Monthly Archives: September 2017


The following was originally posted on my blog in 2011:

“BEHIND EVERY GREAT CHEF, THERE’S A MOM!” is a cookbook of more than 125 treasured recipes from the mothers of our top chefs—collected and edited by Chris Styler. It was, I thought, another good cook book to post for Mother’s Day, 2011. In it you will find recipes from the mothers of notable chefs and cookbook authors Rose Levy Beranbaum, Mollie Katzen, Nigelia Lawson, Sara Moulton, Jamie Oliver—and many others.

Jasper White writes in the introduction to his chapter, “I’m always surprised when I hear about a chef who DIDN’T grow up with great food.” That simple statement is given weight by the marvelous, diverse, and extremely personal collection of recipes contributed to this book by America’s top chefs, cookbook authors and television personalities.

“The source of these recipes,” we learn in the Introduction to ‘Behind Every Great Chef, There’s a Mom!’ “as was made clear to the contributors, was theirs to decide as long as that source was a woman (or women) whose cooking and personality has inspired them…”

“Along with the recipes, you’ll find stories of extraordinary women, such as Jacques Pepin’s mother, who pedaled a bicycle through France’s war-ravaged countryside to barter with farmers to put food on the table, and women who did the most ordinary things to keep a family nourished, happy, and together…”
A portion of the proceeds from the book will go to the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, which works to improve the lives and defend the rights of refugee and internally displaced women and children worldwide. For more information or to learn how to help refugee women and children worldwide, you can visit

Writes Mary Diaz, executive director of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, “We are particularly honored to be a beneficiary of this project, for it brings to mind the cooking expertise of women throughout the world who, even when fleeing war or disaster in their home country, bring with them their cooking traditions—the recipes they learned from their mothers and grandmothers—to share with their families and maintain a community in their uprooted lives. Our own country, in turn, has been made richer by the recipes and cooking traditions that refugees and other immigrants have brought here.”
“Give a bunch of chefs a worthy cause,” Chris Styler tell us, “and there they are—tying on an apron, firing up a burner ready to go…” He says he has worked in the food and restaurant business for over 30 years. Trained as a restaurant chef, he has worked in kitchens from Italy to Martha’s Vineyard, from Manhattan to Bogotá. Chris is the author or coauthor of several books including Primi Piatti, Smokin’, The Desperate Housewives Cookbook, Working the Plate, Sylvia’s Soul Food (with Sylvia Woods) Blue Collar Food (with Bill Hodge), Vegetable Love (with Barbara Kafka; winner of a 2005 IACP award), Daisy Cooks! (with Daisy Martinez; IACP finalist), and Rosa’s New Mexican Kitchen (with Roberto Santibañez). In January 1999, he was named editor at large for Food Arts magazine. Two of his articles for Food Arts have won awards from the Association of Food Journalists. During the last 10 years, Chris has served as culinary producer for eight PBS and Food Network television series, including: Daisy Cooks! with Daisy Martinez (premiered 2005 through 2006),Lidia’s Italian Table and Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen (airing from Fall 1998 through Winter 2004); Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home (Fall 1999); Savor the Southwest (Spring 1999) and America’s Test Kitchen (Spring 2001); and Joanne Weir’s Cooking Class (Winter 2009). Chris started Freelance Food, LLC, in 1999, which specializes in corporate product and recipe development. He lives in the New York metropolitan area and his website is

All this being said, I just want to add that “Behind Every Great Chef, There’s a Mom!” was previously published under the title “Mom’s Secret Recipe File”.
As for the cookbook itself – it’s the kind you will want to curl up with to read (as cookbook collectors tend to do) “like a novel” – for the book is packed with cookbook author STORIES. Then maybe go back and start checking out the recipes. Or do it the other way around – read the recipes and THEN the stories. Whatever rocks your boat or stirs your wooden spoon. I have to admit, I tend to go through a book checking out the recipes first, going through half a package of yellow post-it note stickers. One of the first recipes to catch my eye was that of Palacinke, my beloved Hungarian crepes—provided by,
surprisingly, the First Lady of Italian Cuisine, Lidia Maatticchio Bastianich. Lidia also provides a recipe for Gnocchi, little potato dumplings.
What to look for: Barbara Kafka’s Romanian Eggplant Dip, Jacques Pepin’s Gratin of Eggs or Potato Lace, Jasper White’s Grandmother’s Pecan Pie, The Smith Family’s Twelve Layer Cake (no relation), Chris Styler’s Cream Puffs (oh, yum!), OR his Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Strata, Mary Ann Esposito’s Mama’s Whiskey Cake, Rozanne Gold’s Hungarian Cabbage and Noodles, Ming Tsai’s Chinese Fire Pot or his Pork and Ginger Pot Stickers…Oh, I could go on and on. Along with more than 125 treasured recipes there are just as many treasured stories.
For mother’s day, maybe give yourself a copy of “Behind Every Great Chef, There’s a Mom”. Published by Hyperion books, this cookbook, with a soft cover, has an easy to read format that adds to its appeal.

Originally published at $12.95 in the U.S. (or $17.95 in Canada), I did a little searching.
“Behind Every Chef, There’s a Mom!” can be purchased new or used from, starting at one cent. Add $3.99 for shipping and handling when you purchase a book from a third party.

Happy cooking and Happy cookbook collecting!
–Sandra Lee Smith




Some years ago, I wrote a lengthy article for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, titled “KITCHENS WEST”. The idea for the article was born out my curiosity about pioneers making the great migration west in the 1800s.

What did they eat? I wondered. How was the food cooked when they were on the trail? My curiosity about American pioneers began to branch out – I began wondering about American Indians. What did they eat? I wondered. How was their food cooked? And then I began wondering about the American cowboy, those hardy souls who herded cattle or worked on ranches. My curiosity about the American cowboy was probably born when I was a child, watching Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Hopalong Cassidy, the Lone Ranger, and Gene Autry at Saturday matinees. Then my brothers and I, my girlfriend Patty, and her two younger brothers would romp up and down Sutter Street, playing cowboy and Indian. The most coveted role was being the horse.

It probably took about a year for me to write KITCHENS WEST. I began collecting books about American pioneers, the Oregon Trail, American Indian cookbooks, and all the cowboy cookbooks I could find. I found a lot of great books at the gift shop of the Western Heritage Museum, founded by Gene Autry. I was a member of the museum for over a decade and we took all of our out of town visitors there. My greatest “find” at the gift shop was a set of 12 soft cover books titled COVERED WAGON WOMEN/diaries and letters from the Western Trails, starting with 1840-1849, a series edited and compiled by Kenneth L. Holmes and published by the University of Nebraska Press.

There are quite a lot of other great books about American pioneer women but none is quite as comprehensive as the collection gathered by Mr. Holmes. Diaries and letters provide the framework of the series which I have found captivating.

More recently there have been a flurry of cowboy-theme cookbooks, demonstrating perhaps that I am not alone in my interest in cowboys and what they eat.
One such cookbook is THE ALL AMERICAN COWBOY COOKBOOK by Ken Beck and Jim Clark. This cookbook was originally published by Rutledge Press in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1996.

“If all the world’s a stage,” the co-authors write in the introduction, “The American cowboy is perhaps its most legendary rider…”

Along with food favorites from all of our favorite cowboys of the silver screen, such as Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, and TV western stars such as James Garner and Chuck Connors, there are recipes from singing cowboys and world champion rodeo cowboys. Portions of royalties from THE ALL AMERICAN COWBOY COOKBOOK support Ben Johnson’s Helping Hand Program with its various projects working with children. (At the time of publication, the program’s efforts were assisting the Sunshine Home for children in Mesa, Arizona). You will love this cookbook, filled with lots of photographs of our Western favorites, bits of trivia, and fun quizzes. Some recipes are tongue in cheek, such as “Here’s a recipe for cowboy coffee: take a pound of coffee. Add water, boil for half an hour. Throw in a horseshoe. If it sinks, add more coffee.”

