Monthly Archives: May 2013



RECIPES 1-2-3 by  Rozanne Gold is one of those cookbooks that will surely knock your socks off (or your oven mitts, at least).

There have been, you must have noticed if you automatically scan all the cookbooks in book stores and in particular, the flurry of cookbooks devoted to just a few ingredients—there are many great cookbooks on this topic.  Rozanne Gold was one of the first to take this concept a step further. First of all, RECIPES 1-2-3 is a beautiful hardcover cookbook by Viking Press, with photographs by Tom Eckerle.

“Time is not on our side,” explain the publishers. “Not only don’t we have time to cook, we often don’t even have time to shop for food. Imagine being able to choose from more than 250 dazzling recipes that contain only three ingredients.”

Rozanne Gold is the author of the award-winning “LITTLE MEANS: A GREAT NEW WAY TO EAT AND COOK”. She is also consulting chef to the Rainbow Room and the new Windows On the World. First chef to New York City mayor Ed Koch, she is now Culinary Director of the world-renown Joseph Baum and Michael Whitman Co., and if that were not enough, she is also culinary counselor for Dunnewood Vineyards in California.

In the Introduction to 1-2-3, Gold writes “Think of the transparent sound of a small chamber orchestra; or the compressive clarity of haiku. When it comes to the senses, less is often more. So it is with our palates and the way we taste. The Western vocabulary contains only four descriptors for how we experience a morsel of food: salty, sour, bitter, and sweet. The Japanese posit a fifth sensation, called umami, a beeflike essence of wild mushrooms.

It was this realization, she says, that led her to develop RECIPES 1-2-3. She says that in her twenty years as a professional chef, she has “imposed dozens of ingredients onto a single dish, used paintbrushes and squeeze bottles to decorate plates; piled food so precariously as to challenge gravity…”

“Turnabout,” explains Ms. Gold. “Today I’m convinced that we really can create delicious food and orchestrate wonderful meals by combining recipes with just a few ingredients.”

She also tells us that an important goal of her book is to make cooking more user friendly, without taking shortcuts.

She has also set out to demonstrate to use the various (and better) ways of cooking things—showing us how a roasted asparagus stalk differs from one that’s steamed, and why baked squash makes a better soup than one that’s boiled. Information such as this is invaluable to novice cooks who are often stymied and left at an impasse when the cookbook tells them to “braise” without giving them a clue exactly what braise means.

Ranging from appetizers (simple. No? Only three ingredients) to sumptuous desserts (simple, yes? Only three ingredients) and in the middle you will find a wide variety of entrees, each one more wonderful sounding than the last…check out the Mahogany short ribs with the secret ingredient (this one I can experiment with since we have our own grape vines—one of the surprises, for me, is a recipe called Coffee and Vinegar pot roast…now many years ago, in the mid 60s, I believe, I had this recipe – and lost it. I have searched through thousands of cookbooks for this particular recipe, so imagine my surprise – voila! It’s in RECIPES 1-2-3. The author says that she has collected a stack of wacky and wonderful recipes from a variety of odd sources (haven’t we all?) and this one was from as community cookbook, and was originally known as Lutheran Ladies Peking Beef Roast.

In addition to many other suggestions, Gold provided a 1-2-3 pantry list to help you get started.

There is a recipe for Beer Bread which reminded me – that was the FIRST 3-ingredient recipe in my collection; at the time, I wondered if I could present enough 3-ingredient recipes for a magazine article. The Beer Bread is one of those that crops up here and there and is a great bread to serve hot with a bowl of soup. Gold presents a simple recipe for tortilla strips but she fries hers in oil – I cut mine into thin strips and dry them in the oven—because I have an auto pilot and my oven stays warm all the time. This is a wonderful addition to a bowl of Tortilla Soup. Gold presents recipes for Fennel, Leek, and Orzo Soup, Curried Lentil Soup and “Fire and Ice” Gazpacho. Gold’s recipe for Beer and Stilton Soup would also be a great soup and beer bread dinner on a Friday night.

I’m almost certain that the recipe called Coffee and Vinegar Pot Roast is the very same one I made in the mid 60s but I would have sworn the recipe came from a I-Hate-To-Cook-Cookbook by Peg Bracken – but what do I know? After cooking and collecting recipes for over fifty years, I’d be the first to admit I don’t remember where all of them came from – unless the recipe was written on a card with the name of the person who gave me the recipe written on the back of the card.

RECIPES 1-2-3 BY ROZANNE GOLD was originally reviewed by me in 1996 for The Cookbook Collectors Exchange.  Inside my copy of RECIPES 1-2-3 was a full page review in the Los Angeles Times, dated May 30, 1996, presented side by side with Andrew Schloss’ COOKING WITH THREE INGREDIENTS. In my collection of cookbooks, I have a full shelf of cooking with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, – even 7 ingredient cookbooks—it was a concept whose time had come.  Coffee and Vinegar Pot Roast is in the newspaper article as well!

If you are a busy cook with little or no time to cook for your family, books such as RECIPES 1-2-3 can be lifesavers. Keep the book handy; go over the pantry guide and you can astound your family and friends with quick and easy meals. has copies of RECIPES 1-2-3 starting at 1 cent for a pre owned copy and $4.27 for a new one.  Rozanne Gold is also the author of Healthy 1-2-3 and RECIPES 1-2-3 MENU COOKBOOK, as well as RADICALLY SIMPLE, 325 INSPIRING RECIPES, EAT FRESH FOOD; AWESOME RECIPES FOR TEEN CHEFS and KIDS COOK 1-2-3. All are available on
–Review by Sandra Lee Smith




In 1995, John Ash’s new cookbook was FROM THE EARTH TO THE TABLE, (subtitled John Ash’ s Wine Country Cuisine) was accompanied by so much fanfare that I was, in all honesty, more than a little intimidated. It was written up In Publisher’s Weekly, featured in Cooking Light, heartily praised in the Lo Angeles Times by Dan Berger, the Times wine Writer) and given a warm write up in the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, perhaps understandably since Mr. Ash’s restaurant is in Santa Rosa.

I wondered –was this cookbook too highbrow for the likes of you and me? The answer was no!

What I did was set aside any preconceived notions about what I think makes up a GOURMET COOKERY and then began checking out the recipes.(although I do a lot of cooking and baking—I have never considered myself a ‘gourmet’ cook).

You have to admit, this gourmet chef comes with great credentials. Not only does he have his own restaurant in Santa Rosa which has gotten many rave reviews, he has written or co-authored several other cookbooks.

Mr. Ash, to quote Publisher’s Weekly is “a passionate advocate of cooks knowing where, when, and how their food is grown and raised…he urges readers to eat seasonally and locally, instead of using tasteless tomatoes in a salad in December , he suggests the likes of Warm Red Cabbage Salad.

“FROM THE EARTH TO THE TABLE: John Ash’s Wine Country Cuisine” was nominated for both a 1996 Julia Child Cookbook Award and a 1996 James Beard Foundation Book Award.

Mr. Ash is also Culinary Director of the Fetzer Vineyards’ Wine Center at Valley Oaks, California, where he draws from the bounty of Fetzer’s five-acre organic biodynamic garden to invent recipes that are high-flavor, innovative and healthy (and where he has the pick of a thousand varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers grown there) and although he is no longer involved in the day to day operation of John Ash & Co. Restaurant (adjacent to Vintner’s Inn, just north of Santa Rosa, about two hours  north of San Francisco) he retains the title of consulting chef, working with the executive chef on recipe and menu  development.

This is probably a far cry from the John Ash who, according to the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, was once too shy to leave the kitchen to meet diners who wanted to compliment him.

Prior to embarking on a restaurant career and writing cookbooks, John Ash was a photographer and medical illustrator in San Francisco. He eventually was hired by Del Monte Foods to head up new product development (and where he came up with the idea of pudding-in-a-cup). He tired of corporate life, however, and then toured Europe, taking courses at cooking schools such as the Cordon Bleu in London. When he returned to San Francisco, he operated a small catering company, which in turn led to the opening of John Ash and Co., his restaurant in Santa Rosa.

Describing FROM THE EARTH TO THE TABLE, the publishers explain that the book contains over 300 recipes featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients in distinctive flavor combinations. The book is organized by course and main ingredient, with sections devoted to Salads and Soups, Pastas, Pizzas and Risottos; Poultry, Fish and Meats, Vegetarian Main courses and of course, Desserts, Breads, and Beverages.

One feature I especially like about this cookbook is the author’s informal explanations of things  which sometimes overwhelm us – for instance, he says there is really no difference between focaccia and pizza…both are flat round breads seasoned with oil and cooked in the oven or over embers—and are called pizza in the south and focaccia in the north.  Semifreddos, he explains, translates to ‘half frozen” in Italian….mmmm check out the recipe for Ginger, Fig and Cranberry Semifreddo!

Since this is a cookbook from the wine country, many recipes feature the judicious use of wine and there are some good lessons to be learned by all of us. Ash says that cooking for a winery has taught him to cook differently, to be more sensitive to what the food will taste like with different wines and specific wines. We can all benefit from the lessons learned by the master chef.

One lesson I learned  many years ago is that a pantry or refrigerator filled with sauces chutneys, vinaigrettes – things I make myself and keep on hand to dress up meals – makes all the difference between a simple unadorned meal and one that looks fancy, tastes great and impresses the heck out of dinner guests.

Consequently, one of the features I appreciate most about FROM THE EARTH TO THE TABLE are the many wonderful new ideas to incorporate in my own culinary repertoire. There is, for instance, a red pepper chutney, wonderful marinades such as mustard, Thai-style and basil-parmesan…a sun dried cherry sauce, poblano chile sauce – or how about a warm garlic dipping sauce?

In 2008, my Canadian girlfriend, Sharon, and I took a California Adventure road trip which started at the coast in Ventura and took us all the way to the redwoods where we spent a couple of days exploring—but reading about Santa Rosa made me think—Sharon and I spent a night in Santa Rosa when we were unable to book a room anywhere in San Francisco and continued north until we reached Santa Rosa where we found a nice motel and wonderful restaurant food, telling ourselves this was a place that deserved more exploration—but after the Redwoods we traveled south and then inland to go to Yosemite, so we didn’t make it back to Santa Rosa – much to my regret, especially after reading about John Ash’s Santa Rosa.

