want to comment that here on the West Coast, the availability of Vidalia onions is brief, at best. My girlfriend Mandy and I used to buy them by the box from a company in Georgia, and then divided them up between ourselves. So, now when they are in my supermarket, I buy a lot of them and spend an afternoon chopping them up with my Vidalia onion chopper, and then freezing them in 1 cup portions in freezer bags. And what do you know! The recipe for Vidalia Onion Dip, in “RECIPES WORTH SHARING” calls for one cup of chopped onion!)
I don’t intend to slight the section on beverages – but have a lot more to share with you – so let me just run a few of these by you – to think about and wish you had the recipes:
Kentucky’s Hard Lemonade
Frozen Lemon Drop Martini
Louisiana Mint Mojitos
And now – Breads and Brunch have been combined with tantalizing recipes such as Rainbow Cheese Toasts, So Good It’s Sinful Bread, Applesauce Nut Bread, a Banana Bread I can’t wait to try, Chocolate Cherry Banana Bread—and a Cream Cheese Biscuit that I can’t wait to try as well. There are also recipes for muffins, scones, and popovers, followed by coffee cakes and a variety of French toast, pancake and waffle recipes. We love brunch casserole recipes—Ham and Asparagus Breakfast Casserole and the Ham and Eggs Brunch Bake are sure to be presented to the family the next time we have a brunch—these are just a few of the recipes offered in this chapter of “RECIPES WORTH SHARING”.
Soups, Salads and Sandwiches share a chapter—regular visitors to my blog know I just love making soups and so am constantly on the lookout for new and different recipes. I think I want to try ALL of the soup recipes in “RECIPES WORTH SHARING” (although I don’t know where you can find real turtle meat on the West Coast – I may have to stick to our mock turtle soup recipes) – but three that are shouting “try me first” are Chili Queen’s Chili, Meatball Tortellini Soup, and Santa Fe Soup (which bears a slight resemblance to my Mexican Tortilla Soup) – but has more and different ingredients. West African Sweet Potato Soup also sounds intriguing as does Potato and Green Chile Chowder…ah, so many soups, so little time!
Now fast forward a few pages and turn to Entrees – consider some of these:
Grandmother’s Texas Barbecued Brisket or
Sunday Favorite Brisket
A Slow Cooker Pot Roast that will be an entire meal in one pot with potatoes and carrots included,
Beef Tenderloin with Mango Salsa
Your choice of an Asian-grilled Flank Steak or
Marinated Flank Steak made with crumbled Roquefort cheese and dry vermouth (oh, yum!)
A most unusual sounding Grilled Tenderloin with Blue Berry Barbecue Sauce or
Maple and Pecan Glazed Pork tenderloin
But there are veal and lamb recipes, as well as recipes for ribs – Chinese Ribs, Daddy’s Best Texas Pork Ribs or simply the Best Barbecued Ribs; these and others are followed by twelve favorite chicken recipes that will all have your mouth watering, from a Chicken Jambalaya to a Cranberry and Apple Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Raspberry Balsamic Drizzle (definitely a recipe to serve at your next dinner party). These are followed by turkey and duck recipes and even some vegetarian pasta recipes such as Julie’s Vegetable Lasagna which is sure to become a family favorite—whether you are a vegetarian or not (I personally like to have some vegetarian dishes at my parties).
Under Fish and Seafood you will find recipes for catfish — I can’t wait to try oven-fried catfish since we gave up oil-fried fish some years ago—there is also a Baked Catfish Parmesan, recipes for grouper, halibut and orange roughy, salmon, swordfish, and trout.
(We don’t get grouper on the West Coast—I wish! –I learned to cook with it when we lived in Florida for 3 years and have adapted my grouper recipes to Halibut or Orange Roughy, just so you know it doesn’t absolutely have to be grouper). There are also recipes for crab, scallops, shrimp, and crawfish.
