Monthly Archives: July 2013


The following was posted in July, 2009—since then I have often received inquiries and questions from like-minded friends and relatives (mostly the nieces) – asking about very basic recipes. I realize that something posted in July of 2009 might not be on the tip of the tongue in 2013—and I really want to get a master list made of all the blog entries to make it easier to find what you want. Meantime, here are some of the basic recipes. I suggest printing them and keeping the information in a notebook

Since posting the first “Back to Basics” I began finding a lot more “basic” recipes in my files. What I mean about basic recipes is those things you can easily make from scratch instead of using a prepackaged mix that generally costs a lot more than making your own – or in some instances, such as one with my younger sister, when she wanted to make something like tacos for dinner and discovered she was out of taco seasoning mix. Now she makes her own taco seasoning mix all the time. (Another bonus to making your own – there’s often no telling how long the seasoning mix was on the store shelves or in a warehouse before you bought it). When you mix your own, you know how old the spices or seasonings in your kitchen are. Anyway, here are some more basic recipes that you can print and keep in your own recipe box.


You will need:

2 cups low fat or no fat cottage cheese
¼ cup plain yogurt
eggbeaters to equal 1 egg
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP water
½ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp hot sauce

Combine all ingredients in a blender container and process until smooth. Use for potato topping or dips.

Sandy’s Cooknote: The beauty of this recipe is that you can use no fat cottage cheese and by using egg beaters, you have a VERY LOW calorie/no fat recipe. The original recipe called for 1 egg–given that you aren’t cooking anything, I have changed it to eggbeaters to equal one egg.


¾ CUP brown sugar
2 TBSP soft butter or margarine
¼ tsp salt
½ cup hot evaporated milk

Put all ingredients into blender container. Cover and process at mix until sugar is dissolved.

You will need:

2 CUPS fine dry bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp garlic salt
¼ cup parsley flakes, crumbled

Combine spices. Mix well. Pack loosely in jar. Use as coating for veal, pork, poultry or fish to be sautéed. Makes about 3 cups.


You will need:

6 TBSP coarse ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp sugar (optional)
½ tsp dried sweet red pepper
½ tsp dried finely minced onion
1 tsp paprika
1/3 tsp dried sweet green pepper

Combine spices and stir with wooden spoon. Pack tightly in glass jars. Makes about ½ cup.

Sandy’s cooknote: Ok, I do a lot of cooking but have never heard of dried sweet red or green pepper. BUT I think you could easily make your own. I chop up bell peppers when they are on sale and freeze them. I think I could just as easily dry a little of each, red and green in my oven or dehydrator to have it on hand. I’ll give this a try and get back to you on the results.


You will need:

1 TBSP salt
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 ½ tsp paprika
1 ¼ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp round red pepper
¾ tsp black pepper
¾ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground bay leaves
¼ tsp chili powder

Combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container. Sprinkle on sea food, chicken or beef before grilling. Yield ¼ cup.


You will need:

1 ½ TBSP sugar
1 TBSP onion powder
1 TBSP dried thyme
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp ground red pepper
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves

Combine all ingredients. Store mixture in an airtight container. Sprinkle on chicken or seafood before grilling. Yield 1/3 cup.


You will need:

2 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP onion powder
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black better
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp sugar

Mix. Store in an airtight container.

Sandy’s cooknote: You will note that all of these recipes advise keeping the spice or seasoning in airtight containers. You don’t have to go out and buy a lot of jars or plastic containers. I save all kinds and sizes of glass jars when they are empty of what ever came with them. Wash them really good and remove the labels. When you put a seasoning into one of them, label it and include the date so you will remember when you made it. When I had babies, those baby food jars really came in handy for things like seasoning mixes.


You will need:

3 TBSP paprika
2 TBSP EACH salt, dried parsley, onion powder and garlic powder, oregano, basil and thyme
½ tsp celery salt

Stir well. Store in an airtight container.


You will need:

2 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP garlic salt
1 TBSP paprika
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ cup vegetable oil

In a small mixing bowl, combine all seasonings. Blend in oil, forming a paste. May be refrigerated up to 2 weeks. To use, brush mixture on whole chicken or chicken pieces and let stand 1 hr at room temperature or at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before roasting or grilling, until chicken is cooked through. Makes enough to season 7 to 8 pounds of chicken. Note: Add 2-3 TBSP lime juice to mixture if desired.


