Category Archives: COOKBOOK AUTHORS FROM LONG AGO

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHORS–PART 9, RUTH REICHL & JAMES VILLAS

WHERE ARE YOU NOW, RUTH REICHL?

It has weighed on my mind ever since GOURMET Magazine folded a few years ago—and I think I must have been one of those subscribers to be knocked for a loop with the sudden and unexpected closing of GOURMET’s doors—and I am still peeved that I didn’t get a copy of the December issue featuring cookies!!

I had re-subscribed to Gourmet shortly after Ruth Reichl joined the Gourmet editorial staff.

Actually, Gourmet magazine and I go back a long ways. I had a huge collection of Gourmet magazines, dating back years; those were just one of the things I sold or gave a way in 1979 when we were moving to Florida and didn’t have enough space for inconsequential, such as my collections of magazines, cookie jars and recipe boxes—mind you, this was some years before you could rent a storage unit anywhere, anytime. If storage units had been available back then, I would still have a lot of things I regret leaving behind. So, a few years after moving back to the San Fernando Valley in California, I began to subscribe to my favorite cooking magazines—Gourmet and Bon Appetit were just two—and throughout the years that Bob and I (and usually one or more of my sons) were living in the Arleta house, where Bob created an office for both of us and additional shelves (to store magazines) in a space connecting the office with the den.

Ruth Reichl first came to my attention with the publication of a book titled “TENDER AT THE BONE/ Growing Up at the Table” – the title alone spoke volumes to me, a child of the 40s and 50s, learning how to cook when I was about ten years old. Another winner in my book was COMFORT ME WITH APPLES and also GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES. So, when I discovered that Ruth Reichl was on the editorial staff at COURMET Magazine….I re-subscribed.

When GOURMET closed its doors, I often wondered where Ruth Reichl had gone after that. Well, the answer came to me in the guise of an article in the New York Times, sent to me by one of my Michigan penpals. Titled DINNER WITH RUTH, it answered all of my questions. By Kim Severson, I read every word and then went back and read through it all a second time. Ok, I am a big Ruth Reichl fan—but you want to know what it also reminded me of?

Myra Waldo and my decades-long search for a) all of Myra’s cookbooks and b) my inability to learn what happened to her when she stopped writing cookbooks. You would think that, given the ability of the Internet to track down everyone near or far away—that it shouldn’t be all that difficult to find a favorite author/editor. Another thing that has worried me since Gourmet closed its doors—what happened to their library of research material? Stuff like that worries me in the same way that I worry about my cookbook collection and all of MY research material.

But getting back to Ruth Reichl – I guess she hasn’t disappeared altogether. She is living with her husband and is doing a lot of cooking – she is also writing another cookbook that I can’t wait to buy. I want to tell her she is only 67 – that’s young when you (me) are turning 75 in a few days. I love it that she writes in a little cabin behind their house – I am reminded that when I retired at 62 and converted a room into MY writing room (Bob had his own desk in the same room) I vowed to write, write, write. Well, I DO write but nothing like I planned – my writing has been mostly for newsletters like THE COOKBOOK COLLECTORS EXCHANGE – and after that folded, I wrote for another newsletter, INKY TRAIL NEWS…but for the past few years – since 2009 – I have been writing a blog. It was the suggestion of friend Wendy who edited INKY TRAILS (now also defunct) – but the blog, Sandy’s Chatter, is my baby – I can write about anything that piques my curiosity…such as Ruth Reichl. If you are as keen as I am about learning what Ruth Reichl is doing today, try FOOD in the New York Times, September 16, 2015 edition. I don’t know how many toes I could be stepping on if I quoted very much from Kim Severson’s excellent article….so you might try your own internet search. Meantime, I will be watching Amazon.com for Ruth’s soon to be published cookbook.

–Sandra Lee Smith

Update! Ruth Reichl’s long-awaited cookbook RUTH REICHL, MY KITCHEN YEAR was published in 2015; it combines recipes with dialogue, much the same way that TENDER AT THE BONE and COMFORT ME WITH APPLES did. It’s wonderful to have some answers to what a favorite writer did after GOURMET closed its doors. Ruth is also the author of GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES. I immediately ordered MY KITCHEN YEAR and I am reading it now.
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MY KITCHEN YEAR is available at Amazon.com for $21.94 new, hardbound copy, or $15.99 & up for preowned & new other choices.
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JAMES VILLAS’ CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES

If I say to you the name “James Villas”, what comes to mind? Southern cooking? The food and wine editor of TOWN & COUNTRY magazine? Or perhaps you think of James’ mother, Martha Pearl Villas, about whom several of his cookbooks revolved and after whom were aptly named.

“CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES”, by James Villas was first published in 2003 by the Harvard Common Press. First posted on my blog in 6/2012.

In speaking of James Villas, well-known cookbook authors Jane and Michael Stern wrote, “James Villas writes recipes like they are love letters. To hear him rhapsodize about America’s casseroles is to share a soul-stirring cultural perspective; and to cook these good dishes is to create edible pleasure, meal after meal…”

You have to be captivated by a man who writes recipes like they are love letters!

Before some of you make a face and say something like “Ew, ew, I don’t like casseroles”, I have to tell you, casseroles have evolved considerably since the days of your mother’s tuna-noodle-potato chip concoction. To quote James Villas, “…Unfortunately, by the early 1970s, some casseroles had been so abused by the use of canned luncheon meats and vegetables, dried parsley and garlic powder, Velveeta, bouillon cubes, MSG, crushed potato chips, and heaven knows what other ‘convenience’ ingredients that the whole cooking concept gradually plunged into disrepute…”

“Sadly and unfairly left behind in the carnage carried out by zealous food snobs,” says Villas, “was a veritable wealth of honest, intelligent and delectable casseroles….”

Mr. Villas’ philosophy reminded me of the discovery, in my early 20s (after getting married and beginning to cook for my own family), that much of what I thought I disliked about beets, cabbage, and rice wasn’t actually the food itself – it was just the way my mother cooked it. (Mom’s idea, for instance, of cooking cabbage was to put the pot on the stove around 9 a.m. – for 6 O’clock dinner. Need I say more?).

So, set aside any prejudice the word “casserole” conjures up for you, and discover James Villas’ “CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES”.

In the Introduction to “CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES”, Mr. Villas explains that “nothing typifies American cookery more than the sumptuous, highly varied casseroles that have been baking in ovens all over the country for the past century. In fact,” he claims, Casseroles not only define a major style of food on which millions of us were virtually weaned, but also illustrate like no other dishes what authentic regional cooking is all about.”

“Just mention,” he writes, “jambalaya and spoonbread to a Southerner, for instance, or baked beans and Indian pudding to a New Englander, or tamale pie to a Texan, or Dungeness crab and olive bake to a West Coaster, and watch the eyes light up…”

Mr. Villas explains that over the decades, casseroles such as crabmeat Dewey, shrimp de Jonghe, chicken spaghetti, hog pot, country captain, and Sally Lunn have evolved into regional classics. “I dare say,” Mr. Villas says, “there’s no honest soul anywhere who doesn’t swoon over a luscious chicken pot pie, macaroni and cheese, lasagna, corn pudding and apple brown better….”

Mr. Villas believes that casseroles deserve new attention. I have to agree.
“Just 40 or so years ago,” writes Villas, “there wasn’t a cook in this country who didn’t boast favorite casseroles intended to provide a practical, nutritious, and delicious way to feed both a small family and a large group of hungry friends. The ultimate holiday, wedding, or birthday gift was one of dozens of beautiful casserole dishes designed to enhance all sorts of baked components, and who could deny that anything was more mouthwatering (and easy to prepare) than a bubbly layered meat and vegetable casserole or a creamy poultry or seafood one crusted to a golden finish on top?”

Mr. Villas says it was an era without pretentions, when people gathered at the dining room or buffet table simply to share good food and enjoy one another’s company, a time when cooking, far from being the complicated, contrived and overwrought activity it often is today, was still a leisure affair, and when nothing satisfied and impressed more than a carefully prepared, attractive casserole, a fresh salad, a good loaf of bread, and an appropriate beverage.

The irony, writes Villas, “is that before casserole cookery became so popular during the first half of the twentieth century and gradually took on a distinctive American identity all its own, to prepare food en casserole in the European style was deemed the ultimate in culinary sophistication. (The actual origins of the French word ‘casserole; can be traced back to a Renaissance pot or crock called a casse.) French cassoulet and coq au vin, Spanish paella, Italian Lasagne, Moroccan tajine, Green pastitsio, Indian pilau, British hot pot—the names might have sounded exotic in those early days, but being no more than a combination of ingredients baked in and usually served directly from an earthenware, metal, or tempered glass vessel, the one-pot dishes were essentially no different from the simple casseroles that would become such an integral part of American cookery….”

Villas notes that Fannie Farmer only included a single casserole of meat and rice in her pioneering cookbook, “but it was not till the first decade of the twentieth century that such influential authors such as Marion Harland, Olive Hulse, and Marion Neil began to feature recipes for different types of casseroles. During World War I and the Depression, casseroles were promoted as a means to economize; Campbell’s introduction of canned soups not long after as a substitute for elaborate sauces added a whole new dimension to casserole cookery; by 1943, THE JOY OF COOKING included almost two dozen sumptuous casseroles, and so popular were casseroles by the 1950s, that James Beard devoted a whole cookbook to the subject…”

(I have to go a step further, and add that many other well-known cookbook authors of the 1940s and 1950s were also writing about casseroles—Myra Waldo, Florence Brobeck, Marian Tracy and Betty Wason were just a few of the writers who had something to say about this subject. Some of their books, in particular those published during World War II, were especially aimed at teaching American housewives how to stretch a dollar, a bit of meat, and their ration coupons with casserole cookery. Marion Tracy’s “CASSEROLE COOKERY” was first published in 1941 while her “MORE CASSEROLE COOKERY” was published in 1951. Florence Brobeck’s “COOK IT IN A CASSEROLE” was published in 1943. Myra Waldo’s “THE CASSEROLE COOKBOOK” was published in 1963 while Waldo’s “COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH”, a similar theme, was published in 1965).

But along came the 1970s, canned luncheon meats and crushed potato chips and before long, our Pyrex casserole dishes were being relegated to the top shelf of the kitchen cupboard. (Now many of those 50s casserole dishes can be found in antique stores, with price tags that have us doing a double-take).

Mr. Villas explains, since it appears, today, that every effort is finally being made to reclaim much of our culinary heritage (extending to everything from Tex-Mex and soul food to Shaker and Pennsylvania Dutch cookery to traditional Jewish desserts, his goal in “CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES” is not only to restore old-fashioned, regional American casseroles—from appetizers to desserts—to their rightful status but also to demonstrate how our rich bounty of relatively new ingredients can be adapted to produce wondrous casseroles unimaginable in the past.

He has included old favorites such as shrimp Creole, crabmeat Norfolk and turkey divan but has also put an emphasis on casseroles made with fresh cheeses, ethnic sausages, lesser cuts of meat, root vegetables and new varieties of beans and wild mushrooms, fennel and celery root, baby leeks and sugar snap peas, interesting herbs and spices, oats and multigrain breads, and even a few exotic fruits!

However, Villas adds, “to maintain the distinctive character of the American casserole” he has no objection to the use of such traditional components as leftover cooked foods, canned broths, soups, and tomatoes, packaged bread stuffings, certain frozen vegetables, plain dried noodles, pimentos, and supermarket natural aged cheeses. “On the other hand,” he admonishes, “nowhere in this book will you find canned meats and vegetables, frozen chives or dried parsley flakes, processed cheeses, liquid smoke, MSG, bouillon cubes, crushed potato chips, or, heaven forbid, canned fruit cocktail…”

James Villas says he must own at least 20 different casserole dishes—I think it’s quite possible that I have just about as many (I also have a thing for bowls and containers). In any case, dig your favorite casserole dishes out of the recesses of your kitchen cabinet – and read on. You’re about to re-discover the virtues of casserole cooking!

“CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES” provides 275 All-American hot dish classics. Like most cookbooks, it is indexed according to type – consequently, you have a chapter devoted to Appetizer Casserole Dips, Quiches, and Ramekins, followed by Breakfast and Brunch Casseroles, Stratas and Scrambles, then various other categories – including Casseroles for a Crowd, Vegetable Bakes,, Gratins, and Soufflés – and last, but certainly not least, Casserole Cobblers, Crisps, Crunches and Delights.
I especially like the format of this oversized soft-cover cookbook, with its easy-to-read (and follow ) print and the interesting Side Bars. It’s entertaining, also, to discover where and how Mr. Villas obtained some of his treasured casserole recipes.

It’s difficult to single out particular recipes that I would recommend—but since I am especially partial to breakfast and brunch casseroles or stratas, let me mention Herbed Brunch Egg Casserole, Wild Mushroom Brunch Casserole, Country Ham, Spinach, and Mozzarella Strata and Ranchero Green Chile, Cheese and Tomato Casserole. This is just a small sampling of the thirty recipes listed in just this one chapter. On a personal level, I have to say these types of casseroles never went out of favor in my household and when I am having the entire family here for a brunch, it’s a great convenience to be able to make up a couple of breakfast casseroles the day before and know that you’ve only got to pop them into the oven the next day.

Busy homemakers will love the wide assortment of recipes from which to choose – I’m willing to bet that “CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES” will become your kitchen bible – but read the cookbook front-to-back, first, because Mr. Villas provides us with such a wealth of information and detail concerning the recipes chosen for this
book. (of course, as everybody knows, cookbook collectors read cookbooks the way other people read novels – “CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES” won’t disappoint.

James Villas is also the author of the following:

AMERICAN TASTE
THE TOWN & COUNTRY COOKBOOK
JAMES VILLAS’ COUNTRY COOKING
VILLAS AT TABLE
THE FRENCH COUNTRY KITCHEN
MY MOTHER’S SOUTHERN KITCHEN
STEWS, BOGS, AND BURGOOS
MY MOTHER’S SOUTHERN DESSERTS
MY MOTHER’S SOUTHERN ENTERTAINING
BETWEEN BITES

“CRAZY FOR CASSEROLES” from the Harvard Common Press can be obtained from Amazon.com for $17.70, new paperback, or starting at 01.cent from private vendors, as well as starting at .77 cents and up for new and pre-owned hardbound copies.. Bear in mind that pre-owned books from private vendors cost 3.99 for shipping and handling.
Happy Cooking and happy cookbook collecting!

— Sandra Lee Smith

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHORS-PART 8, ELIZABETH DAVID & MARY MARTENSEN

ELIZABETH DAVID:

“IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE”, originally posted July, 2011

The following is a cookbook review that I wrote in either 2000 or 2001 when “Is There a Nutmeg in the House” was published. Elizabeth David passed away in 1992 at her Chelsea home in England, where she had lived for forty years. Still, her books are eagerly sought after and new cookbook collectors would do well to search for them. In 2006, the BBC released a made-for-television film starring Catherine McCormack as Elizabeth. It was called “Elizabeth David: A Life in Recipes”. Not surprisingly; Ms. David led a most interesting life. You may want to find a copy of “WRITING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY OF ELIZABETH DAVID” by Artemis Cooper.
This is what I wrote for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange a decade ago:
Devoted fans of Elizabeth David will be delighted to learn that, although one of the world’s greatest cookbook authors died in 1992, a new book of her work has been published.

The intriguing title, “IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE?” begs investigation.
“Along with M.F.K. Fisher and Julia Child,” the publishers begin, “Elizabeth David changed the way we think about and prepare our food. Her nine books, written with impeccable wit and considerable brilliance, helped educate the taste (and taste buds) of the postwar generation. Insisting on authentic recipes and fresh ingredients, she taught that food need not be complicated to be delicious…”

Elizabeth David, they explain, was a very private person who seldom gave interviews. However, a 1984 collection of her essays, entitled “AN OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE” greatly revealed Elizabeth David to her readers and is now considered the best food book written in the 20th century. Now, nearly 20 years later, comes the sequel to that book.

“IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE?” contains work covering four decades. Included is a considerable amount of material previously unpublished, found in her own files or contributed by friends to whom she had given recipes or to whom she had sent letters.
Jill Norman, Elizabeth David’s editor and friend for over 25 years is now the literary trustee of Elizabeth David’s estate. She was responsible for the posthumous publishing of “HARVEST OF THE COLD MONTHS” and then persuaded many of Elizabeth David’s friends to contribute notes on their favorite pieces for the anthology “SOUTH WIND THROUGH THE KITCHEN”.

In the introduction to “IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE?” Jill explains, “in the early eighties, Elizabeth and I spent many very agreeable hours selecting the articles which appeared in her first anthology, “AN OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE”, published in 1984.
The kitchen in her house in Halsey Street may have been crammed with utensils of all sorts, but bookcases and shelves took up every wall in the other rooms and corridors overflowing with her substantial library of cookery, history, travel and reference books, and numerous files and folders of assorted papers”. (Be still my heart!).
Their routine, she explains, was to take a number of files each, select the pieces each found most stimulating, most expressive of the pleasures of good food, and likely still to appear to readers, and then to compare notes. It was, Jill says, “one of the most enjoyable editorial tasks I have ever undertaken. The articles were a pleasure to read, and Elizabeth’s reminiscences about the research and writing of many of them often kept us talking until late at night…”

In the end, they discovered they had too much material and decided to put some pieces aside for a later volume. “This, at last,” Jill writes, “is that volume: during the last years of her life, most of Elizabeth’s energy went into gathering material for “HARVEST OF THE COLD MONTHS” which was finished after her death and published in 1994”

“Elizabeth,” Jill says, “always read widely in early cookery books in English, French and Italian and enjoyed trying out their recipes. Many of those which she adapted from well-known English writers have appeared in her English books…”

“During the 25 years I worked with Elizabeth,” writes her friend and editor, “she was constantly experimenting and trying out new dishes, sometimes for a book, sometimes because a food she or one of her friends particularly liked was in season, or because there was a dish she wanted to explore more thoroughly. When she was satisfied with the recipe and it was typed in its final form, it was her custom to give copies, usually signed and dated, to friends. Many subsequently appeared her later books but others which did not are included here. The folders from her house yielded many unpublished recipes, and occasionally accompanying articles….

With few exceptions,” says Jill, “none of the material in “IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE?” has appeared in book form before…”

She further explains that Elizabeth recipes were written as a text to be read, not, as is currently the norm, a list of ingredients in the order to be used followed by a list of instructions.

The essays in “IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE?” are charming and witty, and provide more than a glimpse into the world of Elizabeth David, a woman whose life would have been fascinating even if she had not embarked on cooking and writing about it!

I was especially intrigued with what Elizabeth David had to say about making stocks and broths. This is something I am personally acquainted with, having recently turned my attention to making my own stocks and broths. (The major drawback, when someone wants to know how you made this soup…is that you’ll never have this recipe again—much of what goes into my vegetable stock depends on the vegetables in my refrigerator (or what is in season and growing in our garden) at the time I have decided to make soup. I make a ham stock out of ham bones and left over ham bits, then strain it, remove any fat, chop up the meat, and then chill it. The next day I make my bean or pea soup. But I digress).

Elizabeth David had very definite ideas about the making of stock, and thoroughly disdained the old English cookbooks, including those of Mrs. Beeton, who instructed the cook that “…everything in the way of meat, bones, gravies and flavourings (sic) that would otherwise be wasted” should go into the stock-pot. “Shank-bone of mutton, gravy left over when the half-eaten leg was moved to another dish, trimmings of beef, steak that went into a pie, remains of gravies, bacon rinds and bones, poultry giblets, bones of roast meat, scraps of vegetables…such a pot in most houses should always be on the fire.” Ew, ew!

Elizabeth responds, “Heavens, what a muddy, greasy, unattractive and quite often sour and injurious brew must have emerged from that ever-simmering tub…”

She goes on to tell her readers how to make a good stock and why a bouillon cubes don’t really make the grade. “Taking Stock” is an essay from the Spectator, published in 1960.

There are numerous essays in “IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE?” (plus over 150 recipes), and I think you will, as I did, enjoy them all. But I was most curious to learn how the title of the book came about. Sure enough, beginning on page 91 is an essay, “IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE” which was, I discovered, taken from a Williams-Sonoma booklet published in 1975.

Elizabeth tells the story of Joseph Nollekens, an 18th century English sculptor who was famous for his portrait busts of famous men and women of his day. While Mrs. Nollekens had the peculiar habit of scrounging free spices from the grocer, her husband filched nutmeg from the dinner table of the Royal Academy of Arts.
Mrs. Nollekens, when she shopped for tea and sugar, would always request, just as she was ready to leave the store, to have either a clove or a bit of cinnamon to take away an unpleasant taste in her mouth—but was never seen to actually put it into her mouth. Between the two of them, they managed to accumulate a little stock of spices – free.

