Monthly Archives: September 2013

MYRA WALDO REVISITED (SEARCHING FOR THE FRENCH CONNECTION)

The search began with an inquiry from a blog visitor, an attorney in San Diego, who began to question the identify of “the famous pseudonym”, as indicated on a little paperback cookbook titled THE ART OF PARISIAN COOKING, by Colette Black. He bought it when he was in college and wanting to learn how to cook more than frozen dinners or hamburgers.  On the back of this little paperback cookbook published by The Cromwell-Collier Publishing in 1962, is the notation “Colette Black is the pseudonym of a renowned writer, hostess, and world traveler, whose other cookbooks include the French Provincial Cookbook, the southern Italian cookbook and the Low Calorie Cookbook, all available from Collier books.”

From John H. July 6, 2013 :

I was led to your site because I was wondering who was behind a wonderful cookbook I bought in college and has been a staple of mine ever since. The recipes are easy and they are uniformly wonderful but I never knew who the author was (since they said it was a pseudonym) and I never saw any other books by her. The Art of Parisian Cooking still has the best recipe for boeuf bourguignonne I have ever had. Just made it the other day and it was wonderful. I found her name under copyright entries for the book at the Library of Congress. Sure wish someone would reissue the book in hardback form. If I am wrong and she is not the author, in the words of Emily Litella* “never mind”.

(*Emily Litella was a character created by Gilda Radner in the early days of Saturday Night Live-sls).

Hello John – you have my curiosity piqued – who is the author on the book? I don’t think it’s one of Myra Waldo’s as I don’t have the title listed under her books. I did a Google search and DID find a title THE ART OF PARISIAN COOKING but it offered very little else – no author, appears to be scarce.
Is there anything at all you can tell me about this book? I’d love to know. And someone who reads my blog might know something. Thanks for writing! – Sandy@sandychatter

The author is “Colette Black” but the book indicates it is a pseudonym for an important author. I got on the list of copyright titles from the Library of Congress.  Here is a link: Catalog of Copyright Entries. Third Series: 1962: January-June. I am trying to copy and paste it, but don’t seem to be able to do so. I will keep working on it. It is a GREAT cookbook!

John:  July 7, 2013

I just clicked on the link I sent and I got to the site but you have to scroll down to find Myra Waldo Schwartz. I hope you can find it. I also hope it is she. That would sure add to the romance and mystery of this woman you have so kindly revealed to me via your blog.

Sandy:  July 7, 2013

HELLO John – I’m trying to find it and am missing something – and I have no idea who Colette Black is. It’s perplexing to think that Myra Waldo would have used a pseudonym for one of her books – she used her name of Myra Waldo throughout writing career producing 40-something cookbooks and a fistful of travel guides – but that doesn’t mean she DIDN’T; maybe there was a reason we don’t know about. What I have found perplexing is how or why she completely disappeared from public life. It was only a fluke that I learned – maybe a year or two ago – that she had moved to Beverly Hills where she lived out the rest of her life. That was such a “what-if” moment in MY life (discovered most of it in an Obituary) – Until 2008 I lived in the San Fernando Valley not very far from Beverly Hills. I thought ‘oh, to have been able to interview her’ – but maybe by then she didn’t WANT anything to do with the public. I spent about a year researching Myra Waldo before writing my first article about her for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange (in the mid 1990s). Myra’s cookbooks were fantastic. She also had an incredible career [in addition to writing cookbooks] – and then simply disappeared from public eye. One can’t help but wonder why.

Wonderful female chefs/cookbook authors such as Elizabeth David and Marion Cunningham–just to name two out of a plethora of wonderful female cookbook authors I admire – wrote until they were at death’s door. It begs the question, why didn’t Myra Waldo? Well, maybe between us we can figure this out. Thank you very much for writing. I just printed Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon to have on hand for comparison. (One of my favorite past times is delving deep into food – the history, not necessarily the cooking and eating part.

My guess is that she used the pseudonym “Colette Black” because she thought people might not be as attracted to “Myra Waldo Schwartz” as an author of a book on Parisian cooking. Sort of like the identity she created for the Molly Goldberg cookbook.

John:  July 7, 2013

In the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, entries are listed by author. This particular edition is from 1962. The entry for Myra Waldo Schwartz reads as follows:  SCHWARTZ, MYRA WALDO  The art of Parisian cooking by Colette Black, pseud. [caps as in original entry] 1st Ed. (Cookbook original Collier Books AS196) © Crowell-Collier Pub. Co.; 27Apr62; A6564110; Cook as the Romans do; Recipes of Rome an northern Italy by Myra Waldo, 1st Ed. (Collier Books Collier Books Cookbook original AS99) © Myra Waldo Schwartz 29Dec61 A546005

And it goes on from there with other entries. I think this is a wonderfully fascinating mystery. She must have been a really fascinating woman. I am glad you are keeping her alive.

John, I found the cookbook [The Art of Parisian Cooking] on Amazon.com for $4.00 & 3.99 shipping and it’s paperback, may not be in great condition, but I am curious enough to find out. A HARD BOUND copy is listed at $140.00!!! Hope to hear from you & any additional input you may have to contribute! – Sandy

I am so glad you found it! Mine is paperback too. I know you will enjoy it. Great recipes in that little book. I do not know if I mentioned how I came to it. I was in college at UCSD and used to wander through the college bookstore and just browse through books. The Art of Parisian Cooking caught my eye and I had always heard that French cooking was the best so I picked it up. My diet at the time was mainly hamburgers and fast food and anything else a young college guy could throw together. (Absolutely NOTHING green!). When I looked in the book the recipes looked easy I decided to buy it (for 95 cents) and thought I would give it a try. The first thing I made was “Fondue du Poulet” which is NOT a fondue but was great and I found I liked cooking and the result was a pretty great product. I also discovered that girls liked it when guys cooked for them! So I started cooking for my dates. That started a lifelong relationship with finer food than I as a college kid was used to making for myself. It dovetailed with my discovering that there were better wines out there than Red Mountain Hearty Burgundy. The rest, for me, was history.

John:  July 7, 2013

I just clicked on the link I sent and I got to the site but you have to scroll down to find Myra Waldo Schwartz. I hope you can find it. I also hope it is she. That would sure add to the romance and mystery of this woman you have so kindly revealed to me via your blog.

The art of Parisian cooking by Colette Black, pseud. [caps as in original entry] 1st Ed. (Cookbook original Collier Books AS196) © Crowell-Collier Pub. Co.; 27Apr62; A6564110; Cook as the Romans do; Recipes of Rome an northern Italy by Myra Waldo, 1st Ed. (Collier Books Collier Books Cookbook original AS99) © Myra Waldo Schwartz 29Dec61 A546005

And it goes on from there with other entries. I think this is a wonderfully fascinating mystery. She must have been a really fascinating woman. I am glad you are keeping her alive. The Art of Parisian Cooking also has a filet mignon au champignon that is great, something call fondue du poulet (basically a chicken curry), a lobster mousse and a Lobster thermidor, among many others.

Sandy: Thanks, John–I believe you, Colette Black was Myra Waldo/Schwartz–and Collier’s was a publisher she used frequently.

It may remain a mystery altho I think I could try writing to someone (maybe the person who wrote her obituary) & see if I can find a list of everything not previously listed (and an explanation for her using a pen name in later years?). I’ll try to get to the website you mentioned. –if I can put together enough information I could do an update on “Where’s Waldo” – to let the world know she’s been found. Did you notice, Where’s Waldo has more comments over the past 2 years than almost anyone else I have written about. I think Complete Meals in One Dish is my favorite of all her books–for the text as much as the recipes–it’s enchanting and her writing is a style I can identify with. I have written about other mostly forgotten cookbook authors but Myra remains #1. Will try to put together a list of the unknown titles. Thanks! Sandy

John H:  I wonder if she has living relatives. Maybe they would know more and could shed light. I think you are single-handedly keeping her memory alive. I am sure she would have liked that.

Maybe there is a book in it for you, actually. Following the mystery. I know I would buy one as, I am sure, would many of your readers.

Sandy:  Thanks John. You may be right – Myra isn’t the only cookbook author who disappeared from sight–just recently someone led me to the answer about Meta Given (another fascinating story) & a few years ago I was led to the answer about a handwritten cookbook I bought from a used book store in Hollywood decades ago–a young woman, American by birth but living in Great Britain–solved the who-dun-it mystery of the author of my beloved handwritten cookbook, compiled over decades. That became Helen’s Cookbook and the follow up to Helen’s Cookbook.

And not too long ago I was able to write about The Browns, whose books I have loved since I first began collecting cookbooks–turns out a couple of descendants of the Browns also had blogs and they found ME. Just recently realized I need a master list of all the titles – and I HAVE started it but sometimes it’s a tossup- write about something new and different or try to compile a master list? And while I was going through some of the articles in my WORD file, I see there are a lot more than I thought. but doing a book about these cookbook authors and presenting it as a detective story would be interesting (if someone doesn’t do it before I do) – btw, I find it fascinating that authors I have written about–without virtually Anything listed on Google at the time–now, when I go back–I find dozens of entries that weren’t there before. Meta Given is one such example. By the way, the first one I wrote about–originally for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange–was Ida Bailey Allen. Thanks for writing! – Sandy

John:  You should read [the introduction to] the Art of Parisian Cooking by Colette Black. I had never read the introduction but after discussing it all with you decided to do so and compare the style to some of Myra Waldo’s other writing. I see some similarities but would defer to your judgment. My conclusion is that she was the author because of the copyright register.  I love a mystery!

Sandy  Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, John –  It wouldn’t be too far- fetched for Myra  to have taken up writing under another name. She just disappeared (as Myra Waldo) from public view and cookbook writing – and quite possibly publishers were no longer interested in her as Myra Waldo. A cookbook author with whom I have had some correspondence said never mention the year she was born because it turns publishers off–they seem to think once you reach a certain age, your material is no longer publication -worthy. Do you suppose that could have happened to Myra also? Her published cookbooks span decades. Have you learned anything else you could share? This would be a great blog post to write if I can dig up enough material. I’ll start with the Art of Parisian Cooking.
Sandy

John:  August 17, 2013

My theory is that Myra had a lot of success under her own name but thought a cookbook about Parisian Cooking should have a more French sounding name if it was going to succeed. I think the actual title of the book is “The Art of Parisian Cooking by Colette Black” but that she simply did not put author credit on it. So the title is not “The Art of Parisian Cooking” with author credit for “Colette Black”. If you find an intact copy (mine has lost its back cover) it mentions that “Colette Black” is a pseudonym for a “famous writer” (which of course, only heightened the mystery. I figured it was some great French writer of literature who did not want people to know she also knew cooking. It is wonderful how many details the imagination can provide.) Finding out from you that Myra traveled widely (especially in Europe) and often wrote about the food from places she went suggests to me that she spent some time in France and picked up a bunch of recipes when she was there.

