AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK/712 FAVORITE RECIPES FROM MAIN STREET U.S.A
My bad! I posted an article for you about lists and cookbooks and then neglected to write something else for ten days. My excuse is just that I have been taking down Christmas decorations, et al, which took about a week, and then a few days ago, two of my grandchildren and I went to the mountains to visit friends for a few days. Kids were elated – it began to snow on Thursday and came down steadily for some hours—they were hoping we’d get snowed in. Grammy was hoping – not. I wanted to get home to my two dogs and one cat on
Friday and get back into some kind of routine.
Well, I’ve had a stack of cookbooks at my elbow for a couple of weeks with the intention of sharing these with you. Cookbook reviews always make a good topic to write about, don’t you agree? I have so many cookbooks I’ve wanted to share with other cookbook aficionados that stacks of these books have been piling up throughout the house. So, let’s start with one of these – first on my list is ]
AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK/712 FAVORITE RECIPES FROM MAIN STREET U.S.A. edited by Barbara Greeman. This big thick cookbook with plastic spiral binding is designed to lay flat on a counter surface anywhere in the book. The recipes are from church suppers, church socials, state and county fairs, family & friends. I think it caught my eye when I was searching through my “Americana” collection a few months ago. AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK was published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers and distributed by Workman Publishing Company.
In the introduction, Barbara Greenman confesses, “I wish I could say this idea was mine! All the credit and thanks go to my publisher, my editor and their team. Yes, I provide them the raw material, but from it they have spun gold. Here it is, AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK, highlighting 712 recipes from the more than 2, 000 sent to us by America’s churches and state and county fairs. It is the perfect cookbook for our times…”
Truer words were never spoken. Barbara says that “Excellence was the criteria for inclusion in this new collection. Instead of five chicken salad recipes and seven meatloaf recipes, we offer the best of each category and a wide variety of food…” And anyone who has collected club-and-church cookbooks for any length of time (in my case over forty years) knows that duplicate or very similar recipes often fill many of the pages of a community cookbook. The persons collecting the recipes don’t want to leave anyone out, so every one of the recipes is included even at the risk of being repetitive.
I checked the back of the cookbook to see if a list of contributing cookbooks was offered – while they weren’t, a list of the contributing churches (54 of them) was provided. The following page provides a long list of state and county fairs whose recipes were provided on the pages of AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK—sixty-five of them, including my favorite Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, California—the greatest difficulty with a cookbook such as this one is trying to decide what to check out first – the recipes? The contributors? Looking for a favorite recipe? To see if your hometown is represented? Well, with over seven hundred recipes that will keep you occupied for a while. And at the risk of being even more repetitive, cookbook people read cookbooks the way other people read novels. No lie. I have a stack of cookbooks and a stack of novels on and next to and inside my nightstand at any given moment. A good way to read a cookbook is keeping a pad of those little square post-its on the nightstand next to your bottle or glass of water, a pen, any medication you take at night and the telephone. (I am often in bed and getting warm when I realize I am missing one of the above items (usually my bottle of water) and have to get back up and go to the kitchen to get it. Brody, my Jack Russell-Chihuahua new addition to the family always feels obligated to get up and follow me to the kitchen no matter how comfy he has gotten too. I am not sure whether he does this to protect me, or in the hopes that I may drop something, like a piece of bacon.
I know I am not alone in marking pages with post-it notes because I have acquired a lot of cookbooks at sales that are festooned with dozens of post it notes. I then remove their post-it notes to add my own post-it notes. But, I digress (as you may have noticed, I have a tendency of doing this) – let me tell you about the categories of recipes you will find in AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK. Along with the Introduction and a Table of Equivalents (so handy to have), you will find recipes for
BREAKFAST AND BRUNCH
SOUPS AND SANDWICHES
SALADS, DRESSINGS, AND SAUCES
POULTRY AND GAME
PASTA AND CASSEROLES
BREADS, ROLLS, AND BISCUITS
PUDDINGS AND CANDY
and a list of contributors. I must confess, the layout for this cookbook is unlike any I have seen before. I do approve of Breakfast and Brunch coming first, though. The cookbook starts out with a generous collection of muffin recipes that is sure to please any cook and anyone waiting for muffins for breakfast or brunch. I love muffins – muffins were the very first thing I learned how to bake around the age of ten. Choose from blueberry muffins, blueberry-peach muffins, blackberry corn muffins, hearty oatmeal raisin muffins or cranberry muffins, just to name a few. When in doubt, just check through the array of muffins to find something corresponding with what you have in the frig or pantry (which is how I learned to cook from Ida Bailey Allen’s Service Cookbook). Muffins are followed by Scones and French Toast recipes, including an Apple Cinnamon French Toast that I can’t wait to try. Then there are recipes for pancakes, which includes an Apple Cider Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup—a good one to share with my penpal in Oregon, who has an orchard of half a dozen or so apple trees. Next are recipes for coffee cakes; a post-it note has been attached to the Overnight Coffee Cake recipe. This is just a slight sampling of Breakfast and Brunch Recipes – there are fritters and buns, doughnuts and hushpuppies, bagels and omelets, frittatas and breakfast casseroles—in all, thirty three pages of Breakfast and Brunch recipes, enough to fill up one of those little recipe booklets – but this is in AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK/712 FAVORITE RECIPES FROM MAIN STREET U.S.A and can be at your fingertips any day, any time.
Chapter 2 is APPETIZERS. Let me share something with you about appetizers, or as the French say, “hors d’oeuvres.” I have a couple of shelves full of appetizer/hors d’oeuvres cookbooks. I also have several recipe boxes full of appetizer/hors d’oeuvres recipes. The reason I have acquired so many of these perfect-for-party recipes is that we used to have some pretty big parties several times a year. By “we” I mean Bob and myself and my sons and their wives. After some years of throwing parties for which I would take off work and spend three days cooking in the kitchen, I made a startling (startling to me, at least) discovery – appetizers. Hors d’oeuvres. You can make a lot of them up in advance. You can buy a lot of different kinds of appetizers in the freezer cases at stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. When someone asks what they can bring to a party you can reply “your favorite appetizer—or a bottle of wine” I discovered that these tidbits, hot or cold, are perfect party food – a guest can pile different ones onto a plate and walk around chatting with other guests, go back to more if they want to and try some of the other appetizer/hors d’oeuvres. Well! in AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK/712 FAVORITE RECIPES FROM MAIN STREET U.S.A, Barbara Greeman has filled twenty three pages with appetizer/hors d’oeuvre recipes, ranging from a Horseradish Cheese Ball with Crackers to Mexican Chicken Bites, from Spinach Cheese Squares to Green Chili Pie, from Cocktail Meatballs to various dips.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. This is one fantastic cookbook, published in 2011. I was unable to find it listed under Alibris.com but Amazon.com has the book for $7.98 new, from Amazon, or $3.16 for a pre-owned copy from a private vendor. A lot of cookbooks come and go, but this is one, I predict, that you will keep within reach.
Happy cooking and happier cookbook collecting!