Elizabeth goes on to provide an essay on nutmeg, which was enormously popular in the 18th century. “It was a civilised fad,” she writes, “that eighteenth-century love of portable nutmeg graters for the dining-room, and the drawing room hot drinks, and for travelling. I see no reason why w shouldn’t revive it. It is far from silly to carry a little nutmeg box and grater around in one’s pocket. In London restaurants, such a piece of equipment comes in handy. Here, even in Italian restaurants, I find it necessary to ask for nutmeg to grate on to my favourite plain pasta with butter and Parmesan, and for leaf spinach as well…?”

She continues with a bit of history on nutmeg and explains the difference between nutmeg and mace. “Mace,” writes Elizabeth, “is a part of the same fruit as nutmeg and has a similar aroma, but coarser, less sweet and more peppery…”

Elizabeth would be pleased to learn, I think, that I have whole nutmeg and a nutmeg grater in my kitchen cupboard. I would have never thought to take it with me to a restaurant, though.

“IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE?” is utterly delightful and charming, written in Elizabeth David’s unique style. Compiled by Jill Norman, it was published by Viking in 2000. The price is $29.95.

Anyone who enjoys “reading cookbooks the way other people read novels” (how often have we heard that!) will be sure to enjoy this delightful book.

*I checked with Amazon and there are dozens of Elizabeth David’s books available, both new and used. The lowest price for “IS THERE A NUTMEG IN THE HOUSE?” is under $1.00 preowned. A new copy is available for $12.98.

A copy of “WRITING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE” is available 39cents for preowned copy available at this time on Amazon.com. (plus $3.99 shipping charges for pre-owned titles) But don’t overlook Barnes & Noble’s website or sites like Alibris.com when you are searching for particular titles.

And Oh! Be still my heart! Released March 1, 2011, “AT ELIZABETH DAVID’S TABLE; CLASSIC RECIPES AND TIMELESS KITCHEN WISDOM” by Elizabeth David, Rick Rodgers and Ruth Reichl. (Rick Rodgers and Ruth Reichl are both well known cookbook authors. Ruth Reichl was the editor of “Gourmet” magazine before it closed its doors but is now devoting her time to writing; She is the author of RUTH REICHL, MY KITCHEN YEAR, published in 2015).

Elizabeth David is the author of the following:

*MEDITERRANEAN FOOD, 1950
*FRENCH COUNTRY COOKING, 1951
*ITALIAN FOOD, 1954
*SUMMER COOKING, 1955
*FRENCH PROVINCIAL COOKING, 1960
*SPICES, SALT AND AROMATICS IN THE ENGLISH KITCHEN, 1970
*ENGLISH BREAD AND YEAST COOKERY, 1977
*AN OMELETTE AND A GLASS OF WINE, 1984

OTHER POSTHUMOUS PUBLICATIONS:

*HARVEST OF THE COLD MONTHS, 1994
*SOUTH WIND THROUGH THE KITCHEN: THE BEST OF ELIZABETH DAVID, 1998
*ELIZABETH DAVID’S CHRISTMAS, 2003
*ELIZABETH DAVID’S CLASSICS (Mediterranean Food, French Country Cooking, Summer Cooking) 1980
*AT ELIZABETH DAVID’S TABLE: HER VERY BEST EVERYDAY RECIPES, 2010

You may also wish to find a copy of “ELIZABETH DAVID: A BIOGRAPHY, by Lisa Chaney.

Happy cooking and happy cookbook reading!
–Sandra Lee Smith

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WHO WAS COOKBOOK AUTHOR/RECIPE COLUMNIST MARY MARTENSEN?

Originally posted 2011

Sometimes it simply starts with an old recipe card or a clipping with a name on it and you aren’t always sure where on earth you found it, especially if the clipping is very old and yellowed. Well, I do collect old recipe boxes, preferably with old recipe collections intact and this is sometimes where interesting clippings, or clippings pasted onto 3×5” cards turn up. Such is the case with the first recipe I found of Mary Martensen’s. It was a clipping pasted on a 3×5” card with directions for making pea soup.

From the introduction in one of her cookbooks, we learn that Mrs. Martensen was a graduate in Home Economics and Dietetics, having studied at the Boston School of Domestic Science, Simmons College and the Teachers College of Columbia University. Her first experience was as Director of Home Economics for the schools of Concord, New Hampshire. While there she also conducted courses in dietetics at the Concord City Hospital each week, and in Home Economics at Mount St. Mary’s Academy at Hookset, New Hampshire.

Following this, Mrs. Martensen became dietitian at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois, leaving this position for the Home Economics Department of “a great packing company” (presumably Armour founded in 1867 by the Armour brothers following the Civil War). Here, in four seasons Mrs. Martensen conducted newspaper cooking schools in thirty-five states, lectured to women’s clubs in Chicago and its suburbs, and contributed to the household page edited in her department. She also prepared many recipe booklets, among them “Sixty Ways to Serve Ham” which I believe was compiled for Armour around 1935. During the last 2 years of this period Mrs. Martensen was the directing head of the department. Then followed five years as head of a Home Economics Department which she established for one of the largest baking powder companies in America. (No indication is given for the name of the baking company. Royal, Clabber Girl, and Rumford were three popular baking powder companies getting a strong foothold in the food industry in the late 1800s, early 1900s, however.)
In January, 1927, Mrs. Martensen established a Home Economics Department for “a large western newspaper” where she remained until she was selected by the Chicago Evening American for the position she was holding at the time her first cookbook was published–not counting pamphlets or booklets she may have authored prior to this. [I’m thinking that Mrs. Mary Martensen would have given Ida Bailey Allen a run for her money, as a contemporary in the 1920s writing for food manufacturers, conducting radio recipe programs and then branching out to compile cookbooks.]

Within a few months, the auditorium originally fitted for the newspaper Home Ec department of the Chicago Evening American had to be enlarged to double its size and capacity. Three courses of lessons were given in the first year of the department’s operation, with a total attendance of 6,600.

Editorially, Mrs. Martensen conducted a daily column in the Chicago Evening American, which was amplified to four columns on Mondays and Fridays, and a full page every Saturday in the American Home Journal. Her material was illustrated on Mondays and Saturdays with photographs and sketches made in her department of special dishes and table settings created in the department (The recipe page that a Sandychatter subscriber sent to me was published on a Thursday in the Chicago Herald American and along with recipes for strawberry chiffon pie and pineapple cheese pie, featured lovely illustrations – even in black and white—of a coconut wreath circling the pineapple cheese pie and another illustration of an ice cream pie.) And, apparently, at some point in time, Mrs. Martensen’s recipe columns were picked up by King Syndicate for release to other newspapers throughout the USA.

In the department’s first year, over 21,000 letters were received from readers and over 4,200 telephone calls responded to. Twenty five lectures before women’s clubs, farmers’ institutes, parent-teacher associations and high school classes were conducted. In addition to all this, Mrs. Martensen conducted weekly radio talks.
Mary Martensen was writing a column for the Herald American newspaper in 1950. I believe she was writing newspaper columns in the 1930s and 1940s as well. She also wrote “Mrs. Mary Martensen’s Recipes Cookbook/Chicago American” which I would SWEAR that I have, but to date have been unable to find. This was a newspaper-sponsored cookbook for the Chicago American.

Prior to this, the author worked for the meatpacker Armour Company* where she authored the popular, “Sixty ways to Serve Ham”

*Sandy cooknote: The information I discovered online about the Armour Company and the many different products they manufactured nearly sent me into a tailspin, wanting to read and learn more about Armour—I had to force myself to stay on track with Mary Martensen.

In 1933, Mrs. Martensen wrote “Century of Progress Cookbook*” – so far I have not been able to lay my hands on any of Mary’s cookbooks. However, any number of her newspaper columns have survived over the decades. In fact, a Sandychatter subscriber bought some perfume bottles and found a 1950 sheet of newspaper with Mary Martensen’s Strawberry Chiffon Pie and Pineapple Cheese Pie featured on that date, June 22, 1950 – and sent a copy of it to me.

In addition to its widely syndicated Sunday magazine “The American Weekly”, the Journal-American had a Saturday supplement called Home Magazine, as well. Mary’s columns appeared in this newspaper supplement as well.
Zirta Green, who balanced a career with motherhood and home long before it became fashionable was a test kitchen chef for the Chicago Herald American and Chicago Tribune newspapers for their cooking and recipe columns from 1953-1966, and later for the Mary Martensen TV cooking show, broadcasted on WBKB Chicago, ABC-TV, around 1954. (*This short paragraph about Mrs. Green was the only indication I discovered about Mary Martensen having a TV cooking s how –back in the day, long before TV cooking shows were so popular!

An illustration/portrait of Mary Martensen was published in her first cookbook; it shows a very pretty blonde haired woman, nicely dressed, with a sweet smile.

Not much more is known about Mary Martensen – although if anyone reading this knows more, I would love to hear from you. However, some of her recipes crop up if you take the time to surf Google patiently. The first one I am offering is the recipe I originally found on a recipe card.

To make MARY’S SPLIT PEA SOUP you will need:
1 cup dried split peas
2 ½ quarts cold water
1 pint milk
½ onion
2” cube fat salt pork
3 TBSP butter or margarine
2 TBSP flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Pick over peas and soak several hours in cold water to cover. Drain, add cold water, pork and onion. Simmer 3 or 4 hours or until soft. Put through a sieve*. Add butter and flour and seasonings blended together. Dilute with the milk, adding more milk if necessary. Note the water in which a ham has been cooked may be used. Omit the salt.

Sandy’s cooknote: If you don’t have a sieve, you can blend the peas in your blender but I would suggest cooling it down somewhat, first, and only do half a blender-full at a time so it doesn’t splash. When I make pea soup I like to cook the peas and whatever other ingredients (carrots, onion) -except meat – and blend it in my blender to make it smooth. Then add some leftover ham if you want it in your soup. We like very thick soups, more like chowders. What I usually do is cook a hambone and then set it aside. Use the stock from the hambone then to cook the peas. (And if you take the time to chill the stock, you can easily remove the fat that rises to the top and solidifies). While the peas are cooking, cool the hambone and remove all the bits of meat to put back into the pot later. Ok, it’s a little more work this way–but you will have a fine pot of soup. (Some things do take longer – but I guarantee, if you cook a hambone and use those scraps of meat – you will have a delicious stock AND most flavorful meat. It will beat a package of pre-diced ham bits from the supermarket hands down!)

Here is Mary’s recipe for SUNSHINE CAKE, 1946
1 cup sifted cake flour
½ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks, beaten
7 egg whites, beaten
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon any desired flavoring (I recommend lemon extract)
Preparation Instructions

Sift the flour once, measure and resift twice with the salt. Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored. Beat the egg whites until foamy, add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff, but not dry. Add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture holds in soft peaks. Fold in the beaten egg yolks and flavoring. Fold in the flour gently but thoroughly to avoid breaking air cells in the egg mixture. Pour batter into an ungreased ten-inch tube pan and bake in a moderate oven, 350 degrees, for about 50 minutes, or until done. Remove from oven and invert for one hour, or until cool. When cool, frost with a thin coating of confectioners’ sugar, or sprinkle with sifted confectioners’ sugar.

MARY MARTENSEN’S POPCORN BALLS, 1946
1 cup molasses
1 tablespoon vinegar
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup dark corn syrup
3 quarts salted popped corn

Combine molasses, corn syrup and vinegar in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until a small amount of syrup will form a hard ball when dropped into cold water. This is about 270 degrees if tested with a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat, add the butter and pour over the popped corn, stirring only enough to mix. Form into balls with the hands, using as little pressure as possible. Makes 16 to 18 balls.

(Sandy’s Cooknote *I can’t wait to make this. I buy a big bottle of molasses from a warehouse-type of supermarket in Palmdale, called Smart & Final because I love to make molasses cookies—and I like adding a small amount to the white Karo syrup when I am making caramel corn).

From a Sandychatter reader: “I have my grandmother’s collection of recipes and cookbook. In there I found 2 pages of dumpling recipes from the Chicago Herald American, Home Economics Department, Mary Martensen, Director. They are hand typed and the photo copied from some sort of note book then mailed to my grandmother. I was interested so I did a little research. The Newspaper was the Chicago Evening American from 1914-1939 then it became the Chicago Herald-American 1939-1953 then the Chicago American from 1953-1969.” Tina Aiello Milwaukee, Wisconsin

(*Sandy’s Cooknote: Tina, if you happen to read this, would you share some of your grandmother’s recipes with me?. When Mary’s first cookbook was published some pages were deliberately left blank just so someone could add their own recipes or clippings.)

MARY MARTENSEN’S CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk or soured milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preparation Instructions
Cream the shortening, add sugar and cream together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate which has been melted and cooled, and blend well.

Sift the flour once, measure and resift twice with the soda and salt. Add to the batter alternately with the buttermilk, beating until smooth after each addition. Add vanilla. Fill twelve cupcake pans which have been greased, two thirds full with the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven, for about 20 minutes or until done.
When cupcakes are cool, with a small sharp pointed knife cut a cone-shape from the top of each. Remove and fill hollowed out portion with slightly sweetened whipped cream. If desired, a larger hollow can be made in the cupcake. Also, ice cream can be used in place of whipped cream to fill the hollow centers. Place top (which was removed from cupcake) on top of whipped cream and pour chocolate sauce over the top.
To make the chocolate sauce: Combine in a saucepan, one square unsweetened chocolate, cut in pieces, one cup sugar, two tablespoons corn syrup, one tablespoon butter and one-third cup hot water. Blend well and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to boiling point, then cook for five minutes. Cool slightly and add a few grains of salt and one half teaspoon vanilla. Serve warm or cold. Contributed by
MARY MARTENSEN, 1946

From another Sandychatter reader, Rebecca Christian “I was interested in the Mary Martensen recipe. I worked as a test kitchen home economist in the test kitchen of Chicago’s American newspaper from 1967-1970. Mary Martensen was the nom de plume of the food editor who at that time was Dorothy Thompson. We had about 35,000 recipes in our files and they are still some of my best ones. Wish I had those files now!
Rebecca also wrote “Chicago’s American was eliminated as the afternoon paper of the Chicago Tribune around 1970 or 71. Don’t know if the Tribune kept the recipes or not. There are Chicago Tribune cookbooks but I don’t think they had any American recipes. Each paper owned by the Tribune as well as the Chicago Daily News had test kitchens at the time. We tested every recipe that went in the American. Those days are long gone! Becky.

(*Sandy’s cooknote – Oh, Rebecca – what wouldn’t we all give to have Mary’s recipes today! I’m pea-green with envy that you had the opportunity to work in the test kitchen of Chicago’s American newspaper from 1967-1970—I was busy giving birth during most of those years. Lol).

*Sandy’s cooknote – there are a lot of gaps in my story about Mary Martensen. I don’t know where she grew up or where she spent most of her life. I don’t know how long she lived even though we DO know that Zirta Green was a test kitchen chef of Mrs. Martensen’s who lived to the age of 97! On previous occasions when I mentioned Mary Martensen, readers responded with comments I have included in this post.

The best I can hope to achieve is more details becoming available to us – I am reminded of writing about Myra Waldo, first years ago (around 1990) when I was unable to learn ANYthing about Myra’s later life – and then years later, when I was rewriting my manuscript about Myra, I found obituary details on Google, not previously available to me. I like the idea “if you build it, they will come”

Cookbooks by Mary Martensen:

Home Canning and Freezing Book- or The Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking of Meat fish game – date unknown, possibly 1935
CENTURY OF PROGRESS COOKBOOK 1932
Mrs. Mary Martensen’s Recipes Cookbook Chicago American”
SIXTY WAYS TO SERVE HAM, Armour Ham, 1935
RECIPES FOR WILD GAME 1935?

(Sandy’s final cooknote: If anyone knows more about Mary’s cookbooks, such as dates of publication, or any other food editors writing under Mary Martensen’s name—or her other book titles please write!)
Happy Cooking & Happy Cookbook collecting!

Sandy@ sandychatter

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHORS-PART 7, OJAKANGAS & ROMBAUER

Originally posted 1/2012

Beatrice Ojakangas’ Great Holiday Baking Book (copyright 1994, Clarkson/Potter Publishers) is a good addition to your Christmas cookbook collection even though this cookbook encompasses not just the Christmas season but special holidays throughout the year. Actually, I don’t keep it with my Christmas cookbooks; I have it filed with my Breads/Pastries cookbooks.

Beatrice’s interest in cooking began as a 12-year-old member of 4-H when she started winning state and national awards for cooking demonstrations (Confirming Catherine Hanley’s comments in Blue Ribbon Winners, recently reviewed on this blog).

In 1957, a young Beatrice won the Second Grand Prize for the Pillsbury Bake Off. (taking a page from Jean Anderson’s book, I decided not to take everything I read at face value, and since I have a complete collection of the Bake Off Books I went in search of the 1957 Bake Off Book. It’s the 9th Grand National Cook Book where I found Beatrice’s recipe for Chunk O’ Cheese Bread with a photograph of a very young Mrs. Ojakangas! Alongside the photograph she is quoted as saying that the money she won ($5,000) would come in handy to further her husband’s career. I can’t help but wonder – what about her career? Certainly being a grand prize winner at one of the early Pillsbury Bake Off contests was a boost in the right direction!)

Beatrice Ojakangas began her writing career as a food editor for Sunset Magazine. Since then she has written numerous articles for national magazines including Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Redbook, Cooking Light, Country Living, Southern Living, Eating Well, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Cooking Pleasures. She has been a regular columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Duluth News Tribune.

But getting back to GREAT HOLIDAY BAKING BOOK, from the publishers we learn “No holiday would be complete without the wonderful baked goods that make every occasion special. Now Beatrice Ojakangas, one of America’s best loved bakers, presents more than 250 recipes in this comprehensive classic cookbook.

BEATRICE OJAKANGAS’ GREAT HOLIDAY BAKING BOOK takes you from spring to winter with 21 cherished holidays and the favorite baked treats that make them memorable…”
The author explains, “…when I reflect on my history of holiday baking, I feel very grateful for my simple Finnish heritage based on immigrant cuisine. Holidays didn’t have to be ten thousand things on the table. One or two specialties were enough. Usually there was a bread but often there were cookies and maybe a cake, too. At Christmastime we baked Pulla, perhaps a Swedish Tea Ring or Finnish Prune Tarts, and some butter cookies. Around Easter, there was always a symbolic braided bread wreath with eggs and a seasonal sweet, such as a strawberry pie…”

Ms. Ojakangas goes on to explain that, as she grew up, she met people who weren’t Finish or Scandinavian but had specialties for holidays, and she began to collect cakes, pastries, bread and cookie recipes. She says that she loves the fact that whatever your heritage, whatever the occasion, there are a multitude of baked goods, either traditional or innovative, that make the holiday memorable and special.
The author says that, when she began writing this cookbook, she thought it would be a snap, since her files were bulging with recipes from classes she had taught, parties she’d had, articles she had written—but the more she dug in, the more recipes she found that she felt couldn’t left out—but finally, she called it quits at 250 recipes. And these 250 recipes are all “winners”.

Starting with an Irish Beer Bread to celebrate St Patrick’s Day on March 17, this book traverses through the calendar year, presenting specialties for many special holidays, from Passover to Easter, from Memorial Day to Fourth of July, from Labor Day to Rosh Hashanah and from Halloween to Thanksgiving, to Christmas and Hanukkah all the way to New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day.

This is an “all baking” book that is sure to become one of your all-time favorites, filled with wonderful recipes and lots of tips and suggestions. There are also brief explanations of each holiday.

Beatrice Ojakangas has written more than twenty cookbooks—my curiosity was piqued so I began searching and writing down titles which I will list at the end of this article.
I have been so enchanted with this cookbook and have many pages marked with little post-it notes.

Amazon.com has BEATRICE OJAKANGAS’ GREAT HOLIDAY BAKING BOOK priced at $9.99 for a new copy or starting at ten cents for pre-owned (add $3.99 for shipping and handling). Alibris.com has copies starting at 99c for pre-owned or $12.50 for a new hard-bound copy.