John Ash is the culinary director of Fetzer Vineyards’ Wine Center, which happens to have a huge organic culinary garden. With that as well as the produce and other ingredients available in abundance in California’s wine country, he creates dishes like Orecchiette with Red Wine-Braised Chicken, Fresh Cherry Flan, and other delicious combinations. There are lots of sidebars on ingredients, and Ash suggests substitutions for seasonal or hard-to-find ingredients. Most recipes are accompanied by informative wine notes that explain the particular food-wine match.


FROM THE EARTH TO THE TABLE, by John Ash and Sid Goldstein, originally published in 1995 originally sold for $29.95. Reprinted 2007, available pre-owned starting at one cent on  Shipping/handling $3.99 on all books sold by private vendors.

THE WINE LOVERS COOKBOOK: GREAT RECIPES FOR THE PERFECT GLASS OF WINE, Sid Goldstein, Paul Franz-Moore and John Ash, published 1999, available at $4.14 new on, or starting at one cent for pre-owned copies.

COOKING ONE ON ONE, John Ash, published 2004, new copies available $5.50 or pre-owned starting at 1 cent. Add $3.99 for shipping and handling.

SALMON: A COOKBOOK by Diane Morgan, John Ash and E.J. Armstrong, published in 2005, pre-owned copies available on

WILD ALASKAN SEAFOOD: CELEBRATED RECIPES FROM AMERICA’S TOP CHEFS, BY James O. Fraioli, Jessica Nicosia-Nadler and John Ash, 2011, hardcover new $11.98 & up, preowned $3.41 & up

CULINARY BIRDS: THE ULTIMATE POULTRY COOKBOOK, by John Ash, to be published September, 2013 – can be pre-ordered on

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith



SANDY WITH COUSINS DANNY & JOHNNY & BROTHERS BIFF & BILL 001(photo-left-after the parade)

First, let us start with the history of Memorial Day:

Per Wikipedia:  Memorial Day is a United States Federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day (and often called this when I was a child),  it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate  both the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.

By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. One year, when Bob and I were in Santa Barbara on Memorial Day, we saw thousands of little flags planted on the beach.

Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, living or dead.

The practice of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is an ancient custom.  Soldiers’ graves were decorated in the U.S. before and during the American Civil War. A claim was made in 1906 that the first Civil War soldier’s grave ever decorated was in Warrenton, Virginia on June 3, 1861, implying the first Memorial Day occurred there. There is authentic documentation that women in Savannah, Georgia decorated soldiers’ graves in 1862. In 1863, the cemetery dedication at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was a ceremony of commemoration at the graves of dead soldiers. Local historians in Boalsburg, PA, claim that ladies there decorated soldiers’ graves on July 4, 1864. As a result, Boalsburg promotes itself as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

Following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, there were a variety of events of commemoration. The first well-known observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina on May 1, 1865.

The sheer number of soldiers of both sides who died in the Civil War, more than 600,000, meant that burial and memorialization took on new cultural significance. Under the leadership of women during the war, an increasingly formal practice of decorating graves had taken shape. In 1865, the federal government began creating national military cemeteries for the Union war dead.

Memorial events were held in 183 cemeteries in 27 states in 1868, and 336 in 1869. The northern states quickly adopted the holiday. Michigan made “Decoration Day” an official state holiday in 1871 and by 1890, every northern state had followed suit. The ceremonies were sponsored by the Women’s Relief Corps, the women’s auxiliary of the GAR, which had 100,000 members. By 1870, the remains of nearly 300,000 Union dead had been reinterred in 73 national cemeteries, located near major battlefields and thus mainly in the South. The most famous are Gettysburg National Cemetery in Pennsylvania and Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.

People of all religious beliefs joined together, and the point was often made that the German and Irish soldiers had become true Americans in the “baptism of blood” on the battlefield. By the end of the 1870s, much of the war time rancor was gone, and the speeches usually praised the brave soldiers both the Blue and Gray. By the 1950s, the theme was American exceptionalism and duty to uphold freedom in the world.

Ironton, Ohio, lays claim to the nation’s oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade. Its first parade was held May 5, 1868, and the town has held it every year since. However, the Memorial Day parade in DoylestownPennsylvania, predates Ironton’s by one year.  **

The ceremonies and Memorial Day address at Gettysburg National Park became nationally well known, starting in 1868. In July 1913, veterans of the United States and Confederate armies gathered in Gettysburg to commemorate the fifty-year anniversary of the Civil War’s bloodiest and most famous battle.

Speaking of parades, when I was a little girl, we walked to St Bonaventure Church in South Fairmount, wearing white clothes and carrying little flags and it was there that the Memorial Day Parade began. Students of St. Leo’s who played musical instruments lined up to march in the parade. When the parade began, we walked from St Bonnie’s – down Queen City Avenue until it ended at Beekman Street – over Beekman until we came to Baltimore Street, and then up Baltimore until we passed St Leo’s and came to the Baltimore Pike Cemetery, which happened to be next door to my grandmother’s house. At the end of the parade, children were given a popsicle and dignitaries of Cincinnati made speeches.

For weeks prior to Memorial Day, my mother and aunts made artificial flowers out of tissue paper and crepe paper. The dining room table would be covered with artificial flowers for weeks. They made bouquets of the artificial flowers to sell along with live flowers from my grandmother’s garden. We children stood on the corner at the entrance to the cemetery, crying out “Flowers for Sale!! Fifty Cents! (or maybe twenty five cents by the end of the day). A lot of flowers were sold this way and Grandma would give each child a quarter for our participation in this family fundraiser.

I can’t even imagine, today, how long of a walk that was for young children. I think it had to be about five miles long. I remember how my legs ached at the end of the day. I don’t think any of us, at such a young age, understood the significance of the parade or our marching. But we’d do almost anything for a free popsicle.

SANDY - TIMES OF MY LIFE - WITH BROTHES BILL & BIFF 001(photo at left- still wearing white for the parade)

Occasionally, my cousin, Johnny, or my brothers Biff and Bill, and I would go up to the cemetery next door to my grandmother’s. The lower part of the cemetery was all grassy grounds—the graves were far above at the top of the cemetery. I would search for my playmate’s grave—Lonna May Wright was a playmate in kindergarten and first grade—who was killed by a truck while she was roller skating in the street. Her grave had an angel headstone which made it easier to find. I don’t remember who told me that Lonna May had been killed—I think it might have been my aunt Dolly. Family members surely knew that she was my playmate. Someone probably pointed out the dangers of skating in the street – no one would have overlooked the opportunity to implant a life lesson. I searched until I found Lonna May in my first communion group photograph.  When I think of memorial day, I am irrevocably reminded of Lonna May. It might not have been the intention of the founders of Memorial Day – but I think it became a reminder to all of us, everywhere, of those we have lost in life.  And so, this year, even though I am far from the cemetery on Baltimore Street, I will be thinking of Lonna May, a cute little girl who died far too young.

If I were in town and visited old St Joseph cemetery – I could take flowers to the graves of family members and uncles who served in world war II.

Memories are made of this. We remember for many different reasons.

–Sandra Lee Smith


cincinnati skyline from kentucky shore

FORTUNE magazine called Cincinnati the best run big city in the United States. LIFE magazine said “Cincinnati has one of the best police forces in the country”. TIME Magazine, on the other hand, once labeled Cincinnati “dowdy”!! Dowdy? Cincinnati? I knew there was a good reason why I don’t subscribe to TIME.

To Indians, Cincinnati was a calamity; to slaves, it was a promised land and to the REDS Baseball Team, it’s a place to play ball. To children on skates, it’s a seven-hilled impossibility, while to Proctor Gamble it was a place to make soap. To beer-makers it represented memories of “over the Rhine”. Which Cincinnati you know depends on your point of view…” from “Vas You Ever in Zinzinnati” by Dick Perry, published by Doubleday in 1966.

You may have heard of my hometown, Cincinnati—which I have written about several times on this blog. I was born and raised in Cincinnati; as were both of my parents. My paternal grandparents were German and Hungarian and came through Ellis Island by way of Rumania. From there they went to Cincinnati. Quite possibly, they had friends or other connections which led them to Cincinnati, which already had a huge German population by the time they got there.

My mother’s parents were definitely German as well but we know so little about their roots. My father’s parents immigrated to the United States when they were in their early twenties and we all grew up strongly influenced by our surroundings. North Fairmount was heavily populated by German Americans and Italians. South Fairmount was more heavily populated with Italians. My grandparents bought a house on Baltimore Street when their daughter, my Aunt Annie, was a toddler. (The story was that they bought this house “in the country” because my Uncle Hans was asthmatic. I guess North Fairmount was country to them, back then.)  The three storied big brick house was large enough to raise their children in, and when those children got married, they lived in separate apartments in the same house—until they could afford to buy a house on their own. My parents lived in the house on Baltimore until I was five years old. That meant they lived in my grandmother’s house for nine years. Some of those years were a part of the great depression and some were a part of World War II.

I have no real memories of living in the house on Baltimore Street although when I reflect on scattered early memories, I think some of those must have occurred when we were still living in my grandmother’s house.

Down the street from my grandmother’s house was St. Leo’s church and school. My father, his younger brother and their younger sister all went to St. Leo’s—not only that, but all three had Sister Tarcisius in the first grade—as did my older sister, older brother and me—along with two of our cousins. Sister Tarcisius taught first grade at St Leo’s for over fifty years before celebrating her Golden Jubilee as a nun and retiring to the convent in Oldenburg, Indiana.  There was a continuity to our lives back then—often when I became girlfriends with someone in my class and went to her home, a parent was sure to say “Oh, yes! Schmidts! I went to school with your father”. (Many years later, my youngest brother Scott would buy and remodel the house that had belonged to his first wife’s grandmother. When I first saw the house, I realized it had once belonged to my classmate Joan—whose younger sister, Val, became the grandmother from whom Scott bought the house.

Our neighborhood was all of North Fairmount and extended into South Fairmount in one direction and English Woods in another. Now, if you drive through these neighborhoods they are almost all downtrodden and ramshackle—a far cry from the neat and tidy brick houses that lined all the streets with geraniums in the front windows that were a part of our lives. I think we could have approached any house in an emergency for blocks around—not that anything serious ever happened. It wasn’t anything any of us ever thought about—we rode bicycles and skates and/or walked from one place to another without ever stopping to consider our safety or security.