You will need:

1/4 CUP dried minced onion
2 TBSP instant beef bouillon
½ tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients. This makes the equivalent of one package of soup mix.


You will need:

1 TBSP dried thyme
1 TBSP dried oregano
2 tsp rubbed sage
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil]
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use in omelets and to season fish, vegetables or chicken. Makes ¼ cup.

The following are a few good recipes for making your own marinades:


You will need:

1 CUP soy sauce
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, halves
¼ cup Kitchen Bouquet*
2 tsp Beau Monde seasoning

Combine soy sauce, onion and garlic in blender ad high speed 1 minute or until mix is smooth. Stir in Kitchen Bouquet and Beau Monde seasoning. Makes 2 ½ cups.
To marinate: arrange steaks in shallow glass baking dish (or use a zip lock bag) and pour ½ cup marinade over each steak or chop. Allow to stand at room temp 2 hours OR cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours, then bring meat to room temperature before cooking.

Sandy’s cooknote: Kitchen Bouquet! It’s a flavor enhancer that makes brown gravies a nice dark rich brown and is wonderful in pot roasts. My mother always had a tiny bottle of Kitchen Bouquet in the kitchen cupboard. Well, it floored me, the cost of those little bottles – we have a warehouse-kind of supermarket that is called Smart & Final, but I would imagine that Sam’s Club and/or Costco might keep the large quart size bottle in stock. I get a QUART bottle for about the same price as those little bitty ones. I swear by Kitchen Bouquet and wouldn’t be without it. Beau Monde is another but that’s another story.


You will need:

1 cup red wine*
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic. Crushed
1/3 tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp EACH salt & pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram

Blend ingredients and let stand overnight. Remove garlic clove. Cover and store until ready to use.

Sandy’s cooknote: A lot of my recipes call for red wine. I keep a LARGE bottle of Burgundy wine in the kitchen pantry – just for these recipes.


You will need:

2 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP soy sauce
¼ cup dry (red or white) wine
2 tsp Tarragon or thyme
salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients. Add more salt and pepper if you want. Marinate chicken or turkey overnight or brush on 15-20 minutes before grilling.


You will need:

2 large garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
3 TBSP packed dark brown sugar
2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup fresh orange or lime juice
1 ½ tsp freshly grated lemon zest

Thinly slice garlic and in a small saucepan, cook in oil over moderately low heat just until it begins to turn golden. Remove pan from heat and with a slotted spoon, discard garlic. In oil in pan, add remaining ingredients and salt & pepper to taste. Cool marinade. Makes about 1 cup, enough marinade for 1 ½ to 2 pounds chicken or shrimp.


You will need:

¼ cup salad oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 cup beer
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
¾ tsp pepper
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp crushed basil leaves
¼ tsp crushed oregano leaves

Blend all ingredients

To make beef kabobs:

You will need

1 ½ lbs flank steak
beer marinade
1 large green pepper, parboiled
12 cherry tomatoes
12 medium mushroom halves
12 small white onions, parboiled

Cut flank steak crosswise on the diagonal into 1” wide strips. There should be about 12 good strips. Place meat and marinade in a bowl and chill overnight. Cut green pepper into 12 small squares. For each kabob, thread meat alternatively with 1 green pepper square, 1 cherry tomato, 1 mushroom half and 1 onion on skewer. Broil 6-8” from source of heat for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until meat is desired doneness. Brush with marinade before turning.

Sandy’s Cooknote: I know a little something about making shish-kabobs. We made them for YEARS while my sons were growing up. We had an assembly line going for threading the kabobs on skewers. If you are using bamboo skewers, you should know the skewers should be soaked in cold water for several hours before using, so they don’t catch on fire. But metal skewers are inexpensive and you can stock up on them to have a bunch on hand if you are feeding company. Personally, I like to toss the mushrooms into a pot of boiling water for a minute or so – OR cook them a while in melted butter…they will go on the skewers more easily & taste better too. You can use that same melted butter to brush on the kabobs when they are cooking. We also would cut up hot dogs and wrap raw bacon around them to stretch the meat (I was raising four sons). I liked to cut the meat (often something like London Broil) into bite-size chunks and then marinate it for a few hours in something like a red-wine marinade with tenderizer sprinkled on, so that the meat was good and tender. Kabobs is a good company meal. Sometimes we also used chicken breast, cut into chunks – and when my son Steve was being lavish (and doing the cooking) he would get a pound of halibut and cut that into chunks to go onto the skewers. All great eating.