I found the following titles while doing several searches:

A Finnish Cookbook 1964 (38 printings!)
Convection Oven Cook Book 1980
The Best of the Liberated Cook, 1981
Country Tastes: Best Recipes from America’s Kitchens, 1988
Best of Pancake and Waffle Recipes, 1990
Quick Bead, 1991
Best of Wild Rice, 1992
Pot Pies, 1993
Great Holiday Baking Book 1994
The Book of Heartland Cooking, 1994
Light and Easy Baking, 1996
Fantastically Finnish: Recipes and Traditions, 1998
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book, 1999
Scandinavian Feasts, 2001
Whole Grain Breads by Machine or Hand, 2004
Great Old Fashioned American Desserts, 2004
Great Old Fashioned American Recipes, 2005
The Best Casserole Cook Book Ever 500 recipes, 2008
Petite Sweets, 2009
American Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cook Book 2010
The Soup & Bread Cookbook, 2013

I don’t have publishing dates for the following:
Best of Gourmet Recipes for Two
Best of Honey Recipes
Light Desserts
****

BUNNY’S JOY
Originally posted 5/3/13

My brother Jim and Bunny (Ursula) Walker married in 1963 and embarked on a marriage that lasted for 49 years, producing two daughters and one son—and in time, five grandsons. My BF Bob and Bunny were kindred spirits and would sit outside smoking together whenever they visited me, or when we all gathered in Florida. Is it any wonder that they were both felled by the same disease, cancer of the esophagus? And that they died within eleven months of each other?

The first time I saw my sister in law, Bunny’s, copy of JOY OF COOKING by Irma Rombauer was during a visit to Michigan in 1994, along with my sister Becky, to witness the marriage of Bunny and Jim’s son Barry, to Kelli; and a few days later we participated in Jim and Bunny’s youngest daughter, Julie’s, high school graduation—and a memorable party for which my sister and I participated in making chocolate-covered large fresh strawberries.

One day during that visit, Bunny made cream of asparagus soup for us—asparagus was in season and we all liked this vegetable. Bunny consulted her “JOY OF COOKING” cookbook for the recipe and I was enthralled, seeing such an old copy of a famous cookbook. This edition was published in 1963, and in the Dedication page, Marion Rombauer Becker writes “In revisiting and reorganizing ‘The Joy of Cooking’ we have missed the help of my mother, Irma S. Rombauer. How grateful I am for her buoyant example, for the strong feeling of roots she gave me, for her conviction that, well-grounded, you can make the most of life, no matter what it brings! In an earlier away-from-home kitchen, I acted as tester and production manager for the privately printed first edition of ‘The Joy’. Working with Mother on its development has been for my husband, John, and for me the culmination of a very happy personal relationship. John has always contributed verve to this undertaking, but during the past ten years he has, through his constant support and crisp creative editing, become an integral part of the book. We look forward to a time when our two boys—and their wives—will continue to keep ‘The Joy’ a family affair, as well as an enterprise in which the authors owe no obligation to anyone but themselves—and you.” – Marion Rombauer Becker

Could the Rombauer clan ever imagined – even after ten years of THE JOY OF COOKING being published, that it would continue, year after year, to exceed everyone’s greatest expectations?

I am a Johnny-come-lately to “The Joy of Cooking” – even though I began collecting cookbooks in 1965, my focus was then and still is today on community cookbooks. although I have branched out a bit. Sitting down with Bunny’s worn, stained, cover-falling-off copy of THE JOY OF COOKING was a revelation to me. Part of the original dust jacket was folded up inside. Also folded up neatly inside are a package of typed recipes – chili parlor chili, Skyline Chili, Beef Bar-B-Q, Hungarian Goulash, as well as perhaps a dozen or more other family favorites that cry out “Cincinnati”. There is a copy of a recipe for Skyline Chili in a handwriting that I don’t recognize. For those not familiar with Cincinnati Chili, Camp Washington Chili Parlor, Skyline Chili, Empress Chili – they are all variations of a particular chili dinner that all Cincinnati children grow up with—we were weaned on 4 way or 5 way chili or a couple of Coney Islands. A four way is spaghetti, topped with Cincinnati Chili, a mountain of grated cheese and oyster crackers. For a 5-way add a serving of kidney beans to the dish. Coney Islands are Cincinnati’s version of a chili dog – but the specially made small hot dog comes from Kahn’s – “the weiner the world awaited”- and is topped off with mustard, chili, some chopped onion and a huge mound of grated cheese—all piled onto a hotdog bun. I can eat three of these in one sitting but can’t budge for a few hours after.

Another clipping inside the book is a seasoning for fish, chicken or steak, in my brother Jim’s handwriting. Next I found an intriguing recipe for Blackberry Brioche that was clipped from a newspaper –and I can’t wait to share it with my penpal Bev, who keeps me supplied with Oregon blackberries. This is followed by a small little stack of newspaper clippings—the kind you only find in old recipe boxes or packed within the pages of a family cookbook. There is, I was happy to see, an article from my favorite food writer, Fern Storer, for a Lemon Pound Cake; next is a recipe for a ham loaf – an old clipping; the back of the recipe is an ad for 6 large 12-oz bottles of Pepsi Cola for 15 cents (plus deposit). I found a recipe for making a Swiss Steak Sauce that was published in the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1960. Then I found a recipe for Chipped Beef Skillet Lunch that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer in October, 1958—(oh wait! I thought – Jim & Bunny didn’t get married until 1963. Were these recipes originally in her mother’s possession? Was the cookbook originally her mother’s? who can I ask? Who would know?)

From a Cincinnati Enquirer clipping dated January 21, 1960. I found a recipe for Casserole Lasagna, that I am interested in trying; then I uncovered a recipe for Broken Glass Torte (made with three kinds of Jello) followed by small clippings for Banana Nut Bread, a Tangy Dressing for Tangy vegetable slaw, plus a few others that are too battered to decipher.

On a page somewhat spattered, I found Bunny’s recipe for Cream of Asparagus Soup:

Wash and remove the tips from 1 lb fresh green asparagus, simmer the tips, covered until they are tender in a small amount of milk or water.
Cut the stalks into pieces and place them in a saucepan. Add
6 cups of veal or chicken stock page 490
¼ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped celery
Simmer these ingredients, covered, for about ½ hour rub them through a sieve.
Melt:
3 Tablespoons butter
Stir in until blended
3 Tablespoons flour
Stir in slowly:
½ cup cream

Add the asparagus stock. Heat the soup well in a double boiler. Add the asparagus tips. Season the soup immediately before serving with salt, paprika, and white pepper. Before serving, garnish with:
A diced hard-cooked egg **

I imagine that a bookstore dealer would toss Bunny’s Joy of Cooking into the trash, considering it unworthy of resale. I think much the same often happens to an individual’s recipe box – the contents are thrown into the trash and the box is put up for sale.

I don’t pretend that I am the owner of Bunny’s Joy. I think of myself as a steward, waiting for a daughter or a grandchild to come along and ask “Do you know where my mother’s or grandmother’s Joy of Cooking is?” to which I can reply “I’ve been saving it for you”.

Sandra’s Cooknote—Bunny’s copy of JOY was returned to one of my nieces. Since then I have acquired perhaps half a dozen old copies of Joy of Cooking. What I find mysterious and compelling is that Irma Rombauer had one cookbook “in” her and that her Joy of Cooking is still immensely popular ever since. It sort of reminded me how often an aspiring author has “only” one novel in them—such as Margaret Mitchell’s GONE WITH THE WIND that became a bestseller and an enormously popular film. Just saying….

–Sandra Lee Smith

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHORS–PART 6 (IN SEARCH OF BETTY WASON & WHERE’S WALDO–MY SEARCH FOR MYRA WALDO

BOOKS, GLUTTONS & GOURMETS – IN SEARCH OF BETTY WASON

Originally posted on my blog January 23, 2011

She first came to my attention with the acquisition of her book, “COOKS, GLUTTONS & GOURMETS,” published in 1962. I was writing “PEEK INTO THE PAST” at the time for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange.

“This is the first and only book,” claim Doubleday, the publishers, “which traces the history of cookery from the days of primitive man up to the present day of the Four Seasons Restaurant and gourmet supermarkets…”

Since I now have nearly two bookcases full of books on the history of food – I wondered – is it true? Was Betty Wason first to explore, in depth, this fascinating subject? I’ve been going through my collection, checking publication dates – and so far haven’t found any that precede 1962. Interesting!

“COOKS, GLUTTONS & GOURMETS” is packed with culinary history. It opens with a description of feasts in ancient Greece – inspired, no doubt, by Betty’s visit there during World War II. She covers the subject of cookery in the Far and Near East, all of Europe, and the New World. The last four chapters of this book are devoted to the United States—from Thomas Jefferson to the Harvey Girls and Betty Crocker. (It seems to me that almost all American food historians have had something to say about Betty Crocker!).

But “COOKS, GLUTTONS & GOURMETS” is only one of more than two dozen books written by Elizabeth Wason Hall, whose pen name was Betty Wason. Her writing versatility stretched from cookbooks to a book about the Greek resistance during World War II, to a book published in 1999 about macular degeneration. If my calculations are correct, Betty Wason has been publishing books for 56 years!

Betty Wason was born and grew up in Delphi, Indiana, in 1912 where she studied classical violin and painting. She eventually enrolled in Purdue University hoping to become a dress designer. Wason graduated from Purdue in 1933 with the Great Depression in full swing. Work was not easy to come by and she settled on a job selling yard goods in the basement of Ayres Department Store in Indianapolis. giving cooking lessons for a utility company, and then working as an itinerant cooking teacher throughout Kentucky towns. Later, her first experience broadcasting experience was gained conducting a radio program for women in Lexington, Kentucky. Eventually, she moved to New York, where she became an assistant food editor at McCall’s Magazine.

(*McCalls was a very popular women’s magazine for quite a long time).

“I was young and wanted to see the world. I had no money, so I decided I would become a journalist,” she said in a 1997 interview

“Long before I was old enough to handle saucepans,” Betty writes in “COOKING WITHOUT CANS”, “I used to stand around in fascination watching Mother tossing up delectable dishes and begged to be allowed to try my hand at the game. My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating. And so my quest became one of finding new and exotic blends of flavor, and on bright Sunday afternoons when other girls were probably playing with paper dolls, I plunged into old cook books and read of strange combinations of foods, and revelled (sic) in imagined taste thrills.”

Betty’s first trip to Europe was as a free-lance journalist with credentials from Transradio Press; her first connection with Columbia Broadcasting System, at the time of the Nazi invasion of Norway, was as its staff correspondent in Stockholm. Later, she became correspondent as well to NEWSWEEK.

Between trips to Europe, Betty joined the research staff of the New York Newspaper PM, which was then in organization, and she planned the paper’s food page. Returning to Europe in the winter of 1939, she abandoned cooking and recipes to cover a long series of War fronts, from Finland and Norway down to the Balkans. “Betty Wason first became known to many Americans as the CBS correspondent, who always managed to be on the spot when headlines were being made in World War II,” claims one of her publishers.

Between the summers of 1938 and 1941, Betty Wason covered virtually every country in Europe, managing to be on hand where ever major journalistic events “broke”: Czechoslovakia during the Munich crisis and after, Vienna for the first post Munich conference; Hungary during the occupation of Slovakia; Rumania at the time of Codreanu’s execution; Yugoslavia during its Orthodox Christmas celebrations; Rome during Chamberlain’s visit to Mussolini; Paris during the end of the Spanish Civil War; Italy during the early part of the Second World War…..and the list goes on and on. (from the dust jacket of “Miracle In Hellas”). Betty Wason was on her way to Norway after the Nazi invasion began. Her cross into Norway was anything but routine. She eluded border guards and hitched a ride in a truck across the mountainous terrain where she hid in the woods to wait out an air raid. She interviewed numerous wounded British soldiers and found out just how poorly the Allied defense had done. She returned to Stockholm and her broadcast by hitching rides and walking.

But none of that mattered to the bosses at CBS. Despite her daring hard work they still asked her to find a man to read her copy. She left Sweden in the spring of 1940 in search of the next big story, she soon ended up in Greece after short stops in the Balkans and Istanbul. With an expected Italian invasion of Greece on the horizon CBS again hired Wason.

She also started stringing for Newsweek during this time. In October 1940 Italian forces began to move into Greece, a cable came from CBS: “Find male American broadcast 4U.” Though CBS saw her gender as an impediment Wason strove on. During her six months in Greece her voice on the radio, Phil Brown, a secretary at the American embassy, introduced each broadcast with, “This is Phil Brown in Athens, speaking for Betty Wason.” Wason remained in Athens through the winter of 1940 and refused to leave the next spring, April 1941, as German air attacks ramped up in Greece’s capital. When the Nazis took Athens, Wason was stuck in the city for several weeks. Though America still remained “neutral” in the war Wason was kept, along with several other reporters, by the Germans who refused to allow anyone to broadcast. Eventually Wason left Athens on a Lufthansa plane bound for Vienna. Also on the plane were Wes Gallagher of the Associated Press and George Weller of the Chicago Daily News. Once in Vienna the Gestapo detained the entire group under suspected espionage. Soon the male reporters were released but Wason was kept another week for, according to her, “reasons never divulged except that the police wanted to know more about me.” When a CBS executive intervened, the Gestapo released her. She had married a Mr. Hall by 1943. On her return to the United States, Wason was inundated with interview requests, lecture requests and press attention. She recalled, “Everyone made a fuss over me but CBS,” Wason wrote. “When I went to see (news director) Paul White, he dismissed me with, ‘You were never one of our regular news staff.’ Then what, I wondered, had I been doing for CBS all that time in Greece?”

Wason authored 24 books after leaving CBS, mostly about one of her longtime favorite hobbies, cooking, though her most successful book was her 1942 story “Miracle in Hellas: The Greeks Fight On”. She wrote that the book “was a resounding success. But the tough struggle to make it as a woman correspondent, ending with the cruel rebuff by CBS, cooled my desire for more overseas war reporting.”

In 1998, at age 86, Wason wrote about macular degeneration, an affliction which stole most of her eyesight and rendered her legally blind. Macular Degeneration: Living Positively with Vision Loss was written, in part, with a grant from the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind.

In the Introduction to “COOKING WITHOUT CANS”, published by Smith & Durrell, Inc., in 1943, she explains, in part, “This recipe book has been prepared in the hope that it will inspire the artists in the kitchen to turn their skills to the creation of new and savory dishes, not only overriding the bugaboo of wartime shortages, but perhaps even paving the way for a new era in American cuisine.

Many of the recipes,” she continues, “listed in the pages which follow have been adopted from peasant dishes of various European countries—recipes learned during the course of travels during the years 1938-1941, in countries either on the precipice of war, or already plunged into conflict, where rationing was often far more severe than any this country has yet to suffer.

In occupied Greece, where I was forced to remain during the first two months of German occupation, we had to pound our own salt out of rock crystals, substitute grape dextrose for sugar (when we could get grape dextrose), dried chick peas for coffee, and a bricklike hunk of what tasted like gravy sawdust for bread. Our only fats were inferior olive oil, rationed to approximately eight ounces a month, and occasionally, white ‘sheep’s butter’ – mutton fat. There was virtually no meat. Yet we had meals, and some of them were surprisingly good….”

If the title, “COOKING WITHOUT CANS” piques your curiosity, it should be noted that the American food industry had worked diligently, prior to World War II, to convince American housewives that the easiest way to prepare anything began with opening up a can. You want soup “just like mama used to make?” open a can of condensed soup and add water—voila, ‘homemade’ soup. As a matter of fact, I think my own mother was one of those completely brainwashed by the food industry. The only fresh vegetables or fruit we ever had were potatoes, carrots, celery, and in the summertime, an occasional watermelon or cantaloupe. Everything else came out of a can. So, along came the War – and the tin used by the food industry for tin cans was, like almost everything else, needed for the War effort. Tin cans were melted down and cast into solid metal “pigs” for re-using in the war industry. (James Trager, author of “The Food Chronology” notes, in 1943, “U.S. housewives wash and flatten tins for recycling: one less tin can per week per family will save enough tin and steel to build 5,000 tanks or 38 Liberty Ships…”). On a personal level, I remember how we rinsed out the cans, removed the labels, opened both ends of the tin can, and then flattened it. It’s one of the very few things I actually do remember about the War years.

Consequently, canned goods were restricted, although home-canned fruits and vegetables were not. (During peak war years, an estimated 20 million Victory gardens were growing in the USA, producing over a third of the vegetables available in this country). For the duration of the War, American women would have to learn “COOKING WITHOUT CANS”, which was, I believe, Betty Wason’s first cookbook.

“DINNERS THAT WAIT”, published in 1954, may have been Betty Wason’s second cookbook. I happened to find a paperback copy of “DINNERS THAT WAIT” in a used book store some time ago. Not only was I delighted to find something else written by Ms. Wason – it only cost a dollar! This little book is aimed at “every hostess who feels that her guests, as well as her meal, should be enjoyed…” The solution, offered in “DINNERS THAT WAIT” was a collection of main dishes that were delay proof, that could be prepared hours or days in advance. Again, the author draws on her European exposure, offering recipes such as Moussaka, that she learned to make from Greek friends, Smorgasbord, and – everybody’s favorite, Kidneys with Mustard sauce. “It’s too bad,” notes the author, “kidneys are so little appreciated in this country. When properly prepared, they are superb, worthy of the most discriminating palate….”

One of the best features of this little book is that it provides step by step directions—literally—right down to Step 5: Set table. Put water and coffee in pot. Get dressed. This would be a great cookbook, even today, for young women who are unaccustomed to entertaining. (I think I will try Intoxicated Pork or the Chicken Tetrazzini the next time it’s my turn to host a dinner party at my house).

In 1963, Doubleday & Company would publish “THE ART OF SPANISH COOKING” by Betty Wason. She notes, “I thought I knew so much about Spain that I could, if I wished, write a book about Spanish cooking, based simply on the many Spanish cookbooks in my own library. Fortunately, a little nagging worry beset me. I should really visit Spain before writing about the country. So I did. I made a speedy eight hour flight to Madrid on a TWA jet, and I traveled over as much of the country as I could cover in a month’s time, eating, eating, eating, wherever I went….” Betty’s nine-year-old daughter, Ellen, accompanied her mother to Spain, offering her candid view of Spanish food. The Introduction to “THE ART OF SPANISH COOKING” provides a capsulized history of the history of Spanish food that I think you would find interesting.

I was particularly intrigued with what she had to say about olives, olive oil, and sherry.

“Sherry,” writes Betty, “is a mysterious and unique wine. Its history goes back to antiquity. The Phoenicians brought the first grapevines to the area where all the world’s supply of true sherry is still produced, and they named the city Xera…Whether the wine produced in Roman times was the same as the sherry of today no one knows; however, after the vineyards had been destroyed by the phylloxera disease in 1894, new disease resistant vines were brought from the United States to be planted in Jerez, and lo and behold the wine was the same as ever….”

The entire book is written in this style, recipes and history stirred together to create a banquet of Spanish cooking. It is exactly the kind of book that cookbook readers enjoy.

In 1966, Galahad Books published Betty Wason’s “ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHEESE & CHEESE COOKERY”, which is presented as her 11th book. The publishers note, “She has written extensively about travel and world affairs, and served as a CBS correspondent in Greece during the German occupation in 1941. Her articles have appeared in VOGUE, HOUSE & GARDEN, HOUSE BEAUTIFUL, ATLANTIC MONTHLY and AMERICAN HOME”. At the time “ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHEESE” was published, Betty was also a consultant to the Spanish Oil Institute and other firms.”

“THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHEESE” is divided, (similarly to The Everything Cookbook that would come a few years later), into four parts. Part I – the Wonders of Cheese, offers an armchair history of cheese, while Part II is a Glossary of the World’s Cheeses. Part III explains how to serve cheese (there is a Cheese Etiquette, in case you didn’t know), and Part IV – Cheese in the Kitchen – presents us with recipes that range from cheese soups to cheesecakes.

“All my life I have been a cheese lover,” writes Betty, “but until I did the research for this book, I had no idea cheese was such a complex and fascinating subject…but the only way for anyone to really learn about cheese is to taste it….”

Once again, it becomes evident that Betty’s prior exposure to other places and other things provided some of the inspiration for yet another book. She explains, “My passionate interest in archaeology provided to be a further help in delving into the early history of cheese-making, for in several museums in Spain I saw tools of cheese-making dating from the Bronze Age, and in archaeology books, in my library plus translations of the classic Greek and Roman writers, I came across many interesting anecdotes about cheese in ancient times…”

Curiously, “A SALUTE TO CHEESE”, published the same year but by Hawthorn Books, is identical to “ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHEESE & CHEESE COOKERY”! I was so pleased when I found a copy of the former in a used bookstore, complete with dust jacket, for only $6.00. It was only after I got home and began leafing through the pages that I realized it was the same book, recipe for recipe, page by page. Both books were also published in 1966. (One can only guess at the reason why the same book was published by two different publishers at the same time. Perhaps one of the two cost less than the other?)