There was a state of stability and absence of disruption throughout our lives, throughout the lives of our parents (despite the great depression and WW2) that can’t be found in Southern California where I have spent most of my adult life but I think still exists in most of Cincinnati, where girlfriends of mine who grew up in North College Hill married and bought houses near their parents’ homes, to raise their children in close proximity to their parents.

We took good cooking for granted, I’m ashamed to admit. I don’t think any of us ever stopped to think twice about my grandma’s exquisite Palascinta (Hungarian pancakes—like crepes); grandma’s strudels with dough made from scratch—we each had a favorite filling – mine was spicy pumpkin—but any of them, apple, cherry, or cheese, were to die for—or homemade noodles drying on the backs of kitchen chairs—or the German wurst sausages, delicious with a chunk of fresh-baked salt bread.

My grandmother made Dobos tortes with up to fourteen layers of sponge cake, spread with bittersweet chocolate frosting; she made dozens and dozens of cookies at Christmas-time—I only remember the diamond shaped cookies dipped in egg white and spread with finely chopped walnuts and sugar although my older sister swore there were many other kinds of cookies.

We went to grandma’s house for lunch most days of the week during the school year—her house was just a short walk up the street from St. Leo’s—and feasted on Hungarian goulash and salt bread, or a bowl of chicken broth which contained something WE called “rivillies” but which, I discovered in one of William Woys Weaver’s books—was a tiny Pennsylvania Dutch dumpling called Rivels or Riwweles which is probably much the same as my grandmother’s Rivellies. We also grew up on Spatzle and homemade noodles, dumplings, sauerkraut, scrapple, and hasenpfeffer. Scrapple is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour, which is baked in a loaf pan and then kept refrigerated. You sliced some of it and fried it in a skillet for a breakfast side dish. (I could live without the hasenpfeffer but loved everything else).

Or grandma might make a huge chicken sandwich for you (if you were the only child who happened to be around) with leaves of lettuce fresh from her garden, and mayonnaise spread thick on homemade bread. We often had Palascinta for lunch, with jelly spread over it and then rolled up; we called the crepes “German pancakes” not knowing their true origin was Hungarian. If nothing else, we might have a snack of a slice of rye bread spread with sour cream.

My grandmother taught her cooking skills to her daughter and daughters-in-law. Many years would pass before I realized that my two aunts, Aunt Annie and Aunt Dolly, knew how to make many of Grandma’s desserts and savory dishes. My mother learned how to make bread; my mother made two huge loaves of bread twice a week most of my adolescent years. Aside from the recipes my aunts remembered, most of grandma’s recipes—all learned from watching, none written down—are now lost. A few were written down but most are gone, along with my mother and aunts and grandmother.

For one thing, my grandmother never wrote much in English except for her name; some times she would instruct me to write something down for her. But German was her native language and she and my grandfather had many Immigrant friends in Cincinnati who spoke their language. My grandfather was a tailor of men’s suits and spoke seven languages fluently. The shopkeepers with whom grandma did business all spoke German, too.

My grandparents belonged to a lodge that was downtown near Findlay Market; it was a place where the men played cards and smoked pipes in one room while the women cooked or talked in another room. (Only recently I discovered there were many such lodges).  Sometimes there was a wedding in a nearby Catholic church and the reception might be held at this lodge; I remember the dancing and the music. We went to and from the lodge on the streetcars—later buses took over. When we transferred buses at Colerain and Hopple Street, my grandfather would hurry into Camp Washington Chili Parlor to get Coney Islands for us to eat when we got home. (I remember there being a coupon in the Sunday Paper – five or six Coney islands for 25 cents).

Findlay Market was an open market with stalls of fruit-and-vegetables—around the perimeter of the open stalls there were grocery stores—I particularly remember a meat market where grandma sometimes bought a chicken.  Grandma was ahead of her time carrying tote bags made out of oil cloth and often taking a grandchild along to help carry the bags. In recent years I visited Findlay Market with one of my nephews; it is over a hundred years old and has been vastly renovated—almost all the stores and shops are now indoors and the meat market always had us drooling over the many kinds of sausages.

I grew up in Cincinnati, learning my way around the city at a very tender age—by the time I was ten years old I was making trips downtown by myself—first to make payments on a coat my mother had in layaway at Lerner’s for which she paid $1.00 a week and I’d have two nickels for bus fare each way. Later, I took my two younger brothers with me downtown to do our Christmas shopping. There were no malls at this time—all the shops and stores were located downtown, near Fountain Square and ladies would go downtown to shop wearing dresses and high heels. Can you imagine?

At an early age—maybe ten or eleven—I began to discover the used book stores (as well as small out-of-the-way dusty antique stores that often had a tray of books outside the door; The kind of books I bought then, for 25 cents each, were often light romance, I think—cookbooks were far from my radar!

We shopped primarily at the five and ten cent stores – there were three or four of these—one was a Newberry’s and another was a Kresge’s, but the chief attraction was    the Woolworth store that had a lunch counter where we—my two younger brothers and I—could buy a grilled cheese and coke to share—and sometimes have enough for a bag of caramel corn which I have been addicted to all my life. We somehow managed to buy Christmas presents for our parents, grandparents and siblings—which amazes to me this very day. It must have been like the loaves and fishes—because somehow, doling out pennies for purchases, we always managed to get something for everybody.  I was equally addicted to “downtown” – to me, downtown has been and always will be “downtown Cincinnati” During the holidays my brothers and I visited all the major department stores to stand in line to see Santa Claus but primarily to get a free candy cane. The store window displays alone were worth a trip downtown.

One of my favorite stores – not a 5&10 cent store – was Shillito’s—Cincinnati’s first department store which opened in 1832. One of the exits, close to my bus stop,was in the book section, where Nancy Drew books were on display.  One year my brother Jim gave me five new Nancy Drew books for Christmas. I was hooked on Nancy Drew. I think the books were about a dollar each—and just GETTING a dollar and hanging onto it long enough to go downtown to buy the next book was a task unto itself. Eventually I discovered that the Nancy Drew books at used book stores were generally a lot cheaper—and I fell in love with the old illustrations in these books.

Another beloved place when I was a child – not only to me but to my siblings as well – was the Windmill Restaurant. It was a cafeteria style restaurant, unfamiliar to all of us—where you could pick and choose whatever you wanted to eat. It was a special treat to do downtown to the Windmill Restaurant with Grandma and be able to eat anything you wanted.  (a foreign concept to children of the 1940s, I assure you.)

Restaurant food with my parents sometimes had strings attached. I remember once being in a restaurant with my parents; we all ordered hamburgers – but I stipulated no mustard on mine. The hamburger arrived with – guess what? Mustard. I refused to eat it and my parents refused to send it back. That hamburger traveled home with us in the glove compartment and I don’t remember eating anything else on the way home.(many, many years later I began eating mustard—it’s almost a “must” on a corned beef sandwich but I remember, nevertheless, a battle of wits between me and my parents.

The Windmill Restaurant and Grandma are irrevocably tied together. I never went there without her.

There were other downtown attractions; during the holidays, Lytle Park had a “live” nativity scene that was a “must” if you were downtown. Lytle Park, as I remember it, no longer exists*. When the Freeway, Interstate I-71, was built in the mid 1960s. significant changes were made to the area. A tunnel was built under the park; the original Lytle Park had to be dismantled/demolished. After I-71 construction, the park was reconstructed, and “One Lytle Place” (a luxury nigh-rise apartment building) was constructed.

Another favorite event during my childhood was the circus. The only circus I know anything about was one that came to town, to the downtown area. This was the Shrine  Circus and our Uncle George gave us free tickets to go. I went there with my two younger brothers. We didn’t have any money for caramel corn or soft drinks, but it was enough just being there.

We went to the Policemen’s Picnic once a year and it was not uncommon for families to pack up a supper and go to one of the parks located in Cincinnati’s many forest areas—there was Winton Woods and Mt. Airy Forest, just to name two.

Cincinnati has a fine zoo and sometimes you might go with Grandma to the zoo, just to walk around. There are many other fine places to visit in Cincinnati, such as the museums.  What I have described to you, however, are the places I was familiar with as a child

Cincinnati  has, for many decades, been a city of great activity and prosperity. By 1830 it was the 6th largest city in the United States. In a book titled “CINCINNATI, A PICTORIAL HISTORY” by Marilyn Green and Michael Bennett, the authors tell us that “increasing numbers of steamboats were built here, and the huge pork-packing industry gave the city the name of “Porkupolis”, one result of this highly successful business being the common sight of herds of pigs being driven through the streets a long time ago. Many of today’s great businesses were founded, such as Procter & Gamble; showboats docked at public landings and theatres opened their doors to increasingly elegant crowds who were entertained by everything from Shakespeare to grand opera…”

It was during this period (1820-1865) that many illustrious visitors and residents arrived  at the Queen City. Harriet Beecher Stowe came with her amazing father, the head of Lane Seminary; Lafayette came and was nearly killed with hospitality; Charles Dickens praised Cincinnati warmly, and Horace Greeley compared it favorably with California. Jenny Lind produced the hysterical enthusiasm that marked her American tour and Stephen Foster worked and composed in the city. A runaway boy who would become famous as Mark Twain boarded a steamboat for New Orleans from the Cincinnati public landing. Thomas Edison was here, and it was he who received the telegraphed news of Lincoln’s assassination. I was bemused to think that Mark Twain boarding a steamboat at the public landing. I remember the public landing and boarding a steamboat to ride up the river to Coney Island (Cincinnati’s version of the famed amusement park).

But mostly, when I think about Cincinnati, I think about good food and recipes and cookbooks.  I think good cooking must be pretty much taken for granted in my hometown and I was nonplussed when I began removing Cincinnati and greater Cincinnati cookbooks from my shelves, to discover just how many cookbooks I have that are devoted to just this one city.

You may recall (I’ve mentioned it a time or two) that the very first community cookbook in my collection was purchased by my father from a co-worker at Formica, in 1961. Its full title is “50th Anniversary Cookbook Women’s Guild Matthew’s United Church of Christ”  I think my father paid a dollar each for several copies – one for me, one for my sister Becky and one for my mother. It’s always been one of my favorite cookbooks—if nothing else it amuses me to think that daddy had NO IDEA what he was starting when he bought that book for me. Until then, I had never seen any community (or church or club) cookbooks; I had no idea they even existed. A few years later I began to make a serious effort to find other Cincinnati cookbooks. When I began making trips back home with my children in the summertime, my young brother and I began making trips to Acre of Books, in downtown Cincinnati. I rarely made it beyond the cookbook section.  One of the oldest  cookbooks in my collection is a ring-bound book, sans covers, titled “TESTED RECIPES – CALVARY CHURCH, CLIFTON, OHIO.” (Clifton is a suburb of Cincinnati) It’s missing a publishing date, also, and clippings fal out of it whenever I pick the book up—oh, but I love this old cookbook with or without the covers. The former owner inserted pages of her own handwritten recipes or recipes clipped from newspapers and pasted inside.