You will need:

¼ tsp crushed red chile flakes
1 tsp rubber dry sage
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/3 tsp celery seed
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP chopped fresh parsley, optional
1 tsp finely minced lemon zest
½ cup apple cider
4 tsp cider vinegar
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
¼ cup cooking oil

Whisk together red chile flakes, sage, thyme, celery seed, sugar, parsley, lemon zest, apple cider, vinegar, mustard and oil. Use to marinate chicken breasts or pork chops at least for 4 hours or up to 8 hours. Will keep refrigerated up to 1 week.
Happy Cooking!

PS if you have a favorite basic recipe that isn’t listed here, feel free to write and tell me about it!
Sandy @ sandychatter



Over the years, my collection of turkey recipes has grown considerably, but I have to admit, it doesn’t hold a candle to WILD ABOUT TURKEY, a lovely spiral bound cookbook published by the National Wild Turkey Federation.

OK, Ok. I have to admit – until I laid my hands on WILD ABOUT TURKEY, I had no idea there was such a thing that the National Wild Turkey Federation, nor was I aware that the National wild Turkey Federation is the fastest growing and one of the most successful conservation organizations in the nation.

Hmm, I see some of you out there shaking your head – is it because you don’t believe that the National Wild Turkey Federation is the fastest growing or perhaps that they are one of the most successful conservation organizations in the nation?

The NWTF is a ‘people organization” explains Rob Keck, in the preface to their cookbook, and he explains that member and chapter contributions, fund raising events, Special projects and the contributions of NWTF’s corporate partners produce millions of do9llars for conservation.

Says Mr. Keck, “thanks largely to dedicated professional state wildlife researchers and managers, the wild turkey is now the most widely distributed game bird in north America”.

The NWTF which has over 120,000 members now in their 38th year, compiled this cookbook which includes membership information and a history of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

In the cookbooks introduction, Gene Smith (no relation) explains that there was a time and not so very long ago, when there would have been no need for a wild turkey cookbook. In1945, he says, the wild turkey was barely hanging on to its existence in remote tracts.

“It’s a familiar story to most NWTF members,” says Mr. Smith, “when Europeans arrived, wild turkeys were present in abundance and we know they ranged in areas that now touch at least 39 states and a small piece of southern Ontario, Canada. Thanks to the visionaries who finally started protecting remnant flocks and to those who later figured out how to live-trap and move birds, we have wild turkeys and turkey hunting season in 49 of the 50 states. Only Alaska has no wild turkeys….”
(reminds me how bison were almost erased from the face of the earth!)

Along with capturing wild turkeys (trap and transfer) which began in 1950; in the 1960s tiny radio transmitters were attached to wild turkeys to monitor their whereabouts, enabling wildlife scientists to locate the study this species in all seasons, which allowed the scientists to document the bird’s complete life history and apply that knowledge to its management.
“Today,” writes Mr. Smith “resident wild turkeys occupy more square miles of habitat than any other resident game bird species in America.

Along with recipes—lots of recipes, not just recipes for turkey but a lot of great go-withs – salads, vegetables, desserts, – WILD ABOUT TURKEY provides capsule glimpses into the history of the wild turkey and observations made by various NWTF members. Also included along with membership information you will find plenty of useful information on cleaning, thawing, roasting and carving your turkey. There are also photographs and descriptions of the five subspecies of wild turkeys in the United States.

I was especially inspired by an entire chapter devoted to roasting, frying, smoking and grilling whole turkeys but you will also find great assortment of recipes using turkey parts – breast, legs, wings, – with recipes ranging from dilled barbecued turkey breast to garlic-rosemary turkey stir fry. You will find recipes for grilling turkey legs and even some recipes for making turkey chili.

Among my favorite recipes in WILD ABOUT TURKEY are the smoked turkey recipes. Bob & I bought a Brinkmann Smoker one year – probably after I reviewed this cookbook – and found ourselves oohing and ahhhing over Smoked Rosemary Brandy Turkey, and Smoked Drambuie Turkey, a wonderful marinade for wild turkey as well as some lovely recipes for Lemon Barbecue Sauce and a Hawaiian marinade. There are many other recipes as well, but these were some we found outstanding.