In 1967, Doubleday & Company published “THE ART OF GERMAN COOKING” by Betty Wason. Again, she visited the country. “Like most Americans today,” she writes, “I chose to fly to Germany in order to spend all my available time in the country itself, using the speedy transatlantic services of Trans World Airlines between New York and Frankfurt. Later, taking a cruise on the North German Lloyd’s luxurious new motor ship Europa, I realized how lovely it would be to have the leisure once again to cross the Atlantic by ship. At least, during the Caribbean cruise, I was able to talk with Chef Herbert Burmeister several times and to get from him recipes for some of the superb German specialties served on the Europa….” Betty describes the Germany she visited in the mid-1960s, but recalls, “It was in the late thirties, on the eve of World War II, when I visited Germany the first time as a journalist. During the Hitler era, elegance was frowned upon, at least for the people as a whole. The women were not permitted to use make-up and their clothes looked as if they had been designed to make every woman as dowdy and shapeless as possible…I was in German twice during the war years, before Pearl Harbor, and again in 1950 I visited Munich, Frankfurt and Stuttgart when those cities still had the rubble of aerial bombardments cluttering their streets and most shops offered only the barest necessities of life. To visit the richly prosperous, gay West Germany of today (1960s) is almost like seeing another country altogether. One is staggered by the change…”

She notes that for her, the most revealing things about people are found in little things. She says she always loved wandering through markets looking at the foods on display as a way of learning what kinds of foods go into home cooking. She also explains that one of the most difficult things about studying German cuisine was the language. “I once had the naïve idea that Germans all spoke the same language” she writes. She goes on to explain the differences—which reminded me of a conversation I once had with my German grandmother. Many different German foods and recipes are called by different names, depending on the region. Betty explains many of these differences. In this book, she presents a cross-section of recipes from the German cuisine of today (that is, in the 1960s) with new specialties born of today’s prosperity and old favorites which reflect the customs and traditions of another age.

“THE ART OF GERMAN COOKING” offers a great deal of history, along with recipes. I decided to quote Betty on the subject of sauerkraut, since this particular topic was discussed at my cousin Dan’s 4th of July cookout one holiday. (I make sauerkraut every few years, and can it. My cousin loves it so I keep him and his wife supplied. My cousin’s brother in law informed us that he learned how to cook sauerkraut while in Berlin and so knows the best way. I said oh, I just cook it with bratwurst. (I cook it pretty much the same way my mother did. We always have mashed potatoes and creamed peas along with it).

Betty writes, “After my recent gastronomic tour of West Germany, I concluded that one cannot dismiss sauerkraut simply as a vegetable. It is part of the German way of life.
Yet until the Mongol (or Tartar) hordes swept into Eastern Europe in the 13th century, sauerkraut was unknown in Germany. According to legend, at least, it was the Chinese who invented the dish, during the building of the Great Wall when the coolies were fed from barrels of cabbage preserved in sour rice wine. Salt was too precious to use then; wine (or vinegar) was cheaper. The Mongols learned about the sour cabbage when they conquered China, and brought it with them to Hungary. From Hungary it traveled to Austria, and from Austria to Germany. Which just goes to show,” Betty concludes, “how history plays strange tricks on people’s food habits.”

She goes on to explain that the ways of preparing sauerkraut in Germany are many. Along with regional differences they are differences in personal preferences. While some people like it cooked long and slow until very soft (which is how I cook ours), other people like it very sour and crunchy. Betty says that every region in Germany has at least one favorite sauerkraut dish. She also offers a recipe for making your own sauerkraut. “THE ART OF GERMAN COOKING” offers a great deal more than recipes for sauerkraut, however. If you ever happen to find a copy, this book, like all of Wason’s cookbooks, makes for enjoyable reading.

Another formidable undertaking would be “THE EVERYTHING COOKBOOK” published in 1970. This is a nice thick cookbook containing more than two thousand recipes!

“THE EVERYTHING COOKBOOK”, published by Hawthorn Books, is described by the publishers as five books in one: Book One is the “ABC’s of FOOD PREPARATION”. Book Two contains “MENU PLANNING AND WEIGHT CONTROL”, while Book Three offers “RECIPES”. Book Four is a “GUIDE TO ENTERTAINING” and Book Five “ALL ABOUT WINES AND SPIRITS”. This is a big thick cookbook that would compare favorably to almost any new comprehensive cookbook being published today.

In the course of her career, Betty Wason has worked as a food specialist and consultant. She was an associate food editor of WOMAN’S HOME COMPANION and editor at General Foods Kitchens. In addition, she wrote articles for HOUSE AND GARDEN, VOGUE, AMERICAN HOME, WOMAN’S DAY and other leading magazines. At one time, she was the woman’s editor for THE VOICE OF AMERICA.

At some point in her career, Betty Wason married and became Betty Wason Hall, and the mother of at least one daughter, Ellen. Ellen undoubtedly provided the inspiration for “COOKING TO PLEASE FINIKY KIDS” and “ELLEN: A MOTHER’S STORY OF HER RUNAWAY DAUGHTER”.

Betty moved to Pleasantville, New York along with a large collection of new and old cookbooks. Hunter Books, publishers of Macular Degeneration, indicate that as of 1998 Betty Wason was living in Seattle. Betty did not limit herself to writing cookbooks—she has, apparently, over the years written books about a variety of subjects.

The talented young lady who started out teaching cooking lessons traveled far and wide and experienced a versatile career that most of us can only dream about. She was, quite obviously, interested in a wide range of subjects, from archaeology to macular degeneration. And imagine this—her book on macular degeneration was published when Betty was 86 years old! Luckily for us, who love cookbooks, she wrote about those too.
Before closing, I want to make another comment about one of Betty Wason’s non-cookbook book accomplishments. In particular, I want to mention “MIRACLE AT HELLAS” which took some intensive searching to find, but was worth the search and the price.

I can only recommend that, since so many of Betty Wason’s books are out of print, you search diligently in your used book stores or internet websites such as Amazon.com for anything with her name on it.

Betty Wason is an author whose work has spanned six decades. I think you will be as impressed as I am over the quality and timelessness of her work.

Betty Wason passed away in February 2001 at the age of 88.

BOOKS BY BETTY WASON
• COOKING WITHOUT CANS, 1943, SMITH & DURRELL, INC. PUBLISHERS
• DINNERS THAT WAIT, 1954/DOLPHIN BOOKS (PAPERBACK EDITION)
• COOKS, GLUTTONS & GOURMETS, 1962/DOUBLEDAY
• THE ART OF SPANISH COOKING, 1963, DOUBLEDAY & COMPANY
• BRIDE IN THE KITCHEN, 1964 (publisher?)
• TRAVEL FAIR; HOWARD JOHNSON’S TIPS FOR TRIPS FOR FAMILIES ON THE GO, 1965 (publisher?)
• ENCYCLOPEDIA OF CHEESE COOKERY, 1966, GALAHAD BOOKS
• A SALUTE TO CHEESE, 1966, HAWTHORN BOOKS
• THE ART OF GERMAN COOKING 1967/DOUBLEDAY
• IT TAKES “JACK” TO BUILD A HOUSE; A DOWN-TO-EARTH GUIDE TO BUILDING AND REMODELING BY BETTY WASON, ILLUSTRATED BY B. STEPHEN SALTSBERG, 1968 (publisher?)
• THE LANGUAGE OF COOKERY, 1968 (publisher?)
• COOKING TO PLEASE FINIKY KIDS, 1969, ASSOCIATED PRESS
• BETTY WASON’S GREEK COOKBOOK, 1969/MACMILLAN
• HAIR TODAY & GONE TOMORROW, 1969 (publisher?)
• ART OF VEGETARIAN COOKERY, 1969 (publisher?)
• THE MEDITERRANEAN COOKBOOK, 1770 (publisher?)
• THE EVERYTHING COOKBOOK. 1970/HAWTHORNE BOOKS
• MEDITERRANEAN COOKBOOK, 1973 (publisher?)
• GIVING A CHEESE & WINE TASTING PARTY, 1975 (publisher?)
• IMPROVING YOUR HOME FOR PLEASURE & PROFIT, 1975 (publisher?)
• ELLEN, A MOTHER’S STORY ABOUT A RUNAWAY DAUGHTER, 1976 (publisher?)
• SOUP TO DESSERT HIGH FIBER COOKBOOK 1976 (publisher?)
• MACULAR DEGENERATION, 1999 (publisher?)
–Sandra Lee Smith
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WHERE’S WALDO?–MY SEARCH FOR MYRA WALDO

(First posted on my blog in 2011

*The following article was originally written for the CCE (Cookbook Collectors Exchange, a newsletter) in 2001. At that time, I was unable to unearth ANY information about the whereabouts of Myra Waldo, much less whether or not she was still alive. I even wrote to a prominent used book dealer in NYC who had been featured a number of times in cooking magazines; he’d never even heard of her! Internet searches failed to reveal any information about Myra either before or after my article was published in 2001. Now, a decade later, I decided to update the article for my blog. Dutifully, I entered her name on Google.com again—and much to my surprise, this time I was rewarded with obituary details. The answer to “Where’s Waldo” will be found at the end of this article.

In 2001, I had written:

Where’s Waldo? No, not the cartoon character that is hidden in a maze of pictures for kiddies to search through – this time the Waldo is Myra Waldo, someone you may or may not have heard of, depending on how extensive your collection of cookbooks happens to be or how knowledgeable you are about cookbook authors of the past.

When my curiosity about Myra Waldo was first piqued, a dig through my own cookbook shelves unearthed seven old paperback cookbooks, three of which were duplicates (with two different cover designs). Since then, I have acquired a respectable stack of Myra Waldo’s cookbooks, some through the Internet (Alibris.com), some from Carolyn George, with whom I became acquainted through the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, a few that CCE publisher Sue Erwin unearthed and even one that I located in a used bookstore. I already had this one title but bought it anyway, because it was only $2.50. (I always figure I can find a home someday for the duplicates).

Actually, I became interested in Myra Waldo in a roundabout way (I sometimes feel like Alice falling into the rabbit hole—one thing seems to lead to another). I was doing some research on Molly Goldberg, for a reason I no longer recall—it might have been in connection with my research on Duncan Hines. During an Internet search on Google.com, I came across an article in which a writer accused Molly Goldberg and Myra Waldo of being one and the same person. OK, for all the youngsters out there, your first question may be “Well, who was Molly Goldberg?”)—so I will have to digress a bit, and no, they were not one and the same person).

Molly Goldberg was, in real life, Gertrude Berg. Gertrude Berg was an actress, born in 1899, who debuted in 1929 with her own radio show on NBC, “The Rise of the Goldbergs”, later shortened to simply “The Goldbergs”. It was second only to Amos & Andy in popularity. (Please don’t write to ask me who Amos & Andy were.) What’s even more incredible, given the times (when women were expected to stay at home, barefoot and pregnant), Gertrude Berg was the creator, principle writer and star of this weekly comedy series. Berg wrote most of the episodes, which, after a twenty-year run, numbered over 5,000. It may be hard to imagine, but in the decades prior to television, radio was made up extensively of shows—some as short as 15 minutes, most a half hour long—comedy, mystery, western, drama—you name it.

(In 1994, I wrote an article titled “DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL” which appeared in the May/June 1994 issue of the CCE. There were, in addition to all of the story-line shows, radio recipe programs too, a forerunner of today’s television cooking Shows. I rewrote and shortened “Don’t Touch that Dial” for my blog, renaming it “When Radio Was King” which was a June, 2009 post on this blog).

“The Goldbergs” followed the adventures of Molly Goldberg and her husband Jake, and their family through life’s everyday problems. The program has a phenomenal 17-year run starting in 1930. In 1949, the radio program made a successful transition to television. Truthfully, I don’t remember the radio version of the Goldbergs but I do remember the television show, which ran for about five years on TV. (We had the first television set on our street; my father loved having whatever was new and innovative in the way of appliances and household things). When it became clear that television shows of this genre were on their way out, Golberg revamped her show, moved “the family” to the suburbs and renamed the series “Molly”. Gertrude Berg passed away in 1966.

By this time you are probably wondering just what Myra Waldo has to do with Molly Goldberg. Just this: In 1955, Myra Waldo and Molly Goldberg collaborated on “THE MOLLY GOLDBERG JEWISH COOKBOOK”.

Molly is the primary character through the cookbook, speaking in first person, staying in her Molly Goldberg character, but Myra Waldo undoubtedly put most if not all, of it together. “THE MOLLY GOLDBERG JEWISH COOKBOOK”, published in 1955, was a combination celebrity/radio show cookbook and it remains in circulation to this day. I have a hardcover copy that is in fine condition.

But this is just one of the many cookbooks written or co-authored by Myra Waldo, whose first cookbook was published, I believe around in 1954.

So, who’s Myra Waldo? I’m glad you asked, but have to admit, it hasn’t been easy to learn much about this elusive cookbook author. The dust jackets of her cookbooks offer very little in the way of biographical information, and often it’s the same few paragraphs in dust jacket after dust jacket. More can be gleaned from the pages of her cookbooks, but, unlike James Beard and Elizabeth David, and the host of other cookbook authors who have had biographies written about them, there is little to be discovered about the private life of Myra Waldo.

Myra Waldo was a cooking expert and a world traveler and may have been the world’s most traveled cook for her time. She was a food consultant for Pan American Airways who, with her husband, attorney Robert J. Schwarz, traveled all over the world. During the decades in which she compiled numerous cookbooks, she was a familiar figure on radio and television, and in newspapers and magazines. In addition to being the food consultant for Pan Am, Myra arranged a monthly regional dinner for the Overseas Press Club in New York City. As a contribution to international relations, she prepared a famous Thanksgiving dinner in Moscow for the Ministry of Culture and Technicum Institute of Health and Nutrition. She was Special Projects Director for Macmillian Publishing from 1965 to 1970, and Food and Travel Editor for WCBS-New York from 1968 to 1972. Articles written by Myra Waldo appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, House & Garden, and The Diners’ Club. One of the most fascinating snippits of information that I learned about Myra Waldo is that she and her husband even spent eight weeks on a safari, after which they completed a film about their experience. It seems they were dauntless in their travels and went everywhere.

In her world travels, Myra, (like James Beard), collected recipes and menus where most tourists would collect souvenirs. Cookbooks with a foreign flair appear to have been her specialty, although she by no means limited herself to cookbooks of this genre.
“Before 1918,” Myra writes in her cookbook “COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH”, “foreign food had but little acceptance and few enthusiasts in the United States. In the two decades or so that followed, Americans gradually began to be intrigued by the food of Europe and during that period Italian and French restaurants opened in profusion throughout the nation. But since the end of World War II, an enormous interest in the food not only of Europe, but also of the entire world has been growing swiftly all over the country….”

I agree with the above statement, but with a slight qualification. I think foreign foods have always had an acceptance in the various ethnic communities throughout the United States—Italian food in the little Italys, German food in towns such as Cincinnati and Germantown, where the early population was predominately German. But I read somewhere that it was American soldiers during World War II who brought home with them an acquired taste for foreign foods; many of them also brought home War Brides who brought with them the traditional recipes of their native countries. (As an aside, I might mention that Sally Tisdale, author of “The Best Thing I ever Tasted” doesn’t agree with this theory—but we’ll review Sally’s book another time.

I am always nonplussed by the synchronicity of things, as I am writing and researching. I first read about restaurant critic Colman Andrews in Ruth Reichl’s “Comfort Me with Apples”. Then I read about him in Sally Tisdale’s “The Best Thing I ever Tasted” – and although he was, apparently, a restaurant critic in Los Angeles for a number of years, I don’t recall ever reading anything about or by him before. Last I heard, he was/is editor of a food magazine).

In any case, there were far fewer foreign cookbooks available to us during the early decades of the 1900s—and oftentimes, those that were available were frequently written with European measurements.

Myra Waldo set out to change all that. In “COMPLETE MEALS IN ONE DISH” published in 1965, the author and her husband traveled throughout Europe—Robert Schwartz never seems to be addressed by name, he is always “My husband”—and each chapter is introduced with a delightful short story of where they traveled and what they saw, and how they happened to discover this dish or that. I was so intrigued with the short stories that I leafed through the entire book and read them all first, before the recipes.

My favorite story is that of Myra and her husband, while in Vienna, walking past the Hungarian Embassy. They began to discuss never having been to Hungary, looked at each other and retraced their steps. Inside the Hungarian Embassy they presented their passports – and before long, despite what Myra describes as “a slightly disquieting feeling of nervousness” they were on their way. As they drove through the countryside, in the middle of nowhere, – the radiator boiled over because the fan belt had become loose. While wondering what to do, they noticed a farmhouse off in the distance, so they walked to it, where they encountered a peasant woman airing bedclothes.

They attempted to communicate in English, French, and German, and when that failed, made their needs known with sign language. They carried off a bucket of water, promising to return the bucket and when they returned, tried to pay the woman.
Myra explains, “The woman waved it aside and motioned us to come inside the kitchen. A delicious aroma filled the air, and always curious I wanted to know what was on the stove. But, it appeared, that was the very reason we had been asked inside—to have something to eat. It was a meal-in-one-dish, a sausage stew made with potatoes and sauerkraut, hearty and delicious. We were embarrassed about eating her food, for it was obvious the farm was a poor one, but we were very hungry, and she was watching us for expressions of enjoyment in the food. It was very good—delicious, in fact. We drank a light white wine with the stew and enjoyed both enormously.

My husband” she continues, “who has his points, came up with the perfect method of repayment. The woman wouldn’t take any money of course, but my husband opened a suitcase and extracted a box of Viennese candy, which we had brought along. He was right! She was ecstatic with pleasure and quickly and enthusiastically recited a list of names, apparently members of her family who would enjoy the candies…’

Myra and her husband left “amid many words of thanks on both sides, which she couldn’t understand, and which we couldn’t understand, but which everyone did understand”.
Don’t you just love it?

Other Myra Waldo cookbooks with a foreign flair were

PAN AMERICAN’S COMPLETE ROUND-THE-WORLD COOKBOOK, first published in 1954 and reprinted at least eight times, up to 1960;
“THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING”, first published in 1960 by David McKay Publishers;
“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);
“THE ART OF SOUTH AMERICAN COOKERY” published in 1961 by Doubleday and
“INTER-CONTINENAL GOURMET COOKBOOK” published in 1967 by Macmillan Company. (one edition has a spiffy 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”, was also published in 1967 by Doubleday & Company, and
“SEVEN WONDERS OF THE COOKING WORLD” was published in 1971 by Dodd, Mead & Company
**
“THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING” offers chapters on cuisine from Hawaii, Japan, Korea Phillipines, Indonesia, China, Indochina, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, and India.

“SEVEN WONDERS OF THE COOKING WORLD” 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.

“THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COKING 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.

“INTER-CONTINENTAL GOURMET COOKBOOK” presents recipes from twenty-six countries, (too many to list), but including Australia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan and Yugoslavia. What is most appealing about all of these cookbooks is that the recipes were all, obviously, chosen with particular care and are, in every instance, geared to the tastes of American palates. Each chapter is prefaced with an introduction by the author, whose writing is so appealing as to make you want to visit every one of these countries…being unable to do that, trying the many recipes might be the next best thing.

And, although “THE ART OF SPAGHETTI COOKERY” 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. Makes no mistake about it, this is one cookbook author who always did her homework.
Another cookbook by Myra Waldo, while not strictly “foreign” has a European stamp, with recipes from France, Italy, Spain and Sweden is “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.
“SERVE AT ONCE, THE SOUFFLE COOKBOOK, 1954, was published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company in New York.

“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..” Aha, so now we know a bit more.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think many cooks, whether male or female, everyday people in our kitchens, prepare souffles anymore). If I were to make an educated guess, it would be that we don’t want to take the time to do anything culinary that takes too much time. Our cake and brownie mixes come out of a box; our cookies are slice and bake. We cut to the chase with pre-cut and frozen onions and already minced garlic and a lot of things that come out of cans. I am just as guilty of this as the next person. I often start out with a mix of some kind and then “doctor” it. (and now someone has made a career out of doing just that on TV). When I start researching cookbook authors of half a century ago, I begin to realize how far we have strayed from “scratch” cooking. I think I’ll try some of these souffle recipes and get back to you on this particular issue.

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!).

One book appears to have been originally published by Collier’s as a paperback, was “THE CASSEROLE COOKBOOK” (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.

“THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK” was published by Collier as a paperback in1961 with numerous reprints. The copy my friend 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 bride’s cookbook.
Another favorite Myra Waldo cookbooks 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.

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.

Despite being a most prolific cookbook author throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, publishing over 40 cookbooks, Myra Waldo appears to have all but disappeared from our culinary awareness. Most of my food-related 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 are 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 COMPLE 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 is.

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.
]
And where’s Waldo, today? I don’t know. I have been unsuccessful
In my efforts to trace the elusive Ms. Waldo. If you know the answer to this question, let me hear from you.***

BOOKS BY MYRA WALDO
This list is intended to be a guide; I have no way of knowing how complete the list is.
• SERVE AT ONCE, THE SOUFFLE COOKBOOK 1954, was published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company in New York.
• PAN AMERICAN’S COMPLETE ROUND-THE-WORLD COOKBOOK, first published in 1954 and reprinted at least eight times, up to 1960;
• THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING”, first published in 1960 by David McKay Publishers;
• DINING OUT IN ANY LANGUAGE/1956
• THE SLENDERELLA COOK BOOK/G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS 1957
• BEER AND GOOD FOOD/DOUBLEDAY & CO, 1958
• COOKING FOR THE FREEZER/DOUBLEDAY & CO, 1960
• THE COMPLETE BOOK OF GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN/G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS, 1960
• MYRA WALDO’S DESSERT COOKBOOK/CROWELL-C0LLIER PUBLISHING 1962
• THE COMPLETE REDUCING COOK BOOK FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY, PERMABOOKS (paperback) 1957 (*originally published in hard cover as the Slenderella Cook Book)
• 1001 WAYS TO PLEASE A HUSBAND, 1958* (is this the same book as the Bride’s Cokbook?)
• MYRA WALDO’S BICENTENNIAL AMERICAN KITCHEN/POPULAR LIBRARY EDITION 1960
• COMPLETE BOOK 0F GOURMET COOKING FOR THE AMERICAN KITCHEN, DRAWINGS BY NATHAN GLUCK, 1960 (publisher?)
• THE COMPLETE BOOK OF ORIENTAL COOKING/DAVID MCKAY COMPANY, 1960 (Bantam Book published 1960)
• COOKING FOR YOUR HEART AND HEALTH/G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS, 1961 – POCKET BOOK EDITION, 1962
• THE BRIDE’S COOKBOOK, Collier Books 1961 (paperback) original copy right 1958. (*Is 1000 Ways to Please a Husband and The Bride’s Cookbook one and the same book?)
• CAKES, COOKIE AND PASTRIES/THE CROWELL-COLLIER PUBLISHING COMPANY, 1962
• COMPLETE BOOK OF VEGETABLE COOKERY, OR HOW TO COOK VEGETABLES SO YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS WILL RAVE ABOUT THEM—AND YOU, 1962 (publisher?)
• COOKING FROM THE PANTRY SHELF, 1962 (publisher?)
• THE PANCAKE COOKBOOK, 1963
• THE CASSEROLE COOKBOOK/COLLIER BOOKS (paperback) 1963
• THE PLEASURES OF WINE/A GUIDE TO THE WINES OF THE WORLD 1963 (publisher?)
• 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-CONTINENTAL GOURMET COOKBOOK/THE MACMILLAN COMPANY, 1967,
• THE FOOD AND DRINK OF SCOTLAND/HIPPOCRENE BOOKS 1996*
(this date may be incorrect. Possibly 1969?)
• SEVEN WONDERS OF THE COOKING WORLD, 1971
• CUCINA ORIENTALE, 1972 (publisher?)
• COMPLETE ROUND-THE-WORLD COOKBOOK; RECIPES GATHERED BY PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS FROM OVER 80 COUNTRIES WITH FOOD AND TRAVEL COMMENTS BY MYRA WLADO, 1973 (publisher?)
• THE MOLLY GOLDBERG JEWISH COOKBOOK/JOVE PUBLICATIONS, (PAPERBACK) 1978
• ART OF SOUTH AMERICAN COOKERY, ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN ALCORN, 1996 (publisher? Date accurate?)

Publishing dates unknown:
• COMPLETE ROUND-THE-WORLD HORS D’OEUVRES BOOK
• COMPLETE ROUND THE WORLD MEAT COOKBOOK
• COOK AS THE ROMANS DO
• CREATIVE MEALS IN HALF THE TIME
• DICTIONARY OF INTERNATION FOOD AND COOKING TERMS
• DIET DELIGHT COOKBOOK
• FLAVOR OF SPAIN
• GREAT RECIPES FROM GREAT RESTAURANTS (possibly the Diner’s Club cookbook?)
• THE HAMBURGER COOKBOOK
• MYRA WALDO’S CHINESE COOKBOOK
• THE GREAT INTERNATIONAL BARBEQUE COOKBOOK
• THE PRIME OF LIFE AND HOW TO MAKE IT LAST

TRAVEL BOOKS:
• MYRA WALDO’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO EUROPE (no date)
• NEW HORIZONSA, USA
• MYRA WALDO’S TRAVEL & MOTORING GUIDE TO EUROPE, 1967
• MYRA WALDO’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC, 1981
• JAPAN EXPO ’70 GUIDE, 1970
• MYRA WALDO’S RESTAURANT GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY AND VICINITY
• MYRA WALDO’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO SOUTH AMERICA
• MYRA WALDO’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO SOUTHERN EUROPE
• MYRA WALDO’S TRAVEL GUIDE TO THE ORIENT AND THE PACIFIC

***And this is what I found on Google:

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 FIFTY books?

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. A member of the Screen Actors Guild, Myra had numerous television appearances, 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.”

Her passport bears the stamp of nearly every country, and the former president of the Society of American Travel Writers once described her as ‘The most traveled woman in the world,’ having visited every continent but Antarctica.

She is survived by her sister, Naomi Waldo Holzman; nephews Dr. Gilbert and Dr Donald Holzman, and their respective families. She remains an inspiration to her family, friends and fans.”

I’m only slightly mollified. It seems to me that Jill Holzman, being a family member,
could have expanded more on Myra’s career. I would certain hope that, if I had written over forty cookbooks many of which were reprinted countless times in paperback editions (I know because I have a lot of them), my family had better have more to say about my illustrious career than a mere nine lines. And I have to say, I was saddened to learn she was living in Beverly Hills – not so very far from me when I was still living in the San Fernando Valley. I can’t help but wonder if she would have given me an interview, had I but known.

So, in 2011 when I ask you “Where’s Waldo?” you might correctly respond “In heaven” – or maybe she is peeking over my shoulder tonight, offering inspiration. 

Happy cooking-and Happy cookbook reading!

–Sandra Lee Smith

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHORS, PART 5

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHORS PART 5 (Master Chef Louis P. De Gouy, COOKBOOK AUTHOR BERNARD CLAYTON)

TRACING THE LIFE OF MASTER CHEF LOUIS P. DE GOUY

Originally posted on April 2, 2011

“Mr. De Gouy has the gift of making cooking an adventure. Even the plainest dishes become exciting; and for those of bolder spirit, there are many roads opening to new and unexpected gustatory pleasures. He writes with infectious enthusiasm for his subject, salting the book with anecdotes and amusing tales on the origin and the history of philosophy and poetry about the timeless art of cooking and eating” – From the dust jacket of The Gold Cookbook, thirteenth printing, 1960.

“From time immemorial, soups and broths have been the worldwide medium for utilizing what we call the kitchen byproducts or as the French call them, the ‘dessertes de la table’ (leftovers), or ‘les parties interieures de la bete’, such as head, tail, lights, liver, knuckles and feet.” Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949).

“Even today, some Dutch mothers place a piece of stale bread in their babies’ cradles to ward off disease. In Morocco, stale bread is considered an excellent cure for stuttering and present-day Egyptians believe that licking a stale crust will cure indigestion” from Breads Superstitions, Louis P. De Gouy The Bread Tray, Dover Publishing, 1974

“Be not deceived by the apparent nonchalance with which an expert cook or master chef throws together an attractive and tempting meal. It is merely proof that, through practical experience, she or he knows thoroughly all the steps and preparation that seem to follow each other so automatically to a successful conclusion. No beginner should feel ashamed to depend on whatever help other people can give, either through printed recipes or by personal instruction” –Louis P. De Gouy from Creative Hamburger Cookery, Dover

Publishing, 1974

“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.”

Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book, Dover Publishing, 1974
“One whiff of a savory aromatic soup and appetites come to attention. The steaming fragrance of a tempting soup is a prelude to the goodness to come. An inspired soup puts family and guests in a receptive mood for enjoying the rest of the menu.” Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book, Dover Publishing, 1974

And

“There is nothing like a plate or a bowl of hot soup, its wisp of aromatic steam making the nostrils quiver with anticipation, to dispel the depressing effects of a grueling day at the office or the shop, rain or snow in the streets, or bad news in the papers.” – Louis P. De Gouy The Soup Book, Dover Publishing, 1974.

Until relatively recently, I had never heard of Louis De Gouy, and I didn’t have any of his cookbooks. Now I have one, The Gold Cookbook, and I have no idea where it came from–which, I am abashed to admit, is not unusual for me. I have acquired cookbooks singly and by the boxful…recently by the tote-bagful when my daughter in law and I went to the Lancaster Friends of the Library book sale.

When two of my girlfriends died, five years apart, I was given most of their cookbooks. Mandy and I frequently bought the same cookbook at the same time, so now I had two of many different cookbooks.

As I was researching various other cookbook authors, I began coming across references to Louis De Gouy. Most surprising, I discovered that he was one of the founders of the now-defunct Gourmet Magazine which I loved and subscribed to for many years. (*When my husband and I moved to Florida in 1979, I discarded decades of old Gourmet magazines, never imagining they might be valuable). When we returned to California in 1982, I started up a new collection of Gourmet Magazines. Gourmet Magazine debuted in January, 1941 and the final issue was published in November, 2009.

Gourmet Magazine was the idea of Earle R. MacAusland (1891-1980). He conceived the magazine in his mind in the late 1930s and began putting the pieces for it together. He approached Boston artist, Samuel Chamberlain, who agreed to be an out-of-house resource. Chamberlain was useful because he could both illustrate, and write well. MacAusland also recruited a professional chef, Louis Pullig de Gouy. Pearl Metzelthin was the first editor-in-chief.

The first issue appeared in December 1940 (dated January 1941). MacAusland was 50 years old at the time. That first issue was a mere 48 pages, with an illustration of a roasted boar’s head on its cover. The main piece was on the food and wine of Burgundy. In fact, the early years of the magazine would focus on French cooking as well as eastern American food.

In 1941, Clementine Paddleford came onboard as a regular contributor (Clementine Paddleford is one of the cookbook authors on my to-do list to write about). The “You Asked for It” column of recipes requested by readers started in 1944. The magazine started running serial narrative articles that became popular with readers. The covers were often created by Henry Stahlhut.

I learned that De Gouy was the Chef at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for 30 years but curiously, despite spending three decades at one hotel, he served at numerous other establishments, both here and abroad.

De Gouy began his career as chef under his famous father, who was then Esquire of Cuisine to the late Emperor Francis Josef of Austria. Later he studied under the renowned Escoffier. In time his name became associated with some of the great culinary establishments in Europe and America. In France: Grand Hotel, Hotel Regina, Hotel du Louvre, Hotel de Paris, and Monte Carlo. In England: Carlton Hotel, Leicester Square, Hotel Kensington, and Grand Hotel, Folkstone. in Spain: Casino of San Sebastian and Hotel Maria Christina. In America: the old Hotel Belmont and the old Waldorf-Astoria in New York City; Old Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich, Conn.; La Tour d’Argent in Chicago; and countless others. He served as Chef Steward aboard the J. P. Morgan yacht Wild Duck when it made its cruise around the world. (For a man who only lived to be seventy-one years old, he really got around).

In addition to being one of the founders of Gourmet Magazine, De Gouy was consulting editor and chef for Restaurant Management Magazine, and consulting chef for the National Hotelmen Association of America.

And if that were not enough, Chef De Gouy authored sixteen cookbooks! How was that accomplished? Well, I can do the math—many of them were published after De Gouy had passed away but it appears that he had compiled the manuscripts and obtained copyrights on them. It would be interesting to know who inherited his works and managed to put them into a respectable collection of cookbooks. And perhaps this also explains the huge value placed on SODA FOUNTAIN/LUNCHEONATTE/DRINKS AND RECIPES published in 1940. There is one listed on Amazon.com and the price is $5,000.00! (I don’t want ANY book that much, to pay such an exorbitant price for it! It’s not like you’re talking about the Gutenberg Bible! And I can’t help but think how many cookbooks I could buy with five thousand dollars!)

The following is a list of De Gouy’s cookbooks with an effort made to putting them in their original date order. I have spent hours searching for additional information but for the most part, come up empty-handed.

• The Derrydale Fish AND GAME Cook Book 1930s (** see footnotes)

• Ice Cream and Ice Cream Desserts: 470 Tested Recipes, original copyright 1938, Copyright renewed 1966

• Sandwich Manual For Professionals, 1939, Published by The Dahls in Stamford Ct.

• Soda Fountain & Luncheonette Drinks & Recipes, 1940, Published by The Dahls in Stamford, Ct.
• The Bread Tray: Recipes for Homemade Breads, Rolls, Muffins and Biscuits, Original copyright 1944, Copyright renewed 1972

• The Gold Cook Book, originally published 1947, with numerous reprints, up to and including 1960, Published by The Chilton Company-Book Division

• The Soup Book, Copyright 1949 by Mrs. Louis De Gouy, Dover Edition 1974

• The Salad Book, 1950
• Creative Hamburger Cookery; 182 Unusual Recipes for Casseroles, Meat… 1951
• The Pie Book, 1974 Dover Publishing

• The Oyster Book

• Sandwich exotica: The sandwich manual for connoisseurs

• The Ultimate Sandwich Book: With Over 700 Delicious Sandwich Creations

• The Cocktail Hour, copyright 1951 by Mrs. LDG, Greenberg Publishing

• Chef’s cook book of profitable recipes; 1500 recipes for hotels

• The Burger Book; tasty ways to serve ground meat

**I am listing the Derrydale Fish & Game Cookbooks as a single entry even though I have seen dozens of listings showing them separately – either the fish or the game cookbook which confused me, initially, because the listing would be something like “Derrydale Fish Cookbook” accompanied by a photo of the cookbook showing illustrating it as “Derrydale Fish AND Game Cookbook”. I finally found the following which I think clarifies the listing:
“In 1927 Eugine Connell III established the Derrydale Press, the leading publisher of outdoor and sporting books in America. Its original 169 published titles are prized by book collectors around the world. Louis De Gouy was a master chef with possible lineage to a chef of the Austrian Royal Court. Louis was also one of the original founders of Gourmet Makes which made its debut in 1941. This set of wonderful cookbooks was first published in 1937. These are a set of the 1987 reprints and were a limited edition of 3000. This two volume set is a classic in culinary literature. Written in encyclopedic form they are guides to cooking every type of game, fish and crustaceans imaginable. From bear to woodcock and bass to whiting you will never be at a loss for something new and unusual again. These hard bound leather editions are filled with 634 pages of recipes in mint unused condition. They are the perfect gift for the hunter, fisherman or culinary genius in our life.”

Postscript: I have begun collecting the cookbooks of Louis De Gouy, searching for any kind of copies, to read, not necessarily for cookbook collecting value. Out of five that I recently purchased from Alibris.com, four were published by Dover Publishing, and one by Running Press. A clue was found almost immediately by opening the pages of The Bread Tray. Inside is this:

This Book is fondly Dedicated

To the Memory Of
Louis P. De Gouy
(1876-1947)
By His Daughter
Jacqueline S. Dooner

The original copyright for The Bread Tray was obtained by Chef De Gouy in 1944 and renewed in 1972 by his daughter. Curiously, the copyright for De Gouy’s “Creative Hamburger Cookery” was obtained by MRS. Louis P. De Gouy in 1951. This, too, contains the same dedication to De Gouy’s memory by his daughter, Jacqueline.

“Ice Cream and Ice Cream Desserts” is listed by L.P. De Gouy, who seemed to favor changing his name around from time to time. (Did he, perhaps, think that using his own Louis P. De Gouy name on all of his books might flood the market? The original copyright on “Ice Cream and Ice Cream Desserts” is 1938 by L.P. De Gouy and the copyright was renewed by his wife in 1966. It seems fair to assume that Louis P. De Gouy obtained copyrights on all of his original manuscripts whether published or not, and those copyrights were renewed by his heirs.

Not much can be found on the internet that I haven’t already shared with you. Louis P. De Gouy was only 71 years old when he passed away (I can say “only” because I am now 70, approaching 71). And yet he accomplished so much in his lifetime!

I am looking forward to reading his cookbooks. You might want to read them too. These are all “from scratch” cookbooks and I doubt you will find a can of mushroom soup or a box of onion soup mix anywhere in the lot. For those interested, the best prices I’ve found to date were on Alibris. Com.

Happy Cooking – and Happy Cookbook Collecting! Sandra Lee Smith

AMERICA SAYS GOODBYE TO BERNARD CLAYTON, JR.
Originally posted April 8, 2011

The New York Times reported the death March 28, 2011, of Bernard Clayton Jr., who passed away in Bloomington, Indiana. He was 94.

Before bread machines (and you know what I think of those) we had chefs like James Beard and Bernard Clayton Jr teaching us the art of baking breads the traditional way. I would add to that Elizabeth David’s “English Bread and Yeast Cookery” and “The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book” but unquestionably, Beard and Clayton were at the top of the list. Clayton’s detailed dependable recipes guided novices and experts alike through the nuances of baking good bread and making many other dishes.

Everyone knows who James Beard was but you may not be quite as familiar with the name of Bernard Clayton, Jr. He was a native of Indiana, a journalist and a foreign correspondent, and you may not be aware that he was also the author of at least eight cookbooks.

Bernard Clayton was a senior editor and writer for Indiana’s University News Bureau. He was formerly the Time-Life Bureau chief in San Francisco and war correspondent for the magazines during World War II. Later, he was vice president and director of public relations for two major San Francisco firms.

Clayton began his career as a journalist and foreign
correspondent but began writing cookbooks nearly 45 years ago. (You may think it quite a jump from journalist/foreign correspondent to cookbook author but I can think of at least one other person who did the very same thing; Betty Wason. And, coincidentally, Betty Wason was also born in Indiana and grew up there).

Clayton is, perhaps, best known for his cookbooks on breads and I have to confess, I don’t have any of them in my collection –yet. I do have two of Clayton’s books, “The Complete Book of Soups and Stews”, – and, one of my favorite’s “Cooking Across America”. I am partial to all cookbooks with “America” in the title and have amassed quite a collection of them. These are the closest you can get to understanding and appreciating true regional America, which is disappearing fast as we become more and more homogenized.
Clayton’s first cookbook was “The Complete Book of Breads”. This cookbook won the coveted Tastemaker cookbook award and was praised by Craig Claiborne as perhaps the best book on the subject in the English language. Clayton’s Complete Book of Pastry also won the Tastemaker cookbook award.

Clayton experienced a bread-baking epiphany while bicycling across Europe with his wife in 1965. The quality of the breads, gratifying to appetites sharpened by a hard day’s ride, impressed him. Although he had never baked so much as a muffin in his life, he embarked on a quest to explore bread and pastry making. His hobby developed into an obsession, then a career. Over the next decade, he traveled around the world and logged countless hours in his home kitchen, newly outfitted with a professional oven, mastering the techniques and the recipes that he presented in “The Complete Book of Breads.”

Clayton is also the author of “The Breads of France” and “Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Book of Bread”. A 7,000-mile research trip that took him to bakeries all over France led to “The Breads of France” (1978), a comprehensive cookbook that guided the reader through French bread in all forms, from the leaf-shaped fougasse of Provence to the bagels served at Goldenberg’s deli in the Marais neighborhood of Paris.

“The Complete Book of Pastry,” published in 1981, dealt with its subject on a truly global scale, with recipes for strudel, South American empanadas, Italian pizzas and calzones, Greek baklava and Russian piroshki.