Perhaps preceding this is a book in my collection titled “KEY TO THE CUPBOARD”  compiled by the Daughters of Veterans (as in the Civil War, 1861-1865) Like so many other old cookbooks, this one is undated; judging by the ads, I would guess it to be published in the early teens—sometime before World War I There is a full page ad titled Mrs. Abraham Lincoln Tent No. 14, and below that DAUGHTERS OF VETERANS 1861-1865, followed underneath by MEETINGS HELD AT MEMORIAL HALL. At the bottom of the page is written “Our Object To Aid and Assist the needy Veterans; to care  for their Widows, and their Orphans, and to perpetuate the memory of the heroic dead, and at the bottom CINCINNATI, OHIO. Amongst the ads is one for Rookwood Pottery. I found a recipe inside for Amber Soup, which was an interesting surprise—only recently I found a reference to Amber Soup while working on What’s Cooking in the White House Kitchen. I also found some recipes for “peach mangoes” and “Sweet Cucumber Mangoes”.  You may recall that I have written about “mangoes” before—it was a Cincinnati term for green bell peppers for many years—the transition from a pickled fruit to being called “mangoes” seems to have stayed strictly in the greater Cincinnati region.  (See “Stuff Mangoes or a Rose by Any Other Name”)

I began collecting cookbooks in 1965; it wasn’t until the early 1970s that I was able to travel home to Cincinnati with my children, to spend from a few weeks to a few months of the summer with my parents, during which time I began to seriously search for Cincinnati cookbooks. One summer we had so much “stuff” to take home that I packed it all in boxes and we took the Greyhound Bus back to California – there was no weight restriction on our boxes, mostly filled with books; it gave a Redcap pause at the downtown Los Angeles Bus Depot when my husband met us there and we enlisted the Redcap to haul all the boxes to our station wagon.

“What you got in here?” he queried. “Feels like FORT KNOX!”
“Not quite, “ I replied, “Just BOOKS!”

Over the years (and many trips to Cincinnati) other old Cincinnati community cookbooks gradually found their way onto my bookshelves. There is DEACCONESS HOSPITAL COOKBOOK published sometime in the 1930s,

THE GARDEN CLUB OF CINCINNATI COOK BOOK published a revised edition in 1937 (I never found an earlier edition),

While in 1950 THE WIEDEMANN BOOK OF UNUSUAL RECIPES was compiled by famous chefs of the day,

THE CINCINNATI COOK BOOK RECIPES COLLECTED BY THE CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY OF THE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL was published in 1967 and features drawings of famous Cincinnati landmarks, penned by artist Caroline Williams,

In 1970 the Altrusa Club of Cincinnati published ALTRUSA’S CINCINNATI CELEBRITY COOKBOOKI featuring cartoons of “The Girls” for which cartoon artist Franklin Folger became known,

CINCINNATI CELEBRATES presented by the Junior League of Cincinnati was published 1974,

Also in 1974, Cheviot PTA compiled HAPPINESS IS…CHEVIOT PTA COOKBOOK (one of my favorites—my sister Becky did the illustrations and submitted many of her favorite recipes to this cookbook

ONE POTATO TWO TOMATO, A Cookbook, was published in 1979 by the Catholic Women of Cincinnati,

CINCINNATI RECIPE TREASURY/The Queen City’s Culinary Heritage, by Mary Anna DuSablon, published in 1983 is, without question, my favorite all-time Cincinnati cookbook—it was, and still is, my favorite reference book when it comes to a Cincinnati Recipe.

There is a hardcover book called TREASURED RECIPES FROM CAMARGO TO INDIAN HILL which was compiled in 1987 by the members of the Indian Hill Historical Society,

RIVERFEAST/Still Celebrating Cincinnati by the Junior League of Cincinnati was published in 1990,

While in 1998 the Junior League of Cincinnati returned with “I’ll COOK WHEN PIGS FLY AND THEY DO IN CINCINNATI, another one of my favorite cookbooks.

When asked what my favorite cookbook is, I have to confess, it’s whatever I am reading at the moment. But one of the most outstanding collections of recipes were compiled by Fern Storer, who—for decades—was a food editor for the Cincinnati Post. Whenever my mother was putting together a box of things to send to me, she’d ask if there was anything in particular that I wanted; “Yes,” I always replied, “send me some of Fern Storer’s columns—and maybe a loaf of Rubel’s Rye Bread!” Later on the family would send me packets of Skyline Chili powder mix.

I wish I could have met Fern Storer. Well, during one of my visits to Cincinnati, my nephew took me to the Ohio Book store downtown in Cincinnati (Acres of Books went out of business some years ago). I bought about $100 worth of books including a copy of RECIPES REMEMBERED by Fern Storer.  We packed the box of books up and my nephew mailed them to my home—to save me the trouble of packing them in a suitcase.  Well, the box never made it to California. A single book I had read on the flight TO Cincinnati and had a return address label inside surfaced and was sent to me by the Post Office in Bell, California. I agonized over losing that box for months afterwards.

A year or two later I was back in Cincinnati and returned to the  Ohio Book Store; I told my tale of woe to the owner of the book store who remarked “You know, we ship orders all the time—we can mail your books to you for the cost of postage. So, when I had found a couple of armloads of cookbooks that day, I gave them to the owner to send to me. They weighed my books to determine the cost of shipping at book rate. My books were waiting for me when I got back home.

I didn’t find another copy of RECIPES REMEMBERED—but one day began searching for it online – and not only did I find a copy – I found one that is autographed!

Thank you, Fern Storer, wherever you are.

I like junior league cookbooks from different states –they are almost always better than most cookbooks—but when it comes to finding a recipe that is “local” the two books I turn to first are Fern Storer’s RECIPES REMEMBERED and Mary Anna DuSablon’s Cincinnati Recipe Treasury. Granted, my home town has a great deal more to offer than cookbooks—but the ones listed are those in my own collection.

Special Thanks to Howard Brinkdoepke for clarifying the names and locations of some of my Cincinnati memories. Howard became a penpal when I wrote Dinner in the Diner including the Twin Trolley Restaurant that used to be in South Fairmount.

–Sandra Lee Smith



I was sitting in the den one night, re-reading READY AND WAITING by Rick Rodgers (published by Hearst Books, copyright 1992), and was so enchanted with one of the recipes that I went straight to the kitchen and began going through the pantry and refrigerator, looking for the ingredients.

By the way you should know this about cookbooks – they don’t have to be brand new for you to discover (or in this case re-discover) any of them and yes, cookbook collectors read cookbooks like other people read novels)

The recipe that captured my attention–chicken, tomato and tortilla soup—is one of those you can put together on fairly short notice—the ingredients are items often found on our pantry shelves or in the freezer. It calls for 6 chicken thighs—I buy massive amounts of chicken parts to keep in the freezer for various recipes. The soup is delicious (although I do admit, I am inordinately fond of anything that smacks of Mexican cuisine) –and reminds me a bit of the tortilla soup served at a local Mexican restaurant. You will say mas, mas, mas!

Greatly encouraged with the results of chicken, tomato, and tortilla soup, I began experimenting with some of the other recipes.

Mr. Rodger’s book will have you digging into the back of your kitchen cupboard and dusting off your slow cooker, if that’s where yours has been relegated. By the way, I learned from Mr. Rodgers that “crockpot” (my generic name for the slow cooker) is really not a common label—it belongs exclusively to Rival Manufacturing Company.

There are 160 recipes for your slow cooker in READY AND WAITING – including (imagine this) a pineapple and macadamia chutney! I think the recipe for cranberry per-walnut sauce would be a hit at a holiday dinner…there is a gingered apple butter recipe that I am going to try as soon as I buy some apples…there is a Herbed Thanksgiving Stuffing recipe that the author recommends you make in a slow cooker instead of stuffing into a bird and I think I will attempt that recipe the next time I roast a turkey.

State the publishers, “Hearty stews, rib-sticking chilies, tender pot roasts. The real secret is a long slow simmer at a constant temperature, and no appliance does this better than a slow cooker…cooking teacher Rick Rodgers has adapted an eclectic array of international favorites for the slow cooker, including Farmer’s Market Lobster and Corn Chowder, Ground Beef Chili with Cornmeal Dumplings, Lamb shanks in Garlic Sauce, Chinese Country Ribs, and Sweet and Sout Brisket

Rick Rodgers is an award-winning cookbook author, cooking teacher, food writer, and radio and television guest chef. He is the author and co-author of over forty cookbooks on a wide range of subjects. His recipes have appeared in Food & Wine, Cooking Light and Fine Cooking, and he is a frequent contributor to Bon APETITE magazine. (the first time I wrote about Rick Rodgers for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, he had only written a few cookbooks at the time. When I began wondering what he has been writing about lately, I found enough to compile a list for you. Most of these books can be found on





Slow Cooker Ready & Waiting: 160 Sumptuous Meals That Cook Themselves (paperback edition) 1998

PRESSURE COOKING FOR EVERYONE with Arlene Ward and Kathryn Russell 2000
















SARABETH’S BAKERY WITH Sarabeth Levine and Quentin Bacon, 2010






Americanizations of British cookery books

Making British cookbooks understandable and accessible to American readers is a skill that goes well beyond switching zucchini for courgette. Some of Mr. Rodgers recent Americanizations are Anjum’s New Indian (Wiley), The Kitchen Bible (DK), Bake and Decorate (Rodale), and At Elizabeth David’s Table (Ecco.)