I am certainly no expert but I think cookbook writing back in the 50′s and 60′s was less glamorous than it is today. They were really “how to books” for women (mainly) like the “how to books” on auto repair were for men. I don’t think the authors were big stars like they are now, though I could be completely mistaken about that. But the cookbooks I have from that era are pretty anonymous or use false names like “Betty Crocker” with little reference to the authors as personalities.

I will say that the introduction to the Art of Parisian Cooking is airy and whimsical and contains allusions to the French reputation for enjoying life in all of its aspects. This came at a time in American history when we were slowly emerging from a more puritanical Victorian way of talking about things. So her sly references to sex, though extremely tame, might have been seen as mildly racy when the book first appeared but might have been acceptable coming from a “French” writer.

Over the years, I have learned to hear meter and style and to be able to identify writing or speech based on that rather than the actual identification of the author. (I guessed that the writer of several episodes of a TV show were written by David Mamet, for example, before the credits appeared based on the sound of the dialogue. It will be very interesting to me to hear what you think when you read the introduction to the Art of Parisian Cooking. My guess is you will know immediately whether or not you think it is Myra’s work. Sorry for the long post.

John, I like your belief that you can identify writers by their style–I think that’s true & you know, I have received dozens of email messages from people reading my posts over the past few years & writing to say they like how I write–my style, if I have such a thing, is to write the way I talk and to bring people into my kitchen to talk about food and recipes. I strive to keep it plain & simple. When I was writing about Myra Waldo (first time was back in the 1990s) I was collecting her books at the same time, and trying to read as many of them as quickly as possible–I think I said before that Complete Meals in One Dish was a favorite; many of the introductions to chapters are written the way a friend might write to you from another country about their food/recipe experiences. Well, I hope I can learn more about Collette Black & perhaps dig up enough information to write a sequel (am also collecting information to write a sequel to Chef Szathmary). This is such an exciting experience. Thanks much! Sandy

In my business, conclusions can be drawn based on direct evidence and on things that are deducible from direct evidence. Circumstantial evidence works too. Here is my case: (1) the Patent Office register lists Myra Waldo Schwartz her as the author of the Art of Parisian Cooking; (2) Myra Waldo wrote several books called “The Art of …. Cooking”; (3) Myra Waldo traveled everywhere in Europe with her husband and wrote about the indigenous cooking; (4) with her interest in food and cooking, she had to know the French had the reputation for the best cuisine and Paris the best of the French; (5) she wrote about the cooking of a bunch of places including Italy and South America but not about Parisian cooking? Seems unlikely to me. The case rests.
But I am really anxious to hear what you have to say when you read her introduction. As I said before, I think you will be able to tell if she is your Myra. I agree with your correspondents, by the way. I like your conversational style. It goes with the topic.

Sandy: August 18, 2013

Hi, John – thanks for the input – I have copied and pasted your latest comment to my WORD file & I hope you won’t object to my including it (do not have to include your email address, last name, etc, just “John” maybe in San Diego? – I wouldn’t have been able to word your case for Myra being Colette as well as you did.  Will let you know when my copy of the book arrives. I have been mulling over whether or not someone from her family would respond to an inquiry. It might be worth a try. The obituary listed some family members. And it begs the question – were there any other books printed under the name of Collette? Thanks for the information!

Sandy – You are welcome to use anything I have written to you in whatever way you would like, with or without attribution. I am happy just to advance the solution to the mystery.

Thanks, John – I will let you know when my copy of Colette’s book arrives in the mail. Looking forward to comparing her writing with Myra’s.

Sandy – I assume you’ve read your copy of The Art of Parisian Cooking by Colette Black by now. What do you think?

Sandy:  John, I will start researching Colette when I get back from Seattle. Also meant to tell you, I am on LinkedIn – just seldom use it (I forget–I have too many irons in the fire) – but when I am intrigued by an author (such as Waldo/Black – then I zero in on it and everything else goes by the wayside.
Thanks for your help!! I’m delighted! – Sandy

Sandy:  ps to John–want to suggest you go back and read through all the titles I listed, of Myra’s books, – in at least 3 or 4 it references French cooking being among the countries represented in some of her books. In Complete Meals in One, she mentions trying out several languages on a person they encountered when their car broke down–French was one of the languages they tried out on the farm wife they met (to no avail). I think I can make up a list of the books in which French cooking was referenced. Maybe she always planned to write one, separately on French cooking & never got to it. Or she DID and we never knew!!

Sandy: September 16, 2013

John, I thought I had written to tell you that my copy of the Art of Parisian Cooking did come …. I haven’t come to any conclusion RE whether she and Myra are one and the same person. I’m inclined to lean in that direction & have wondered if I wrote to a family member, whether they would respond. It would make a fantastic blog post if Collette & Myra were one and the same person. I think I’ll try to find something else that Collette has written–I have virtually all of Myra’s cookbooks & in some instances, more than one copy. Have gotten sidetracked working on some material about Chef Szathmary.

If there are Myra family members you have located, I sure would contact them. Maybe they will know and maybe not, but it would be worth the try.

Sandy: September 16, 2013

ps- note to John – OMG. I just had an epiphany kind of moment – I was re-reading some of Myra’s dialogue in which, whenever she & her husband traveled, – she always simply referred to him as “my husband”. His last name was Schwartz. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Schwartz German for black?

Oh My God!

You are so right!!

You have just hit on it!

That is so great!

That is the last key!

John: September 17, 2013

Sandy – Something else just occurred to me. Myra clearly used the name “Black” because of her last name. So, how come the name “Colette”?

You said she traveled extensively in France and this is the “Art of Parisian Cooking”. If it is Paris, perhaps she dined at Le Grand Vefour, one of the most Parisian of Parisian restaurants and it has been in business for over a hundred years.

What is significant about that is that they have always promoted the restaurant by saying that it was the favorite restaurant of both Napoleon and the French writer Colette. In fact, when I dined there I sat in the booth that Colette preferred.  I wonder if that is why she chose that name?

Sandy: September 18, 2013

John, I think you may have hit the nail on the head–if memory serves me correctly (and I will have go back to my file on Myra) I dont think she had children of her own. She had two nephews and I don’t think there were any nieces. It enabled her and her husband, Robert, to travel not just to France but to many different countries – she wrote several cookbooks encompassing these countries. It makes sense to me that Collette might have been a favorite name & one she might have chosen if they had had any children of their own. Is this another piece of the puzzle falling into place? I have to look up the name of the family member who wrote the obit too. curiouser and curiouser! Wouldn’t it be fantastic to find out we are absolutely right?? – regards, Sandy

Sandy: September 19, 2013

ps – John, back in August in one of your messages to me RE Myra Waldo, you wrote: 1) the Patent Office register lists Myra Waldo Schwartz her as the author of the Art of Parisian Cooking – I think this pretty much seals our supposition that Myra Waldo and Colette Black were one and the same person–I’ll still make an effort to contact a family member. Do you know of any other cookbooks that Myra wrote as Colette? I haven’t found any other titles yet. – Looking forward to writing a sequel to my original “Where’s Waldo?” –You have been such a huge help with this. – Sandy

John: September 19, 2013

One more thing about the idea that Colette came from the French authoress. Colette wrote Gigi in the 1940’s and it was made into a French film and then adapted for stage in the early ‘50’s (long before your time!)

It was a huge hit on Broadway in the mid-‘50’s and the movie was a huge hit in the late ‘50’s. Colette had a bit of a renaissance during that time. It would not surprise me if Myra and Robert went to Paris and dined in the Le Grand Vefour having already heard of Colette and Gigi (they lived in New York, after all). Add a big French celebrity and the English version of her last name and voila! You have Colette Black.

I think your observation that “Schwartz” means “black” in German was genius. It really explains everything! I am glad only to have helped.

That is GREAT!   Mystery completely solved!

I have loved The Art of Parisian Cooking for nearly 50 years.  I am thinking of buying the Provencal and Italian books too.  I’ll bet the recipes in those books are just as good. Thanks for letting me know.

It is interesting that Myra did several other cookbooks under the Colette Black name.  I wonder why she did some in her own name and some under the Colette name.

This is exciting!  What a journey!  This is going to be terrific for your readers.

One more thing about the idea that Colette came from the French authoress. Colette wrote Gigi in the 1940’s and it was made into a French film and then adapted for stage in the early ‘50’s (long before your time!) It was a huge hit on Broadway in the mid-‘50’s and the movie was a huge hit in the late ‘50’s. Colette had a bit of a renaissance during that time. It would not surprise me if Myra and Robert went to Paris and dined in the Le Grand Vefour having already heard of Colette and Gigi (they lived in New York, after all). Add a big French celebrity and the English version of her last name and voila! You have Colette Black.

I think your observation that “Schwartz” means “black” in German was genius. It really explains everything! I am glad only to have helped.

SandySeptember 19, 2013

John – I have sent a message to a woman who I THINK may have been related to Myra, and is listed on Facebook. Cross your fingers! Am hoping I have the right person and that she will either confirm or deny the relationship with Myra and Myra’s connection with Colette. if this person isnt the right one – I can try for one or two others.

Sandy:  September 19, 2013

John–regardless of whether I get a response or not to my inquiry re Myra/Colette–I think we have solved the question ourselves. I would just like an official response but that might not happen. Do you remember any other titles (besides the Art of Parisian Cooking) that were copyrighted in her real name?

Here is one:

SCHWARTZ, MYRA WALDO.

The art of South American cookery,

by Myra Waldo. Illustrated by

John Alcorn. 1st ed. Doubleday.

© Myra Waldo Schwartz; l8 Aug 6l;

A517793.

Sandy: September 19, 2013

John, I found 4 titles THE SOUTHERN ITALIAN COOKBOOK, 1963, THE LOW CALORIE COOKBOOK 1962, FRENCH PROVENCIAL COOKING, 2 LISTED ON EBAY $29-$33. (YIKES!) and of course, our ART OF PARISIAN COOKING. If I had the other titles I could compare them with books she wrote under Myra Waldo. There were a couple of diet type cookbooks. I’ll have to dig out the many paperback copies of her cookbooks that I acquired when doing searches. I think one was a diet cookbook. no response on FB yet.

OMG, Sandy!  I got back on the Library of Congress log of copyrights to get you the other books listed for Myra and look what other titles I found under Myra Waldo Schwartz!

Cook as the Romans Do

Cooking from the Pantry Shelf

The Hamburger Cook Book

The Souffle Cookbook

And last but not least:

The Low Calorie Cookbook by Colette Black

Again it is listed (like the Art of Parisian Cooking) as “pseud”, meaning it is a pseudonym for the author.

Now here is the BIG news:

I decided to put The Low Calorie Cookbook by Colette Black into my Google search and I found several books by Colette Black!

Southern Italian Cookery

French Provincial Cookery

ALL of them say “Colette Black pseud.”