I will tell you a little secret of mine about turkey. When Jim (Smith) and I were first married, I went whole-hog-or-nothing-at-all doing Thanksgiving dinner, after we moved to California. As long as we STAYED in Ohio we could just alternate the dinners with my family and his family. One of the first big thanksgiving turkey dinners I cooked was a roasted turkey with dressing and giblet gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, biscuits made from scratch and some kind of green vegetable—probably peas because I love them so much. and a fruit pie, because he didn’t eat any other kind. It took 9 hours to prepare this meal. When I had it on the table, Jim said “the potatoes need more salt”. I didn’t do a Thanksgiving dinner again—for years we went to my friend Neva’s. Many years later when the mashed potato issue came up in counseling (before we ended up getting a divorce) the counselor said to him “But couldn’t you just add more salt to your potatoes?” to which he replied “but that would be letting her think something was good when it wasn’t”. Consequently, Thanksgiving was never my favorite holiday – but after Bob entered my life, we cooked a turkey many times, especially with that smoker. Just not on Thanksgiving. But when we are GOING to a dinner, I don’t mind volunteering to make a vat of turkey gravy. The recipe makes a vast amount of gravy and is made with turkey wings and thighs. I’ll share the recipe when I do a review on some domestic turkey cookbooks!

You can find WILD ABOUT TURKEY on; new copies are available from Amazon for 17.96, and new from private vendors starting at $2.95 – and pre-owned starting at one cent (I have bought many cookbooks on the one cent deals. Even with $3.99 added for shipping, you still get a great book for $4.00. Someone heard I was writing about wild turkeys and grumbled that domestic turkeys weren’t getting a fair shake- so I looked through my collection of cookbooks on chicken or turkey and found two to share with you. Will try to get them done soon!

–review by Sandra Lee Smith


“FOODS OF THE MAYA/ A TASTE OF THE YUCATAN”’ by Nancy & Jeffrey Gerlach is a beautiful (and unique!) soft-cover book by The Crossing Press, first published in 1994 but apparently reprinted in 2002. A Google search offers numerous ways to obtain a copy.

(The name Nancy Gerlach seemed familiar – a little checking revealed that she has co-authored a number of books with Dave DeWitt – so of course her name sounded familiar!) Dave DeWitt has written numerous cookbooks.

The authors explain that although they have been traveling south of the border for more than twenty-five years, they were introduced to the Yucatan in 1984. Their first trip, a snorkeling and diving vacation, was all that it took for them to fall in love with “this wonderful magical place” and over the years they returned as often as possible.

Say the Gerlachs, “There’s a lot to like: the weather is just about perfect, complete with a rich, deep blue sky filled with massive majestic clouds: the forests are as vast and dense as they are mysterious: the Mayan ruins are both extraordinary and enigmatic: the palm-lined beaches are heart wrenchingly beautiful and the turquoise sea is warm, crystal clear, and full of spectacular life…”

They also explain that, because the Yucatan was physically isolated for so long by water on three sides, as well as impenetrable forest on its southern border, it was influenced more by Europe and the Caribbean than by Mexico. It has developed a cuisine that is distinct and separate from what is commonly called Mexican food.
FOODS OF THE MAYA contains a fascinating Introduction, or background information, on the Maya and the Mayan ruins as well as traveling information and tip s, information on renting a room, airport customs, and helpful information on traveling around the Yucatan. For instance, we read that “Despite some of the world’s most impressive ruins, historians still cannot tell us what really happened to the Maya. Dates can be attached to sites, and it is possible to differentiate the various architectural styles, but nobody can answer the most important questions, ‘Why did the Mayans walk away from these incredible cities?…Mayan society became extremely complex and diverse, requiring specialized professions, such as architects, scientists, mathematicians, and artists. This led to the create of some of the world’s most spectacular buildings and temples, a calendar so accurate that it continues to amaze scientists today, complex mathematical calculations that were the most advanced in the world at the time, and a vast array of artwork that is viewed with awe even thousands of years later…Archaeologists and historians have been trekking through the forests of the Yucatan ever since the publication of John Steven’s intriguing travel books in the 1800s, searching for answers and generally finding questions instead. The ancient Maya remain mysterious inhuman geniuses, builders of noble empires that were intellectually superior, yet, they never developed the wheel and they worshipped gods that required barbaric behavior and constant bloodletting. (And, despite the accuracy of the Mayan mathematicians – you may have noticed, the world did not end on December 31, 2012, as predicted by the Mayan calendar. My son Steve suggested that the Mayan calendar might have been accurate but we have changed our calendar on at least a few occasions since ancient times–and I have my own theory about what happened to the Mayan people.