Review By Sandra Lee Smith






paris bistro cookery by alexander watt 001

While putting some books away—notably foreign cookbooks—I came across one I have had so long, I no longer remember how I acquired it. I do know that a few years ago when my sister & I, along with her son Cody and my grandson Ethan, met our niece, Leslie, in San Diego with her son Blake—we found a wonderful used cookbook store and bought literally stacks of cookbooks. Leslie was buying all the French cookbooks she could find and I remarked, offhandedly, that I had a lot of French cookbooks that she was welcome to, as it isn’t one of my favorite foreign cuisines. Later on I mailed two boxes of cookbooks to her.  So, how did I end up with a copy of Alexander Watt’s PARIS BISTRO COOKERY? The copyright on this cookbook is 1957 and although the dust jacket is worn and torn in places, at least it’s there.  This small cookbook was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1958 and appears to be the first edition.

My first thought was “What is bistro cookery and how does it differ from other French cooking?  Good question!  From visiting Bing and finding some definitions, I learned that French bistro food caught on in the U.S. in the ’80s, when we realized that we loved the simple, homey cooking found in those small, casual eateries the French call bistros. An alternative to haute cuisine, this is hearty, rustic, everyday stuff, often characterized by regional roots: crisp roast chickens, savory tarts, hearty stews and robust salads.

A bistro (/ˈbiːstrəʊ/), sometimes spelled bistrot, is, in its original Parisian incarnation, a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. French home-style cooking with robust earthy dishes, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet, a bean stew, are typical. According to Wikipedia, bistros likely developed out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where tenants paid for both room and board. Landlords could supplement their income by opening their kitchen to the paying public. Menus were built around foods that were simple, could be prepared in quantity and would keep over time. Wine and coffee were also served.

The origins of the word bistro are uncertain. Some say that it may derive from the Russian bystro (быстро), “quickly”. According to an urban legend, it entered the French language during the Russian occupation of Paris in 1815. Russian officers or cossacks who wanted to be served quickly would shout “bystro.” However, this etymology is not accepted by several French linguists as there is, notably, no occurrence of this word until the end of the 19th century. Others say the name comes from a type of aperitif, called a bistrouille in (or liqueur coffee), served in some reasonably priced restaurants.

Then I discovered on the cover in much smaller print “50 of Paris’s best small bistros—a cook’s tour with 100 recipes of their specialities de la maison”  (so much for such a small book!) On the inside of the dust jacket, I read “Here is a title to look at twice—for it has a double meaning. This is at once a guidebook and a cookbook  It is a collection of moments savored in those wonderful but often hard-to-find Paris islands where magnificent food is served—and eaten. It is, as well, a collection of the secrets of the chefs who make those islands as singular as they are…”

Cookbook author Alexander Watt was the food and wine expert of the London daily telegraph and knew Paris inside the kitchen and out. In Paris Bistro he cut through to the root of the French cuisine.  Covering a wide cross-section of Paris, Mr. Watt took his readers on a tour of fifty small inexpensive bistros that he personally had discovered, tested, and approved. Granted, this cookbook was published over fifty years ago and I have no way of knowing whether any of the 50 still exist more than sixty years later. Reading the dust jacket, something nudged my memory banks – what other book had I read along similar lines?  I’ll think about that as I continue on.

Author Alexander Watt took us on a tour of fifty small, inexpensive bistros that he personally had visited, bringing to life the ambiance of each bistro, recapturing the atmosphere, the particular nature of the cooking, the regional dishes for which the restaurant may be famous. He not only described the specialties of the bistro, but also offered a  representative menu, suggesting the right  accompanying wine, cheese and liqueur (or digestif, as the French would say—to settle a superlative meal. Then Mr. Watt went on to outline the making of several of the dishes for which each bistro is famous.

Mr. Watt is a Scotsman who—at the time Paris Bistro Cookery was published—had spent 25 years of his life in Paris. Watt was a food and wine expert for the London Daily telegraph and a contributor to Vogue and other international magazines. He was an exacting gourmet and an acknowledged connoisseur of food and wine. In 1954, Watt published with James Beard his first book titled PARIS CUISINES. In 1962 Watt published the Art of Simple French Cooking.  I have been unable to find any additional cookbook titles for Mr. Watt. There are, curiously, a number of non-food titles that may or may not belong to this same Mr. Watt.  While exploring his name, I found a number of Alexander Watts going back in history; most of the dates are too old to be our French expert Alexander Watt.

In the foreword to Paris Bistro Cookery, Mr. Watt writes “By ‘a small bistro type of restaurant’ I mean a small restaurant where the activities of Le Patron, or La Patronne, replace those of the chef, the head waiter and the wine waiter.  This, at once,  implies a friendly ‘enfamille’ atmosphere or ambiance as they say in French, which characterizes the bistro type of restaurant with its sawdust and simplicity, as opposed to the carpets and comfort of the one, two-, and three-starred establishments…”

“What exactly is bistro?” Mr. Watt asks. “Few foreigners, or even Parisians can define the word. The origin is an interesting one and dates back to the time of the fall of Napoleon, when, in 1815, the Allies occupied Paris. Hungry and tired, the Russians, who were then encamped on the Place de la Concorde, felt need to be restored, (hence the origin of the word ‘restaurant’) so they used to wander around the adjoining streets in search of food and drink. ‘Bistro, bistro!’ they would shout as they entered the cafés, meaning in Russian ‘quick, quick’ …give us something to eat and drink.  And so the word stuck and now signifies a small café where meals are served simply and rapidly…”

“The clientele,” Watt continues, “consists of the local tradesmen and shopkeepers who have to eat their midday meal ‘’bistro, bistro’.  As often as not, there will also be a gathering of discerning French and foreign gourmets who have come out of their way to enjoy a good quality meal ‘lento-lento’. The bistro proprietors generally do a very good business and remain on friendly terms with their regular clientele who form a sort of family circle of faithful attendants….”

Watt says this should not discourage the gastronome from getting to know these fascinating out-of-the-way bistros—especially  those owned and run by the friendly couple, the one serving at le zinc the bar), the other working in the kitchen—who will welcome a new client if he adapts himself to the unaffected atmosphere and exhibits a ready interest and appreciation of the wines and specialites de la Maison. (This reminded me of a well known Maison Gerard in North Hollwood, where some of us frequently went to eat at lunchtime – they were famous for the French Onion Soup).

Before beginning your adventure in Bistro restaurants, Watt offers a chapter of Hints on Culinary Procedure in which the author places emphasis on the cook (you) having the proper kind of cooking utensils—namely, in France, copper bottomed saucepans and pots and seem  to think most American kitchens would not contain expensive copper bottom pots and pans for “thin aluminum  pots” will cook too rapidly he wrote. I was bemused by this chapter as for myself I use mostly stainless steel cookware (and cast iron skillets)  and don’t know anyone who cooks with aluminum nowadays. That is a singular example of how far we’ve come and advanced with our cooking tools, some sixty years later.

There is a chapter on French Recipe Terms as well.

Follows are the50 bistros with a little introduction to each. I can’t pretend to know very much about French cooking but I was pleased several basic recipes for making puff pastry, Crepes, and a veal reduction. There is an extensive chapter on “choosing a cheese” and a Glossary of the dishes found in this cookbook which may be the most useful to a novice cook or anyone wanting to learn how to make some French recipes.  (and of course, there is always Julia Child’s famous cookbook). has come pre owned and collectible copies of PARIS BISTRO COOKERY—the cover shown is not the same as mine. It took endless entries onto Google to learn anything at al—the website continuously brings up ads for all sorts of unrelated information. I went to and found the books listed on Amazon. Powell’s bookstore in Portland, Oregon, has a red-covered copy of Paris Bistro Cookery with a backorder of $205.50.  Powell’s also answers the questions uppermost in my mind: they note that many visitors who arrive in Paris expecting to eat well in the bistros the city was once famous for, find many have closed or turned into sushi bars. But although these small restaurants with zinc counters serving delicious traditional “spcialitis de la maison and plats du jour” under the watchful direction of the Patron have all but disappeared from Paris, they live on in the pages of this delightful book. It offers a hundred recipes from fifty of the best authentic Paris bistros, collected in the 1950’s when these establishments were at their height. Part guidebook and part cookbook, this volume gives the address and description of each bistro as it was, and its colorful denizens, followed by its signature recipes. A work to savor.

Before I close leaving you to wonder –should you or shouldn’t you attempt to find a copy of Paris Bistro Cookery, I’ll give you an article more accessible to find – Endless Feasts –60 years of Gourmet Magazine—edited by Ruth Reichl—has an article titled Paris Report, by Don Dresden, which offers a more realistic view of Paris restaurants following World War II when the author had gone back there to live. Paris, it seems, was and is equally famous for its food, not just the wines. Anyone who has been there and wants to talk about it – I am ready to listen. Paris Bistro Cookery—with or without the recipes—is a fascinating little book to read.

Sandra Lee Smith





“Beautiful soup so rich and green,

Waiting in a hot tureen

Who for dainties would not stoop

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!”

–the Mock Turtle  in Alice in Wonderland

Is there anything quite like a bowl of hot soup? It nourishes and sustains us on a cold and wintry day. Nothing restores us quite like a bowl of hot soup. On a hot summer day, it’s a marvelously light meal that cools us off, and what could be tastier, then, than a chilled bowl of gazpacho!

French peasant for many centuries recognized the value of having a soup pot simmering on the back of the stove every day. Any leftover bits of meat or vegetables were tossed into the soup kettle. Nothing was ever wasted. A bowl of nourishing soup was available, then, at any time.

Decades ago, housewives knew the value of feeding a nourishing beef bouillon (sometimes called beef tea) or chicken broth to an invalid. A pot or kettle of soup can be very simple—beef broth, for instance or consommé,  or it can be hearty, like a clam chowder or beef stew.  Today’s thrifty cook knows that he or she can toss bits and pieces of leftover meat or vegetables into a container and FREEZE them; when she is ready to make a pot of soup she can just toss the saved beef and vegetables into the soup pot. My sister Becky called it “CLEANING OUT THE FRIG SOUP” – when the plastic container was full, she started out with whatever she found in the frig and added the frozen container of meat & vegetables. I was non-plussed when she decided to add leftover spaghetti to the soup pot – but she cut the spaghetti into bite size pieces and it was wonderful. And I learned a new lesson about spaghetti.