The next chapter is a section on vegetables and side dishes, beginning with Marinated Asparagus with Cherry Tomatoes, and an Asparagus Casserole and ending with Gourmet Mac ‘n’ Cheese, but sandwiched in between the two are over sixty additional recipes that you will want to try, to get away from the same old, same old. There are such delicious sounding recipes as Blue Cheese Vidalia Onions, several yummy recipes for corn pudding, or roasted new potatoes with garlic and Rosemary, Sautéed Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts or Spinach Madeleine, Spinach Phyllo Pie or a variety of squash recipes—and oh, Tally H o Tomato Pudding…I have searched forever for a tomato pudding similar to one my mother used to make. (Since this recipe comes from a Toledo, Ohio, cookbook – I’m thinking this must be something like mom’s recipe. My family is from Ohio). But when your garden has a glut of tomatoes, try the recipes for Tomato Basil Tart or Tomatoes Stuffed with Orzo. There is a recipe for Mrs. Truman’s Cheese Soufflé from The Bess Collection –some recipes for grits (I think that’s required eating in the south –We used to be served grits with any breakfast ordered in a restaurant in Florida) – but these aren’t your ordinary grits – think uptown grits, Gourmet Cheese Grits and Jalapeno Grits or Awesome Layered Grits.
The following chapter is for Cakes, Pies, & Cookies (surely everyone’s favorite three) –ranging from Virginia Apple Walnut Cake, your choice of two different Kahlua cakes, Raspberry Cordial Cake or Rum Cake, Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie, a southern favorite Sweet Potato Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie or Fudge Pie, your choice of five different brownie recipes (I am going to make Bodacious Brownies this afternoon—they are made with a chocolate cake mix!). There is an assortment of cookie bars – chocolate caramel, key lime, lemon bars, Mexican-style Pecan Chocolate Squares, Paul’s Pumpkin Bars—and more…then there are the cookies! Milk Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies! Chocolate Truffle Cookies! Hillary Clinton’s Cookies! Chocolate Tipped Butter Cookies! Soft Gingersnap cookies! Lemon Gingersnaps! Crispy Oat Cookies! (I love a crisp oatmeal cookie) – And Santa Fe Chief Sugar Cookies! (Can you tell, we all love cookies?)
The next chapter is “Desserts” which range from torts to tarts, cheesecakes to flans, cobblers, crisps and bread pudding but also includes some candy recipes such as potato fudge, Michigan Nut and Berry Bark, Microwave Pralines and Creole Porcupines, a White Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites made with crisp rice cereal (this is a no bake recipe) and a favorite toffee recipe.
The final chapter is titled “Kids in the Kitchen”, sure to be a winner for anyone with children (or in my case, grandchildren) in the kitchen with you, learning to cook. Many of the recipes are simple, not over-challenging for junior chefs, such as Easter Resurrection Rolls made with a can of refrigerator crescent rolls or monkey bread that is made with cans of refrigerator biscuits—but there are other recipes for them to try, such as baked French Toast with Apples or an Easy Granola for Kids in the Kitchen, Strawberry Pretzel Salad or Quick Clean-Up Chicken; there are even recipes for chocolate play dough and peanut butter play dough – that can be eaten after the kids have made some creations to impress you. There are these and quite a few other recipes for the apprentice cook to try making. Some do require adult supervision—but I wish I had something like this when I was a little girl learning how to cook from an adult cookbook of my mother’s. If you have a youngster learning how to cook, you may want to also invest in another cookbook, Junior Leagues In the Kitchen With Kids, published in 2009 and also available through cookbook marketplace.
I wish I could make a list for you, of all the recipes to be found in “RECIPES WORTH SHARING” but girlfriends, there are over five hundred of then. You are going to have to buy the book and find out for yourselves. I can promise you, it will become one of your favorite “go to” cookbooks when you are searching for a recipe or looking for something new and different to try. (I will be the first to admit, I don’t take my cookbooks to the kitchen when I am following a recipe. I copy it on my computer/printer and stick the recipe on the refrigerator door. Or you can cover the page with a sheet of plastic wrap.
For me, gone are the days when my cookbooks get battered, tattered and stained!)
One final word about the publisher – Favorite Recipes Press has been around since 1961 and I have many of their earlier cookbook publications. When I first learned about RECIPES WORTH SHARING, I immediately recognized the name of the publisher. I immediately sent for the free Cookbook Marketplace catalog which offers a photograph of each cookbook—I’ve been carrying the catalog around with me in the house, drooling over the pages.
“RECIPES WORTH SHARING” can be purchased from The Cookbook MarketPlace and a visit to their website, http://www.cookbookmarketpace.com can get you a free cookbook catalog. You can also obtain ordering information by emailing email@example.com. “RECIPES WORTH SHARING” is featured on Page 26 of the catalog and sells for $24.95. I also found it listed on http://www.Amazon.com.
Review By Sandra Lee Smith