You’ll love the trivia too—for instance, throughout the movie THE SEARCHERS, John Wayne’s character, Ethan Edwards, says “That’ll be the Day” which—surprise!—was the inspiration for Buddy Holly’s hit song “That’ll Be the Day”.

There are black and white photos of all your favorite cowboys and cowgirls. Pictures on every page, in fact, and an interesting novelty touch—photos of lunchboxes, spanning decades, from Davy Crockett to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans lunchboxes. (Who’d have ever guessed that lunchboxes from the 50s and 60s would become so prized by collectors? And don’t we all wish we had kept ours?)

Also included in this wonderful cookbook, is a list of western museums and heritage centers which includes, of course, my favorite Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, on the edge of Burbank. It is right across from Los Angeles Zoo – and was so easy to get to when I was living in Arleta.

“Real cowboys and cowgirls ride, shoot, rope…and cook” the publishers of
COWBOY COOKBOOK proclaim. “whether you are riding the range under a blazing Texas sun, or a cool Montana moon, or working on a Hollywood sound stage, cowboys and cowgirls can work up a he arty appetite…The ALL AMERICAN COWBOY COOKBOOK is filled to the brim with favorite recipes from the country’s most famous western stars from the silver screen and television to rodeo heroes and cooks on real working ranches, as well as recipes from some of the best cowboy balladeers to lasso a Gunsmoking Chili and Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti Western. Here, took, are chicken and dumplings from Roy Rogers, chilies rellanos form James Garner,. And cherished family recipes from Annie Oakley star Gail Davis…”

THE ALL AMERICAN COWBOY COOKBOOK offers more than 200 classic photographs and they’ve rounded up well over three hundred recipes from more than two hundred folks who represent what it means to be a cowboy.

I can’t tell you (or anyone else) how to read a cookbook—those of us who read cookbooks proudly read them the way other people read novels, generally marking pages with recipes to try with paper clips or bits of paper—my favorite way is using small post-it notes and I wish I could discourage the use of paper clips as over time, it damages the pages if the clips are left inside. THE ALL AMERICAN COWBOY COOKBOOK could be read page by page, or you might want to go through the book and look at all the photographs of our all-time favorite cowboys. Then there are the quizzes such as the one titled “WHERE IN THE WEST?” which is two columns—one column is the locations in TV series; the second column is a list of cowboys to match up with the locations. Sound easy? I missed the very first one!

As for recipes….well, you will discover for yourself dozens of great recipes to try. One I can vouch for – Gene Autry’s Texas Chili! To observe the date Mr. Autry would have been 100 years old, the Western Heritage Museum had a dinner and music for members. Bob and I attended, wearing new western shirts and cowboy hats. To tell the truth, I thought it tasted pretty similar to my chili. Here’s the recipe in case you want to decide for yourself:

Gene Autry’s Texas Chili:

1 ½ pounds lean ground round
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 package chili sauce or 1 bottle Red Devil chili sauce
1 16-oz can of kidney beans
1 8-ounce can tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cup grated Jack cheese
Chopped onion (optional)

Brown the first four ingredients in a large pan until tender. Add all remaining ingredients except cheese. Cook on high simmer for 1 hour. Add cheese to thicken, just before serving. Mr. Autry liked it best topped with chopped fresh onions. We do too, but we also like it topped with a lot of grated cheddar cheese as well, and being former Cincinnatians, we all like it over spaghetti, with oyster crackers topping it all off.


This was originally posted on my blog in 2011; I have done some updating.

Sometimes, I think, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the cookbooks there ARE—not just hundreds or thousands but surely millions. I was out in the garage library trying to find a Mary Martensen cookbook that I would swear I have, but can’t find it– and last week it was some of my Helen Evans Brown cookbooks that were missing. Eventually, Helen’s books turned up but not Mary’s. But, while I was looking, I thought it prudent to dust the shelves while I was at it. And in the process, I found myself setting aside cookbooks that I thought deserved a second look. So, I brought inside an armful of old club and church cookbooks when I finished dusting.

Now, I know there are far more cookbooks than I could ever dream of collecting – just start reading some cookbook bibliographies and you will discover a lot of titles you haven’t heard of. Maybe it’s one of the things that makes cookbook bibliographies so enchanting – just reading the titles makes a person want to try and find more books. To paraphrase the Duchess of Windsor (no, not Fergie – I’m referring to Wallace Simpson who managed to get the king of England to abdicate the throne) (and I have her cookbook) – you can’t be too rich or too thin or have too many cookbooks.

Well, apparently my friend Betsy, who lives in Michigan, finally decided she DID have too many cookbooks and would rather collect bears, so she has been sending me boxes full of cookbooks from her collection. Betsy had a head-start on collecting cookbooks – she was already collecting when we first became acquainted in 1965 – but what is truly amazing and maybe hard to believe is how many books she sends that I don’t already have. How can that be possible?

Well, one explanation is that there are MANY DIFFERENT kinds of cookbooks. You could specialize in Junior League cookbooks, or try to collect church or club cookbooks from all fifty states (been there, done that)—you might develop an interest in Scottish or German or Hungarian cookbooks, if your ancestors came from one of those countries (or some other one).

If you have very limited space, you could collect SMALL cookbooks – I mean small as in the dimensions of the books. I have 4 shelves of “small” cookbooks and some of them are real treasures. Or you could specialize in southern cookbooks. Over the years, I have collected far and wide but have a tender place in my heart for any club & church cookbooks published in my home town of Cincinnati. But then I began expanding and wanted club and church cook books for all the neighboring cities and towns in and around Cincinnati. Ok, then I collected anything from OHIO, KENTUCKY, and INDIANA. But I lived for three years in Florida so I began collecting community cookbooks from THAT state.

But I LIVE in California so I REALLY focus on community cookbooks from all over the state of California. And I like old cookbooks from Alaska because they are so interesting—even if I am not likely to ever make anything featured in some of those cookbooks. (such as jellied moose nose).

Years ago, I began collecting celebrity cookbooks- now there are so many of them but in 1965 not quite so many and some of the older ones could still be found in used book stores in the San Fernando Valley. Well, you get the picture. It goes on and on. I discovered White House cookbooks and so began collecting those, because I collect anything I can find about the White House. And of course, if you collect White House cookbooks, how can you not collect the Congressional Club cookbooks?

I became interested in any cookbooks with “America” in the title after acquiring the Browns cookbook “America Cooks” and now could collect JUST cookbooks with America in the title. (I recently posted an article on my blog about all the cookbooks on my bookshelves that have “America” in the title.

Then I became interested in anything related to World War II on the home front – and rationing…so I started collecting books on this topic (admittedly, it’s not a very big collection). And more recently I began branching out on cookbook authors—I’ve never really collected the published works of cookbook authors although I now have all of the Browns books (Cora, Rose & Bob Brown) – I was just missing their Vegetable cookbook and mentioned this in a previous blog post—well, imagine my surprise – one of the Browns’ descendants located the Vegetable Cookbook and I was able to purchase it for a reasonable price.

The Browns remain my favorite cookbook reading to this day- and whenever I stop to think about Cora, Rose and Bob—I think they could have written a lot more cookbooks if they could have lived long enough to do it.