If you think of soup as just something that comes out of a can, are you in for a surprise! Homemade soup is one of the easiest, most nourishing foods you can possibly serve to your family and it can be very, very inexpensive, made from leftovers in your refrigerator–the remains of a pot roast or a ham bone can get you started. If I have leftover roast, carrots and potatoes and some beef gravy or au jus—it  can all go into the pot for stew.  If all you have is some roast beef, into the pot it can go, with fresh vegetables – carrots, onion, potatoes – or to make it easier on yourself – skip the fresh vegetables and add canned mix vegetables or  a package of frozen mixed vegetables. In the office where I worked for many years, some of my coworkers lost a lot of excess weight and maintained their weight loss by mixing up batches of a simple “diet soup” over the weekend and then having it for lunches through the week. The recipe couldn’t be any simpler (it was mostly made up of all kinds of green vegetables) and the soup could be eaten anytime, in any amount.

When I was a little girl, vegetable soup was served at dinner first as a broth  sometimes with homemade noodles added to it, then as an entrée we had the potatoes, carrots and meat from the soup pot—while my father and brothers spread the cooked marrow from the soup bones onto crackers. (NOW marrow bones are roasted and served as a fancy dish on the Food Network).

It may surprise you to know that many American presidents were very partial to soups—enough so that history has left us a legacy of their soup preferences!

Our first president, George Washington, loved seafood and was especially partial to wife Martha’s crab soup. According to Poppy Cannon in her book “The PRESIDENTS COOKBOOK” it also became a favorite recipe of FDR’s as well as that of President Eisenhower and Mrs. Eisenhower. Many decades later, Martha Washington’s Crab Soup was served at the Senate Wives Red Cross luncheon.  First Lady Mrs. Ford liked it so much that the recipe was sent to the White House chefs to reproduce the crab soup to Mrs. Ford’s satisfaction, whereupon it became a Ford family favorite. (I would imagine that President Washington, with his ill-fitting dentures, found soups easier to eat and digest, too!)  George Washington also had a favorite vegetable soup.

To make Martha Washington’s Crab Bisque, you will need the following:

Enough crab to make ½ pound crabmeat

1 TBSP butter

1½ TBSP flour

3 hard-cooked eggs, mashed

Rind of 1 lemon, grated

Salt & pepper to taste

2 ½ cups milk

½ cup sherry

½ cup heavy cream

Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Boil enough crabs in salted water* to make ½ pound crab meat (or use canned crab or frozen). Combine the butter, flour, eggs, lemon rind, salt and pepper. Put the milk into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour it slowly into the egg mixture. Now combine the crab meat with the milk mixture and boil gently 5 minutes. Add the cream and take it off the stove before it comes to a full boil. Now add the sherry and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Serves 4-5.

Sandy’s Cooknote* whenever I cook shrimp or crab—any kind of seafood – I store the liquid from the seafood in a jar in the refrigerator—for a future batch of clam chowder.

Martha Washington also favored a Mexican Black Bean soup; these recipes found their way into Martha’s manuscript cookbook.  Quite possibly her recipe was given to her by President Jefferson, as he, too, had a favorite Mexican Black Bean Soup. Martha did obtain recipes from other notables of her time. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, many decades later, were also partial to the black bean soup.

To make President Jefferson’s Mexican Black Bean Soup you will need:

2 cups dried black beans

2 ½ quarts water

2 lbs short ribs of beef

Salt & pepper

1 cup wine

3 slices toast made into croutons

Wash a quart of black beans; add them to a pot with a gallon of cold water. Add 2 or 3 pounds of stewing veal or beef or soup bones and cook the mixture 2 or 3 hours or until the beans have become soft.   (letting the dry beans soak overnight is recommended). Pour off the liquid from the cooked beans and save; mash the beans through a sieve season with salt and pepper. Add them to the soup liquid and simmer 15 minutes. Serve the soup with small squares of bread that has been browned and toasted in melted butter. Makes about 2 quarts. (or use some croutons))

There is a more elegant black bean soup recipe in the Mount Vernon cookbook but the above recipe is simple and nourishing. We have all become familiar with black bean—they are now readily available in dry or canned. I had never eaten black beans until I became friends with a woman from Puerto Rico, when we lived in Florida. It was traditional in her family to have a meal of ham and black beans for good luck on New Year’s Day. That was my introduction to black beans which were also called turtle beans but only in connection with dried, not canned, black beans.

President Jefferson signed the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and fittingly one of his favorite soup recipes was Gumbo. Another favorite soup of President Jefferson was potato soup, as prepared by his cook at Monticello.

Yet another well-liked soup recipe of President Jefferson was pea soup—made, of course, with peas from his own garden. Every Monday at Monticello, tomato soup was served. Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Martha, who shared his interest in recipes (called “receipts” back then) gave the recipe to Martha Washington. Yet another favorite recipe written by President Jefferson’s daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, was a recipe for okra soup. Per Poppy Cannon, okra soup was more or less a simple forerunner of Brunswick Stew which was later to become a favorite in Brunswick, Virginia, as well as other places in the south. This recipe is listed in Martha Jefferson Randolph’s name at Monticello;


Water lima beans

Fresh meat or chicken




Add 1 quart chopped okra, young and crisp, to 2 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook 1 hour. Add 1 cup of lima beans (fresh or dried), a pound of fresh meat or chicken cut in serving size pieces. Simmer gently for 1 hour.  Add 5 tomatoes, cut into small pieces. Add more water if needed. Let simmer slowly. When almost done, add 2 tbsp butter rolled in 1 tablespoon flour. The soup should not be too thick. (Fresh corn, cut from the cob, may be added at the same time as the lima beans, if desired). And a thicker version may be made by simmering longer, until the meat and vegetables are a porridge-like mass. Makes about 2 quarts. – From The Presidents’ Cookbook by Poppy Cannon

John Adams, like all early pioneering Americans, learned to use corn in many different ways. It was a legacy give to us by the American Indians. A favorite soup of President Adams was corn soup. Another favorite dish was succotash soup. Perhaps the Adams’ who spent some years living in Philadelphia, developed a taste for the Pennsylvania-Dutch corn soup. The following corn and tomato soup with dumplings is credited with Ohio origins but it might have originated in Pennsylvania.

To make Corn and tomato Soup with Dumplings you will need

A meaty soup bone

½ onion, sliced,

Salt & pepper to taste

1 dozen ears of corn

1 dozen tomatoes


Cover bone with cold water; add seasonings and onion. Shave off the grains of corn and also scrap out the pulp and add to the soup pot. Peel, then cut up the tomatoes and let it come to a boil. Then reduce  the heat and cook slowly 3 hours.

To make dumplings:

1 egg

1 cup sour milk*

½ tsp salt


½ tsp baking soda

Beat egg slightly; stir soda into milk and add. Mix in enough salted flour to make a very stiff batter.  Drop into boiling soup from a tablespoon. Cover and cook 20 minutes.  Serve at once.

*I take it for granted that everybody knows these things but in case you don’t know how to make sour milk just add a tablespoon of white vinegar to regular milk. Wait a little bit…and it will become “sour milk”.


Many presidents have enjoyed turtle or terrapin. According to history, one of the first presidents to receive a gift of turtle was President John Adams. A friend bestowed a 114 pound turtle upon the president.

In his diary, his son – John Quincy Adams – mentions that at a July 4th dinner served at the White House during the Tyler’s Administration, turtle soup was served, made from a turtle weighing “three hundred pounds” – a present from Key West. It is said that John Quincy Adams never failed to mention with whom he dined, or how often, but seldom made mention of the food itself—so that when he mentioned in his diary having eaten turtle soup at a dinner it must have been an impressive occasion.

I can’t resist mentioning that many species of turtles are on the brink of extinction if not already extinct. Like buffalo, early Americans could not imagine that reckless killing of animals would eventually make many of them extinct. In 2003, National Geographic said that leatherneck turtles were on the brink of extinction.

More about turtles later!

Dolley Madison, considered for many decades to be the quintessential Washington hostess served as hostess for Thomas Jefferson, who was widowed.

Dolley Madison was First Lady in her own right when James Madison was president. Dolly, who left neatly handwritten notes containing her favorite recipes and home remedies, treated visitors—even drop-ins—with a bouillon laced with sherry at her afternoon  receptions. “When the weather was  cold and  dreary,” wrote one observer, “it was a comforting practice”. Perhaps it was such small but thoughtful gestures as this that gave                                                                                                 such luster to Dolley Madison’s reputation for hospitality.

To make Dolley Madison’s Hospitable Bouillon you will need:

4 lbs beef

1 veal knuckle

3 small carrots

2 turnits

1 good hot pepper

3 small white onions

1 bunch parsley

8 quarts water


Put 4 pounds of juicy beef, a knuckle of veal and a bouquet garni of herbs tied in cheesecloth into a large kettle along with 6 quarts of water. Add remaining ingredients, except sherry, and simmer together for 6 hours. When finished strain the bouillon through a fine sieve. Allow the soup to stand overnight to congeal. Skim off all the grease. Put the soup back into the kettle to heat. Just before serving, add sherry to taste (made with stock instead of water it is even better although Dolley’s recipe says simply water.

It’s just a guess on my part, but I imagine that Dolley had a kettle of beef bouillon cooking every day in order to serve all the guests in cold weather. She would have to have one kettle of soup cooking while another was being reheated to serve to guests.

Chef Rysavy in A TREASURY OF WHITE HOUSE COOKING also mentions Dolley liked to let her bouillon stand overnight before skimming off the fat. She would store the bouillon in a cool place and heat a portion of it as needed. Just before the bouillon was server, a little sherry was added.

As someone who makes large batches of different soups as well as my own beef and chicken stocks, I have been chilling these soups in gallon jars for years. I have a second refrigerator in the garage in which to keep these things (as well as soft drinks and juices for the grandchildren) – so that I am able to remove the fats from any stock before continuing on with a soup recipe. I’ve been doing this so long that I no longer remember where I learned it – quite possibly from reading my White House cookbooks!

President Fillmore may not be well remembered by American historians, or school children, but he did install the first real bathtub with centrally heated running water and his wife installed the first library in the White House. In  addition, President  Fillmore installed the first  real STOVE in the White House kitchen. Prior to that time, all the Fillmore cooking was done over open fireplaces. There is a story that the Fillmore cook was horrified at the idea of cooking on such a “thing” [as a stove] and the President had to go visit the patent office to get detailed directions for operating it. But, like all new contraptions, once the White House staff got used to it, they couldn’t imagine how they had gotten along without it.