So, she wrote more books under that pseudonym.

Put “the low calorie cookbook by Colette black” into Google and it will give you an Amazon link. Go on that link and you will find the other books.

I think you have not only found Colette Black, but also that Myra wrote more books than you thought!

I am excited!

SandySeptember 20, 2013

John…I’ve been thinking we are working at cross purposes at times–if that is the right expression–when I go through messages I find we have repeated ourselves more than once…I propose to go to work in WORD tomorrow morning and start with the Myra’s cookbook titles I listed at the end of my article. Then I will do a list of Colette’s titles. Also want to add publishing dates for both lists. This is important because she was writing under both names in the early 60s. How on earth did she do it? There are at least 3 diet-genre cookbooks in paperback under Myra Waldo that I found amongst my cookbooks. Cooking for your heart & health, The low salt, Low cholesterol cookbook, The slenderella cookbook – plus the one she did as Colette. (Slenderella was an early version of something like Weight Watchers or Curves).What blows my mind is that she was doing all of this B.C. (before computers!) – what’s the earliest that she could have had her own P.C.? I didn’t have a home computer until I divorced in 1984 and decided I needed a computer to keep up with my writing. so how did she manage? Well, we may have discovered who Colette Black was, but it begs the question – how on earth did Myra DO it ALL? amongst the paperbacks are two THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING and THE COMPLETE BOOK OF VEGETABLE COOKERY, which appears to have been part of a group–I just have those two…some of these paperbacks have turned up in unlikely places–thrift stores or used book stores when we still had a lot of those to go digging around in.. sorry this is so long but your email prompted thoughts of mine–I would love to list you as my cowriter/researcher on this project if it doesn’t infringe on any of your professional work–we’ve shared so much of this & it has been challenging and delightful to have someone get as excited about it as I am. So on that happy note I will sign off for tonight. to be continued! – Sandy

John: September 20, 2013

 Sandy – Just to keep it straight, perhaps we should communicate through e-mail. You can cull out of our e-mails whatever you would like.

I still believe that the clincher would be to find recipes for the same dishes in both Colette and Myra cookbooks to see if they are the same. My guess is that there will be some.

I was really excited to find other “Colette” books; to find that they were pseudonyms and to find more than one “Colette” book listed under Myra’s name as copyrighted by her.

Anyway, I am happy to help in whatever way I can. I love solving a mystery. In my line of work we look for patterns from which one can extrapolate.

The fact that there are books “The Art of ____ Cooking” by Myra both and “Colette”, suggests to me a pattern of title that ties them together. When you add that to the fact that about the same time there were books both by “Colette” and by Myra that were healthy eating or diet books, also suggests a relationship. Finally, the fact that both “Colette” and Myra did books the final word in the titles of which was “Cookery” (a word not in common usage) suggests that the same person was involved with both.

BTW – Just the lawyer in me talking, but you should copyright your work so it is protected. It is easy. Just put © Copyright August 2013 Sandy Smith at the end of each of your posts. There is a difference between copyrighting your work and registering the copyright. It is the registration that costs money and time. JW

Sandy: September 20, 2013

John–I was going to reply by email & then discovered I didn’t have it written down but I know it’s in my inbox emails somewhere. And how do you use the copyright symbol? I used to know that & trade mark but don’t remember them now. Oh, and wanted to mention – I was tickled that you thought Gigi was before my time. Not at all. I was a kid growing up in the 50s. And Gigi was on tv not very long ago. I think that was Maurice Chevalier (sp) first big film hit. And I do want to give you credit for your research on this project. I would have never connected all the dots by myself. You wrote today “still believe that the clincher would be to find recipes for the same dishes in both Colette and Myra cookbooks to see if they are the same. My guess is that there will be some” – I’ve been thinking the same thing! It amazes me how often we are on the same page. I was reading the introduction to the Art of Parisian cooking in which she delves into the history of French cuisine–Myra doesn’t do this in all of her cookbooks but she does in some–I think some of the paperback editions are condensed so the introductions are shorter. I wanted to see if the lengthier introductions have a pattern of similarities. I would like to check the recipes in Art of Parisian cooking with some of the others in Myra’s collection of foreign cookbooks–some of them just have to be very similar if not the same. (just now I opened up my paperback copy of Myra Waldo’s Bicentennial American Kitchen thinking it could be her most recently published book (was thinking 1976) – aha! the copyright date is 1960. Thanks again for your input–it has been a long time since I put this much into cookbook research–it’s exciting, like putting a complicated puzzle together. Still no answer from the person on FB I think is related to the family. I just know they are in Beverly Hills. – Sandy

Sandy: September 20, 2013

I have been working on my Myra cookbook list and wanted to share one title in particular with you – it’s not a book I have, I’m sorry to say – my collection of her books is far from complete and now I want to go back to searching for some of the missing titles. Anyway – this title caught my eye:

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN adapts hundreds of French gourmet recipes for American kitchens (and palates) with recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts, and a glossary of different kinds of cheeses, a chapter of information regarding wines and an herb and spice chart. This is the kind of book that will make gourmet cooks out of all of us. (*and now I wonder – how would THIS book compare with the Art of Parisian Cooking?) MUST find this one!

NOTE TO FILE: 9/22/13 I ordered the Complete Book of Gourmet Cooking for the American Kitchen from Amazon.com before checking my own bookshelves and discovering I already had it. Then spent the past 2 days cross referencing Complete Book of Gourmet Cooking (which contains French recipes for the American household) with  “Colette’s” ART OF PARISIAN COOKING—after I cross referenced 20-something recipes, including the famous Beef Burgundy that got John & me working on this project, and established that the recipes were virtually identical except for minor types of alcohol – Cognac versus Brandy, which John assures me is the same thing, Cognac just being a more expensive type of brandy. One recipe called for a cup of heavy cream while its counterpart only had half a cup[ of heavy cream – but for all intents and purposes, the recipes are the same. It was an amazing discovery.

Some final comments from John on this subject:

One other thought about the duplication of recipes.  If there are that many that are the identical (in fact if there is even one), that is pretty proof positive that they are one and the same not only because they are the same in different books under different names but also because it is copyrighted material.  If they were not owned by the same person, they could not have appeared in 2 different cookbooks by different authors because it would have been copyright infringement and Myra’s lawyer husband would have known that. If there were someone named Colette who was stealing his wife’s copyrighted material, he likely would have sued and likewise would not have wanted Myra to infringe anyone else’s copyright. So it is clear enough that they are the same person, if only because the law prohibits misappropriation of copyrighted material.

Copyrights last for the life of the author plus 70 years.  If you have something that you want to make sure is completely safe, you should register the copyright with the Patent Office. It is an easy form that can be obtained online and the registration is not all that expensive.

 But I think the final nail was your brainstorm that Schwartz means “black” in German.  I should have noticed that.  I have a number of Jewish friends from New York who told me that there is a Yiddish slang word “schwarter” that used to be used and was slang for black people.  I do not know if it was intended as an epithet but don’t think so. There was a cartoon in New Yorker years ago that had a black guy wearing a campaign button that said “Schwartzers for Carter”.  If it was an insulting or mean reference I don’t think the New Yorker would have printed it.  But I don’t know Yiddish, so I don’t know.

 Second, in honor of you and Myra, I am making fondue du poulet tomorrow (and I am using Remy Martin cognac).  I will let you know how it turns out. I haven’t made it in more than 10 years but it was always a hit.

 Sandy’s final note: When I first began writing about Myra Waldo in the mid 1990s, I didn’t have search engines like Google to dig around and search for titles, and I didn’t have Amazon.com and Alibris.com to enable me to order some of Myra’s cookbooks—and I most certainly didn’t have a blog which enabled me to write about all the cookbook authors I loved, or for people all over the United States to write back to me when something on my blog struck a chord. Such was the case when my lawyer friend in San Diego became curious about his tattered paperback copy of The Art of Parisian Cooking and wrote to me because he was curious about the unknown author writing under a pseudonym. What little we were able to establish about the elusive Colette Black is that her writing style seemed familiar—and on the back of The Art of Parisian Cooking, Collier Books wrote “Colette Black is the pseudonym of a renowned writer, hostess and world traveler…”  Well, the only person who fit that description was, once I had enough time to mull over it, was Myra Waldo.  But how to prove to our own satisfaction – for John was by this time my co-researcher on this project—that Myra Waldo and Colette Black were one and the same person?  Our emails back and forth, some of which were repetitive or about other topics, have been condensed so that, I hope, you can follow the yellow brick road that led us from no knowledge at all about the identity of Colette Black—to firmly establishing that Colette and Myra were the same person.

For readers who are interested in finding some of Myra’s cookbooks:

SERVE AT ONCE, THE SOUFFLE COOKBOOK, 1954, was published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company in New York and may be her first published cookbook. (I believe she had travel books or pamphlets published before she began writing cookbooks).

“Myra Waldo has been testing and collecting souffle recipes for years,” we learn on the dust jacket of this book., “Her previous writing experience ranges from copy for cosmetics and chain stores to travel folders, and to assisting her husband compile two dictionaries. She is a member of the Gourmet Society of New York…” (This comment on the dust jacket would seem to indicate that the Souffle Cookbook was Myra’s first published cookbook.)

COMPLETE ROUND-THE-WORLD COOKBOOK; RECIPES GATHERED BY PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS FROM OVER 80 COUNTRIES, WITH FOOD AND TRAVEL COMMENTS BY MYRA WALDO, 1954, First American edition, 1957, 9 reprints up to 1960.

THE MOLLY GOLDBERG JEWISH COOKBOOK/PUBLICATIONS, PAPERBACK) copyright 1955 by Myra Waldo & Gertrude Berg, first published by Doubleday, 1955, 7 printings up to 1968.Pyramid  Royal paperback.

Myra Waldo appeared to be ahead of her time with cookbooks that were for our health.  SLENDERELLA COOK BOOK* was first published in 1957 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.  Later, it appeared in paperback under the title, THE COMPLETE REDUCING COOK BOOK FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. Another cookbook published in paperback was titled COOKING FOR YOUR HEART AND HEALTH, first published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in 1961, reprinted in paperback by Pocket Book in 1962 (cost of the paperback was fifty cents—imagine THAT!).  (*Slenderella, a former New Yorker advised me, was a kind of weight loss facility—think Weight Watchers or Curves)

THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK was published by Collier as a paperback in 1961 with numerous reprints. The copy my friend and editor, Sue Erwin, located was printed in 1972.  As cookbooks go, this one is a delightful departure from the norm. It’s the story of newlyweds, Jane and Peter, told in diary form by Jane; the recipes are good and the story line is cute. As an aside, while researching this and other cookbook authors, it has become apparent that quite a few writers of the 50s and 60s wrote a cookbook for brides.  (*Incidentally, I don’t think the Jane-and-Peter format would go over today).  My paperback copy of the Bride’s Cookbook shows a copyright date of 1958. First Collier edition published in 1961, fifth printing 1972.