Trust me when I tell you I have barely skimmed over the information to be found in the Introduction to this fine book. And then – and then there are the recipes.

Say the Gerlachs, “One thing you can always count on when eating in Mexico is that there will be a bowl of salsa or a bottle of hot sauce on the table with your meal – in our travels we sometimes have to ask for silverware or napkins, but rarely ever do we have to ask for salsa. Salsa is essential to Mexican cuisine – eating a meal without is like eating a bowl of cereal without milk”.

They further explain that the Yucatan is home to a number of unique salsas and then provide a wondrous assortment of pastes, sauces and salsas that are to die for…how about a recipe called “Dog-snout Salsa (Xnipek), pronounced roughly ‘schnee-peck’, It is literally translated as dog’s snout salsa –because it is so hot, it can make your nose run. I do intend to try a recipe called Black Seasoning Paste, a seasoning most often used with turkey and other meats such as meatballs and the recipe for Salsa Verde sounds like one I had been searching for when I first reviewed FOODS OF THE MAYA—since then green salsas have become available almost everywhere you go. Salsa Verde is a green salsa made with little tomatillos – possibly not available in all parts of the country—but you are in for a treat if they are available where you live. The first time I ever saw it prepared with the little green tomatillos, it was being made by Connie, a close friend who was my son Kelly’s godmother.

There is a most unusual enchilada recipe—Enchiladas Stuffed with Hard Cooked Eggs’ (Papadzul) that I think would make a fine brunch recipe, the next time you are looking for something a little different…and a Yucatan Ribs recipe (which is served with a plateful of lime wedges) that I think would draw rave reviews at your next family cookout. Look also for various recipes using turkey, fish, shrimp, beans and corn…various foods indigenous to the Yucatan. There are also a variety of dessert recipes including one for flan that I will be sure to try the next time I do a Mexican-style dinner.

And last, but certainly not least, there is a helpful glossary to help the un-initiated with food terms ranging from A for Achiote and Albondigas….to Y for Yerba Buena meaning spearmint! Also thoughtfully provided is a page of mail order sources for those of you interested in trying some Yucatan recipes but are unable to find all of the ingredients ….and a bibliography for all of us who just love bibliographies.
If you Google Foods of the Maya, you will find an abundance of references (over a million hits) but to find a copy of FOOD OF THE MAYA/A TASTE OF THE YUCATAN, visit It’s available new for $14.06 and pre-owned for $11.06.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith


It’s always gratifying when a cookbook comes along and serves to meet several needs—the need of cooks, chefs, and cookbook collectors, like myself, to acquire a special cookbook that has something unique to offer in the way of recipes…and the need of a special organization to raise funds to continue their worthy projects.

Such were my thoughts when I first opened the pages of “LIZZIE’S COOKBOOK”, compiled and published by the
Lund Family Center in Burlington, Vermont.

Not only does it offer a special collection of recipes from the kitchens of famous Vermonters—including senators and governors as well as chefs from the Trapp Family Lodge—“LIZZIE’S COOKBOOK” also features recipes of Elizabeth Lund herself, reprinted from an early 1900s published by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

And just who was Elizabeth Lund?

Perhaps I should quote directly from the Introduction in “LIZZIE’S COOKBOOK” which explains the history of the Lund Family Center.

“Many histories concerning the last decade of the nineteenth century, generally spoken as the ‘Gay Nineties’ document in detail the apparently unlimited power of wealth and its extravagances. Few histories have paid specific attention to the plight of the poverty-stricken, let alone the desperate needs of unmarried pregnant women made homeless and friendless by the harsh judgment of a less understanding society than now exists in this last decade of the twentieth century.

In the fall of 1890, ten compassionate, resourceful women, all prominent community leaders and members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) met in Burlington, Vermont to determine a means of helping socially abused and rejected women…”

As a result of that gathering, the women drew up a charter, proposing a residential agency to provide aid, and a home, for such destitute women. The charter was approved by the Vermont General Assembly and by the time the organization held its second meeting, over $13,000 had been raised –without the assistance of the State Legislature, which had refused their request for $10,000, and on April 12, 1893, the “Home for Friendless Women” was opened.