There’s another thing about collecting cookbooks – if you really want, say, the Number One Bake Off book and someone offers it to you for $50 and you are willing to pay that much, then go for it. But I would start thinking how many cookbooks I could buy from an Edward R. Hamilton cookbook catalog and you can see which way my mind would work. (FYI – I found the #1 bake off cookbook at a flea market when my sister Becky and I were visiting her daughter in Palm Springs)—I almost didn’t buy it because the woman selling a display of cookbooklets for fifty cents each—raised the price of this one bake off book and decided she wanted $1.00 for it—I thought twice (didn’t suspect for a moment that I was holding the elusive and extremely hard to find #1 in my hot little hands) but I gave the woman a dollar and didn’t discover my find until we were back in my niece’s car heading back to her house.

Those Bake Off cookbooklets were, I think, a lot more interesting to read back in the early days of the Bake Off contests.

Getting back to authors – I began searching for those by Ida Bailey Allen over a decade ago, purely for personal reasons—my mother had one cookbook in our kitchen when I was growing up, & it was an Ida Bailey Allen Service cookbook. I learned to cook using that cookbook. Then I became interested in Ms. Allen who, at one time, was quite famous and had her own radio program. So, I wrote about Ida Bailey Allen for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange years ago and began searching for more of her books. THEN I became curious about a cookbook author named Myra Waldo who wrote MANY cookbooks and is practically unknown today. So I wrote about Myra–And began collecting HER cookbooks. Since then, whenever I have become curious about a cookbook author who isn’t very well known today…I start looking for his or her books. Much of the joy is in the searching—and the delight of finding.

For many years, the searching was all done in used bookstores, wherever I went. Now – thanks to the Internet, I have many of the bookstores throughout the country at my fingertips.

But for now, let me tell you about a few—perhaps unknown except in their own towns—church and club cookbooks that came to my attention the other day:
175 YEARS OF COOKING by the Versailles Presbyterian Church, dated by Pastor DeYoung in 1988; the congregation was celebrating being 175 years old – by my math, the church should be 198 years old.

The Versailles Presbyterian Church was established…on September 14, 1813. I had to do a little Googling to find the Versailles Presbyterian Church in Versaille, Kentucky. I thought it sounded familiar so I did a little more searching – it is only 100 miles from my hometown of Cincinnati. Quite possibly I bought this cookbook on one of my cookbook searches in Ohio. This recipe for Cheese Crispies sounds like one I made for some of our big parties back in the day:


2 sticks oleo (aka margarine) you can use Imperial stick margarine – or butter)
2 cups sifted flour
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
Melt butter, pour over cheese and mix in other ingredients. Roll in small balls. Flatten on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees about 20 minutes.

SELECT RECIPES 1958 is also spiral-bound (all of these cookbooks are) and was compiled by Hazel Black, food editor of the Sanilac Jeffersonian, Croswell Michigan. I googled again to determine that the Sanilac Jeffersonian was celebrating its 161st year in 2017 so here is another source that has been around a good while. The recipes were from the files of the Jeffersonian and members & friends of the First Presbyterian Church, in Croswell Michigan.

From Select Recipes 1958, I chose City Chicken to share with you – mainly because City Chicken was a recipe we grew up on and I have seldom seen a recipe for it that sounds like my mother’s – except for the cream of mushroom soup. That is one addition we didn’t have in our house in 1958. But you might want to try City Chicken (which doesn’t contain any chicken).

1 lb veal cutlet (you could use a chicken cutlet)
1 pound pork (not ground)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tsp onion juice
1 egg
¾ cup bread crumbs
2 TBSP fat
1 medium can cream of mushroom soup
Scald and wipe wooden skewers. Cut meat into 1 inch squares. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and onion juice Insert skewers in centers of pieces of meat, alternating veal and pork (or chicken and pork), using 5 or 6 pieces on each skewer. With fingers mold the meat into drumstick shape, then dip in beaten egg and then in crumbs. Brown carefully in hot fat & place in casserole or baking dish. Add soup, cover and bake in a moderate 350 degree oven for about 1 hour.

Sandy’s Cooknote: Well, in 2017, you may very well ask why bother to go to all that trouble when you can BUY a package of chicken drumsticks, often cheaply and for less than the cost of veal. But I think veal was really inexpensive back in the day and chicken not so. I remember loving City Chicken – and my mother probably did make it with veal and pork in the 1940s and 1950s.

VINTAGE RECIPES was compiled by the East Van Buren Senior in Lawton, Michigan, and was published by Morris Press in 2000. The seniors put together a lot of great recipes but the one I chose to share is Marinated Carrots, because my girlfriend Mary Jaynne gave this recipe to me a long time ago. What’s GREAT about the recipe is that the Marinated Carrots will keep for months in the frig (if you don’t eat them all up the first time you try them) but it also makes a big batch. It’s one of those things you can keep on hand in case you get unexpected company.


2 LBS carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 medium size onions, thinly slices

Cook carrots 8 minutes, then mix with green pepper and onion. Pour marinade over vegetables and refrigerate overnight before serving.

1 can tomato soup (undiluted)
½ cup salad oil
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp prepared mustard
Dash of salt

Mix tomato soup, salad oil, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce mustard & salt. Blend well. Mix with vegetables & keep refrigerated.
THE BEST FROM THE BLADE COOKBOOKS edited by Food Editor Mary Alice Powell is a compilation of selected recipes taken from editions of the Blade’s annual cookbook. The Blade Newspaper was first published December 19, 1835, so here again we have a noteworthy newspaper boasting of a lengthy history.
David Ross Locke gained national fame for the paper during the Civil War era by writing under the pen name Petroleum V. Nasby. Writing under the pen name, Locke wrote satires ranging on topics from slavery to the Civil War to temperance. President Abraham Lincoln was fond of the Nasby satires and sometimes quoted them. In 1867 Locke bought The Blade.

The Toledo Blade was named for the famed swordsmithing industry of the original city of Toledo, Spain. The cookbook was published in 1960.
In its introduction, Mary Alice Powell, the Blade Food Writer explains “The best from the Blade Cookbooks” is a printed example of women’s age-old hobby of sharing food preparation ideas with friends, neighbors and relatives. This cookbook represents an exchange of recipes among homemakers in northwestern Ohio and southern Michigan. It is a compilation of the recipes they submitted in 11 Blade Cookbook Contests, from 1950 to 1960.

The following hors d’oeuvre recipe won first prize in 1952—and one can of crab meat makes a lot of appetizers.


1 TBSP butter
2 TBSP flour
½ cup milk
1 6½ can crab meat
1 tsp salt
1/16 tsp pepper
½ tsp mustard
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ cup finely chopped parsley
2 eggs, beaten
Finely crushed bread crumbs

Melt butter; add flour; blend. Add milk and cook until mixture thickens; stir constantly. Dice crab meat; remove hard fiber. Add spices, Worcestershire sauce, parsley to cream sauce. Sprinkle shallow pan lightly with bread crumbs. Spread mixture in pan; chill one hour. Mold into small balls. Roll I bread crumbs, then in egg and again in crumbs. Fry in hot deep fat at 350 degrees until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve on toothpicks. Makes 30.

TOWN CRIER RECIPE BOOK subtitled “300 LUCKY LOW COST PRIZE WINNING RECIPES” was priced in 1938 at fifty cents, which seems a little steep to me at a time when so many food companies were offering free recipe booklets—I know because that’s how I got started. If I had ten cents, I’d get ten penny postcards at the post office and send for the free recipe booklets and pamphlets I’d find advertised on the backs of boxes, such as baking soda or Hershey’s cocoa, or in magazine ads. (My parents must have thought they had a strange ten-year-old daughter. When I was in the third grade I sent my first story to My Weekly Reader and received my first rejection slip).