Another favorite Myra Waldo cookbook is “THE DINERS’ CLUB COOKBOOK, (Great Recipes from Great Restaurants), published in 1959 by Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, Inc.  Recipes are from famous restaurants from coast to coast and there is even one from the Toll House in Whitman Massachusetts—where the original chocolate chip cookie was created. The recipe in the Diners Club cookbook, however, is a frosted daiquiri pie. Many of the restaurants no longer exist today, but it’s fun to read and the recipes sound delicious.

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING, First PRINTING 1960 by David McKay Publishers, 2ND PRINTING 1962, BANTAM PAPERBACK PRINTINGS 11 PRINTNGS AS OF 1965.  THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING offers chapters on cuisine from Hawaii, Japan, Korea, Phillipines, Indonesia, China, Indochina, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, and India.

THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN, also published in 1960, by G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS (French cooking for American kitchens)  adapts hundreds of French gourmet recipes for American kitchens (and palates) with recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts, and a glossary of different kinds of cheeses, a chapter of information regarding wines and an herb and spice chart. This is the kind of book that will make gourmet cooks out of all of us.

In 1960, Myra Waldo published “COOKING FOR THE FREEZER” and this was dedicated to preparing meals in advance. Written prior to the advent of side-by-side freezers and cross top freezers, the refrigerator-freezer shown on the cover with the author doesn’t look like it would hold more than a single meal but the author offers recipes that reconstitute satisfactorily after freezing and do sound good. Most of Myra Waldo’s cookbooks show, I think, the influence of her world travels.

THE ART OF SOUTH AMERICAN COOKERY published in 1961 by Doubleday.

CAKES, COOKIES AND PASTRIES, (187 great dessert recipes from around the world) first published by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company in 1962.  Included are tantalizing recipes for goodies like Venezuelan Banana Torte and Viennese Poppy Seed Torte, Greek Pistachio Cookies and Swedish Honey cookies.

MYRA WALDO’S DESSERT COOKBOOK is written in a similar vein, offering recipes from many parts of the world.  Included are recipes for yummy recipes such as Hungarian Plum Dumplings, Chinese Sesame Seed Bananas, Polish Almond Bars and Persian Rice Pudding. This, also, was first published in 1962 by Crowell-Collier Publishing Company.

One book appears to have been originally published by Collier’s as a paperback, was THE CASSEROLE COOKBOOK 1963 (170 ingenious one-dish dinners). I think it might have been a takeoff from her earlier COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH although the recipes are different.  “The casserole” noted the author, “is the greatest single boon for the busy hostess. It permits her to join her guests instead of being confined to last-minute duties in the kitchen…” I agree, and reading both books, found many recipes that would be suitable even today. The back cover of THE CASSEROLE COOKBOOK notes that “Myra Waldo is the author of many Collier cookbooks, including  COOKING FROM THE PANTRY SHELF, GREAT RECIPES FROM GREAT RESTAURANTS, THE HAMBURGER COOKBOOK, COOK AS THE ROMANS DO, SOUFFLE COOKBOOK, CAKES, COOKIES AND PASTRIES  and 1001 WAYS TO PLEASE A HUSBAND: THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK. Incidentally, if you have this last title, it appears to be the most elusive of all Waldo’s books and, for some reason, the highest priced listed in Alibris.com. I am unable to determine whether 1001 Ways to Please a Husband and The Bride’s Cookbook are one and the same or two separate books.

And, although THE ART OF SPAGHETTI COOKERY 1964 does not appear to have been classified amongst Waldo’s “foreign” cookbooks, it does contain recipes from many parts of the world; recipes such as Czechoslovakian potato noodle, Greek macaroni casserole, Bhat Aur Savia (Indian rice and spaghetti) and Chinese beef and noodles.   As an added bonus, the author provides an interesting history of spaghetti in the Introduction.  Another cookbook by Myra Waldo, while not strictly “foreign” has a European stamp, with recipes from France, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH/DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY, 1965

COMPLETE BOOK OF WINE COOKERY 1965 (publisher?)

DICTIONARY OF INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND COOKING TERMS, 1967

INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COOKING, ILLUSTRATED BY SIDONIE CORYN 1967 (publisher?)

INTER-CONTINENAL GOURMET COOKBOOK published in 1967 by Macmillan Company. (One edition with a box to hold the cookbook in), but I also have a very nice hardcover edition published the same year.  Was the boxed edition for something special?

THE COMPLETE ROUND THE WORLD MEAT COOKBOOK, also published in 1967 by Doubleday & Company

SEVEN WONDERS OF THE COOKING WORLD published in 1971 by Dodd, Mead & Company is devoted to recipes from China, The Orient (other than China), Where East Meets West (recipes from Russia, Rumania, Greece, Turkey, Iran and Israel), Middle Europe (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia), Italy, the Latin Countries (Spain, Portugal, South America and Mexico) and France.

CUCINA ORIENTALE, 1972 (publisher?) no other information

Despite being a most prolific cookbook author throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, producing over 40 cookbooks, Myra Waldo appears to have all but disappeared from our culinary landscape.  Most of my food-related reference books fail to mention her at all; James Trager, in  “THE FOOD CHRONOLOGY” refers only briefly to her first cookbook, “THE SOUFFLE COOKBOOK” published in 1954, and Waldo’s 1967 “INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COOKING”.  (As a yardstick of comparison, I noted that Irma Rombauer, who wrote only one cookbook (Joy of Cooking) ranks an entire lengthy paragraph in Trager’s Food Chronology, while Margaret Rudkin who introduced the world to Pepperidge Farm Bread and wrote THE PEPPERIDGE FARM COOKBOOK” is acknowledged with nearly an entire page. Ida Bailey Allen who, you know, is the author of first cookbook I was introduced to as a child, is referenced nine  times in Trager’s book, even though some of Allen’s books were little more than pamphlets and many were quite obviously promotions for the products that sponsored her.

And yet, as I leaf through cookbook after cookbook written by Myra Waldo, I am impressed with the quality of her writing. Recipes were written straightforwardly, directions are clear and precise. Any one of us could read her cookbooks, today, and follow her instructions.  Sometimes we are gifted with interesting asides such as those in “THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN” in which Myra explains how Baked Alaska was the unexpected and happy result of a laboratory experiment and tells us how sherbets came to 16th century France with Catherine de Medicis, bride of Henry II.  Myra often gives us a food-related history lesson throughout the pages of “THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN”.  This cookbook, incidentally, is another favorite of mine. The stories she shares in COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH are heartwarming. Each chapter begins with a short memoir—and it is here, in this cookbook, that one gets a true sense of who Myra Waldo was.

Another mystery to this most elusive cookbook author is that her books were published by many different publishers, sometimes two different ones in the same year. Oftentimes, an author’s books will be published by the same publisher. (Although someone else who did this were the cookbook authors, The Browns—Cora, Bob, and Rose.  Well, someone else will have to solve that mystery!

Readers of my blog who like cookbooks that are all “from scratch” ingredients would do well to find some of Myra’s cookbooks for your shelves. She was a most incredibly gifted (and beautiful!) writer.

And this is what I found on Google January 15, 2011:

Dateline July 29, 2004

“Myra Waldo, a writer who filled bookshelves with advice on places to see and their customs, died Sunday in her home in Beverly Hills. She was 88 and formerly lived in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  The cause was congestive heart failure, her family said…Myra Waldo was born in Manhattan and attended Columbia University. In 1937 she married Robert J. Schwartz, a lawyer, who died in 1997.  She used her maiden name professionally….” (Obviously, Wolfgang Saxon who wrote this piece – didn’t really KNOW anything about Myra Waldo. He concludes, “Ms. Waldo worked on special projects for the MacMillan Publishing Company in the late 1960s. From 1968 to 1972, she was on the air as food and travel editor of WCBS radio, a job that led to her 1971 “Restaurant Guide to New York City and Vicinity” which she continued to revise into the 1980s.”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME, WOLFGANG?  This is all you had to write about a woman who wrote over FORTY cookbooks? – not including all her books on travel? I would hope that, if I wrote that many cookbooks, someone in my family would compose a better obituary for me. Myra deserved better. I hope that I have given it to her with this tribute.

Jill Holzman, writing for Jewish Journal did considerably better with a short obituary about Myra Waldo Schwartz on August 5. 2004:  “Myra Waldo Schwartz, travel writer, food editor and critic, died July 25 [2004].  A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Myra made numerous television appearances, [had] a radio show on food on New York’s WCBS News Radio 88 and was the food editor for the Baltimore Sun’s This Week Magazine.

She wrote more than 40 books, including “The Complete Round The World Cookbook”, “Seven Wonders of the Cooking World” “The Molly Goldberg Cookbook” and “l,001 ways to Please Your Husband.”

For anyone who wants more proof that Myra Waldo and Colette Black were one and the same person, please note the follow:

All of the following Myra titles are from The Complete Book of Gourmet Cooking (French cooking for the American kitchen). The Colette titles are all from The Art of Parisian Cooking:

Myra – Pate Maison page 7   Colette – page 26 Pate Maison

Myra – Chicken Liver Mousse page 6, Colette – page 26 Chicken Liver Mouse (*amount of cream is ½ cup in one recipe and 1 cup in the other. Remaining ingredients are the same)

Myra – Fondue of Chicken, page 115, Colette – Fondue de Poulet, Page 89

Myra – poached chicken with truffles, page 111, Colette – page 88 supreme de Volaille Demi-Deuil

Myra – Chicken & Sweet Breads with pastry page 118, Colette –  Poulet Et Ris Beau En Pate page 89

Myra – Chicken in cherry Sauce page 106, Colette – Poussin Montmorency page 83

Myra – Fricassee with White Wine, page 97, Colette – Fricassee a la Parisienne, page 84

Myra – Chicken in Red Wine page 96-97, Colette – Coq Au Vin Rouge page 85

Myra – Chicken in Saffron Cream Sauce, page 106, Colette – Poularde Au Safran page 86

There are many more but the special recipe that started our search for the French Connection:

Myra – Beef Burgundy, page 145, Colette – Boeuf Bourguigonne page 67.

I rest my case.

Sandy’s cooknote: A special thank you to John H. in San Diego for all your assistance and insights—particularly in areas in which I have no expertise (writing styles and copyright laws) ©   – Sandra Lee Smith, September 24, 2013

THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT

THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT PROVIDES ENCHANTING COOKBOOKS!

What is it about cookbooks from New Mexico?  There’s those delectable southwestern recipes, of course—but we have delectable southwestern recipes in California, too—and a few years ago when I was in Albuquerque for a few days with my brother Jim, (for a bowling tournament – I flew, he drove) we had the opportunity to drive up into the mountains and have a fantastic dinner with a group of other bowlers and their wives or adult children. The house they had rented for a week was fairly new and decidedly southwestern in décor. The cover on a cookbook titled A TASTE OF ENCHANTMENT and the living room featured on the cover reminded me quite a bit of that house we visited in the mountains. But what IS it about New Mexico’s club-and-church cookbooks that beckon me? 