President Fillmore was a thrifty man—it seems only natural that one of HIS favorite soup recipes was an old fashioned vegetable beef soup, which was more like a stew. Again, according to Ms. Cannon’s book THE PRESIDENTIAL COOKBOOK, WHEN President Fillmore’s soup was ready to serve, the solids were removed from the soup kettle to a platter.  The soup was served, consumed, then the soup bowls filled with the meat and vegetables from the platter. (I wonder if my mother could have known that an American President enjoyed vegetable soup served just like hers—I was curious about Fillmore’s birthplace and wondered if it was Ohio, where my parents were born—but no, President Fillmore was born in New York).

A favorite soup of Andrew Jackson’s was “Old Hickory Nut Soup”, also a favorite with natives of Jackson’s North Carolina home state. The recipe begins with “Crack one gallon hickory nuts…” (I found directions for making hickory nut soup but it is far too convoluted to type, much less re-create). However, in Poppy Cannon’s THE PRESIDENT’S COOKBOOK, she provides a simpler recipe for making Hickory Nut Soup.  You need

Hickory nuts


Hot water

Crack a gallon of hickory nuts;  remove the hulls and crush together [the   nuts]  into a mass. Pour a quart of hot water over the nuts ; allow to stand for 10  minutes. Strain, add 4 tablespoons of sugar and serve hot.

Julia Tyler seems to have been partial to a “torup” stew, torups being a variation of huge turtles that were native to the Eastern Shore of Long Island, where Julie grew up. (Julia was President Tyler’s second wife and many years younger than he. The marriage created something of a stir in Washington). The torup stew was said to taste a lot like chicken.

Oyster stew and Terrapin Stew were amongst the many dishes listed on President Lincoln’s second inaugural ball menu. This was a bit of a far cry from President Lincoln’s first inaugural ball menu at which mock turtle soup was served. While most food historians claim that the President was not interested in food or eating, it seems that President Lincoln actually  planned the menu for his second inaugural luncheon and it seems that President Lincoln loved fruit pies.  Some of the ladies in Springfield shipped fruit pies to him—no small feat in the mid 1800s.  (I sometimes wonder if the President just didn’t like the way most foods were prepared for him.  I grew up thinking I hated rice and cabbage, I hated rabbit—what I really didn’t like was the way these foods were prepared. My mother’s rice was a lump of sticky glue and cabbage was cooked from 9 am until 6 pm until it bore no resemblance to a vegetable…and rabbit? The only rabbit I was ever acquainted with as a child was a wild rabbit killed by my father during hunting season and cleaned in the kitchen sink in front of impressionable eyes. It was then soaked in a vinegar and spice concoction for 3 days to create “hasenpfeffer” – a dish that was the bane of my childhood).

The Benjamin Harrisons were a soup-loving family with corn soup and fish chowder amongst their favorites.

Another favorite served by Mrs. Harrison was “Amber Soup” which was a hot, clear soup that she served at White House teas and receptions. It was  made from both chicken and ham, along with assorted vegetables. Poppy Cannon writes that we may serve it under different occasions today but it is still a splendid soup.

To make Amber soup you will need




Soup Bone

Bouquet Garni







Egg Whites

Ground salt & pepper

Put cleaned and washed stewing chicken in 4 quarts of water, along with a small slice of ham and a soup bone. Boil together over a low fire for about 3½ hours. Then add a bouquet garni,* 2 stalks celery, 1 carrot, 1 onion, 1 small parsnip, 2 or 3 sprigs of parsley, and 3 cloves.  Cook another half hour, then strain the liquid and chill in a glass jar in the refrigerator overnight. Shortly before serving time, remove the wedge of grease that has formed at the top of the jar and pour the jellied broth in a saucepan (omit the sediment on the bottom). Beat 2 egg whites and add to the jellied mixture. Boil quickly for one minute and then pour the soup through a jelly bag. (or a cheesecloth sieve if you don’t have a jelly bag) add one teaspoon caramel made by mixing brown sugar with a little water over a low fire until browned but not burned. Add salt & pepper to taste.  Makes 2 quarts.

(Sandy’s cooknote: if I were making this soup I would add a jalapeno pepper or another mild green pepper to the original mixture of vegetables –but only briefly; I would remove the jalapeno   after 1 or 20 minutes, just to get a bit of heat in the amber soup).

TO MAKE A BOUQUET GARNI (which is a French term for a bundle of herbs): There are numerous versions of bouquet garni, which is an assortment of fresh herbs. A simple traditional bouquet garni is 3 sprigs (long stems) parsley 2 sprigs thyme, and 1 bay leaf. Put it all together in a small bag – 2 or 3 thicknesses of cheesecloth, then tie it all together to go into the soup pot but can easily be removed.

Moving forward to the administration of Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt—one of the first things the president did  after looking around his new home was to pitch potted palms out of the reception rooms. Notes Poppy Cannon in The Presidents’ Cookbook, that small action was symbolic of Teddy Roosevelt’s desire to change and simplify what had become what had become a most unwieldy structure, both socially and decoratively. The Roosevelts were an attractive, ebullient family. In addition to the President and his wife Edith, there were six children, ranging from the baby Quentin to seventeen year old Alice. Theodore Jr was away at school most of the time but Archie, Kermit and Ethel were natural, noisy youngsters. These      youngsters, roller skating in the upstairs corridors and playing leapfrog over the satin upholstery, had to be daunting for White House employees. There were many ways in which the Roosevelts brought fresh air into the White House.

One guest at the White  House table recalled a delicious luncheon of bouillon, salt fish, chicken in rice and fresh rolls (Dolley Madison’s recipe for bouillon, perhaps?)

The president’s daughter Alice dominated the newspapers  during the years of the Roosevelt administration,  probably more so than any other single member of the family except for the president himself. She was dubbed “Princess Alice” by the press. She made her debut not long after the Roosevelts moved into the White  House, and four years later, her wedding was considered to be the biggest White House social news since Nellie Grant’s wedding, decades before.

As for soups, there was a corn chowder with “bear’s paw” popcorn that the president tasted at an old country inn in Vermont and obviously obtained the recipe, how else would we know what it was? To make the Windham County Hotel’s recipe for corn chowder with Bear’s Paw Popcorn:

You will need

Salt pork




Soda crackers


Corn (fresh, frozen or canned)

Salt & paprika


Cube 3 sliced of salt pork and sauté them in a skillet until crisp but not too brown. Add  one large sliced onion and sauté until golden. Add 3 sliced potatoes  and 2 cups water and continue cooking until potatoes become tender. Place 8 soda crackers in a large bowl. Pour 1 cup milk over them to soak. When the crackers have absorbed the milk, add to the skillet. Also add 2 ½  cups fresh corn or thawed frozen corn or whole kernel canned corn   along with 1 tsp salt and 1½ tsp paprika. Simmer the mixture over the same low heat for at least 10 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with popped corn. Serves   4

The Roosevelt family, addicted as its various members were to foreign travel, had a special interest in India and the Far East. Though normally partial to relatively simple foods, they were fond of certain dishes from the East, such as this delicious curried soup;

To make Chilled Senegalese Soup you will need:

Chicken stock

Curry powder

Chicken (cooked)

Egg yolks


Salt & pepper

Put 3 ½ cups chicken stock into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Then add half teaspoon curry powder and 1 ½ cups finely chopped cooked chicken and  simmer gently. (More curry powder can be added if you like a stronger flavor) Blend 4 slightly beaten egg yolks with a tablespoon of the hot chicken stock and slowly add 2 cups warm cream to the yolks. Slowly add  into the simmering chicken and stock. Keep stirring while the soup thickens over a very low heat. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add ½ tsp each salt and pepper to taste. Remove the soup from the fire, cool, and then put it into the refrigerator until chilled. Serve cold. Serves 6.

Not too many years went by following the administration of Teddy Roosevelt before another member of the Roosevelt family descended upon Washington and the White House. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to the presidency in 1932 and has the distinction of being elected to 4 terms. (later, a law was passed prohibiting anyone from serving more than 2 terms as president—but at the time, FDR, his wife, and children brought a ray of hope to America at a time when the country had been for some time in the throes of the great depression. FDR was Teddy Roosevelt’s cousin.  The Roosevelts enjoyed many plain dishes, such as ceamed chipped beef, bread pudding and fried cornmeal when they were alone (which wasn’t often). Mrs. Roosevelt did not cook, aside from making scrambled eggs in a chafing dish on Sunday nights—she was a busy person in her own right and traveled throughout the country, returning to report to the president what she had seen and heard. She was his eyes and ears. However, Mrs. Roosevelt – although not interested in redecorating the White House, did redesign the kitchens, equipping them with electric stoves and dishwashers to lighten the work of the staff. Her attitude towards servants was deeply considerate. Mrs. Roosevelt disliked making too much work for the cooks with highly elaborate menus. Another reason for this, of course, was that the Roosevelt regime spanned some of the hardest years the country has known—the depression, war, and rationing. She undertook to have served at the White House the series of low priced menus prepared by the Department of Agriculture during the depression.

The Roosevelt family loved soups (a good thing—what is more economical than soup?) All during their White House years, big steel soup kettles were steaming away in the kitchen and soup was served twice a day. The soups were of many varieties, good planning at a time when food was scarce. A presidential favorite was Pepper Pot, a White House tradition since the days of George Washington.  To make Philadelphia Pepper Pot you will need:



Veal joint

Bay leaves




Mixed herbs (Bouquet Garni)

Red pepper


Cayenne pepper


Beef suet

This recipe takes 2 days to prepare. Scrap 4 pounds of tripe and wash in 3 waters. Put into cold water to cover and boil gently for 7 or 8 hours. Cool in its own liquid, then cut into ½” squares. The next day, simmer a veal joint with its meat on it, for 3 hours in 3 quarts of cold water. Skim off the scum as it cooks. When it is cooked, cool and then separate the meat from the bones and simmer another hour.  Strain the soup and add 2 bay leaves and 2 onions, chopped coarsely, and simmer another hour. Strain the soup and add 4 diced potatoes, 2 teaspoons minced parsley, a bunch of mixed herbs (a bouquet garni) and 1 red pepper cut into dice. Also add the meats, 2 tsp salt, ½ tsp cayenne and dumplings which you have made out of   2 cups flour, ½ lb beef suet and salt. Make these dumplings small , about ½” in diameter. Drop them into the simmering soup, cover tightly and cook about 5 minutes longer.  Serve at once. Serves 6.

(I don’t know anyone who would go to all the work of making Philadelphia Pepper Pot nowadays.

President Roosevelt was extremely partial to fish sops. His mother supplied the Roosevelt cook with recipes for her son’s favorites. One was this excellent fish chowder.