The Town Crier was a flour produced by the Midland Flour Milling Company in Kansas City, Mo. Inside we learn “The 300 recipes contained in this book won individual prizes in a baking contest conducted in 27 newspapers. (we don’t know how much the contest winners won..but in 1938, anything had to be a gift while the Great Depression was going on).

Everyone likes muffins, so here is a recipe from the Town Crier for Sugary Apple Muffins:
2 ¼ cups flour
3 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
4 TBSP shortening
½ cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup finely chopped apples

Reserve ¼ tsp cinnamon and nutmeg and 2 TBSP of the sugar for topping. Sift dry ingredients together. Cream shortening and ½ cup sugar. Add well beaten egg. Add flour mixture alternately with milk. Fold in apples. Fill muffin pan ¾ full. Sprinkle with reserve sugar and spice mixture. Bake in hot oven (425 degrees) about 20 minutes. **

It was my intention to tell you about the rest of the cookbooks I brought in from the garage library with me today, but this post is already rather long, so I will close for now and urge you to look for your own armload of cookbooks—and to quote dozens of newcomers to cookbook collecting, read them like other people read novels.




We have long been fascinated with the appetites and food interests of celebrities (my cookbook collection on celebrities fills two shelves) – as well as presidents and their wives (another two shelves of cookbooks) plus royalty. WHY we are so intrigued with the eating habits of the rich and famous is something of a mystery.

One of the first books I found which was devoted to recipes and foodlore of English royalty was a slender volume titled COURT FAVOURITES (sic) by Elizabeth Craig. At the time, I had no idea that Elizabeth Craig was a famous British cookbook author. Bear with me—discovering Elizabeth Craig and COURT FAVOURITES was probably around 1965 or 66, when I was just beginning to collect cookbooks.

COURT FAVOURITES was published in 1953, the same year that Queen Elizabeth II was crowned Queen, and in the foreword, Ms. Craig explains how she acquired the recipes which were the basis of her book:

“Ever since I was 12 years old,” writes the author” I have kept my eyes open for unusual recipes and interesting menus. When other girls were playing Snakes and Ladders (an English game) I was laboriously copying out recipes from magazines and newspapers.

Among them were various notes on royal fare, but it was not until about 20 years ago, when I met an Irishwoman who had the privilege of knowing an English princess, that I began to wonder if some time in the future I might be able to make use of these…”

Ms. Craig goes on to explain how her Irish friend, who often dined with the English princess, was given the opportunity to see the scrap book which had been given to Queen Victoria when she was a young girl. This manuscript cookbook originally belonged to Princess Charlotte, daughter of George IV, and Caroline of Brunswick. Princess Charlotte, Victoria’s aunt, gave the collection to her when she was a very young girl. This collection of recipes dates back to the 1500s and even contained Ann Boleyn’s instructions for making syllabub.

This manuscript cookbook was hand bound in vellum with a crown stamped on every page. Some of the recipes were in old Italian handwriting. Others were difficult to decipher, as the pages were spotted and faded with age. From the dates, one could determine that the recipes had been chosen and inserted with care over a period of fifty to eighty years. There was another book of faded script, bound in Russian leather, which contained many recipes cut from old books and papers, along with recipes evidently copied by Princess Victoria. In the second book, in Victoria’s sprawling unformed handwriting, was a recipe for plum pudding, dated 1565. On the first page of this little book, someone had written “GIVEN TO VICTORIA ON HER BIRTHDAY, 1831”.

We can be thankful that Victoria realized the worth of what she had been given and continued to contribute to the collection. Part of the reason for her interest may have been due to her devotion to her beloved Prince Albert, for whom she prepared meals on a little stove in their private rooms at Windsor.
But, returning to the 1950s, the Irishwoman, who Ms. Craig does not name, was given permission by the princess to copy recipes from the two books. She, in turn, presented them sometime later to Elizabeth Craig, and this was the nucleus of COURT FAVOURITES.

COURT FAVOURITES is an enchanting cookbook. There are lots of recipes to try, if you are interested in duplicating Henry IV’s Bearnaise sauce (most likely named after his birthplace, Bearn) or Mary Queen of Scots favorite “Scotch Petticoat Tails) which dates back to 1568. Mary brought the recipe with her from France where the little cakes were known as Petits Gateaux Tailes.
Elizabeth the first was very partial to meringues/kisses recipes that are still around hundreds of years later. (One of my favorites is a meringue cookie called Beacon Hills, which contains chocolate chips). There are, however, dozens of other recipes and a fascinating journey through the British royal kitchens covering centuries of kings and queens.

We learn that it was not until Queen Anne ascended the throne that the art of cookery in England made much headway. Queen Anne not only encouraged gastronomy but also the art of wines. During her reign, wonderful cellars were laid down in England. Unfortunately, however, her successors did not appreciate the good work she had inspired, and George I and George II introduced a heavy Germanic influence to the British table. Actually, the first three Georges weren’t very much interested in gourmet food—but George IV was considered bon vivant, due to having hired Careme as his chef. Another of King George IV’s chefs, before Careme took over, was a man named Brand. One day he created a special steak sauce that delighted the king. George IV sent for Brand and announced that his sauce was “A-1” Well, later on the chef retired to manufacture his sauce for public consumption and guess what? The Sauce was called A-1, sold today under the name of A1 Worcestershire Sauce.
Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, was very economical and disliked any kind of extravagance. She was very particular how food should be prepared. Queen Charlotte took a great interest not only in the preparation of food but also in herbs, fruit and vegetables. It is said that she was so fond of mulberries, that the old mulberry trees in Buckinghamshire were planted by her. It was this same Queen Charlotte who would present to the young Victoria her manuscript cookbook which Victoria would treasure, and add to, for over fifty years.

It seems that Elizabeth Craig’s book has commanded respect in other publishing quarters, for – imagine my surprise – as I was reading ROYAL COOKBOOK, favorite court recipes from the world royal families, published by Parents Magazine Press in 1971 –what did I find under the British chapter, but numerous references to Elizabeth Craig’s book. It appears that COURT FAVOURITES was a primary reference source when Parents Magazine compiled THEIR book.

Of course, there are “royals” throughout the world, not just in Great Britain (although it seems to me that the seat of history lies in England.) And if you are interested in learning more about the Royals in other parts of the world—and what they like to east—ROYAL COOKBOOK is a good choice. The book is oversized, coffee table size, with lavish photographs. More than 18 countries are represented—including Russia, Poland, China, Japan, Africa, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and, of course, England/Great Britain. There are numerous photographs (or photographs of paintings) of the royals themselves, including Napoleon and Marie Antoinette of France, King George I (a very dour looking man) and Queen Elizabeth II. Hawaii is represented from the days when it was a monarchy, and there is a photograph of the famous Kamehameha IV of Hawaii and his wife, Queen Emma, and the beautiful Princess Kailulani, daughter of Princess Likelike.

There are also numerous photographs of royal china and serving pieces—not to mention hundreds of royal favorite recipes.

Focusing again on Great Britain, there is an interesting little book titled TO SET BEFORE A QUEEN BY Mrs. Alma McKee.

Mrs. McKee explains in her book, published in 1963, how she happened to end up cooking for Queen Elizabeth II, when QEII was still Princess Elizabeth at Clarence House. When Mrs. McKee went to work there, she was told that she was the only female chef in charge of a royal kitchen. She had previously cooked for King Peter of Yugoslavia, she says, but that was different, since they were very young and very informal.

Mrs. McKee left King Peter’s household to take a long convalescence following pneumonia, and when she returned to work, her agency offered her a choice of two jobs. One was with Isaac Wolfson, the Industrialist, and the other at Clarence House.