The city of Albuquerque, though, reminded me of the Antelope Valley in California, where I now live. It has that same high desert look and feel about it, right down to the cacti and lavender bushes which we saw growing wild on some streets. Albuquerque’s Old Town reminds me somewhat of Los Angeles’ “old town” – Olvera Street, the oldest street in Los Angeles (across the street from our train station), is crowded on both sides and down the middle with every imaginable Mexican souvenir, shoes, purses, clothing, candy, snacks—it’s a tourist haven. I wish we could have spent more time in Albuquerque but we were there for the bowling tournament and everything else we did was extra. I vowed to return—meantime, I will visit Albuquerque vicariously through a cookbook or two!

Albuquerque is the most populous city in New Mexico. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County, and it is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 555,417 as of the July 1st, 2012 population estimate from the United States Census Bureau and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. It has a 2012 estimated metropolitan population of 901,700 according to the US Census.

Albuquerque is home to the University of New Mexico (UNM), Presbyterian Health ServicesKirtland Air Force BaseSandia National Laboratories, Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, and Petroglyph National Monument (I would like to visit the latter). The Sandia Mountains run along the eastern side of Albuquerque, and the Rio Grande flows through the city, north to south

Albuquerque was founded in 1706 as the Spanish colonial outpost of Ranchos de Albuquerque. Present-day Albuquerque retains much of its historical Spanish cultural heritage.

Albuquerque was a farming community and strategically located military outpost along the Camino Real. The town was also the sheep-herding center of the West. Spain established a presidio (military garrison) in Albuquerque in 1706. After 1821, Mexico also had a military garrison there. The town of Albuquerque was built in the traditional Spanish village pattern: a central plaza surrounded by government buildings, homes, and a church. This central plaza area has been preserved and is open to the public as a museum, cultural area, and center of commerce. It is referred to as “Old Town Albuquerque” or simply “Old Town.” Historically it was sometimes referred to as “La Placita” (little plaza in Spanish). On the north side of Old Town Plaza is San Felipe de Neri Church. Built in 1793, it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city. (My brother and his bowling buddy, John, and I visited old town and had a wonderful dinner at one of the old southwestern restaurants in Old Town. A band was playing in the Gazebo when we were there. We were unable to visit the church as a wedding was underway inside.

If you have a sense of what Albuquerque looks like, then let me present you with A  TASTE OF ENCHANTMENT/Treasured Recipes from the Junior League of Albuquerque. Not surprisingly, it was published by Favorite Recipes Press, which I have mentioned to you several times in the past. One of the first things I do anymore is check to see who published a cookbook, especially if I find it extremely well done. The photographer was Peter Vitale. My copy is a 2001 first printing that is in like-new condition.

In the Introduction, the Junior League of Albuquerque tells us, “New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment. For centuries, New Mexico has captivated the hearts of residents and visitors alike. We have a society that is muy simpatico, a gentle blending of Native American, Hispano, Anglo and other cultures that provide a lifestyle unlike any other.

Experiencing New Mexico,” they continue, “is a feast for the senses. Landscapes of majestic mountains, expansive sand dunes, and open space as far as the eye can see produce a quality of light that results in turquoise skies by day and opalescent sunsets of vivid reds, pinks, purples, and orange.”

Their tastes and attitudes, they tell us, are varied and plentiful; they can be formal with a southwestern flair or casual, yet sophisticated. They are unique n the manner in which they entertain and in the way each cook infuses into her dishes her own personal taste of enchantment.

“Our cultures, topography, attitudes and cuisine,” write the Junior Leaguers, “are ingredients for a delicious recipe for living…As we gather at our tables, each of these influences is present; none overpowers the other…”

“Within these pages” they proudly offer, “you will find treasured recipes for both cooking and living. We offer our highly esteemed traditional fare alongside new and inventive dishes that reflect modern-day southwestern lifestyles. Our favorite restaurants have graciously provided their perennial pleasures to enhance your enchanted journey into New Mexico’s cuisine and culture.”   

Following the Introduction is a page titled “Is it Chile or Chili?”  Either one is actually correct (I’ve always been curious.)  Instructions follow for roasting the exterior of your chilies and then putting them into a plastic bag for about 15 minutes – the skins will peel right off after you do this—for, you will discover, chiles are an intricate part of all Mexican and southwestern cuisines.

Then there are the recipes—along with some of Peter Vitale’s exquisite photographs. (I confess, I didn’t know who Peter Vitale is so I began Googling his name and got a crash course in Peter Vitale’s photography—I only wished there had been more of his photographs in A Taste of Enchantment!, which he generously donated to the Junior Leaguers

Each chapter is prefaced with short essays about New Mexico. Under the chapter for Adobe Aperitivo, (Appetizers), you will find a short essay about the Art of Albuquerque and how it can be seen everywhere you turn throughout this enchanting city. Recipes under Appetizers range from Asparagus (which grows wild in some places in and around New Mexico) and Prosciutto Bundles and Aztec Artichoke Squares to Spiced Carrots With Dill (which I will have to make) to Southwestern Stuffed Mushrooms which includes a couple of tablespoons of BUENO frozen green chile….I simply had to Google BUENO and discovered BUENO Foods is a southwestern family enterprise that has been in business for over 60 years. Californians may be able to find their products at Albertson’s supermarkets but if you Google BUENO Foods, you will find them listed in over ten states. (I was pleased to find a BUENO FOODS mail order at the back of the book as well as a website address).  Sorry, I digressed. Also under appetizers find recipes for Mushroom-Stuffed French Bread and Tailgater Brie, Kalamata Tapenade, and Hot Rueben Spread—this and much more.

Very Verde, a chapter of Salads, also contains a short essay on the Mystery of the Anasazi.  Anasazi is Navajo for “The Ancient Ones”. The Anasazi formed communities in the southwest around 400 A.D. and despite their extensive thriving communities, around n 1300 A.D. the Anasazi sites were mysteriously abandoned, leaving few clues to their departure. In the Salad chapter, I was charmed to find Kumquat Winter Salad (we had a dwarf kumquat tree when I lived in Arleta), and Margarita Coleslaw that I look forward to trying! There is also a Roasted Pecan Slaw and a Napa Slaw with Snow Peas, Jicama Salad with Oranges and Marinated Asparagus, to name a few.  I look forward to trying many of these recipes; Southwestern Cobb Salad provides an interesting twist on traditional Cobb Salad and a  Cilantro Chicken Salad with Sesame Dressing that begs to be tried. Ditto Wild Rice Chicken Salad.

Other chapters are Fireside Fiestas (Soups and Stews), Sandia Sunrises (Breads and Brunch), Simpatico Sides (Vegetables and Side Dishes), Comidas by Candlelight (Entrees) and Enchanted Endings (Desserts). Not to be overlooked is MI CASA ES SU CASA (translates to my house/castle is your house/castle) which contains recipes sure to become favorites—Chili con Queso from Jane Butel (whom I have written about before), Gringo Red Chile Sauce, Red Chile Sauce (for the not-so-faint-hearted), Spicy Green Chile Sauce, Salsa Supreme, Stuffed Green Chiles, Tortilla Soup and many more.

A TASTE OF ENCHANTMENT stays true, throughout, to its southwestern roots—something I appreciate enormously. Not all regional cookbooks do.  

It is available at Amazon.com, new, for $25.00 or pre-owned starting at 48c. I found it also listed on Alibris.com also new for $25.00 or pre-owned starting at 99c. (Alibris has quite a few pre-owned copies).  **

Next, I’d like to introduce you to SIMPLY SIMPATICO, also from the Junior League of Albuquerque, but this one was compiled in 1981 and has gone through numerous printings—all the way up to ninth printing in July, 1999 and it was apparently shortly after the ninth printing that the Junior Leaguers decided to compile a new cookbook which resulted in THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT in 2001.

SIMPLY SIMPATICO is spiral bound with a gorgeous turquoise and red cover. It was also a Tabasco Hall of Fame award winner. This no-nonsense thick cookbook is packed with recipes that will delight everyone who loves southwestern cuisine and/or collects cookbooks. This is sure to become a favorite for everyone enamored of southwestern cuisine.

Simply Simpatico is dedicated to New Mexico’s heritage and to the congenial style of living that has emerged from its unique cultural matrix. It focuses on the cornucopia of foods which so vividly reflect the lifestyles and culinary traits of modern-day New Mexicans – foods that have roots in New Mexico’s past, but which are a contemporary expression of today’s gracious, casual simpatico living.

One of the features I most appreciate about SIMPLY SIMPATICO are the numerous Mexican/Southwestern recipes that are presented with straight forward directions—recipes for tacos, enchiladas, chile Rellenos, tamales, burritos and arroz con pollo—just to name a few—are presented under Comida Simpatica—Native dishes—right in the front of the cookbook, where they will be easily found whenever the mood hits you. In my household –as well as that of my youngest son—a southwestern dinner is generally presented at least once a week. We both keep flour tortillas on hand in the frig for the grandkids who live closest to me to make their own cheese quesadillas when they get home from school and both households are fairly well stocked with other ingredients to make a good tasting snack. My daughter in law and I don’t follow the same recipe for making taco meat but either recipe works well for taco salads. Simply Simpatico translates, in case you are curious, to “simply handsome”, a term, that embraces, say the Junior Leagues of Albuquerque, their cultures and their lifestyles.

I’m looking forward to trying many of the recipes featured in SIMPLY SIMPATICO.

All the recipes sound delish; you may want to try all of them—for openers, do a southwestern dinner for your next dinner party. I also like the Glossary of food terms which will please a southwestern cuisine novice. It is followed by  a couple pages on chiles and burritos, offered as part of the introduction, before you dive into Comida Simpatica—a generous presentation of everyday southwestern favorites which even includes Mexican Chocolate Sauce and Mexican Wedding Cookies. There isn’t much that I’m not familiar with, which makes me smile, thinking how—back in 1965—when a coworker became a friend, I didn’t even know what a TACO tasted like. My coworker set out to change all that.

Recipes found under Appetizers include Guacamole Dip, Harlequin Dip (which I’ve never heard of before), Frijole Dip (j is silent), Green Chile Dip—and many others. There are many different recipes for spreads, such as Almond Cheese Spread or Beef-and-Cheese Spread, Cheese in a Bread Bowl, Tuna And Pistachio Pate or Salmon Party Ball, Taquitas (rolled taco appetizers)—and many others. The most difficult part of planning a southwestern party theme might be trying to limit yourself to just a few of the many appetizer recipes; you might want to consider making one of these appetizers each week for your family so you can plan ahead for a future party.