It was during his travels all around the world that Clayton collected recipes and put together a collection of 250 soup and 50 stew recipes for his cookbook “The Completed Book of Soups and Stews” published in 1984 by Simon & Shuster. I was charmed by his comment “Cookbook authors, like cooks, collect cookbooks…” Clayton wrote that he surrounded himself with several hundred volumes and their places on the shelves around the room are so familiar to him that he could reach for them in the dark. He lists, in The Complete Book of Soups and Stews, nearly twenty five of his favorite cookbook authors and their cookbook titles that were especially meaningful to him. A few names are not so familiar to me while others are—James Beard and Diana Kennedy, Mollie Katzen and Irma Romauer. One author I was surprised to find on his list was Ann Seranne for her editing of the Southern Junior League Cookbook. I knew who Ann Seranne was but I can’t say I’ve seen her name anywhere else recently. Then, too, this cookbook was published in 1984. He also listed some of his favorite reference volumes which included Larousse Gastronomique and The Escoffier Cook Book.

This was something I could truly relate to, as my two desks and the floor near my computer—along with several bookcases of reference material –are all within reach…periodically, I go on a rampage to put the books back on their respective shelves but before long I am surrounded by stacks of cookbooks again.

In “Cooking Across America” Bernard Clayton and his wife, Marje, decided to take to the road in search of North America’s best cookbooks. He posted this note on the wall above his typewriter: “This will be more than a book of recipes. I am as interested in the cook as a person as I am in the thorough step-by-step presentation of the recipe. I believe these together have been the principal reasons readers have found pleasure in reading and cooking with my books”.

So, for three years, this sentiment defined Bernard & Marje’s days. They drove a GMC van and set out on the odyssey of a life time, what the author often called a dream assignment.

In the beginning, Clayton thought the project would be difficult but he found that every community is as proud of its good cooks as they are of the town band or the high school basketball team. They met over 100 of North America’s best cooks and collected 250 of their favorite recipes.

I like “Cooking Across America” for the same reason I am so fond of the Browns’ “America Cooks” – these are authentic regional collections of recipes that help define what American regional cookery is all about. And, “Cooking Across America” is as much a cook’s travelogue as it is a cookbook.

The following is a list of Bernard Clayton Junior’s cookbooks along with some sources for locating his books for your collection:

The Complete Book of Breads, Alibris.com $8.00

The Breads of France and how to Bake them in your own kitchen 1978, Bernard Clayton & Patricia Wells, Amazon pre-owned starting at $25.00

The Complete Book of Pastry, 1984, Amazon pre-owned starting at $3.00

The Complete Book of Soups and Stews, 1984, Amazon new and used from 1 cent., Alibris.com $4.00

The New Complete Book of Breads, Soups, and Stews 2008, Amazon new $14.98, used $9.99 and up.

The Complete Book of Pastry Sweet & Savory, 1984, Alibris, pre-owned $8.95, Amazon starting at 4 cents, pre owned.

Cooking Across America, 1993 Amazon new from $5.99, pre-owned starting at 59 cents

The Complete Book of Small Breads, 2006, Amazon new from $12.34, pre owned starting 9.20.

I hesitated to list the higher prices; you can discover these for yourself on any of the cookbook websites. I generally consult Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Alibris, and Jessica’s Biscuit.

Do you suppose that Bernard Clayton Jr is now teaching the angels in heaven how to make angel’s biscuits? (Recipe is on pages 32-33 of Cooking Across America).

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith
Happy Cooking & Happy Cookbook Collecting!

***

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOKAUTHORS – PART FOUR (JEAN ANDERSON, CEIL DYER)

THE AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK BY JEAN ANDERSON

Originally posted on November 2, 2012 |

Imagine this, if you can – spending ten years searching for the most popular recipes of the century! Cookbook author, Jean Anderson, a name you should recognize, did just that. It was Ms. Anderson’s quest to search for the most popular recipes of the 20th century, and to chronicle one hundred years of culinary changes in America.

The result? THE AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK/The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, published in 1997 by Clarkson N. Potter/Publishers, containing over five hundred cherished recipes, ranging from California Dip to Buffalo Chicken Wings, from Chiffon Cake to classic green bean bake. This must surely be the crowning achievement of Ms. Anderson’s illustrious career as a cookbook author. (I wrote about Ms. Anderson in January, 2011—please refer to “WHO IS JEAN ANDERSON, COOKBOOK AUTHOR” posted on my blog January 15, 2011, and a cookbook review, “FALLING OFF THE BONE” by Jean Anderson, posted June 23, 2011).

Jean Anderson, a member of the James Beard Who’s Who of Food and Wine in America, is the author of more than twenty cookbooks, including FOOD OF PORTUGAL (which won a Seagram Award for best international cookbook of the year, in 1986), the best-selling DOUBLEDAY COOKBOOK (with Elaine Hanna) which was named cookbook of the year, in the R.T. French Tastemaker Awards in 1975 (and incidentally, is a two-volume set), as well as HALF A CAN OF TOMATO PASTE AND OTHER DILEMMAS, also an R.T. French Tastemaker Award winner in 1980. This versatile writer also wrote several non-cookbooks, including one about ghosts, titled THE HAUNTING OF AMERICA.

Jean Anderson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina and attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She obtained her B.S. Degree from Cornell University and a few years later, obtained her M.S. Degree from Columbia University.

Among Anderson’s other published accomplishments are RECIPES FROM AMERICA’S RESTORED VILLAGES, published by Doubleday in 1975, and THE GRASS ROOTS COOKBOOK, published by Times books in 1977. I mention these especially as I think they demonstrate the author’s skill in writing—and writing admirably—about our country’s culinary history. And, although she doesn’t say so, I suspect that these two particular books may have provided some of the inspiration for THE AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK. She is also the author of THE ART OF AMERICAN INDIAN COOKING published by Doubleday in 1976 (I didn’t know I had this cookbook until I was writing about the American Indian’s foodways in my article KITCHENS WEST—it was a happy discovery since I was attempting to complete my collection of her books).

Anderson has also written, over the years, numerous magazine articles. She also worked as an editor on various women’s magazines before turning free-lance.

“For the past ten years,” writes Anderson in the Introduction, “I have been traveling backward in time, back across the decades to 1900 and beyond. My quest: to trace this century’s role in our culinary coming of age. To track the recipes, foods, food trends, food people, appliances, and gadgets that have had an impact on our lives from 1900 onward…”

(I understand how it feel to travel back in time, to attempt to get a feel for a different time and place—it took over a year of research for me to write the original KITCHENS WEST in the 1990s; it’s almost incomprehensible to me that a cookbook writer could compile, in one volume, a book as extensive as the AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK. Anderson admits she had a lot of help and that her book would never have seen the light of day without the generous cooperation of archivists, home economists, and media people at major food companies and manufactures of appliances, large and small. Even so, someone had to bring it all together – and Jean Anderson has done just that.

Explain the publishers, “Beyond this collection is Jean’s exploration of the diversity of our nation’s cuisine and our adoption of such ‘foreign’ dishes as pizza, gazpacho, lasagna, moussaka and tarte tatin. Her painstakingly researched text includes extensive headnotes, thumbnail profiles of important people and products…and a timeline of major 20th century food firsts….”

“Has any century done more to revolutionize the way we cook, the way we eat, than the twentieth?” Jean asks. “Take the home kitchen. At the beginning of this century, women were still cooking on stoves fueled by wood coal or petroleum, cantankerous behemoths that demanded constant stoking, cleaning, prodding and pleading.

Fast forward to 1939 and the New York World’s Fair. Women were dazzled by General Electric’s ‘Kitchen of Tomorrow’. A G. East Fair booklet ad read:

With a dishwasher so very fast and sanitary
She’d never break another dish—‘twas plain
and the work she most despised was completely modernized
when the garbage went like magic—down the drain…”

Anderson notes that “the Twentieth century also gave us the pressure cooker, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, national cook offs (from chicken and chili to cake and cookies), food magazines, the TV chef, and not least, the twenty four hour television Food Network…”

“Food advances were no less revolutionary,” Anderson continues, “Ice cream cones, ‘hot dogs and hamburgers all the way’ entered our lives as did salad and sushi bars, fast-food chains, frozen and freeze-dried foods and TV dinners—to say nothing of instants and mixes galore. There was a proliferation, too, of the kinds of food put into cans, of herbs and spice blends, of ersatz salts and powders…”
This is the kind of book you can either read from start to finish or pick up and start reading anywhere within. The author delves into the history of everything we’ve been eating for the past one hundred years, provides background material for the many cookbook writers and teachers of the past century—from Fanny Farmer to Julia Child – and all along the way are recipes – all of our favorites!

Jean began her research for this book by writing to editors of food magazines, major women’s magazines and newspapers throughout the country, as well as home economists at major food companies, asking for their 10 most requested recipes of the century. The response, she reports, was overwhelming. It was logical, I think, for Jean to start with these resources. We know that food editors have their fingertips on the pulse of American cookery. Who knows better what recipes are most requested by their readers? And, it was a role that Jean herself had played for a number of years. (As a young adult, I was strongly influenced in my love for recipes and the stories behind them, by Fern Storer, who was for many years a food editor of the Cincinnati Post. After we moved to California, whenever my mother was getting ready to mail a box of favorite things to me and would ask what I would like, I’d reply “Ruble’s Rye bread and the food sections from the Cincinnati post”. After we settled in Los Angeles, I collected the S.O.S. columns in the L.A. Times for many years).

Having spent a fair amount of time researching some of these topics myself, I read Anderson’s viewpoint with great interest. I was particularly intrigued with what she had to say on the subject of soups—as you may know by now, I love soups, especially homemade soups and I have written about them in the past.

“Great-Grandma had a farm,” writes Anderson as she introduces her chapter on soups, “Grandma had a garden, mother had a can-opener.

When it comes to soup, that pretty much sums up this century…”

Anderson goes into great depth in her dissertation on soups and writes “It may seem that I have devoted too much attention in this chapter to canned soups and ‘instants’. Well, like it or not, heat-and-eat soups have revolutionized our lives this century, and mass America still depends on them, as a thumb through any community cookbook or trundle down any supermarket aisle quickly proves…”

But, she adds that there are plenty of “from scratch” soups here, too, ones that have made their mark during the last hundred years.

“Many of the recipes our mothers and grandmothers loved were product-driver: canned soup casseroles, molded salads, mayonnaise cakes, graham cracker crusts, even chocolate chip cookies. We may scoff at the hokier of these today but they belong to this century’s culinary history and cannot be ignored. Moreover, as a riffle through any regional cookbook quickly provides, they remain popular over much of the country…”

(Anderson doesn’t say, but wouldn’t you suspect that part of the reason product-driven recipes were so popular is that the recipes were printed on the packages and cans, and booklets touting the product were generally distributed free. My own mother had only one cookbook. I don’t think women had access to a wealth of recipes like we do today, especially during the poverty-stricken depression years. During my teenage years, I often bought a handful of penny postcards and sent away for free recipe booklets. These free booklets formed the nucleus of my cookbook collection, although I didn’t realize it at the time.

Anderson takes nothing for granted in her research and writing style. She doesn’t always accept at face valu8e what other cookbook authors have to say on a subject; her own research often takes her farther back in time to prove or disprove another writer’s research. It’s this kind of attention to detail that catches my attention and approval. (It didn’t hurt to have great research resources at her disposal, I’m sure—but as I have noted previously, it’s one thing to unearth material, another to put it all together cohesively in one place—actually, I am a bit chagrined that THE AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK was not available to me when I was writing food-related articles for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange in the 1990s. I have several bookcases filled with books on the history of food and can often spend hours going through all of those books searching for answers to my food related questions).

And remember War Cake, which I have commented on when writing about rationing during WW2? (See HARD TIMES, April 2011). Anderson includes it in THE AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK on page 440. Her research came to the same conclusion as mine, that War Cake actually dates back to World War ONE. In fact, it’s a delight to find the answers to many

different questions about food and culinary objects we now take so much for granted. (and after the wars were over, savvy women renamed War Cake, calling it eggless, butterless, sugarless cake. It appeared in a Taste of Home magazine in 2004 as Eggless, Butterless, Sugarless, and Milkless cake.

I love the style and illustrations of THE AMERCIAN CENTURY COOKBOOK as well as the wealth of recipes and fascinating sidebars.

This is one of my favorite books—and although it’s called a Cookbook, I keep it with my food-reference books, within reach of my computer.

Bibliography

• § GRASS ROOTS COOKBOOK, DOUBLEDAY DELL PUBLISHING, 1974, 75, 76, 77, 92 (*The Grass Roots Cookbook is a outgrowth of magazine pieces originally features in Family Circle magazine)

§ The Doubleday Cookbook VOL 1 & 2 (with Elaine Hanna). Doubleday: 1975. R.T. French Tastemaker Cookbook-of- the-Year as well as Best Basic Cookbook

§ RECIPES FROM AMERICA’S RESTORED VILLAGES, Doubleday, 1975

§ THE GREEN THUMB PRESERVING GUIDE, WILLIAM MORROW & COMPANY, 1976

§ JEAN ANDERSON’S PROCESSOR COOKING, WILLIAM MORROW & COMPANY, 1979

§ Half a Can of Tomato Paste & Other Culinary Dilemmas (with Ruth Buchan). Harper & Row, 1980. Seagram/International Association of Culinary Professionals Award, Best Specialty Cookbook of the Year.

§ JEAN ANDERSON COOKS, WILLIAM MORROW & COMPANY, 1982

§ JEAN ANDERSON’S NEW PROCESSOR COOKING, WILLIAM MORROW & COMPANY, 1983

§ The New Doubleday Cookbook (with Elaine Hanna). Doubleday: 1985.

§ The Food of Portugal. William Morrow: 1986.
Seagram/International Association of Culinary Professionals Award, Best Foreign Cookbook of the Year

§ The New German Cookbook (with Hedy Würz). HarperCollins: 1993

§ The American Century Cookbook. Clarkson Potter: 1997
§ The Good Morning America Cut the Calories Cookbook (co-edited with Sara Moulton). Hyperion: 2000

§ Dinners in a Dish or a Dash. William Morrow: 2000§

§ Process This! New Recipes for the New Generation of Food Processors. William Morrow: 2002. James Beard Best Cookbook, Tools & Techniques Category

§ Quick Loaves. William Morrow: 2005

§ A Love Affair with Southern Cooking: Recipes and Recollections. Foreword by Sara Moulton. William Morrow: 2007

§ Falling Off the Bone, Wiley Publishing, published October 19, 2010

Also by Jean Anderson:

THE ART OF AMERICAN INDIAN COOKING (with Yeffe Kimball)
FOOD IS MORE THAN COOKING
HENRY, THE NAVIGATOLR, PRINCE OF PORTUGAL
THE HAUNTING OF AMERICA
THE FAMILY CIRCLE COOKBOOK (with the Food Editors of Family Circle Magazine)

This list is as comprehensive as I could make it, based largely on the dozen or so Jean Anderson cookbooks in my personal collection. I also checked with Google.com and Amazon.com for titles. I ordered “Quick Loaves” and “Falling off the Bone” which has also been reviewed on my blog.

My copy of the American Century Cookbook is a first edition, published in 1997. This cover is shown on Amazon.com new for $17.12 or pre owned for $2.48. Apparently, the book was republished in 2005 and has a different cover. Pre owned copies are available for $1.31 on Amazon.com. Alibris.com has the original priced at 99c or new for $9.99.

Happy Cooking! And when you aren’t cooking, read a good cookbook!

–Sandra Lee Smith

INTRODUCING CEIL DYER
Originally posted on 1/27/11

As far as I know, Ceil Dyer is alive and well as of this date, January 11, 2016.. My google searches did not provide any recent biographical information—in fact, when I googled “Ceil Dyer” my own blog post about her from January 27, 2011 was third in the lineup.

Ceil Dyer is a native of Houston Texas. She is a home economist with a B.S. degree from Louisiana State. Her formative years were spent in the bayou country of Louisiana, where, she said, the art of living was esteemed, dining was a function and cooking was a pleasure, never a chore.

Ceil Dyer began her career as a food publicist for wine and food companies both here and in Europe. She was a food columnist for the JOURNAL-AMERICAN. Later, she wrote a syndicated newspaper column, “THE INSTANT GOURMET”, the first of its kind to combine quick cooking with gourmet-style food. Her book “WOK COOKERY” was another sensational first; in this best seller, she was the first to use a wok for both Occidental as well as Oriental recipes. “WOK COOKERY” has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Ceil Dyer is the author of more than 30 cookbooks. (My list is presently up to 31) and since biographical information has been somewhat difficult to come by, we’ll focus, this time, on the books written by her and see what we can be learned about the author from her books.

You may know her best from her book, “BEST RECIPES FROM THE BACKS OF BOXES, BOTTLES, CANS, AND JARS” – which was, I believe, the first of its kind in this genre (there have been a number of copycats). “BEST RECIPES..” was a huge success and probably had a lot of publishers scratching their heads and wondering why no one else had thought to do this before!

‘This is in essence your book,” Ceil explains in the introduction. “Or, to put it more accurately, the cookbook you would have undoubtedly compiled if only you had time for the project. For here are the recipes you meant to save from that jar, can or box top, recipes you and your friends have asked for, a good number your mother’s generation requested, and even a few of your grandmother’s choices. Recipes you meant to save but didn’t, those from magazine ads you may have torn out intending to file away someday, but that someday never came. In short, here is the cookbook you have always wanted: a treasury of the very best efforts of America’s food producers…”

I could readily relate—recipes on the back of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa, Calumet baking powder, the box of cornmeal – may have been among the first recipes I tried making, when I was a child. Along with whatever I found in Ida Bailey Allen’s Service cookbook!

Included in “Best Recipes…” are the Philadelphia Cream Cheese Party Cheese Ball, Chippy Cheese Ball from Frito-lay, Guacamole with Green chili Peppers, from the Avocado Advisory Board, (very similar to how I make my guacamole, for those who want to know), an assortment of Lipton California Dips (going strong since 1954), West Coast Broiled Flank Steak (made with fresh lemon juice), Horseradish Dressing (thanks to Hellman’s (or Best Foods) mayonnaise, Spanish Pot Roast (from Kraft—it uses a bottle of Kraft Catalina French Dressing and sounds worth rediscovering), Campbell’s Best Ever Meat Loaf (a recipe from their 1916 cookbook “Help for the Hostess”!) and oh, so many more! As I scan the pages, I realize that many of my favorites are in “BEST RECIPES…” and they are all worthy of rediscovery! “BEST RECIPES FROM THE BACKS OF BOXES, BOTTLES, CANS AND JARS” was published in 1979, over 30 years ago, and is still going strong. Another curious discovery – Ceil Dyer included a recipe in “BEST RECIPES…” for Hershey’s Red Velvet Cocoa Cake! I searched (diligently, I thought) some years ago for the origin of Red Velvet Cake, and never was able to pin it down. Ceil says that “In the thirties, money was scarce and luxuries were few. No wonder this economy-minded cake recipe from Hershey’s Cocoa was a favorite then…”

Also included with the cake recipes is Hellman’s (Best Foods) Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake and Orange Kiss-Me Cake, which was a Pillsbury Bake-Off Winner in 1950.

Skimming through “BEST RECIPE…” other favorite recipes include the original Caesar Salad (created at Caesar’s Bar and Grill in Tijuana, Mexico, just past San Diego, California), the original Vanilla “Philly” frosting, Heavenly Hash (remember that?), Magic Cookie Bars from Eagle Brand Condensed Milk (also known as Hello, Dolly’s and Seven Layer Bars), and Magic French Fudge (one of my favorite candy recipes). This is one of those little books that frequently turns up in used book stores and book sales – if you don’t have a copy, you’re missing out.

Ceil Dyer struck pay dirt again when she wrote “THE CARTER FAMILY FAVORITES COOKBOOK”, published by Delacorte Press in 1977.

There is something you may not know about me. I have been fascinated with anything related to the White House since I was in my early 20s, and have amassed a fairly respectable collection of what I loosely refer to as my “White House” collection. (This from someone who nearly flunked American History in high school!) These books take up most of one bookcase in my bedroom and include my “White House related” cookbooks, along with Congressional Club cookbooks (an incomplete collection; it isn’t all that easy finding all of them). All of my American presidents’ books fill a bookcase in our newly built garage library, and all of my first ladies’ biographies and autobiographies are on shelves behind the presidents.

At any rate, “THE CARTER FAMILY FAVORITES COOKBOOK” was one of those books I just had to have for my collection.
Ceil Dyer was a natural to write this particular book; she was a southern lady, herself, and lived not too very far from Plains, Georgia. She was able to talk with many members of the Carter family, some of whom helped her with the book.
Despite the fact that Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the United States, the Carters returned to their home in Plains, Georgia at the end of his presidency. Jimmy Carter became involved in diplomatic ventures and he and his wife, Rosalynn both became active in projects such as Habitat for Humanity. To date, according to Google, former President Carter has written 37 books, including “AN HOUR BEFORE DAYLIGHT/Memories of a Rural Boyhood”, published in 2001. He and his wife Rosalynn co-authored a book in 1987, titled “Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of your Life”. Rosalynn Carter hasn’t been a slouch, either – shortly after they returned to their hometown, she wrote “FIRST LADY FROM PLAINS”, published in 1984. The reason I mention all of this is simply that, there probably hasn’t been another president in my lifetime who was more “a president of the people” than Jimmy Carter. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that they opened their hearts and homes to Ceil Dyer, sharing family recipes.