After King George VI died and Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, she eventually moved to Buckingham Palace, but Mrs. McKee stayed at Clarence House to continue cooking for the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.
Mrs. McKee’s book is small but chockfull of interesting recipes and reminiscences of her years as cook for the British Royals.

“TO THE QUEEN’S TASTE,” (subtitled ELIZABETHAN FEASTS AND RECIPES” by Lorna Sass, is a fascinating slender volume published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1976. The queen here is Elizabeth the First who, we learn, liked to eat alone. Possibly it was because of her bad teeth. As she got older, Elizabeth I chewed something called “comfits” which were sugar coated whole spices, to freshen her breath. The book itself borrows from other known sources of who-was-eating-what in the 1500s, but also provides a glossary of terms which is most useful in translating old recipes.

Elizabeth I was not exactly a gourmet, but she had a notoriously sweet tooth. Her pockets were always filled with candies and anyone who wanted to get into her good graces would dream up a new confection (This may be why she had such bad teeth!)

However, Elizabeth’s fondness for sweets, according to Betty Wason in “COOKS, GLUTTONS AND GOURMETS” led her apothecary to experiment with using the juice of the vanilla bean as flavoring for marzipan, the first time the Mexican pod had been used to flavor anything but the chocolate drink of the Aztecs. Elizabeth was delighted and vanilla has been a favorite flavoring used in candies ever since.
It was also during the reign of Elizabeth I that fruit was first used alone in a pie. Some preserved cherries were given to her as a New Year’s gift and the Queen was so pleased that she ordered a thirty acre tract to be turned into a cherry orchard. It was the first time cherries were planted in England, and when the trees bore fruit, she ordered them baked in a pie. Cherry pies from that time forward were a specialty at English royal banquets.

It was also during Elizabeth I’s reign that a merchant named Tom Coryate brought samples of a two-pronged fork home with him after a journey to Italy, and presented one to his queen. Elizabeth was amused and had others made, one of which was made of gold. The fork became something of a fad at court although the country as a whole regarded it as an effeminate innovation.

Other books which provide insight and some details to royal appetites include Esther B. Aresty’s THE DELECTABLE PAST, FOOD IN HISTORY and THE FINE ART OF FOOD, both by Reay Tannahill, and Betty Wason’s COOKS, GLUTTONS & GOURMETS.
Ms. Wason notes “Henri IV of France was a gourmet. Henry VIII of England was a Glutton. Both had gargantuan appetites. Henry VIII’s reign presented us with the grand feast of Christmas…with twelve days of revelry and feasting.

It’s really quite fortunate that people have always been so interested in what is being served and eaten on royal tables. Ever since A FORM OF CURY* was written by the cooks serving King Richard II, we have had a kind of continuous record of what people were cooking and eating. Without these records, much of the culinary history of the middle ages would have been lost to us. Now, you may argue, perhaps successfully—that kings and queens were eating exactly the same thing as peasants. This is true, up to a point. Royalty’s dinner fare may have been more exotic and plentiful than the poor serf’s—just as what the President of the United States may be eating something far more luxuriously than you or I, today. Nonetheless, I think most food fare was rather standard then, as it is now.

(*From Wekepedia:The Forme of Cury (Forms of Cooking, cury being from Frenchcuire) is an extensive recipe collection of the 14th century whose author is given as “the chief Master Cooks of King Richard II”. The modern name was given to it by Samuel Pegge, who published an edition of it in 1791. This name has since come into usage for almost all versions of the original manuscript. Along with Le Viandier, it is the best-known medieval guide to cooking.

The roll was written in late Middle English (circa 1390) on vellum and details some 205 recipes, although the exact number of recipes varies slightly between different versions).

Many royals have been entertained at the White House and thanks to the various White House Chefs and other backstairs employees, records have been kept o these famous meals.

The first heir-apparent to the British throne to visit the United States was that of England’s Prince of Wales, Albert Edward, who would become King Edward VII, when he visited the White House during the administration of President Buchanan. It was considered such a social coup that it was talked about for years! (Prior to becoming President, James Buchanan was Ambassador to the Court of King James. His niece, Harriet Lane, accompanied him and became a favorite of Queen Victoria. All of this may have contributed to the Prince’s visit to the United States and its success.

Some years later, after the Civil War, President Grant and his family entertained Prince Arthur, the third son of Queen Victoria, with a dinner that was so lavish, it was reported to have cost $2,000 (a lot of money in the 1800s!) The Grants also hosted a dinner for King Kalakaua of Hawaii, but this dinner tried the patience of the White House Chef, as the King’s personal attendants tasted everything first and decided which were fit for the king to eat. This was also done to be certain that the king would not be poisoned!
In more recent times, President and Mrs Reagan entertained Prince Charles and Princess Diana when they visited Washington, D.C. for three days. Mrs. Reagan spent weeks consulting with Buckingham Palace over the menu and the guest list. Since Prince Charles is partial to fish and fowl, a lobster mousse was served as a first course, and a lightly glazed chicken was served as an entrée.

This was surely an improvement over the visit paid by the King and Queen of England (Elizabeth II’s parents) when they visited the White House during the Roosevelt Administration and were served hot dogs! (It should be noted that First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had very little interest in food—hot dogs might have seemed like a good idea to her at the time).

Actually, to be fair to the Roosevelts, we should note that the rest of the King and Queens visit was treated lavishly. At a State Dinner, they dined on diamondback terrapin from Maryland and hothouse grapes from Belgium. It was considered to be the most elegant dinner during the Roosevelt administration. And, it seems that the Royals enjoyed hot dogs very much—so much that they in turn served them to the American Bar Association at a garden party given at Buckingham Palace in 1957.

So, next time you are having hot dogs, consider this—even kings and queens have eaten them.


COURT FAVOURITES by Elizabeth Craig, 1953
ROYAL COOKBOOK, published by Parents Magazine, 1971
TO SET BEFORE A QUEEN, Alma McKee, published 1963
TO THE QUEEN’S TASTE, Lorna Sass, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976
THE DELECTABLE PAST, Esther B. Aresty, 1964
FOOD IN HISTORY, Reay Tannahill, 1973
THE FINE ART OF FOOD, Reay Tannahill, date of publication not indicated

*This is by no means all of the books you can use to learn more about what people were eating, or how they lived, throughout the centuries since man learned how to make a fire and then discovered meat thrown on the fire tasted pretty good. When I first wrote this article, I was using the books that I had for references.

Just as a sample of what you can look for today might include:

NEAR A THOUSAND TABLES/A HISTORY OF FOOD by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto published in 2002– or

CENTURY OF BRITISH COOKING by Marguerite Patten, published in 1999
AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK by Jean Anderson, published in 1997



The following article was originally posted in 2011. Now, all the name brand cake mixes have been reduced in size by their manufactures and I have stocked up on the cake mixes whenever I find them on sale. I have played around with my cookie recipes –the lemon cookies are still easy to make but I double the recipe (two boxes of lemon cake mix), 2 eggs. 2 cups of rice Krispies cereal and lemon juice and lemon peel, if I have it (and when I am making chocolate cookies, I often add a cup of cocoa krispies to the cookie batter to give it crunch) – I have created a chocolate cookie using dark chocolate brownie mix that have met with family approval. I’m giving you a heads up on cake mix cookies – when I think I have the chocolate brownie cookie recipe perfected, I will share it with you.

You may have noticed a surge of interest in making cookie dough with cake mixes. A crisp little lemon cookie recipe has been printed on the box of Pillsbury lemon cake mixes for quite some time—they are a really easy and simple drop cookie but you can dress them up even more, for the holidays, with a little lemon glaze drizzled over the baked cookies, and to make them even fancier, sprinkle on some multi-colored sprinkles or a bit of red sugar. I also like to add some grated lemon rind to the cookie dough.