Some years ago, Bob & I held at least a few large parties a year…after decades of indecision regarding party food, I began serving just appetizers. You can’t go wrong –guests can help themselves and are able to walk around talking to other guests while nibbling on some appetizers—if they find something they don’t like, they can go back and get something else. (and if someone asks what can they bring, you can say “a favorite appetizer” or “a bottle of your favorite wine”.)  One of the best Christmas parties we ever hosted was with a southwestern theme; four of our guests were from Mexico City, here visiting friends—they took over making a huge amount of guacamole—and then taught some of our other guests how to dance the salsa, which was popular that year. I had hardwood floors and a big living room. It was one of our best and most popular holiday parties.    

There is a chapter in SIMPLY SIMPATICO called BEVERAGES which offers some sangria recipes, Champagne Sipper which makes 25 servings, Rum Punch, which serves 30, or Ripsnortin Punch which makes 40-50 servings. There IS a recipe for making margaritas but the recipe given only makes 4 servings – you might want to double or triple the ingredients if it’s for a party. Or—choose from one of the many other recipes.

Other chapters include Soups and Sandwiches. Breads, Vegetables, Salads, Meats, Poultry, Cakes, Pies & Cookies…one of my favorites is  “Accompaniments” with its assortment of sauce recipes (How about Mandarin Orange-Grape Sauce for poultry? Or perhaps a simple Orange Basting Sauce? There is a recipe for Mild Homemade Taco Sauce you will want to mix when you have some spare time & keep it on hand and one I can’t wait to make – New Mexican Seasoning Mix, or how about Sangria Jelly or Jalapeno Jelly? These are just a few of the recipes found in Accompaniments and just a sampling of the many different recipes to be found in SIMPLY SIMPATICO.

You’ll be pleased to know that Amazon.com has many copies of SIMPLY SIMPATICO available new it can be yours for $5.50 and pre-owned starting at 33c. Alibris.com cannot compete with the Amazon.com prices this cookbook; when I checked, there was only one copy available and it was priced at $9.99.    ***

The third cookbook in this grouping isn’t from Albuquerque – but it’s still New Mexico and this time the focus is on Santa Fe. The title is THE CUISINE OF SANTA FE, LA CASA SENA.  Published n 1994 by Ten Speed Press—La Casa Sena isn’t a junior league cookbook, either!  Co-authors Gordon Heiss and John Harrisson have compiled this unique cookbook. Heiss, who grew up in his father’s hotels in St. Louis Missouri and has a lifelong commitment to the restaurant and hotel business.  Harrisson grew u p in England, where he helped establish the Sigmund Freud Museum. After moving to the United States, Harrisson has worked with many chefs in the world of cooking.

I wondered what “Sena” meant, knowing that Casa means home, or castle. I was bemused with myself when I did some Googling, to learn that  “Sena” was the name of one of the oldest and most notable families in Santa Fe. Built in 1868, Sena Plaza is one of the oldest surviving houses in Santa Fe. It is located just one block from the city’s plaza and just across the street from the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis Assissi.  La Casa Sena, which means “The Sena House” occupies an old hacienda style adobe. The Sena family was one of the oldest and most notable in Santa Fe.

What makes La Casa Sena particularly unique is that a premier collection of Southwestern and Native American art adorns the walls, but not to be overlooked are the meals served for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.  La Casa Sena, the cookbook, offers over 150 recipes served at the restaurant. And, in addition to recipes, there is a list of the artwork adorning the restaurant’s walls, along with a chapter explaining the history of Santa Fe, but especially the history of La Casa Sena.

Unique recipes begin (Breakfast or Brunch) with Blue Corn Crepes, Blue Corn and Cheese Blintzes, Roast Beef Burritos—or if you prefer, a Vegetable Burrito, Catalina Enchiladas or Turkey Enchiladas. Bread recipes include Whole Wheat Tortillas (yes, from scratch!) to Blue Corn Muffins and Galletas (Galletas, we learn, is the name for a small Southwestern loaf of bread and at La Casa Sena, it is used as an edible bowl for Black Bean Soup. I, for one, want to try making the Pumpernickel Rye Bread – I come from a European background that had us all growing up with rye bread. But don’t overlook a recipe for making your own Sourdough Starter – and then you can use it making Sourdough Rye Bread (which I have never before seen on a  menu!)

Under Appetizers you will find a recipe for Red Onion Salsa, Cantina Nachos, Corn Tamales and Black Bean Tamales—and surely distinctive, Shrimp and Smoked Cheddar Flautas. But there are other appetizers to salivate over.

In SOUPS & STEWS, I found a recipe for Vegetarian Black Bean Soup (I immediately thought of a girlfriend of mine who was a vegetarian who loved black beans). Also for vegetarians is Black Bean Soup en galleta which simply means with tomato salsa. Santa Fe Vegetable Soup is also tempting for vegetarians although it contains chicken stock. If you prefer, you could use vegetarian bouillon instead but I think I would prefer this with homemade chicken stock. Yum!

Other soup recipes include Roasted Corn and Chipotle Soup, Tomato Garlic Soup, Yellow Split Pea Soup and—my favorite—Sopa de Albondigas (which means meatballs) but it can be made, say the authors, with chicken or beef, with meatballs or dumplings—a most versatile recipe.

Other chapters feature Salads & Dressings, Fish & Seafood, Poultry & Fowl, Meat & game—and my favorite! An entire chapter devoted to sauces, basics & marinades. Included are recipes for Red Chile Sauce, Green Chile Sauce—even Croutons—as well as marinades for salmon, other fish, shrimp, chicken breasts, pork and beef.

Desserts offered include Chocolate Truffles, Mexican Brownies, Lemon Custard Tart—and many other recipes.

What I have left for last is a special mention of all the art work adorning the walls at La Casa Sena – the cookbook is decorated throughout with some of the special American Native art work. Impressive? Very!

La Casa Sena, which explores the cuisine AND the art of New Mexico, is available on Amazon.com for $20.00. I found a number of copies starting at one cent. Of course, shipping when you make purchases from private vendors, is $3.99 – still, not a bad price for a hardbound cookbook with a dust jacket – that is literally packed with historical information about this southwestern region.  **

New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment—with a cuisine that is sumptuous, sights to see and things to do—from taking in the balloon festival to doing walking tours in the Petroglyph National Monument. I wish I knew more about it and will rectify this by visiting Triple A to see what they can share with me. Meantime, I can read these cookbooks and try some of the recipes. You will want all three of these southwestern cookbooks to add to your collection.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

 

 

 

NATIVE AMERICAN COOKING

NATIVE AMERICAN COOKING (FOODS OF THE SOUTHWEST INDIAN NATIONS) by Lois Ellen Frank, was published in 1991 by Clarkson Potter, Publishers, and is surely one of the most beautiful cookbooks I have ever seen. That it is so beautiful is not happenstance—Lois Ellen Frank is a professional photographer as well as cookbook author. In this case she is both cookbook author and photographer, whose work has appeared in major magazines and newspapers, such as L.A. Style, New Mexico Magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine.

To get a better understanding of the book, let’s read what Ms. Frank had to say, in the introduction to NATIVE AMERICAN COOKING:

“When I graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara,” she writes, “I was asked to give a speech at the commencement. With this special opportunity, I wanted to reach out to every person there and explain my feelings about photography—how the images we produce should be positive and productive and, if possible, influence generations to come…”

After Lois Frank gave her speech, the renowned photographer Ernst Haas also gave a speech, and Lois was greatly moved by his words. As she and Ernest became friends, he encouraged Lois to share her visions with him.

Ernst believe that in order to express your visions through an art form, you must allow your childlike, uninhibited feelings to surface.

“Quite often” he explained to Lois with distaste, “I see people photographing things they don’t necessarily care about, just to make money, and then when they finally reach a point in their lives when they have time to be creative, they have forgotten what it is they wanted to express in the first place”.

And so, Lois began to search for the message she wanted to convey through her photography. She knew she had to look within herself, and she began to have dreams—-dreams of herself doing simple things, like grinding corn and making baskets and planting seeds. She says she has always tried to be in touch with the earth and has always been interested in people who are; she also notes that her grandfather was a Kiowa Indian and that she has always been interested in Native American culture.

As a result, Lois Frank spent several years visiting and living on many of the southwestern Indian reservations. She learned from the elders where to find, how to harvest, and how to prepare Native American foods. And-—they gave her permissions to photograph their food rituals – a rare privilege, she notes.

In September of 1986, while Lois was on her first trip to the Hopi reservation, her dear friend, Ernst, died of a stroke. Though his death left her with a great feeling of emptiness, she knows his spirit lives within her.

In the introduction to NATIVE AMERICAN COOKING you will learn a bit about the beliefs and culture of the Native Americans of the Southwest, whose people have always lived in close harmony with the natural world: their religions are based on a belief that the gods are embodied in the forces of nature and in all living things. Consequently, every food, whether plant or animal is considered sacred.

“To offer an overall picture of the region,” Lois explains, “I have chosen not to separate the recipes by tribe. Thus you’ll find a variety of influences throughout the book: recipes that derive from the sophisticated farming techniques of the Hopi and other Pueblo tribes; recipes that include fish, from the tribes that settled along the Rio Grande in northern New Mexico; recipes that reflect the hunting-and-gathering diets of the Navajo and Apache tribes; recipes featuring cactus, a special staple of the Pima and Papago peoples…”

All of these recipes, of course, have been adapted to the modern kitchen and whenever possible, Lois has given advice on how to find special ingredients and, when appropriate, has suggested more common ingredients you can use as substitutes.

You will surely be as pleased as I was over the beautiful photography which illustrates the recipes, and if you enjoy southwestern cuisine at ALL, you are going to love this book. There are a wide variety of recipes from which to choose, ranging from Blue Corn Dumplings in Potato Nests with Red Chile Sauce, to Indian Fry Bread.

Also included is a source guide, so that no matter where you live you can order special ingredients and feast on Native American cuisine to your heart’s content.

NATIVE AMERICAN COOKING, subtitled FOODS OF THE SOUTHWEST INDIAN NATIONS by Lois Ellen Frank, was published in 1991 by Clarkson Potter. It is available on Amazon.com, reasonably priced at $9.98 for a new copy, $5.75 for a collectible copy and starting at one cent for a pre owned copy. (It originally sold for $27.50 when it was first published).

I also found FOODS OF THE SOUTHWEST INDIAN TRIBES, published by Lois in August 2002. That one is available at $23.79 for a hardbound copy or $7.86 for a pre-owned one. A third listing on Amazon.com that I am wrestling with myself (to buy, or not to buy, that is the question) is titled TACO TABLE and it’s available at $8.96 for a new copy or $2.98 for a pre-owned one.