To learn what Jimmy Carter’s favorite foods were, Ceil had to go to Rosalynn Carter. The former president is one of those people, like saying goes, who eats to live. (whereas some of us live to eat). The 39th President does like fresh vegetables, his first choice being eggplant prepared just about any way from Southern fried to casseroles. He also likes butternut squash, butter beans, vine-ripe tomatoes (ummm, me too) and fresh corn.

“THE CARTER FAMILY FAVORITES COOKBOOK” is replete with recipes, including a Christmas Day menu.

In 1972, Ceil Dyer published what I consider to be her finest cookbook with a historical twist. Weathervane Books published “THE NEWPORT COOKBOOK.”

Ceil Dyer worked with the Preservation Society of Newport County in researching and writing “THE NEWPORT COOKBOOK” which is a history lesson in Rhode Island – with recipes.

It begins with its famous founder, Roger Williams who was welcomed by the Indians and invited to a meal of boiled fish and succotash. Ever since, Ceil assures us, boiled fish of some kind, often mackerel or herring—along with that classic mixture of corn and beans, — has been a favorite Rhode Island menu.

‘THE NEWPORT COOKBOOK” is replete with recipes, old photographs, drawings, and history, capturing Newport from its colonial days and its life as a great seaport, to its glamorous age as the “Queen of American Resorts”. This, too, is a fun cookbook to read!

However, I am inclined to think that it has been Ceil Dyer’s “workhorse” cookbooks that have gained the greatest respect for decades.

Read Books such as “EATING WELL FOR NEXT TO NOTHING”, “THE QUICK GOURMET”, “CHICKEN COOKERY”, “THE PLAN-AHEAD COOKBOOK” “THE PERFECT DINNER PARTY COOKBOOK” or “THE AFTER WORK ENTERTAINING COOKBOOK” and you will surely see what I mean. So many of these books were written and published over 30 years ago, but they have all stood the test of time and would be valuable additions to anyone’s cookbook collection. The recipes are well-chosen with what I think of as “basic” or “scratch” ingredients. You won’t find a can of condensed soup or a box mix. This is not intended as a criticism of cookbooks or recipes that do call for a can of condensed soup or a box mix. What I merely want to point out, is that convenience foods come and go, and what is available on your supermarket shelves today might not be there tomorrow (or ten years down the road). So many convenience products of 25-30 years ago simply aren’t available anymore. That’s the importance of cookbooks that use all “scratch” ingredients, because the basics – onion, spices, sugar, flour, cornstarch and so on, will always be with us. And you may discover, as I have recently, that learning to make some things from scratch is infinitely tastier than a frozen or packaged mix. I have been making a strawberry sauce and a decadent chocolate pudding “from scratch” and the lesson that I have learned is simply this; nothing can really replace “homemade”.

One of Ceil Dyer’s best books on this very subject is “THE BACK TO COOKING COOKBOOK” which explains how to save time and money by not using chemical-laden, prepared, canned, precooked, dehydrated, convenience foods. In the very beginning of “THE BACK TO COOKING COOKBOOK” Ceil Dyer states: “The French maintain that American cuisine is based on canned soup.” She goes on to say that it’s fast becoming a fact—and this was written in 1970. Over 40 years ago! “Shopping carts,” Ceil laments, “are filled for the most part with cake mixes, icing mixes, bottled salad dressing, packaged cookies, ‘instant’ rice, no-cook puddings, canned sauces and soups, soups, and more soups. These last to be used as base for every conceivable dish….” Ceil goes on to explain that home cooked meals made from honest ingredients are far less expensive, taste better and are more nutritious than those made from ersatz concoctions. (This reminds me, a while back, my sister called to ask me how to make Taco seasoning. She had forgotten to buy “Taco seasoning” at the store. I had a recipe, read it off to her over the telephone – and she was pleasantly surprised. “It was just as good as,” she exclaimed. One weekend I was at my sister’s and we did a little grocery shopping. I noticed that taco seasoning was on sale and pointed it out. My sister replied, “I make my own from scratch all the time now with that recipe you gave to me.”

In the Introduction to “EATING WELL FOR NEXT TO NOTHING”, Ceil Dyer explains, “the first principle of eating well for less is to cook what’s in season, plentiful and therefore cheaper, and to cook what’s on hand…” What bemuses me, most, reading those lines is that I have read them, repeatedly, being quoted from various famous chefs throughout the country. “Learn to shop,” Ceil advises, “as the Europeans do. First shop your own kitchen—what’s on hand, what’s left over that might be used; then and only then do your shopping, not with a preconceived menu but first to see what’s best, freshest and cheapest in the market place.”

Ceil Dyer’s cookbooks will make you the Queen of Homemade.
Cookbooks by Ceil Dyer:

• HAMBURGERS PLAIN AND FANCY, GROSSET & DUNLAP, 1968
• THE PLAN AHEAD COOKBOOK , THE MACMILLAN COMPANY, 1969
• THE BACK TO COOKING COOKBOOK PRICE/STERN/SLOAN 1970
• THE QUICK GOURMET COOKBOOK HAWTHORN BOOKS 1972
• THE NEWPORT COOKBOOK, WEATHERVANE BOOKS, 1972
• THE PERFECT DINNER PARTY COOKBOOK, DAVID MCKAY COMPANY, 1974
• THE AFTER WORK ENTERTAINING COOKBOOK, DAVID MCKAY COMPANY, 1976
• THE CHOPPED, MINCED, & GROUND MEAT COOKBOOK ARBOR HOUSE, 1976
• FREEZER TO OVEN TO TABLE, 1976
• THE CARTER FAMILY FAVORITES COOKBOOK, DELACORTE PRESS, 1977
• EAT TO LOSE COOKBOOK, 1977
• EATING WELL FOR NEXT TO NOTHING, MASON CHARTER PUBLISHERS, 1977
• CEIL DYER’S COFFEE COOKERY, HP BOOKS, 1978
• BEST RECIPES FROM THE BACKS OF BOXES, BOTTLES, CANS AND JARS, MCGRW-HILL BOOK COMPANY, 1979
• THE KITCHEN REVOLUTION COOKBOOK, MACMILLAN PUBLISHING CO., 1980
• EVEN MORE RECIPES FROM THE BACKS OF BOXES, BOTTLS, CANS & JARS
• WOK COOKERY, HP BOOKS, 1983
• CHICKEN COOKERY, HP Books, 1983
• GREAT DESSERTS, GALAHAD BOOKS, 1986
• CEIL DYER’S INSTANT GOURMET, HP BOOKS, 1987

I don’t have publishing dates for the following:

• HOW TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL FOOD IN A MOLD
• ALL AROUND THE TOWN: A NEW YORK COOKBOOK, WITH HUNDREDS OF RECIPES FROM NEW YORK’S FINEST RESTAURANTS (with ROSAIND COLE
• THE BREAKFAST COOKBOOK
• THE FREEZER COOKBOOK
• THE QUICK AND EASY ELECTRIC SKILLET COOKBOK
• THE SWEET TASTE OF SUCCESS
• PIZZA COOKERY
• MORE WOK COOKERY
• SLIM WOK COOKERY
• THE DICTIONARY OF LEFTOVERS
• GOURMET GIFTS FROM YOUR KITCHEN

Happy Cooking & Happy cookbook reading!
-Sandra Lee Smith
***

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOK BOOK AUTHORS PART THREE (CHEF LOUIS SZATHMARY and HARRY BAKER AND HIS FAMOUS CHIFFON CAKE)

SALUTING THE CHEF – LOUIS SZATHMARY
Originally posted January, 2011

For some time, I’ve thought about writing capsule biographies about some of the famous chefs. Finding chefs to write about was no problem—there are so many, especially nowadays, when hundreds, if not thousands, of four-star restaurants throughout the USA all boasting of their own super-chefs, who in turn frequently write cookbooks. I must have several dozen chef-authored cookbooks on my bookshelves. Other famous chefs appear on television and cable cooking shows; many of them have become familiar household names and faces. Who isn’t familiar with Rachel Ray and Paula Dean, Bobbie Flay and dozens of other TV chefs?

Many of the old-time chefs and cooking teachers of the 1800s – women such as Fannie Farmer, Miss Leslie, Mrs. Lincoln and others have been written about in depth by other writers. I think I would rather tell you about another super-chef, one you may not know as much about.

My favorite is Louis Szathmary! (Pronounced ZATH-ma-ree). Szathmary had an incredibly fascinating life.

Louis Szathmary, described by one writer as “a heavyset man with a generous face and large bushy mustache “(a description that matches the face on the cover of “The Chef’s Secret Cook Book”) was, surprisingly, a Hungarian who had a doctorate in psychology from the University of Budapest and a master’s degree in journalism. Szathmary was born in Hungary on June 2, 1919, reportedly on a freight train while his family fled invading Soviet troops. He learned to cook in the Hungarian army. After service in the Hungarian army during World War II, Szathmary spent time in a succession of German and Soviet prison camps and thereafter was a displaced person confined to the American occupation zone in Austria. He lived in Austria and other Western European countries before coming to the USA in 1951.

A few clues to Szathmary’s background appear in the preface to “AMERICA EATS”, by Nelson Algren. “AMERICA EATS” was published in 1992 as part of the Iowa Szathmary Arts Series. Szathmary, who knew Algren personally—and purchased the manuscript from him–wrote the introduction to “AMERICA EATS”. (Nelson Algren was a fiction writer and the author of “THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM” which won the first National Book Award. In addition to writing fiction and poetry, Algren also wrote two travel books. “AMERICA EATS” was his only cookbook).

What cookbook collector hasn’t heard of the Iowa Szathmary Culinary Arts Series! But, in case you haven’t, briefly, Louis Szathmary, in addition to being a chef and the owner of the famed Bakery Restaurant in Chicago for many years, was a cookbook collector. Actually, Szathmary didn’t just collect cookbooks—he amassed an enormous collection of rare cookbooks, scarce pamphlets and unique manuscripts spanning five centuries of culinary art. He had a collection of twelve thousand books devoted to what he called “Hungarology” – books about his native country – which were eventually donated to the University of Chicago Joseph Regenstein Library. Ten thousand books of Hungarian literature were donated to Indiana University while a small collection of composer Franz Liszt’s letters was given to Boston University.

Johnson & Wales University, the world’s largest school devoted to the food and service industry, was the recipient of over 200,000 assorted items, described as a treasure trove of historical artifacts, which filled sixteen trailer trucks used to make the transfer to the school. There were antique kitchen implements, cheese graters, meat grinders, nut crackers, raisin seeders, chocolate molds, books and even menus.
Included in the gift to Johnson & Wales was “a collection within the collection”, a presidential autograph archive that included documents dealing in one way or another with food, drink, or entertainment, written or signed by every American chief executive. In George Washington’s handwriting is a list of table china he inherited from a relative. A handwritten letter from Mary Todd Lincoln invites a friend from Baltimore to the White House for an evening of relaxation. In a penciled note to his wife, Julia, Ulysses S. Grant asks that two bottles of champagne be sent to the oval office for a reception with congressional leaders. (Szathmary referred to this collection “from George to George”, meaning from George Washington to George Bush). His gift to Johnson & Wales has been attracting thousands of visitors since opening to the public—I believe it! I would love to go to Rhode Island just to see the collection!
The autograph collection includes items written by other historic figures, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Charles Dickens, as well as a note from the fourth earl of Sandwich, inventor of the most frequently ordered food item in the world.

If all of this were not mind-boggling enough, in addition, Szathmary donated over 20,000 cookbooks to the University of Iowa Libraries, creating the Szathmary Collection of Culinary Arts. Almost overnight, according to David Schoonover, the library’s rare book curator, the institution became a “major research center in the culinary arts”. The University of Iowa Press, in conjunction with the University of Iowa Libraries, publishes reprints, new editions, and translations of important cookbooks from the collection of Chef Szathmary. It must have given Chef Szathmary great satisfaction to witness the birth of the Szathmary Culinary Arts Series. Each title presents an unusually interesting rarity from the collection he donated to the institution. One of these published books was “AMERICA EATS”, which I have in my own collection.

“In my native Hungary,” Szathmary wrote for “AMERICA EATS”, “I was raised in a bookish family. From my great-grandfather on my father’s side, my forebears were all book collectors, and when I had to leave just hours before the Soviet army arrived in the Transylvania city where I resided and worked in the fall of 1944, I had already inherited and amassed a sizable number of books, mainly on Hungarian literature and other Hungarian subjects…”

However, Szathmary arrived, in his own words, “virtually penniless” in New York in 1951, with only fourteen books in his small wooden trunk.

He appeared to have been fond of telling the story of arriving on our shores with $1.10 in his pocket, one change of underwear, two pairs of socks, one Sunday suit – and fourteen books. (It is worth noting that the 14 books Szathmary treasured most were not donated to any of the universities. The books he carried with him to America included a Bible he received as a child, three books on Mozart and several volumes of Hungarian poetry).

Upon his arrival in America, Szathmary began to collect books. Writes Szathmary, “My first purchase was a book by Ludwig Bemelmans at the Marlboro outlet store at 42nd Street and Broadway, where in 1952 all the remainder books were sold for nineteen cents each.” Szathmary confessed that he worked two jobs in the beginning, one during the day and another at night—and spent all the money he made on books. Of his early days in America, Szathmary said that he would spend hours in the Salvation Army basement searching for books, which he purchased for as little as five cents each. He said, “I rummaged through books in bins, on tables outside the door, and amid the garbage the accumulates in the back of used bookshops. I found treasures—valuable items—because I had the time.” Later, as time and money improved, he often worked at one job during the day and another in the evening. On the seventh day, he recalled, “I spent all the money I made on books.” (A man after my own heart!)

He continued to collect books while at the same time, as his interest in culinary arts and food management grew, he began to collect books in these fields as well.

Szathmary and his wife Sadako Tanino, owned and operated The Bakery Restaurant in Chicago for 26 years. It grossed more than $1 million a year for much of the time he was in business—and this was a restaurant that served only five dinners a week, no lunch, no bar and no “early birds”.

Szathmary authored several cookbooks of his own, including “THE CHEF’S SECRET COOK BOOK”, “THE CHEF’S NEW SECRET COOK BOOK”, “THE BAKERY RESTAURANT COOK BOOK” and “AMERICAN GASTRONOMY”. He was advisory editor for a series of 27 cookbooks, in 15 volumes, titled “COOKERY AMERICANA”, for which he also provided introductions. (I only have three of the volumes from the series at this time, “MIDWESTERN HOME COOKERY” and “MRS. PORTER’S NEW SOUTHERN COOKERY BOOK”, and “COOL, CHILL, AND FREEZE”. These are facsimile editions of earlier cookbooks. Szathmary seems to have been utterly dedicated to American cookery and cookbooks.

Szathmary was a prolific writer, and in addition to cookbooks, also wrote poetry. Additionally, he wrote a food column for the Chicago Daily News, and then in the Sun-Times every week for twelve years! Maybe he felt he didn’t have enough to do, for after closing the restaurant, he continued to operate Szathmary Associates, a food system design and management consulting business, and he devoted a great deal of time to what he described as “the matter of the books”. He also continued to lecture and worked continuously on new projects.

What is particularly intriguing about Szathmary as a chef is, I think, his wide range of expertise. So many of the super chefs today focus on one type of cooking. Szathmary, who could have devoted himself to solely to Hungarian cuisine, seems to have adopted the American potpourri of cookery, which embraces many nationalities. He was famous for his Continental cuisine, in particular his Beef Wellington.

What you may not know about Szathmary is that he developed the first frozen dinners for Stouffer Food Corp. He worked as product development manager for Armour, coming up with new foods and ways to prepare them. Szathmary also designed a kitchen for military field hospitals that could be dropped by parachute and assembled quickly in combat zones.

At The Bakery, Szathmary’s restaurant in Chicago, he dominated the dining room with his commanding presence. He’d walk around in rolled up sleeves, wearing an apron, often telling diners in his booming voice, what to order – or to ask them why something was left on a plate. His customers at The Bakery appear to have provided the inspiration for “THE CHEF’S SECRET COOK BOOK”. In the introduction, Szathmary said he gave recipes to ladies who visited his restaurant. Apparently, they often accused him of leaving something out!

Szathmary wrote, “When I tell the ladies that I am able to give them everything except my long years of experience, they still look suspicious. So once again I launch into my best explanation, an old record played over and over again, which goes something like this: If you go to a concert and listen to Arthur Rubinstein playing the MEPHISTO WALTZ of Franz Liszt, and if you go and see him backstage after the performance and ask him for the piano notes, and if through some miracle he gives them to you, and you take them home and sit down at your piano (untouched for years), open up the notes and play the Mephisto Waltz and your husband says ‘Darling, it doesn’t sound like Arthur Rubenstein—“ what do you tell him?

Probably this: Oh, what a selfish artist! He left out something from the notes, I’m sure. Because when I play it, it doesn’t sound like when he plays it.

Well, dear ladies,” concluded the great chef, “Do you really think Rubenstein left out some of the notes? Or do you think his talent had something to do with it—and his daily practice for years and years and years?

You see, my dear ladies, cooking is just like playing the piano—it needs talent, training and practice.”

Szathmary concluded, “The best-kept secret of the good chef is his long training and daily performance. It’s not enough to make a dish once and when it’s not up to standard, to declare, ‘the recipe is no good.’”
**

Szathmary spearheaded culinary education in Chicago by fostering work study programs with restaurants at vocational and high schools. Students and dining enthusiasts were invited to use the library on the second floor of The Bakery. He shared a passion for travel by assisting first time travelers with their plans to visit Europe and Asia.
Szathmary chose, on his own, to donate the bulk of his collections to various universities and institutions. Aside from Szathmary’s incredible generosity, what a wise move to make! Can you think of any better way to make sure the things you love most will be treasured by future generations, people who are certain to love your books as much as you do?

Szathmary explained that he had always bought books for various reasons. ‘When you bet on the horse race,” he said, “You bet for win, for place, for show. When you buy books, you buy some to read, some to own, and some for reference. You want to possess the books, you want to own them, you want to hold them. Perhaps you even hope that you will read them….’

And after having donated hundreds of thousands of books and documents to these different universities, Szathmary confessed “I am still buying books. It’s like getting pregnant after the menopause; it’s not supposed to happen.”

My all-time favorite Szathmary story is written in an article about obsessed amateurs. Writer Basbanes met Szathmary as the transfer of some 200,000 articles to the warehouses at Johnson & Wales was taking place. Szathmary was overseeing the transfer of his collection. Where, Basbanes asked the great chef, had he stored all this material?

With a twinkle in his hazel-brown eyes, Szathmary said, “My restaurant was very small, just one hundred and seventeen chairs downstairs for the customers to sit. But I owned the whole building, you see, and upstairs there were thirty-one rooms in seventeen apartments. That’s where I kept all the books”.

For many of us, we recognize in Louis Szathmary a kindred spirit. How to explain to non-collecting people the love of searching, finding, owning treasured books? One can only hope there are lots of books in Heaven. Meanwhile, here on earth, Louis Szathmary has left us with a wondrous legacy.

“SEARS GOURMET COOKING” was published in 1969.

“THE CHEF’S SECRET COOK BOOK” was published in 1972 by Quadrangle Books and is packed with mouth-watering recipes and lots of “Chef’s secrets” – tips provided by the master himself. “The Chef’s Secret Cook Book” was on the New York Times bestseller list for several years.

“AMERICAN GASTRONOMY” was published in 1974.

“THE CHEF’S NEW SECRET COOKBOOK” was published in 1976 and “THE BAKERY RESTAURANT COOKBOOK” was published in 1981.

Szathmary also edited a fifteen volume collection of historic American cookbooks. One of the volumes in this series is “Cool, Chill and Freeze/A new Approach to Cookery” which I purchased from Alibris.com. This is a reproduction , with introduction and suggested recipes from Louis Szathmary, of recipes from “FLORIDA SALADS” by Frances Barber Harris, originally published in 1926, and Alice Bradley’s ‘ELECTRIC REFRIGERATOR MENUS AND RECIPES”, first published in 1928 (oddly enough, I have both of the originals).