I have made other batches of drop cookies with cake mixes –most notably (and the most successful to family members) was a red velvet cake mix turned into drop cookies with chocolate glaze.

For Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make up large heart shaped sugar cookies for the grandkids to decorate – and was low on flour the day I decided to bake. I had several boxes of white cake mix and French vanilla cake mix, though. This was on a wing and a prayer – I mixed the cake mix with one stick of melted butter, two tablespoons of evaporated milk, one egg—and a tablespoon of vanilla extract. When the dough was completely mixed, I chilled it for two hours or so…and then began rolling out the dough (I like to do this between sheets of wax paper that is liberally dusted with flour). I cut out the hearts and baked them – and voila! They turned out just fine. (My daughter in law was suitably impressed). Heady with success, after I made the large hearts for the kids to decorate, I made a lot of small ones and then did a batch using a chocolate cake mix. These also turned out really great.

Now, cake mix cookies aren’t really anything new. I’ve seen them floating around for at least a decade and there are a few such recipes in my family’s cookbook which was published in 2004. One you can look for is a book titled “QUICK FIXES WITH MIXES” but it includes—along with cookies—recipes for bars and cakes and other goodies as well. And if you are still doubtful, just Google “cake mix cookies” and see what pops up – over a million hits!

I call these my cheater cookies—but a better name might be short-cut cookies since you can have cookie dough ready to roll into balls, spread in a pan, for bars, or chill to roll out for cutout cookies. You don’t even have to get out the electric mixer ; it can all be accomplished with a glass bowl and a wooden spoon, (if you want to melt the butter in the bowl). I read a comment (probably on Google) that the cookies get too hard—but if you frost the cutout cookies, they will stay soft and yummy!

If anyone has had good results making cookies out of cake mixes, let me hear from you!

Happy Baking!

Sandra Lee Smith


When I started collecting cookbooks in 1965, I really didn’t know where to begin, aside from making frequent visits to used book stores. I didn’t know a thing about collecting cookbooks—but I had a1961 Cincinnati Methodist church cookbook that my father bought from a coworker and I thought there must be more like this, “out there somewhere”.

I wrote a letter to Tower Press’ Women’s Circle magazine in 1965 (a magazine for penpals) and mentioned being interested in buying, or trading for church or club cookbooks. Over 200 women responded to my request and I was kept busy for several months, buying cookbooks sight unseen or trading things like S&H Green Stamps – or whatever else the writer wanted. Many of those first cookbooks were remarkably good finds.

The best thing about that letter in Women’s Circle in 1965 was a letter from a woman in Michigan. She was a cookbook collector and she helped me find cookbooks; we became – and remained – friends; our children grew up, married, had children of their own. I went through a divorce and my Michigan friend lost her husband. A few months ago, she began downsizing to move into a smaller place, and has sent me boxes of books – not just cookbooks but other books as well, books about lighthouses (another pet interest of mine) and books about survivors of WW2. My cup runneth over.

After giving this a great deal of consideration, I thought that the best way I can show my appreciation for all that she has given to me – is by writing about some of these books.

I’m not sure whether I have more California church and club cookbooks or more if those from Michigan. The problem with counting the Michigan cookbooks is that they aren’t all in the same place – two of my largest bookcases are divided up as “east of the Mississippi” and “west of the Mississippi”. I know, probably sounds dumb but it SEEMED like a fairly good idea when I first came up with it. I have kept all of my California cookbooks together – currently they fill two bookcases in my bedroom and are double-rowed. Sometimes I have to take everything off the shelves to find a particular book. Before we moved to this house in 2008, I was in a much larger house and had the California cookbooks divided into two parts – Northern California and Southern California. Now they are all mixed up. (One of these days I’ll get them sorted again).

In a bookcase in our spare bedroom, I have all the southern cookbooks filling up two bookcases on one wall and on the other wall, I have all of my Ohio cookbooks (separate from East of the Mississippi) because I am from Cincinnati, Ohio, and have a separate collection of cookbooks from Cincinnati. Then I began putting the Michigan cookbooks on a shelf underneath the Ohio ones (although technically speaking, Michigan is ABOVE Ohio, not below it) – sometimes the sizes of books has a lot to do with how you file them on your shelves.

Well, as you can imagine, sometimes it’s hard to keep them all straight. Since I first posted “Battered, Tattered, Stained church and club cookbooks”, I have been going through a lot of my books trying to determine which ones would generate the most interest. Then I thought it would be nice to have a discussion on California cookbooks since they are one of my favorites. (The other favorite are my Cincinnati club and church cookbooks.)

But before I do that, I think I owe it to my friend Betsy to tell you about some of the Michigan cookbooks. In addition to having had a Michigan penpal for over 45 years, I also have a brother who lived in Michigan for several decades, and two of his offspring have chosen to remain in the Wolverine State.

I visited Betsy twice in the 1970s – thanks to her kindhearted husband who drove several hundred miles to Cincinnati to take me and my children to Michigan to spend a week with them-one of the most delightful experiences, back then, was going to the flea markets where you would find all sorts of old cookbooks, often priced for as little as ten cents each. But, my brother and his wife hosted a family reunion there one year, and I have made perhaps half a dozen trips to Michigan over the years; twice to visit my mother who was in a nursing home in Grand Rapids, once for my goddaughter’s high school graduation, once for my sister Becky and I to drive around Lake Michigan, searching for Light Houses. Whenever I am in Michigan, I want to find the book stores. The year that my niece Julie was graduating from high school, her sister Leslie drove me to Ann Arbor – where she had gone to college – and we had a wonderful afternoon searching out used book stores as well as the ones selling new books – particularly cookbooks.

One of the cookbooks I bought that year, 1994, was “Ann Arbor’s Cookin’ II” published by the Ronald McDonald House with proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House. This is a thick spiral-bound cookbook with over 700 prized recipes. You may find yourself reading recipes for days but one I found outstanding is named “Sue’s Cheerios Snack”. Considered a great snack for tailgate parties, this is easy to make and would be a great snack for the kiddies too:

Pam cooking spray
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup margarine (or 1 stick solid type margarine or butter
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
6 cups cheerios* cereal
1 cup Spanish peanuts
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray a 9×13” pan with Pam. Combine Cheerios, peanuts and raisins in pan. In a saucepan, heat sugar, margarine, corn syrup and salt until bubbly around the edges. Cook 2 minutes more (do not stir). Remove from heat; stir in baking soda . Pour over cereal mixture. Mix well. Bake 20 minutes. Turn immediately onto wax paper. Let Cool.

(*Sandy’s cooknote: When “Ann Arbor’s Cookin’ II” was published in 1994, we only had the one kind of Cheerios. I have been thinking this would be great to try with the chocolate Cheerios or the cinnamon flavored version. Bon Appétit!

I did some checking on—you can buy Ann Arbor’s Cookin’ II for as little as 59 cents (plus will be charged $3.99 shipping & handling from private vendors; they are also listing 2 new copies for $9.49. There are numerous other listings you can find on Google for this cookbook. I have been unable to verify whether or not you can still order copies from the Ronald McDonald House in Ann Arbor. Maybe someone will know and enlighten me. **
One of my favorite Michigan cookbooks was not published by a church, club or any other organization –but it’s such a keeper, it deserves a spot on this post. The title of the cookbook is “WALNUT PICKLES AND WATERMELON CAKE” by Larry B. Massie and Priscilla Massie.