Given today’s laidback attitude towards unmarried pregnant women, it may be difficult for us to realize what a stigma it once was to be in this condition, and without family or friends to lend assistance, although I remember that in the 1950s, it was still considered scandalous and one of the worse predicaments a teenage girl could find herself in.

At the “Home for Friendless Women” not all of the friendless were unmarried girls—records show that one of the earliest applicants was a married woman deserted by her husband.

Doctor Lund and his wife were involved and committed to the home from its onset and some years later, when Mrs. Lund died, her husband bequeathed a large sum, nearly $100,000 in real estate and property, to the home. On March 9, 1928, its name was changed to the Elizabeth Lund Home.

Today, the Lund Family Center (A United Way Agency) is the only licensed statewide maternity residence in Vermont, and although there are no age limitations for admission, their program is designed primarily for pregnant adolescents. They have a child care center for children, ages 1-5, and for over one hundred years have provided a comprehensive adoption program. Services at the Center are geared then towards pregnant teens, families with young children and adoptive families.

Now that you know your money for Lizzie’s Cookbook will go towards a worthy cause, what can you expect from the cookbook? Lots! There are over one hundred kitchen-tested recipes in this soft cover book (with, I might add, a nice size print for those of us whose vision isn’t what it used to be—the first thing I check for in a cookbook nowadays is the size of the print!)

There are some great recipes in LIZZIE’S COOKBOOK, starting right off with Hot Crab Cocktail Spread. There are some New England regional favorites, such as Quahog Chowder (and we learn that chowder comes from the word ‘cauldron’ and has been served in New England for over two hundred years) and Vermont Country Baked Ham (Oh, when will I ever have the opportunity to visit the New England states—antique stores! Bookstores! Lighthouses! – and RESTAURANTS! – and speaking of restaurants, (I know an entrance line when I hear one)
some of Vermont’s finest eating establishments contributed a recipe to Lizzie’s Cookbook. Be sure to check out Sneakers’ French onion Soup (this Sneakers is Sneakers’ Bistro and Grill, not a shoe) and the Trapp family Lodge’s Linzertorte offered by the Trapp family Lodge’ Executive Pastry Chef, Marshall Faye.

I was especially delighted to find (at last!) a good recipe for Cucumber dip, but you will find a wide assortment of recipes sure to please everyone. I really like the format of “LIZZIE’S COOKBOOK”, of one recipe to a page, and the informal tidbits of background information relating to the recipes and the straightforward directions for preparing them. I think you will agree.

“LIZZIE’S COOKBOOK” might be considered scarce – I’ve only found a few copies online at or Price is right; there are several pre owned copies for $6/46 and one collectible copy for 48.99.
In my original review for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, I provided a box number (PO Box 4009) Burlington, VT 05406, or by calling 1-800-864-7467 but I have no idea if these numbers are still valid. Then I found a website, UVM (University of Vermont which lists the book, new, for $12.95. You can reach them at 1-800-331-7305.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith


“It’s June, school is out for the summer and strawberries signal the beginning of berry season. I pack a picnic lunch, load my family in the car and head to the U-pick fields 30 miles away. I caution everybody not to pick as many berries as last year, reminding them how long it took me to clean and make jam out of last year’s batch”.

So begins the first paragraph in the Introduction to “BERRIES”. (and relatives and friends of mine will probably think I wrote it – it just sounds like something I would write! – sls)