Lois Ellen Frank also lent her expertise as a photographer to a number of other cookbooks—if you type in her name on Amazon.com with “photographer” you will see an amazing list of cookbooks featuring her photography.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

Sandy’s Cooknote: I have been enchanted with the southwestern states – and southwestern cuisine–for quite some time and have reviewed some SW junior league cookbooks in the past…consider this a lead-in – I’ve acquired several more cookbooks featuring New Mexico’s tantalizing cuisine—and will be featuring them on my blog as soon as I can get them read-and-reviewed. – Sandy 9/6/2013

THYME IN A BOTTLE

“Hi, I’m Ingrid Croce and THYME IN A BOTTLE is my life story in a cookbook”. This is how Ingrid Croce Introduces herself and captivates her audience from page one.

Who could be better qualified to write a cookbook titled THYME IN A BOTTLE than Ingrid Croce, wife of the late Jim Croce, whose TIME IN A BOTTLE is still played, frequently, on mellow/easy listening radio stations. Jim Croce died in an airplane crash in Louisiana in 1973. Croce, incidentally, also wrote-and-recorded “Operator”, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “I’ll have to say I love you in a song”. His career was just starting to take off when he died, never knowing that at least one of his songs would become an all-time favorite classic.

From Google we learned that Croce was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 10, 1043. He first learned to play the accordion at the age of five. He later became a self taught guitar player.

Jim attended Villanova College in Pennsylvania and it was in his freshman year that he began to get serious about a musical career. He played in several bands doing a variety of music. It was also at college that he met his wife, Ingrid.

In 1969 he moved to New York with Ingrid and an old friend from college. They began playing in clubs and coffeehouses for more than a year.

It was there that they recorded their first album. However, the album was not a success and they grew tired of life in the city. The Croces then decided to move to Lyndell, Pennsylvania, where their only child, Adrian James Croce, was born. Although they lived a much simpler life, money was short, so Jim began selling the guitars he collected while living in New York. He worked construction jobs again and for studios in NY, dong background vocals for radio commercials.
Eventually, Jim was heard and signed by ABC/Dunhill record label in 1972 and released his second album, “YOU DON’T MESS AROUND WITH JIM”.

His rock style and soulful ballads became popular with American radio stations. This album gave Jim the success he had dreamed about – The title album, “YOU DON’T MESS AROUND WITH JIM” became a top ten hit. His third album was an even bigger success. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was a chart topping single that reached number one and eventually went Gold. Jim Croce was now traveling all over the country doing concerts and making television appearances.

One of his favorite songs, “Time in a Bottle” was used as theme song on a television movie titled “She Lives,” in early September of that year. It was after being heard on national television that this now legendary song became a radio success. However, only two months after “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” went to the top of the charts, Jim Croce was killed in an airplane crash.

Jim had finished what would be his last concert at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. His small charter airplane took off in bad weather and crashed into a tree right after take off, killing Jim, his lead guitarist Maury Muehleisen and the airplanes crew.

After his death, Jim Croce’s music continued to grow in popularity. He will always be known as one of the most talented singer, songwriter and musicians that we were blessed to have for such a short time.

There is no way of knowing just where Jim’s career would have taken him if he had not died so tragically just when his dreams were becoming realities. People who knew Jim Croce spoke of what a genuine, kind and easy-going man he was. His music was so easy for everyone to relate to. Jim Croce is buried at Haym Salomon Memorial Park in Frazer, Pennsylvania. An album titled, “Photographs and Memories” was released in 1974 as his greatest hits package. He was only thirty years ago when he died.

The following is a list of Croce’s top ten songs:

1. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”
2. “Operator (That’s Not the Way it Feels)”
3. “Time in a Bottle”
4. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”
5. “One Less Set of Footsteps”
6. “It Doesn’t Have to be That Way”
7. “Roller Derby Queen”
8. “I Got a Name”
9. “I’ll Have to Say I Love You In a Song”
10. “Lover’s Cross”

(Some of these can be heard on Youtube with Jim singing).

Getting back to “THYME IN A BOTTLE”, this cookbook came to me by way of the publishers, HarperCollins, when I was doing cookbook reviews for the now defunct cookbook newsletter the Cookbook Collectors Exchange.

What you may not know is that in 1985, Ingrid opened Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Bar in San Diego, California, as a tribute to her late husband, singer and songwriter. Jim Croce. Many of the recipes made famous in her restaurants (for she parlayed the success of her first restaurant into a group of popular restaurants) can be found in THYME IN A BOTTLE.

THYME IN A BOTTLE features Italian favorites of the Croce family, as well as Russian and Jewish classics from Ingrid’s own childhood.

Not just a cookbook—THYME IN A BOTTLE chronicles Jim & Ingrid’s lives. Their sometimes troubled marriage, and the difficulties she faced after Jim’s death, leaving her with a young son to raise and a myriad of legal battles to obtain what was rightfully hers and her son’s; the rights and royalties to her husband’s music. (It took Ingrid until 1986 to win back their writer and artist royalties).

Long-time friend Arlo Guthrie said “When I had finished devouring this book by my friend Ingrid Croce-Rock, I wasn’t sure what had happened. It’s part story, part history, part recipe, part restaurant and part Ingrid. I listened, I laughed, I cried and I got the munchies—all within a short space of time. There were moments,” Guthrie continues, “when I was riveted and wanting more, and moments when I drifted between her life and my own, where they touched or ran together side by side through our common traditions. I felt my tears fall softly as details unfolded of our shared sorrow…”

“And,” says Guthrie, “this isn’t literature, this is life”. What a lovely tribute!

And I agree; after reading THYME IN A BOTTLE, I felt like I really knew Ingrid. I wanted to call her up or go visit her at the restaurant—mostly I wanted to share her book with others.

About the recipes found in THYME IN A BOTTLE; the author explains that written recipes were non-existent in her home, when she was growing up. “Traditions and circumstances of our dinners and their preparations,” she says, “were handed down with explanations like a ‘little of this and a little of that’ You had to be there, side by side in the kitchen with the cook to learn the ingredients and their measure and to taste the cook’s stew”.

This, she writes, is how her grandmother and mother learned to cook and this method allowed room for personal interpretation and creativity. (I was also reminded of my paternal grandmother’s cooking. Nothing was ever written down. The recipes that survived were learned by my grandmother’s daughter-in-law, my Aunt Dolly, who was a teenage bride in WW2 and learned grandma’s cooking by standing at her elbow, watching and learning).

Ingrid was a teenager when she married Jim Croce, and he was the cook in the family—fueled, she says, by generations of Croce’s scrumptious Northern Italian cuisine. But again, nothing was put down in writing!

Ingrid tells us how Jim’s Croce’s father gave her a Fannie Farmer cookbook and how, from it, she practiced making bread, roasted colorful legumes for frittatas , vegetable and chicken stocks, mixed organic salads and fresh baked fruit pies.

As a housewife and mother,” Ingrid writes, she practiced her cooking and pored over cookbooks as if they were novels. (aha—can’t many of us relate to that?)

Ingrid says “from Marion Cunningham to Fannie Flagg, from Alice Waters to Annie Somerville, M.F.K. Fisher and Richard Sax, I have dripped batter, spattered oil, salivated and compared notes. As a cookbook junkie, I learned how raw becomes cooked, dredged, minced and braised…”

In 1984, Ingrid opened her own restaurant, and out of necessity began to write down her family traditions. As Ingrid traveled and was given the opportunity to taste other kinds of food and food combinations, her repertoire of recipes expanded—and we get to benefit from all of it.

THYME IN A BOTTLE is the kind of cookbook you will read like a novel…it’s one of my favorite kind of cookbooks, combining history and life with food. It is filled with wonderful recipes, interspersed with Ingrid’s friendly, chatty style. Yu might want to do as I did—I went out and bought a CD of Jim Croce’s music—to further set the mood. Be advised—this isn’t an Italian cookbook, although it contains many Italian recipes from the Croce family; it isn’t a Russian Jewish cookbook even though Ingrid shares some of her family favorites…it isn’t a Southwestern cookbook even though Ingrid provides us with some of the tried-and-true recipes from her restaurant menus…I guess I would say this is a compilation of one’s woman’s life experiences in the kitchen. That is something we can all relate to.

Ingrid Croce was named one of the top ten female businesswomen in San Diego by the San Diego Business Journal, and her restaurants have received Gold Medallion Awards from the California Restaurant. She is now happily married to business partner, Jim Rock.

(Sandy’s note: my review of THYME IN A BOTTLE was originally written for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange in 1996. I’m not sure how current all of the restaurant related information is—however, that being said, when you Google Ingrid Croce, information about her restaurant and a photograph of her—immediately come up. I’m only sorry I didn’t try to find it when I was in San Diego a few years ago with my younger sister and one of our nieces).

THYME IN A BOTTLE is available at Amazon.com; it is $7.97 for a new copy or priced at one cent & up for a pre-owned copy. I couldn’t find a listing on Alibris.com.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

WISCONSIN DAIRY COUNTRY RECIPES

WISCONSIN DAIRY COUNTRY RECIPES (A Collection from America’s Dairyland)

You may know by now that I am especially fond of manufacturer’s recipe booklets, cookbooks, recipe card collections or even leaflets. I began collecting these booklets when I was about ten years old—my only source was the backs of containers and boxes in my mother’s pantry—the can of Hershey’s cocoa or the box of baking soda – all offered free recipe booklets. All you had to do was mail in a post card request. At that time, a post card cost a penny. Ten prepaid post cards cost me ten cents—I was off and running.

The great thing about manufacturer’s recipe collections is that you know the recipes have been thoroughly tested—with good reason. The company product is on the line. If the recipe doesn’t turn out exactly right, customers may be lost.

WISCONSIN DAIRY COUNTRY RECIPES, published in 1986, is a perfect example of how exemplary a manufacturer’s cookbook can be. First of all, the recipes were tested in the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchens. This means that every recipe is practical and reliable and meets the BH&G high standards of taste appeal.

Next, photographs were done by Grand Heilman Photography (Wisconsin Dairy Scene) with food photographs by deGennaro Associates. And what photographs!

In this little green spiral bound cookbook you will find some of the most beautiful, lush food photographs I have ever seen…and we all know the importance of being able to see what the finished recipes should look like. I have made many impromptu trips to the kitchen to drag out baking pans, based solely on the appetizing, tantalizing photographs in a cookbook or magazine illustration. I defy anyone to be able to resist the layered vegetable salad pictured on page 56 or the pasta pizza on page 36!

There are over two hundred recipes (yes, I counted) ranging from Apple-Cheddar turnovers to Vegetable-and-Cheese Medley. Sandwiched in between you will find an appetizing variety of breads, cakes, cookies, dips, spreads, main dishes, puddings, soufflés, and other good things to eat.
A little feature that foodies like myself appreciate are the interesting dairy historical facts…for instance, did you know that vending machines began offering small cartons of milk in 1950? Or that the first American ice cream parlors began cropping up in the 1940s? Or that Wisconsin produces more than 200 varieties of cheese? Or that some varieties of cheese, such as Colby or Brick, are Wisconsin originals? Colby is named for the Wisconsin town where it was first produced. This is just a small sampling of ‘food facts’ to be found in WISCONSIN DAIRY COUNTRY RECIPES.