Priscilla was born in Kalamazoo in 1955 and traces her Michigan ancestry to Michel Campau, one of the one hundred Frenchmen who founded Detroit with Cadillac in 1701. Priscilla’s research, photographic, word processing and culinary skills allow the Massies to participate in a wide range of Michigan history projects…” What wouldn’t I give to visit that century old schoolhouse and see the Massies collections!

I don‘t know HOW many times I’ve reached for this book to check some piece of information It’s been a favorite reference book for many years. Subtitled “A CENTURY OF MICHIGAN COOKING”, this hard-cover with a spill-resistant cover was published in 1990 by Wayne State University Press in Detroit. And what the two Massies have done is provided recipes from church and club cookbooks dating back in some instances prior to 1900. The book is generously laced with drawings or illustrations of old-timey kitchen utensils – but one of my favorite features, I admit it freely, was the number of rhymed recipes including one my oldest finds for The Kitchen Poets, “Eve’s Pudding” dating from Detroit in 1878. One I will spare directions for is Perfect Mock Turtle Soup that starts out “Get a calf’s head with the skin on (the fresher the better) and before you say ew, ew, I want to add that an authentic MOCK turtle soup was commonly made with a calf’s head when real turtle was unavailable.
In the introduction, the Massies explain how their interest in old books was cultivated and grew from very early ages. They married and moved into an old one-room schoolhouse located in the midst of the Allegan State Forest. “Crowded within the main part of the structure is our collection of thirty thousand books, thirteen-foot high bookshelves surround all sides of a vast room. More shelves in the center of the room support a loft where Larry studies and writes about Michigan history…”

Priscilla has an attached room with a “Hoosier” cabinet (I had one when I was first married and didn’t have the sense to keep it before we moved to California); her kitchen cabinet was built in 1910 and is flanked on one side by a GE “monitor top” refrigerator made in 1932 and on the other, an electric range of similar vintage. They love history so much that they have surrounded themselves with period household furnishings. Priscilla has antique kitchen utensils, cast-iron Griswold pots and pans and other domestic artifacts hang everywhere. The Massies have fulfilled the dictate to write about what you know the most about. More than thirteen hundred recipes from Michigan’s past are in this volume, dating from 1820s through the end of WW2.

“Walnut Pickles & Watermelon Cake” contains SO many recipes – and I think I copied most of the rhymed recipes when I was compiling the Kitchen Poets.
I have gone through this cookbook over and over, trying to decide which recipe to feature. I chose “Pickled Grapes” because I have seen pickled grape recipes featured on websites and blogs recently – as though a brand-new recipe. I made up a batch and it WAS new to me – but “Walnut Pickles & Watermelon cake have it dated 1899 by a Mrs. McCall in Kalamazoo!
To make Pickled Grapes:

Take grapes fresh from the stems without breaking and put them in a jar. For 7 pounds of grapes, take one quart vinegar, 3 pounds of sugar*, 1 TBSP whole cloves and the same of cinnamon bark. Boil it all together a few minutes, then let it cool until you can bear your finger in it; pour over the grapes, turn a plate over them; set them in a cool cellar and they are done. Do not cook the grapes nor heat the pickle over. If properly prepared they will keep a year and be as plump and fresh as when picked from the vines.

Well, I don’t have a cellar, and here in the high desert it can be a problem finding a spot cool enough. When I made sauerkraut about a year ago, we kept the crock in the coolest section of our garage which is in Bob’s workshop (attached behind the garage) and that worked – but I was making the kraut in March when it’s still relatively cool in the Antelope Valley.
If you want to make the pickled grapes you can keep them very well if you have a cellar or basement. If not, make them while the weather is still fairly cool.

*Sandy’s cooknote: 2 cups of granulated sugar equal 1 pound, so you would need 6 cups of sugar to equal 3 pounds. 4 cups of vinegar equals one quart.)
If you are interested in purchasing a copy of “Walnut Pickles & Watermelon Cake”, the best prices I have found are on They have pre-owned copies starting under $10.00. They have one new copy at $31.99 and 8 used and new from $17.68.

Another good Michigan cookbook is “OUR BEST TO YOU” compiled by the Junior League of Battle Creek in 1984. This cookbook is in a specially designed 3-ring binder that enables the reader to open the rings in case you want to put the page on the refrigerator door so you can make a recipe. The pages measure just under 6½” wide and just under 9 ½” in length. I haven’t been able to find any pre-owned copies in the most frequently websites that I visit. My guess is that it’s out of print and you may have to do some digging to find a copy. However, you don’t have to search very far for this easy Beef Brisket recipe:
1 4-5 pound beef brisket
Seasoned salt
Dried minced garlic
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 cups of water
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash brisket thoroughly and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with garlic. Brown in an open pan (I use a large cast iron skillet for this) for 30 minutes in the oven. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast 1 hour. Layer the sliced onion over the meat and continue roasting an additional hour. Add water and cover, roast 1 hour more. Check for tenderness. Cool slightly and slice.
Note: Brisket may be prepared in advance. Reheat in pan juices before serving ~~~
Also published in 1984 and using the same format – the 3-ring binder that measures just under 6½” wide and just under 9 ½” in length is from the Junior League of Lansing, Michigan and bears the title “Temptations.” In its Introduction we learn that the inspiration for the cookbook was based on the bounty of Michigan’s agriculture. The book contains over 500 recipes and here is a simple recipe from “Temptations” that is called Sesame Potato Spears. I love potato recipes that are not fried but are just as good if not better. This is the recipe for Sesame Potato Spears:
6 to 8 potatoes
¼ cup butter, melted (that would be half of one stick of butter)
1 tsp salt
3 tsp paprika
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup Dijon mustard (optional)
Peel the potatoes and cut into long strips. Melt butter in a loaf baking dish and stir in seasonings. Stir the potatoes to coat. Bake in 400 degree oven for one hour or until tender.
(Sandy’s cooknote: I am inclined to put the melted butter and seasonings into a plastic zip-lock bag and then put the potatoes on a Pam-sprayed baking sheet that you have covered with foil. That is how I make my baked fries.
Note: Dijon mustard will give it an extra tang. ~~

“Temptations” is still available on – They have 4 new copies available from $5.43 and 5 used copies starting at $2.87. ~
A third cookbook compiled in a 3 ring binder just under 6½”wide and just under 9½” in length that is one of my favorite go-to cookbooks is titled “THE HOUSE ON THE HILL” which is a bed and breakfast inn, published in 2002 by Cindy and Tom Tomalka. The Tomalkas tell us they have had over 3000 couples and singles visit the Inn since April 1997—who have consumed over 14,000 breakfasts.
You won’t believe all the recipes just for making muffins – now muffins are a favorite recipe of mine – and it was a muffin recipe I was following the first time I made muffins using my mother’s big yellow bowl – which I dropped and broke when I was about ten years old. Muffins can be sweet or savory and a simple muffin is ideal for a young child to make when they are cooking for the first time. Here is a recipe for Michigan Maple Syrup Muffins:
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 large egg, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk
½ cp maple syrup
½ cup butter, melted (*1/2 cup butter is one stick)
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, syrup and butter. Gradually pour this egg mixture into a well I the bowl with the dry ingredients. Stir quickly. Batter will be lumpy. Do not overbeat or muffins will be tough. Spoon into greased mini-muffin cups and bake at 350 degrees until brown, about 12 minutes. Makes 30 mini-muffins.
The House on the Hill Inn has its own website with information on ordering a copy of their oh-so-inviting cookbook. You can write to the Tomalkas at