“BERRIES” is the 6th cookbook in the series offered by Collins Publishers, in their Country Garden series.
Author Sharon Kramis is the co-author of NORTHWEST BOUNTY, THE EXTRAORDINARY FOODS AND WONDERFUL COOKING OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. She is a native to the Northwest region, and studied with James Beard at his summer cooking school in Seaside Oregon for eight years. Ms. Kramis is also a founding member of the International association of Cooking Professionals and a culinary consultant for a consulting company in Seattle (or at least was when this cookbook was published in 1994). When BERRIES was published in 1994, she was leading culinary walking tours through Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, near the waterfront. (I did a little research and discovered that Sharon is also the author of The Cast Iron cookbook and The Dutch Oven Cookbook).
Having told you this, let me share with you my enthusiasm for “BERRIES”. I must confess, I’m a berry lover too. Before moving to the high desert, every year several of us would trek out to a pick-your-own-farm in Moorpark, California, where you could pick your own blackberries, loganberries and raspberries. It would be hot and itchy and I always ended up with purple stained hands and thorns in my fingers despite attempts at wearing garden gloves. I found that you couldn’t pick the berries with a gloved hand—but it was an exhilarating experience and, like Sharon, I always ended up with more than I could reasonably convert into jellies and jams, cordials, vinegars and liqueurs. I’d dig through my recipe files for blackberry pies and muffin and cake recipes. So, I was utterly enchanted with the recipes offered in “BERRIES”- many that I had never heard of before. I especially recommend the lemon-glazed huckleberry muffin recipe on page 37 and James Beard’s Raspberry Chicken recipe on page 56. There is a seared pork loin with caramelized onions and blackberries, on page 60, that is to die for.

The publishers lure us with this invitation “in “BERRIES, A COUNTRY GARDEN COOKBOOK” food writer and berry expert Sharon Kramis offers a tantalizing collection of recipes inspired by the intoxicating flavor and natural beauty7 of the berry. New renditions of classic recipes for soups and salads, main courses, beverages and sweets celebrate the bountiful berry”.

Food photographs by Kathryn Kleinman are lush and inviting. I was so enchanted with the enticing combination of food and photographs that I trotted out to the kitchen and made the blueberry banana muffins last night (blueberries are in season, as I write this review—I’ve been buying them fresh, wherever they are on sale, and then freezing them to keep on hand. I did make a spicy blueberry jam and a couple batches of strawberry-blueberry jam – sls)

In addition to recipes, “BERRIES” contains a great Glossary of terms and helpful information for berry novices – how to select, wash, store, and freeze your berries. There is measurements and equivalents for berries that I have never seen anywhere else before – would you know that a flat of berries is equal to 6 pounds of fruit? That one pound of berries is equal to approximately 4 cups? That your one flat of berries will make about 5 pints regular jam? (or 10 8-oz jars of jam).

The glossary provides detailed information about each of the berries you may be working or cooking with – from blackberry to strawberry with many in between—with beautiful illustrations of each and every one.
If you love berries—you’ll love “BERRIES” by Sharon Kramis.
It’s listed on starting at one cent for a pre owned copy and $4,.43 for a new one. And if you are interested in Sharon’s book about the Northwest Bounty, I found that listed started at one cent also.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith


Some of the best cookbooks, as you undoubtedly have discovered for yourself, are those that combine good food and history. Now, history can be a subjective topic; it might be American history or world history, or the history of cookbooks (which I have been exploring for a couple decades) or it might be the personal history of a restaurant, such as Theadgill’s.

I have, in my collection of cookbooks, quite a lot that came about due to the success of a restaurant. Few, however, have excited me as much as THREADGILL’S: THE COOKBOOK.

I haven’t been to Threadgill’s Restaurant in Austin Texas, except in my imagination—and through the pages of THREADGILL’S: THE COOKBOOK.

Threadgill’s started out as a Gulf gas station and ‘erstwhile late-night hot spot run by Kenneth Threadgill, who got to be better known for his yodeling prowess than for pumping gas.

In 1933, Threadgill’s Restaurant was established, and, writes Helen Thompson (news media editor of the Texas monthly) “after Janis Joplin became a regular at the Wednesday night hootenannies, Threadgill’s gained a reputation as a musical mecca…”

In 1974, Kenneth Threadgill’s wife Mildred died, and Kenneth closed Threadgill’s. The city of Austin almost had it demolished, as it had become an eyesore. Eddie Wilson, meanwhile, started a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in 1976 but was intrigued with the idea of a southern cooking style restaurant, one that would feature honest-to-goodness southern styled food like his momma used to make (You will have to read the cookbook to learn the rest of the story about Beulah Risher Wilson).