To make Sara Delano Roosevelt’s Fish Chowder you will need:

Salt pork




Salt & pepper


Cut 3 slices of salt pork into cubes and brown in frying pan. Skim off excess fat and add 4 sliced onions. Fry until onions are clear. Skim out the  pork and onions and set aside. Make 1 cup of white sauce using the fat in the  pan and enough flour to make a  thin paste. When white sauce is smooth, add 1 quart milk. Return pork and onions to pot  along with a pound or more of raw white fish, boned, ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Simmer 15 minutes or until fish has turned white and flakes easily. This serves 4 hearty or 6 as a first course.

For some reason, Poppy Cannon reports, Mongole soup was an inaugural day favorite during the Roosevelt Administration. A number of these occasions were rainy as well as cold, and the hoards who showed up for lunch found this to be a satisfying and warming addition to the standard cold cuts, salads and rolls. It also made a hearty midnight snack for the Roosevelt guests who were often a little peckish (hungry) in the late hours.

To make Mongole Soup you will need:

Yellow split peas

Tomato juice


Salt & pepper

Soak overnight ½ cup yellow split peas. In the morning, drain the peas and    set over low heat with 2 cans tomato juice. Simmer several hours or until peas disintegrate. Season with 1 tsp grated onion and salt and pepper to taste.

Another midnight favorite was oxtail soup while green gumbo was a luncheon favorite for  FDR—but what I want to share with you is FDR’s GREEN TURTLE SOUP  recipe.

Like many American presidents, FDR loved turtle and terrapin soup. Soon after his inauguration, some terrapin was sent to the White House. Mrs. Henrietta Nesbitt, the  housekeeper the Roosevelts had brought with them from Hyde Park, was entirely unaccustomed to turtle life “and the huge brute” as she told it “would crawl around in the cellar”. When Mrs. Nesbitt spoiled the first terrapin, FDR was furious. The next time a terrapin arrived, he arranged to have someone from the Metropolitan Club to prepare it.

Despite the fact that terrapin appeared not infrequently at the White House, Mrs. Roosevelt never liked it.  This turtle soup recipe always created a great fuss in the kitchen of the White House when special cooks came in to prepare it. Nevertheless it was trotted out for a number of appreciative visitors, among them Will Rogers. (When you read the directions for obtaining turtle meat, you may never want to make it yourself,

To make FDR’s Green Turtle Soup  you will need


Pickling spices




Green peppers


Cream (light)



Salt & pepper


Plunge 2 turtles into boiling water to kill. (if you are using snapping turtles, scrub and then scald them).  (ew, ew) Boil turtles whole, with ½ pound of pickling spices tied into a bag, 2 stick celery, 2 onions, 3 carrots, 2 green peppers and a blade of mace (or powdered mace) for 40 minutes until skin turns white on legs and head and it separates and can be slipped off. Another ew, ew. Cool and remove turtles. Separate the meat from the bones and can be slipped off.  Cool and remove turtles. Strain the broth.    Mix 2 quarts  light cream with ½ cup butter and ½ cup flour to make a white sauce. Add the bits of meat and 2 quarts of liquid reduced by boiling for an hour. Season with salt and pepper and add 1 cup sherry. Serves 16.

Sandy’s cooknote: I know there is no chance at all that I would ever kill and cook a turtle—and reading the directions for making turtle soup only confirms my aversion for cooking them. It’s amazing that so many species of turtles are on the brink of being extinct!   However, I have had mock turtle soup many times growing up – made with ground beef (although the original recipes for mock turtle soup called for cooking one calf’s head. Ew, ew.  I think I have a family recipe for mock turtle soup that is made with ground beef.

The Truman family followed FDR and were adamant about guarding their privacy. This was a whole new ballgame in the White House. The Trumans treasured their privacy  and resisted attempts to change it. Surely no family before or since zealously  protected their privacy, which extended to family recipes, to the extent of the Trumans. I did find a recipe of Mrs. Truman’s for Ozark Pudding in a Key West cookbook (their summer White House was located there) there and Poppy Cannon managed to include some recipes that may or may not have been authentic recipes of Mrs. Truman).

That being said, when the Trumans took over as the First Family Mrs. Truman very quickly made herself loved by the entire White House Staff. She knew what she wanted; she knew how things should be done, and she knew how to give orders in a pleasant way. President Truman referred to her as “The Boss”. She hid, whenever possible, from the press. The Truman ways were not the Roosevelt ways. Mrs. Truman took the household bookkeeping in hand and ran it herself. She ruled out breakfast  for the daily sleep-out employees*, to cut the huge food bills. Every day she sat at her desk and tried to run the White House like a business. (*I am unable to find a definition for “daily sleep-out employees” This appears to be an expression used in the 1940s).

Mrs. Truman’s attention to detail was typical towards food. She gained the reputation of serving the best of home cooked food even for guests who came to the White House teas. But no one was ever able to penetrate the Trumans’ insistence on protecting their privacy and that included Mrs. Truman’s collection of recipes.

Despite Mrs. Truman’s intense dislike of having to be in the spotlight, she went about the duties of being First Lady with a dignity which soon commanded the public’s respect.  If Mrs. Truman had a favorite soup recipe, it remained private.  Not even the First Ladies Cook Book published by Parents Magazine Press offers a soup recipe. The Ozark Pudding recipe is included, however.  After serving as President 3 years following the death of FDR (Truman was vice president when FDR died), Truman was elected to another 4 years which was a huge surprise victory as everyone expected Dewey to be elected—Truman served those four years and then (certainly to Mrs. Truman’s relief) they went back home to Missouri.

General Eisenhower was elected President and moved into the White House with wife, Mamie, in 1953. The Eisenhower Administration was notable for entertaining more royalty and heads of state than any other president and soups were a favorite dish of the Eisenhowers—the president himself sometimes cooked them if he was in the mood.  Other times he and the First Lady enjoyed the excellent soups that the White House chefs prepared for them.

Here is a Cold Curry Soup recipe that was served to Nikita Khrushchev and his wife enjoyed when they visited the White House—Mr. Khrushchev even brought along his own taster.  To make Cold Curry Soup you will need




Salt & pepper


Curry powder

Chicken Bouillon Cubes


Melt 1/3 cup butter in a saucepan over low heat. In it sauté ¼ cup of minced onion and ¼ cup diced celery. Continue cooking over low heat until transparent. Blend in a teaspoon of salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, ¼ cup flour and 1½  to 4 tablespoons curry power (depending on the strength of the curry powder and the durability of your palate). Add 1 quart of milk stirring constantly. Cook until smooth and thickened. Add a chicken bouillon cube and stir until blended. Chill thoroughly. Serve in chilled bowls sprinkled with freshly grated coconut. Serves 6.

Chicken Noodle Soup was a favorite of the Eisenhowers. This is what you need to make the Eisenhower’s Chicken Noodle soup:

Stewing chicken





Salt & white pepper



Stew a chicken in cold water to cover, until tender, with 3 sliced carrots, 3 stalks of celery, sliced, 1 sliced onion, 1 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp white pepper. Remove chicken and strain the stock. Take the chicken liver and slice it fine and add it to the soup. Garnish with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley. Serves 6. This chicken recipe was also used for sandwiches or creamed chicken.

It’s just a guess but I am inclined to surmise that the Eisenhowers may have enjoyed soups more than any other president—if Poppy Cannon’s book THE PRESIDENTS’ COOK BOOK is any kind of indicator. Included in her book are five more recipes for different kinds of soups. Along with Oxtail Soup and Stone Crab Bisque, there are recipes for Cream of Almond Soup and a Cream of Celery Soup that was renamed by Mrs. Eisenhower (Cream of Celery-Clam Soup Rysavy) in honor of Chef Rysavy in his second month at the White House.  Chef Rysavy said the recipe was one he invented in France, which he thought would please the Eisenhowers.

To make Cream of Celery-Clam Soup Rysavy, you will need

Canned cream of celery soup

Bottled clam juice

Chicken Consomme


To one can undiluted celery soup, add twice as much clam juice and half a can of chicken consommé. Whir in blender until creamy. Heat thoroughly and serve in small cups. Sprinkle with chopped chives. Serves 6.

(forgive me if I am rolling on the floor laughing – the thought of a White House French chef making a soup for the President and  First lady using canned cream of celery—cracks me up).

But  before I finish writing about the Eisenhowers, I would like to include the President’s recipe for old fashioned beef stew. Poppy Cannon writes (and I believe I read this somewhere else a long time ago) – while President Eisenhower left the running of the house to his wife, there was one exception. He was fond of cooking an occasional dish of a homely variety. Beef soup was one of his specialties and he would leave the soup simmering on the stove in the kitchen for hours, causing much mouth-watering among the kitchen staff.  As the president and First Lady differed on the subject of onions (he loved them; she hated them) this was an opportunity for him to indulge in one of his favorite tastes. Quantity didn’t faze the president. His beef stew recipe serves sixty and although he had help from the staff preparing the vegetables, he was there in the kitchen, in his favorite apron, stirring, tasting and seasoning.  To make President Eisenhower’s Beef Stew for Sixty, you will need:

Beef cut for stew

Beef stock

Small Irish potatoes

Small carrots

White onions

Fresh tomatoes

Bouquet Garni


Salt & pepper

Stew 20 pounds of beef in  3 gallons beef stock until partially tender, about 2 ½ hours. Season and add 8 pounds peeled potatoes, 6 bunches scraped carrots, 5 pounds peeled onions, 15 quartered tomatoes, and a bouquet garni (bay leaf, parsley, garlic, thyme tied in a cheesecloth bag). When vegetables are tender, strain off 2 gallons of stock and thicken with enough flour to make a medium thick sauce. Remove cheesecloth bag; add thickened gravy to the meat and vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook for another half hour.

I’ve included President Eisenhower’s recipe for beef stew to serve 60 just for fun although I can think of occasions when I would be inclined to make this recipe,  if I wasn’t making Cincinnati Chili for a large crowd.  Poppy Cannon does provide Eisenhower’s Beef Stew for SIX that you might want to try instead!

Poppy Cannon’s book goes on to include recipes of achievements of the Kennedy’s and the Johnsons—and I have numerous other books by or about White House chefs and presidential favorites—if my readers enjoyed reading this blog post, then I hope you will let me know and I will do a second part.  – Sandy