Another spiral bound cookbook published in 1983 is “CULINARY COUNTERPOINT” published by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Cookbook. This cookbook offers some recipes with unforgettable names, such as Hanky Pankys, Blinking Star, and Strip and go Naked! The recipe for a Ohio culinary treasure is BUCKEYE BALLS. (You will find Buckeye Balls at many sweet shops throughout Ohio – maybe Michigan too). To make Buckeye Balls you will need:
3 1-pound boxes powdered sugar
2 lbs smooth or crunchy peanut butter
1 pound butter, softened
1 12-oz package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
½ stick paraffin
Combine the sugar, peanut butter and butter and beat well. Roll into small balls and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
Melt the chocolate with the paraffin I the top section of a double boiler over hot water. Stick a toothpick in one of the peanut butter balls, then dip into the chocolate. Place on wax paper to harden. Repeat until all candies have been dipped in the chocolate. Makes about 60 candies. has five copies for sale, starting at $5.98.
Another spiral-bound favorite is “Renaissance Cuisine” that went through three printings by the time I found it. This cookbook was the endeavor of The Fontbonne Auxiliary of St Joseph Hospital. The Fontbonne Auxiliary was founded by the Sisters of S Joseph of Nazareth in 1947,
I am often stymied when it comes to choosing just one recipe from a church or club cookbook-but the following might be good for company or something to getting cooking when you are home from the office and trying to get something cooking while you make up a salad to go with. Here is Chicken No Peek Casserole:

1 cup rice, uncooked
6 chicken breasts or pieces
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can water
1 pkg onion soup mix
1 cup sherry
Slivered almonds
Grease a 9×13” pan. Place rice on bottom, place chicken on top of the rice. In a separate container, mix the mushroom soup and water and pour that over the chicken. Pour Sherry over chicken Sprinkle onion soup and slivered almonds over all. bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Do not peek. A fresh fruit or cranberry mold completes this meal.

(*Sandy’s cooknote: nowhere does the recipe advise you to cover the dish with foil before baking in the oven – but then it tells you note to peek. I would interpret that to mean it needs to be covered with foil. Someone else might interpret to mean not to look into the oven while it’s baking.)

Renaissance Cuisine is available on new or pre-owned starting at $2.99—and 4 new copies starting at $.43; you can’t beat that!

Although I have many more Michigan church and club cookbooks, most are probably not available on the internet. I tried to stick to cookbooks interested readers might have a chance to find. aLSO, i first posted this in 2011–while these Michigan cookbooks are still favorites of mine, I can’t be sure they are all stil available. It’s been my experience that many old cookbooks continue to find an audience and some of the best Michigan club cookbooks are often reprinted .

Happy cooking and Happy Cookbook collecting!


i reviewed the following back in 2012–but I love, love, LOVE books about the history of food, of cooks and cooking and felt it could do with an update.

In 2012 I wrote:

How does a writer compile, in one volume, a book about the history of cooks and cooking? And yet, this is exactly what author Michael Symons has set out to do.

The University of Illinois Press (demonstrating once again the incomparable value of the books provided by University Presses) has published A HISTORY OF COOKS AND COOKING.

In the preface to A HISTORY OF COOKS AND COOKING, the author notes, “Between us, we have eaten an enormous number of meals. We have nibbled, gorged and hungered our way through history. Cooks have been in charge…finding, sharing and giving food meaning. We could not have survived without them. They have been everywhere yet writers have hardly noticed. In fact, I suggest that t his is the first book devoted to the essential duties and historical place of cooks…”

Symons claims, “If this is, with few qualifications, the world’s first book on the world’s most important people, it implies a surprising intellectual oversight. Nearly two and a half millennia ago, Plato warned against an interest in cooks, and western scholars have largely complied. Almost without exception they have failed to inquire into the chief occupation of at least half the people who have ever lived. Even thinkers must eat…”

And while I might not totally agree with Symons assertion—and finding myself wondering exactly why Plato warned the world against an interest in cooks—I do concur with his statement that “Cookery books are so consumable that French Chef Raymond Oliver compares them with wooden spoons, ‘one is astonished at the number which have disappeared…”

Symons states, “We have devoured innumerable books on how and what to cook, and even some about certain cooks and aspects of cooking, but this abundance makes the central gap even more peculiar. There are so many texts for, and so few, about cooks…cooks have always been in the background both ever present and unnoticed. Their contributions have seemed too common, pervasive, trivial, unproblematic…”

He also writes, “Virtually every archaeological dig, every diary, every streetscape tells the cooks’ tale. We do not lack evidence, and can appropriate much scholarship. But no one has tried to pull this all together. Since the nineteenth century, we have become so hyper-specialized that we scarcely know any longer how to place cooks within the great scheme of things…”

Symons also observes that, “If we are what we eat, cooks have not just made our meals, but they have also made us….”

The author provides, in the preface, a capsule breakdown of the chapters and the best way to give you some idea what this book is really about, is to quote Symons himself:

“In quest of cooks,” he begins, “we initially enter the kitchen of just one Sydney chef, Phillip Searle, (Chapter One). The book then relates how certain novelists have portrayed some cooks (Chapter Two) and finds the gastronomic tradition; often appreciative (chapter Three). Having traced the development of fire (Chapter Four), existing assumptions about what cooks do are examined (Chapter Five), why their key tool is the knife (Chapter Seven and how they are behind festivals, beauty and love (Chapter Eight).

Symons embarks on a journey, exploring how food, and the cooks who prepared it, were written about in books, including Laura Ingalls Wilder’s THE LONG WINTER, AND Nora Ephron’s HEART BURN, touches on the American diner and street food, the contributions of various famous chefs, such as Henri Charpentier. (In yet another instance of synchroniscity, I acquired a book about Henri Charpentier and have written about him in an article for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange and on my blog).

The publishers explain, “Symons sets out to explore the civilizing role of cooks in history. His wanderings take us to the clay ovens of the prehistory eastern Mediterranean and the bronze cauldrons of ancient China, to fabulous banquets in the temples and courts of Mesopotamia, Egypt and Persia, to medieval English cookshops and southeast Asian street markets, to palace kitchens, diners and modern fast-food eateries.

Symons samples conceptions and perceptions of cooks and cooking from Plato and Descartes, to Marx and Virginia Woolf, asking why cooks, despite their vital and central role in sustaining life, have remained in the shadows, unheralded, unregarded and underappreciated…”

No longer. Michael Symons’ A HISTORY OF COOKS AND COOKING FROM THE University of Illinois Press has provided a tribute to cooks and will surely join the ranks of all other important food-related books.

*The Australian author uses the European spellings, whereas Americans spell many of these words with a Z instead of an S—I’ve corrected them for easier reading in this post—for one thing, my spellcheck has a nervous breakdown whenever I try to use European spellings.

Well, I don’t necessarily agree with much of what Symons has written but I wrote a review of this book for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange in 2001—and I think much has changed in our culinary landscape in the past eleven years. If nothing else, programs such as those shown on the Food Network focus on cooks and chefs all the time. There have also been many more books about individual cooks and chefs as well. Still, you may want to read A HISTORY OF COOKS AND COOKING and decide for yourself. And even though this was published by the University of Illinois Press, the Australian author’s viewpoint may reflect what he has observed and studied in Australia.
Michael Symons is a former journalist for Sydney Morning Herald and also the author of “THE PUDDING THAT TOOK A THOUSAND COOKS.”

Symons is also the author of two other food-related books, ONE CONTINUOUS PICNIC: A HISTORY OF EATING IN AUSTRALIA, and THE SHARED TABLE.

You can find a copy of A HISTORY OF COOKS AND COOKING on at $19.95 and up for pre-owned hardcover. I am sorry to report that no other copies are available for less.

review by Sandra Lee Smith