The recipes themselves are signed by contributors, and in some instances, the contributors offer tips and suggestions…this leads me to suspect that the book itself may have been the result of a dairy recipe contest.

Another major plus when it comes to this type of cookbook is the cost…years ago, they were generally free or offered for a very minimal fee. WISCONSIN DAIRY COUNTRY RECIPES is still a bargain, available on Amazon.com for $2.75 for a pre-owned spiral bound copy or for $8.98 for a new copy. The lowest price I found on Alibris.com was $2.77.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith
9/2013

THE FESTIVAL COOKBOOK BY PHYLLIS PELLMAN GOOD

THE FESTIVAL COOKBOOK FOUR SEASONS OF FAVORITES by Phyllis Perlman Good isn’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill festival cookbook (if there even is such a thing).

It’s obvious from the start that a good deal of thought went into Ms. Good’s book, (appropriately published by GOOD BOOKS). Explains the author, “When the meal calls for a special touch—or the season sings out for particular attention –try these festive dishes.

Each dish offers a brightness or an extra idea that lifts it above the usual. Not because the mixtures are exotic. Not because the procedures are delicate and complex. But because the fresh ingredients are given unusual preeminence. The earth’s bounty is celebrated in every combination.”
Ms. Good authored a magazine “FESTIVAL QUARTERLY” (which quite possibly is no longer being published—many magazines and periodicals have gone under in the past few years)—but which, she wrote, explored the many intersections of life and the arts. “We cover music; poetry and short stories, creative caring for our families, our communities, the land, and the air; the visual arts: humor: oral communication—and cooking”.

It was the author’s belief that her subscribers were avid cooks and she invited them to submit recipes that brought them fond memories—food, she says, that were a part of special family and community times. Her readers drew upon their traditions, both childhood and present day.

Each chapter, beginning with WINTER, is prefaced with a beautifully written prosy introduction which read like poetry. Recipes for winter range, appropriately, from hearty winter soups such as Barley Soup, Cream of Corn Chowder, and Potato-Cheese Soup (to name a few) to stick-to-the-ribs winter fare such as Potato Beef Casserole and Southwest Strata. For your next party, check out the East African Beef Curry recipe on page 48! I think it’s a winner!

SPRING offers recipes for Easter, such as Hot Cross Buns, and Easter Egg Bread, but look, also, for Fresh Dandelion Salad and Spring Onion Soup. Spring is also asparagus season, so look for Creamed Asparagus with Peas and don’t overlook Asparagus Chinese Style!

After spring, can SUMMER be far behind? When your home garden provides a glut of zucchini, check out the Zucchini Bread recipe (page 125) and the Summer Borscht (page 129).

I know—I know! I get a little over zealous praising recipes for soup…but you know how much I enjoy them—I thoroughly enjoy trying out new soup recipes and sharing them with you.
Also in summer, when tomatoes are luscious and ripe on the vine, you will surely want to try the recipes for Sweet-Sour Tomatoes—which though similar to mine, has a few different touches that I think are sure to please (see page 135).

Then there’s FALL (my personal favorite season). “Take out the window screens. Bring in the broccoli” says the author. “The leaves and children are holding their final outdoor riots. The corn stalks have finished propping up their riches…don’t you just love it? In autumn we have pumpkins, so check out the pumpkin yeast bread recipe (page 193) or how about Pumpkin shell Fruit Salad? Or Dinner in a Pumpkin? (page 213).

The point is, there is something for everyone between the pages of THE FESTIVAL COOKBOOK. The book itself is beautifully illustrated with photographs by Ken McGraw (fall and summer photos), Elfie Kluck (spring) and Londie Padelsky (winter). Food photography was created by Jonathan Charles.

THE FESTIVAL COOKBOOK was originally published in 1983, reprinted in 1987 and again in 1994 for the new paperback edition. I found it on Amazon.com with a 1988 date, different cover, starting at one cent for a pre owned copy and $3.59 for a new one. However, on Alibris.com they show a hardcover copy of Four Seasons priced at $2.99 for a pre-owned copy in very good condition. Recipes submitted by subscribers to the Festival quarterly are signed by the contributor.
This is a lovely cookbook, with lots of recipes, sure to become a favorite for all seasons.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith

FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A. BY BECKY MERCURI

FOOD FESTIVAL U.S.A.

It was the greatest delight when I first discovered “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” in a cookbook catalog—the title and the author’s name, Becky Mercuri, jumped right off the page—for I knew that this was our very own Becky Mercuri, with whom I had occasionally corresponded and talked with on the telephone about a decade ago, when we both wrote articles for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange.

I had known for quite some time that Becky was writing “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” –food festivals interest me, also, so it was doubly delightful to have Becky’s cookbook to read and write about. For, of course, this is a combination cookbook and food festival directory. There are, in “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” 250 “Red, White & Blue Ribbon Recipes from all 50 States”. As a Californian, I turned first to the section devoted to the Pacific, to see which California food festivals had caught Becky’s attention. The choices are good ones, ranging from Mendocino California’s Abalone Festival to Castroville’s Artichoke Festival. Also included is the Strawberry Festival in Oxnard, California, which I have attended; Oxnard is just a short drive up the 101 freeway from the San Fernando Valley and attracts a great deal of attention in the local press every year. When Bob & I would drive to Ventura for a weekend getaway, we’d drive through the back roads that lead to Oxnard and Ventura, through vast farmlands that include the Oxnard strawberry fields. Becky notes, in “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” that “Over 148,000 tons, or about 20 percent of California’s strawberries, are produced in the Oxnard area. The annual Strawberry Festival pays tribute to the industry while providing affordance entertainment, great food, and support for a host of local charities…”

One year, when my aunt was visiting from Florida, we took her on a day trip to Ventura, stopping at an Oxnard produce stand on our way home to buy a flat of strawberries, which I converted into preserves. The strawberry festival in Oxnard, Becky observes, “features more than 270 arts and craft booths, three concert stages, Strawberryland for Kids and wacky contests (such as the Strawberry Shortcake Eating Contest).

And, although I knew about the Gilroy Garlic Festival which Becky Mercuri notes is world-renowned, I confess I didn’t know about The Borrego Springs Grapefruit Festival, the California Dried Plum Festival in Yuba City, the California Dry Bean Festival in Tracy, California, or the Goleta Lemon Festival in Goleta, California. And that’s not all! There’s a Carrot Festival in Holtville, California, and the Indio International Tamale Festival, in Indio, California—there is even an Eggplant Festival in Loomis, California!

I think it might be fun, if money and time were no object, to travel the width and breadth of the United States, just to attend some of these festivals. Who wouldn’t want to check out Louisiana’s Sugarcane Festival, Crab Days and Oysterfest in St. Michael’s, Maryland, or the World Catfish Festival, in Belzoni, Mississippi? Vidalia onion lovers might want to head for the Vidalia Onion Festival in Vidalia, Georgia, while New Yorkers might be interested in the Phelps Sauerkraut Festival in Phelps, New York, or their own Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties, New York.

As one might expect, there is a Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland, Maine, every year (that would surely be a great festival to attend!) – and while one might expect blueberry and maple syrup festivals on the East Coast, would you be surprised to discover the Marshall County Blueberry Festival in Plymouth, Indiana, or the Parke County Maple Syrup Festival in Rockville, Indiana? And although I was born and raised in Ohio and knew about the Circleville Pumpkin Show in Circleville, Ohio, I was astonished to learn about an Asian Festival held in Columbus, Ohio, and a chocolate festival in Lorain, Ohio! (There’s also a Chocolate Fest in Burlington, Wisconsin).

Becky Mercuri has done her homework well for, along with an intriguing assortment of recipes which range from Double Chocolate Raspberry Marble Cheesecake (Central Maine Egg Festival) to Best Restaurant Manhattan Clam Chowder (Santa Cruz Clam Chowder Cook-Off and Festival, Santa Cruz, California), you will also find well-written, interesting capsule descriptions of each festival

In the Introduction, Becky writes, “Street food, carnival food, festival food—by whatever name, this is food that draws Americans together. Thousands of food festivals are held annually throughout the United States, attracting millions of visitors…”

John T. Edge, who wrote the Foreword to “FOOD FESTIVALS, U.S.A.” notes, “In FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A., Becky Mercuri sings a paean to the diversity of America’s food heritage. Along the way, she manages to convey a few lessons in culinary history. So dive in. By the time you hit page 320, you’ll be out the door, stomach rumbling, car keys in hand, hell-bent for the Prairie Dog Chili Cook Off and World Championship Pickled Quail Egg Eating….” John says “Look for me. I’ll be there, too. I’ll be the guy surrounded by spent chili bowls, napping under the bough of an oak…”

Becky says that, in writing this book she had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of Americans who work hard to produce the food festivals and ethnic celebrations that make up such a rich part of our collective culture. She quotes food writer Ronni Lundi, who she interviewed a few years ago, who told her “Music and cooking are my passions. They provide windows to look at culture.” Becky adds, “Indeed. Nearly every festival in this book boasts of that same basic combination of music and food and gives us a peek into the very essence of life in a particular region or ethnic group….” And perhaps that explains why, after collecting “regional” cookbooks for over thirty years, I find food festivals equally fascinating. And a cookbook about food festivals? My cup runneth over!

If you find the food history of the United States as fascinating as I do, I think you will enjoy “FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” – you may want to take it along with you on your next vacation, and search out some of these absolutely unique regional tributes to our culinary heritage. There is even a Directory of Festivals by Month, and a Directory of Festivals by State. Amusing illustrations have been provided by artist Tom Klare.

Becky Mercuri began collecting recipes at the same age as I, (nine years old) and her cookbook collection contains over 7,000 volumes (maybe close to the same amount I have although I quit counting at 3,000 books over ten years ago). We also share an interest in cookie cutters but while Becky has over 3,000 cookie cutters and molds, I have no idea how many I’ve accumulated over the years—I can only tell you, they fill an assortment of plastic containers that I have stored on shelves in a Rubbermaid cupboard. At the time this was written, Becky had three dogs and a dozen cats, and was donating a portion of the proceeds of this book to the cause of animal welfare. Along with writing for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, Becky was food editor of the Wellsville Daily Reporter for three years. Last I heard, she was also working on a comprehensive bibliography of all English language cookbooks published between 1940 and 1949. Perhaps by now, it’s been completed. I lost contact with Becky Mercuri when she moved back east (she had been living in California).

“FOOD FESTIVAL, U.S.A.” was published by Laurel Glen Publishing. It is available on Amazon.com at $5.39 new or starting at one cent for pre owned.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith
9-2013