In 1979, Eddie Wilson bought the deserted restaurant from Threadgill. The place had been gutted by a fire, says Eddie, and need a lot of work—but with Kenneth’s encouragement, Eddie dug in and started restoring the place. The newly refurbished Threadgill’s reopened its doors on January 1m 1981. It was an instant success.
In the introduction, Eddie explains that he had been “collecting the stuff for this book for a lotta years” and that “Threadgill’s Restaurant is not only known for my mother’s southern cooking. It’s also a museum of Austin music history and a shrine to its founder, the Grandfather of Austin Country music, Kenneth Threadgill. If it seems like my mother’s southern cooking, frozen spinach casserole, an old Austin gas station with art gallery and the singing career of Janis Joplin, don’t have much to do with each other, please bear with me…”

He continues, “Eventually all these subjects will wind up telling the story of how a humble little American family restaurant grew up to feed millions of happy customers…”

Eddie explains that, as you read his book, you will be treated as an honored guests, and given the grand tour—a tour which includes a visit to the “upstairs store” where there is a collection on display of his old photos, family mementos, collection of old kitchen equipment and cooking devices. The tour will include a visit to his family library, consisting mainly of cookbooks, gardening books and Austin history in many forms…

There is a great deal more to Threadgill’s: the Cookbook, in Eddie’s Introduction, which includes a year-by-year history beginning with Kenneth Threadgill’s opening of his Gulf Gas Station. Eddie provides an interesting chapter called “Notes from a Southern Kitchen” and interspersed everywhere you will find references to his m other, to whom his book is dedicated and who was, quite obviously, quite a lady.

The recipes in Threadgill’s: the COOKBOOK are southern but southern with a difference, Eddie explains. “Things have changed since the days of my mother’s southern cooking,” Eddie says. “some of them for the better. Seasonings are one example. Momma used garlic some, but nowhere near the quantity we use nowadays…”

Eddie also explains some of the other differences—how Threadgill’s serves meatloaf, but to his mother, meatloaf was an expensive way to feed her family and get them full. (Eddie’s mother could have taken a page out of my mother’s book—she put about a loaf of bread into one pound of ground meat to make hamburgers or meatloaf). 

I think you will like the recipes in Threadgill’s: the COOKBOOK, (as well as the photographs, charming graphics, cartoons, some food related poetry by famous writers and the folksy writing style of the author/cook/restaurant owner, Eddie Wilson.
Recipes range from making your own seasonings (meat, poultry, vegetable, and seafood) BBQ rub, sauces and dressings (Jalapeno Honey Mustard), soups (check out the Drunken Bean Soup or the Tortilla Soup), Salads (including one of my favorites, Texas Caviar, which I started making about ten years ago)—breads, vegetables, meats and entrees, and desserts, such as salty cracker pie, that you aren’t likely to find in other cookbooks.
The author, Eddie Wilson, is someone we can all identify with; let me quote from his cookbook and see if you don’t.

“Searching for books to read about food can be a grand adventure. I love dusty used bookstores, flea markets, garage sales and libraries…although I’ve spent a good bit of time in used bookstores, it wasn’t until I discovered John Egerton’s wonderful bibliography in SOUTHERN FOOD that I became more disciplined in my pursuit to find more books that were fun about food. In fact, I was so impressed with Egerton’s 32 page list that I reduced it to little bitty on a copy machine and carried it with me so I would have it whenever I stumbled into a used bookstore…”

Since 1996, when Threadgill’s: the COOKBOOK was published, we have lost a lot of our used bookstores. In the San Fernando valley where I lived for most of my adult life, at least four of the bookstores I used to patronize, have gone out of business. And, in 2008 when my Canadian girlfriend, Sharon, and I took a Great California Adventure car trip, I took her to San Luis Obispo where I had raved about Leon’s Bookstore, which always had a huge collection of cookbooks for sale. Leon’s, I discovered with great dismay, was gone. Only an empty store front stood where Bob & I shopped at Leon’s every time we went to Pismo or San Luis Obispo.

Well, I know that almost any book can be found on the Internet. THREADGILL’S THE COOKBOOK was published by Longstreet Press in Atlanta in 1996. It originally sold for $21.95. I found it listed on starting at $1.80 for a pre owned copy and $16.91 new. Just for the heck of it, I check with as well. They have pre owned copies starting at $1.65 and the new and/or collectible as very overpriced so I’m not listing them. When purchasing from a pre-owned book vendor, remember that you will pay $3.99 shipping and handling. Still, I always spent a lot more than $3.99 driving to Leon’s in the central coast. Now to go find Egerton’s book SOUTHERN FOOD so I can copy the bibliography!

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

P.S. I did find my copy of Egerton’s SOUTHERN FOOD and for all the bibliography lovers out there, this one is extensive. If you are searching for community cookbooks of a particular state, bibliographies can be helpful.