Included in the Iowa Szathmary Culinary Arts Series are “THE CINCINNATI COOKBOOK”, “RECEIPTS OF PASTRY AND COOKERY FOR THE USE OF HIS SCHOLARS”, “THE KHWAN NIAMUT OR NAWAB’S DOMESTIC COOKERY” (originally published in 1839 in Calcutta for European colonials living in India), “P.E.O. COOK BOOK” and the previously mentioned “AMERICA EATS” by Nelson Algren.

Since embarking on the life of Louis Szathmary, I have purchased three of his cookbooks from Alibris.Com on the Internet – they have a great listing! The most recent to arrive is a copy of “The Bakery Restaurant Cookbook” which I was delighted to discover is autographed by the great chef—who was something of an artist, too! (Why am I not surprised?).

His ‘autograph’ is the face of a chef, wearing a white chef’s hat.

Louis Szathmary was a member of the United States Academy of Chefs, the Chef de Cuisine Association of Chicago, and the Executive Chefs’ Association of Illinois. In 1974, he was awarded the coveted titled of Outstanding Culinarian by the Culinary Institute of America, and in 1977, he was elected Man of the Year by the Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society. He was considered by many to be the “homemakers best friend”, a master chef who willingly shared his secrets of culinary expertise with the world. His cookbooks read in a friendly, chatty way, making me wish with all my heart I could have known….this super chef! You would be wise to make an effort to add his books—if you don’t already own them—to your cookbook collection. Louis Szathmary was, above all, an excellent chef.

Louis Szathmary died in Chicago, after a brief illness, in 1996. He was 77 years old.
Nicholas Basbanes, in his article about Chef Louis for Biblio, described his first meeting with “this delightful, compassionate, brilliant man with the big white mustache”, relating “when I asked how it feels to give away books that were such an indelible part of his generous soul, Chef Szathmary responded, “The books I give away now, they stay in my heart, just like all the others. I don’t have to see them to love them.”

I wish I could have known him.

*Since posting the article about Louis Szathmary on my blog in 2011, I have received one hundred and fifty responses to my post! I can’t possibly rewrite all 150 but will try to provide you with some of the highlights which provides additional insight to the Chef, and what happened to a large portion of his collections: I deleted most of my responses to these messages but for ALL of the 150 responses I suggest readers go to my blog:. Salute to the Chef is on the title page.

From Nancy Skoda | January 5, 2011

I had the pleasure of working as one of Chef Louis’ personal assistants from 1985-1986. He certainly was a fascinating character and very aware of his own importance in cooking history. In addition to his extensive cookbook collection which included favorite church and community cookbooks (a personal favorite) Chef Louis also had an extensive post card collection. Seeing your blog about him brought back wonderful memories.

From Sue Rupp | February 5, 2011

Thank you so much for writing about Mr. Szathmary! I only ate at The Bakery twice, as I lived several hours away, but both times he came into the restaurant and greeted each table – such a new thing for a Midwesterner in the 70s & 80s. I have eaten in many famous restaurants since then but this first experience with great food and an interesting chef, in a unique setting, will always remain the most memorable and the best! I have all of his cookbooks and have slowly tried to collect the Americana series though some have been impossible to find.

From Dennis Crabb | March 28, 2011

My wife and I had a ‘colorful’ experience working with/for Chef Louis, similar, it seems, to Grant Aschatz’s time with Charlie Trotter. Our first night in the city, the Chef bid us dine at the Bakery at his expense…but tip well! — it was great. Coincidentally, we sat at a table next to Mike and Sue Petrich; he was a wine representative for Mirassou wines. After dinner, the Petrichs and we went upstairs to our modest 3rd floor apartment rented to us by the Chef and his delightful wife, Sada. We survived four months and had a colorful story resulting from each day with the Chef. Barbara Kuch was there and incredibly helpful. The staff was wonderful. Our “larger than life” Chef brought old-world training values to his new world – such a challenge…for all. He was unbelievably generous and painfully demanding — beyond professional. Sadly, I had to witness the Chef physically threatening a very young apprectice for “f—ing up the chocolate moose.” Conversely, when my wife’s father was dying of cancer, the Chef said, “Shhh – don’t tell Sada – here is $250 for your flight home to see your dad.” I know Beethoven has an emotional breadth unequalled by all others musically; similar was Chef Szathmary in the realms of cuisine and people. Sandy – thanks for sharing; thanks for listening…there’s so much more. Thanks for the opportunity. sincerely – d’crabb

From Helen Donna (Muranyi)

| April 17, 2011 I must add my story. When I was about 35 years old I was married to a Hungarian. My name then was Muranyi. I was working in Chicago selling radio advertising. Unwittingly I made an un person sales call on Louis. He roared at the thought that he might need advertising. He explained that reservations were filled weeks in advance. However, he was such a sweetheart he invited me to his library to see his 14th century Hungarian cookbook and his test kitchen. Needless to say at his invitation my husband and I did dine there as often as possible and it was the “special” restaurant for occasions for the children. The two younger never got to go as they were too young and grudgingly bring it up still as adults that were cheated. Always when we did dine there we received a special appetizer(usually a baked white fish in white sauce) that we noticed other diners were not served. Could it have been that the reservation was made in the name Muranyi? Usually we had a tableside visit from Louis and sometimes his cute little birdy Japanese wife. Actually I am searching for some information on her artwork that she had on the walls made from the wine corks. If you could be helpful in any way I would be grateful for any information or help. Those were special memories for my family.

From juan Boldizsar | July 7, 2011

Sandy, did you know that Chef Louis was responsible for the lobbying initiative that changed the US government’s classification of food service workers from “domestics” to “professionals”?

Chef Louis did, indeed, have a temper . . . . I worked there throughout my adolescence -Saturdays, school breaks, summer vacations- and I managed to get myself on the receiving end of it from time to time. Miss Lenegan (as Barbara Kuck often affectionately addressed Nancy) can attest to that! It took me a while, but I eventually realized that much of Chef Louis’ temper came from the fact that he cared deeply for and had high expectations of every single member of his “family” at The Bakery.

There were three different collage themes at The Bakery. Matchbooks, corks and obsolete currency. All of them were made by Louis and his wife Sadako (affectionately known as Sada or Auntie Sada) nee Tanino. The matchbook collages decorated the front room; the cork collages decorated “The Cork Room” (the main dining room); and the currency collages decorated “The Money Room” (the front room of the southernmost of the three storefronts used for private parties, banquets and the many cultural/social events that Louis hosted for the Hungarian community.

From Gabriele M. Doyle | December 12, 2011

How strange to come upon this blog today — I just happened to be wondering whether Sada was still alive and ran a Google search on her, and in the process came across your blog (which is quite lovely, by the way!).

I, too, worked with Chef Louis, but not in the kitchen. I was a part-time secretary who took dictation and typed up correspondence, articles, and whatever Chef needed. This was in 1993 and continued off and on for several years. My very young daughter came with me and stayed in her playpen except for lunchtime. She thought Chef Louis was Santa Claus!

He was working on a cookbook introduction and would ask me how to word things because he wanted to keep his Hungarian style while using proper English. It could be quite a challenge at times, and was always interesting. His wife, lovely Sada, was the epitome of grace, kindness and hospitality.

Chef Louis and I had some very interesting conversations about the Austro-Hungarian empire as I had spent a college year in Baden bei Wien, Austria. He and lovely Sada will stay in my memories until I die.

Thank you for such a wonderful post.

Gabriele (“Gabi”) M. Doyle

From Joan Hartmann | December 13, 2011

This is great!! I lived in Chicago until recently and LOVED Chef Szathmary and the restaurant. He was always generous and helpful and gave me perfect information re: products etc. Which brings me to why I was surfing his name. He had recommended a meat thermometer which I bought and which a guest recently broke, and I’ve been unable to find on line. It’s a La Pine (made in Switzerland). I see in his early correspondence that he’d provided a “form” to order it but I didn’t keep a copy. Do you by any chance have info regarding where I could look to order another??? Thank you so much!!!

From Sue Prahst | January 26, 2012

Sandy, thanks for the writeup on the Chef! I have his cookbook he signed for me with his legendary signature (he’d use 2 or 3 colored markers) where he made the L in Louis into a caricature of himself…the mustache, the chef hat were all drawn into the capital script L. I helped him with food prep for a tv show he was taping in Cleveland, Ohio in the early 70’s…I was only 12 or 13… he used my mom’s kitchen/stove to cook the turkey in the brown paper bag that he was going to pull from the oven on the show. Even though I was so young, he left a HUGE impression! I have used that cookbook so much that the pages are falling apart and I know it’s a treasure. Thanks for writing about him. I think part of the reason I love to try recipes, cook, etc… because of him. He was a very interesting man and larger than life… I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to have met him.

From MikeS | April 18, 2012

Hi Sandy, Thanks for posting the article about Chef Louis. He was my great-uncle. I only met him in person once but what a day! His library was massive and that was after he had given away many books. The food he cooked for us was exceedingly rich but very tasty. It’s easy to see why he shut down The Bakery, that style of food is long out of favor. I’m thinking it was easily a 2,000 calorie meal. But it was sublime food. Sada is an amazing woman and a lot of fun to be around.

From Colleen Theisen | November 20, 2012

Thank you for your wonderful article. If you want to see some of Chef Szathmáry’s collection we have digitized the handwritten cookbooks and put them online to be transcribed. You can find them here on our crowdsourcing page: diyhistory.lib.uiowa.edu.
Colleen Theisen
Outreach & Instruction Librarian
Special Collections & University Archives
University of Iowa

From Andrew S. Erdelyi | December 19, 2012

I met Chef Louis in the summer of 1953 when I was a school boy trying to be a kitchen help at the Jesuit Manresa Inst. in So. Norwalk, Connecticut where he was the Head Chef cooking three meals seven days a week for 250 or so Jesuits. To my good fortune I was able to keep up the relationship right up to the time he died in 1996. My two sons spent one summer each at his The Bakery Restaurant also as kitchen help. I was fortunate to have eaten at the Chef’s restaurant twice the last being when he had his 70th birthday bash at The Bakery. Chef Louis was kind to invite my wife and I to several events at the Johnson and Wales Culinary Museum and a private dinner at Dartmouth. If there ever was a “Most Unforgettable Character” he was it, while being a genuine Renaissance Man. May he rest in peace.

Andrew S. Erdelyi
Merrick, NY

From Charles Bartha | December 29, 2012

Dear Madam –

Upon reading your history of Louis Szathmary and The Bakery Restaurant, I felt it appropriate to send this letter detailing several reminiscences of my time with Louis. He was a good friend since our school days in Hungary, and I am hoping you enjoy these stories as you share them with others.

It is proper that I introduce myself. My name is Károly (Kahroy, Anglicized later to Charles) Bartha (the h is silent), third grade student (14 years old) at the Reformed high-school in Sp, in the Northeastern part of Hungary. It is September of 1937. The pupils were excited to hear the news that two students were transferring: brothers, one in the first grade, the other in the fifth. (There were eight grades then).

Géza (Gayzaw), the younger was in my brother’s class and lived with us in the same dormitory. The older, Lajos, immediately acquired the nickname, Poci (Potzi, one with a pouch) because of his large size around the waist.

For the Pentecost holiday next year, we received a four-day vacation.

Because the brothers lived too far and the train fares were too costly, they decided to remain in Sarospatak. I asked them if they would like to spend the vacation with us. They accepted gladly.

We arrived in Viss (Vish), my birthplace of about 1100 residents, unannounced. My father was the school-master for the Protestant (mostly Reformed), Jewish, and Gypsy (now Romany) pupils there.

My motherly grandparents lived with us and three more brothers in the same household. Although my parents were surprised, they welcomed the boys warmly.

There was not much to do in a hamlet with unpaved roads and without electricity. Our guests fit in fine immediately. Luckily, Lajos took along his set of pastel chalks and proceeded to make an excellent portrait of my grandpa. (Louis had a copy of it in Chicago.) Next day, he painted a picture of the mountain of Tokaj (Tokawy) and another of a manually operated ferry-boat on the bend of the nearby river, Bodrog.

Géza visited our vineyard and helped with the tedious job of red currant picking.
They went to church with us, where my father was the organist. I think they had a good time with us.

During his second year in Sarospatak, Lajos became the president of the school’s Literary and Debating Society. His talent for writing surfaced shortly and was greatly appreciated by the students and the teaching staff.

After Lajos’ graduation in 1940, our paths parted. Would they ever cross again? The war was looming on the horizon.

Lajos served in the Hungarian Army, so did I. He cooked somewhere, I attended the Hungarian Royal Military Academy. He was taken POW by the Americans, I surrendered to them. I emigrated to Detroit in 1949, he followed two years later, eventually to Chicago.

Around the end of 1960, I learned through emigrant papers that a fellow Hungarian named Louis Szathmary opened a restaurant in Chicago. We dropped in unannounced for a Saturday lunch in The Bakery with our kids. We were seated, and shortly after, greeted by the Chef himself. After mutual introduction, Louis remembered me when I uttered the word, Viss. I remembered him immediately, hugging each-other. Finishing our lunch, Louis didn’t let me pay for it. Although he asked us to come back repeatedly, we did not for a while, fearing that he’ll repeat the hustle over the pay. A few years later Louis invited us to a Hungarian gathering, for some cultural event. We accepted, and went back several times afterwards.

Approaching my retirement, Louis asked me if I would help him in his library. Having nothing else to do, I gladly accepted his invitation. A few years later, I began to work for him.

Arriving at The Bakery around noon, Louis introduced me to his “crew”.

I knew Sada from earlier meetings, a pleasant, gracious lady indeed. Next came Barbara, the chief-steward carrying a huge string of keys, who later behaved as if she owned the place; then Laci (Lawtzi), Louis’ personal driver and general factotum, fixer of everything; Pista (Pishtaw), the creator of tortes and other sweets, and preparer of the wondrous Beef of Wellington. Sadly, I cannot recall the names of those who were present at that long table.

Later, Sada told me that she spent an entire summer in Sarospatak where her husband attended high-school, with teenagers from all over the globe to learn Hungarian. To my surprise, her Hungarian was adequate for an everyday conversation.

Four-five (maybe ten) years ago, I read an article about Barbara in a magazine. I thought her last name was Koch (with guttural ch), I might be wrong. She was referred to in the article as the daughter of Louis Szathmary. (Hence her chip on the shoulder attitude?) Indeed, Louis created a position to her as curator—with plenty of stipend—to the Culinary Museum of the Johnson & Wales University.

My first night at The Bakery was uneventful, sort of. I was assigned temporarily to the living quarters of Louis’ departed mother. Before going to sleep, I looked around for something to read.

There was a long shelf above the bed, holding about twenty large books of the same size. To my surprise, all of them dealt with cannibalism, a definitely different and—luckily—a dying-out way of food preparation and consumption.

Who collected them and for what reason, I never asked. It was, in my opinion, a minuscule part of Louis’ collection of cook-books, numbering a few thousand.
Somehow, I didn’t read much that evening. Everyone to his taste.

After a sumptuous lunch, Louis showed me his cook-book collection. I found it immense, rather unorganized, noticing several duplicate copies. Louis told me that I’ll have nothing to do with these. His working area, the den of a genius, was a “mess”—a rather mild description— which nobody was allowed to touch.

My real job was to weed out duplicate copies, called “duplum”, (sic) in the literature part of his library and to arrange the books for dissemination. Louis asked me to leave alone his Transylvanian collection, housed in a separate room, and his private collection in his living quarters. For the next few weeks (year and a half, to be exact), I spent 5 to 6 hours a day on ladders, from noon on Tuesdays to noon on Fridays.

If I ran across books with interesting illustrations, such as wood- or linoleum-cuts, I put them aside. After the early evening meal, Louis looked them over, creating several piles to be given to his friends. Around eight o’clock, I had a call from Louis occasionally. If there were few guests that evening, he would ask me to join him while he ate his dinner. (I normally declined to eat again.)

Looking around, he would get up to greet the guests, returning to finish up his meal with a cordial.

It is difficult, if not impossible to break a habit—such as collecting books—especially if the “store” rolls up to your doorsteps. Although Louis slowed down near the end of his life, he loved to visit an adventurous Hungarian refugee’s truck, loaded with anything Hungarian, including recently released books. Sausages in one hand and 4-5 books under his arm, I encountered Louis at the back door.
Asking him what he purchased, he sheepishly confessed the sausages, but not the books, of which he already had several examples. I returned the books, telling the fellow to sell Louis only newly acquired printed material.

And, finally, I feel I owe Louis the following:

Besides dividing and donating his library to several universities in the USA, Louis also remembered his alma mater in Sarospatak. He sent his Kossuth collection there, not only books and letters, but also memorabilia.

(Louis Kossuth (Koshut, o as in or, h being silent) Regent-President in 1848-49, belonged to the Hungarian lower nobility, so did Louis. Kossuth attended the High-school in Sarospatak for a while, so did Louis. Both were fierce Habsburg foes and pro-democracy fighters, and both were Protestants. Hence the affinity, in my opinion, between the two patriots.)

Louis asked me to assure that his collection arrived safely on my next trip to Hungary. Naturally, I complied, taking numerous pictures of an as-yet unorganized collection.

Louis also sent huge pallets of émigré newspapers and several hundred books to join his Kossuth collection. This was the time I left The Bakery.

One of my brothers told me recently, that Louis’ presents were neatly arranged in a separate room, in a building adjacent to the main library.

At the main entrance to the high-school, there is a marble memorial plaque for the school’s famous professors and pupils. Louis’ name is on it, as the last entry (for the time being).

The grateful citizens of Sarospatak also arranged a special room commemorating Louis and his deeds, in a manor-house near to their 14th century famous fortress.
May you rest in peace, Lajoskám!
Respectfully,
Charles Bartha
icbarthat@comcast.net

May l add the correct Hungarian pronunciation of Chef Louis’ name:
Sz az in s(ee),
a as in (m)a(ll),
th t is the same, the h being silent,
m same,
á as in a(re),
r same, somewhat rolled,
y as in i(n).

The accent is on the words first syllable, as you noted correctly.

His given name was Lajos, pronounced approximately: Lawyosh.

His former full name is, with Hungarian hyphenation: Szath-má-ry La-jos. Yes, family name first, with no comma between the two names.

I called him often by his affectionate name: Lajoskám, my “little” Lajos.
Fredricka Reisman | March 12, 2013

While attending a mathematics education conference in Chicago around 1972, I gathered
several colleagues from Syracuse University including my Ph.D. committee chair and the University of Georgia where I was on faculty and my 17 year-old gourmet cook daughter and cabbed it from the Conrad Hilton to The Bakery. Chef Szathmary personnally guided our menu decisions and autographed The Chef’s Secret Cookbook to my daughter: “To Lisa with my best wishes” followed by his unique signature embedded in his drawing of a chef’s hat. Lisa and the chef somehow got talking about his special meat thermometer (to not leave in during cooking was unheard of) and she was thrilled with her new culinary acquisition. The next year Lisa and I had occasion to return to the Bakery and the Chef remembered us. Lisa and I often remembered our lovely experiences at The Bakery as recently as a few months before I lost her this past June after a 10-year courageous battle with cancer. She ended up following her dream of having her own art gallery and creative website (lisart.com) which her clients referred to as a jewel in Philadelphia. I am using the Chef’s rib roast and Chef’s Salt recipes this Saturday for Lisa’s elder son’s 31st birthday dinner.

From Marie | August 13, 2013 (This turned out to be the most important email I received about Chef Szathmary):

Hi all, I ran across this site while doing some research on Chef Louis Szathmary. My husband and I buy estates, foreclosure cleanouts, auctions etc. and recently made a purchase of over 300 boxes. I was floored to learn that this is the partial estate of Chef Louis and am in awe at the contents. So much so that I have begun to research him and his professional life. Which is something I have NEVER been intrigued enough to do with any estate purchase we have made. I’m not sure what I will do with all his belongings, but learning about him will help me decide!

From Sandy | August 13, 2013 OMG I almost fell off my typing chair. What a FIND! This must be from the second collection he started after he donated a lot of his collection to the University of Iowa and a much greater part of his original collection to the Johnson university (not sure of the exact information–I will have to look at my original notes again. ps – it was Johnson & Wales University. They probably have the largest collection of Szathmary at this time.

From Marie Smit | August 13, 2013

Yes a very surprising find for sure! Yea, we buy to resell so likely Ebay. Maybe locally since we are in the Chicago area as was the Chef.So there may be fans of his still around. I have gotten conflicting information from the research I have done on whether or not “The Bakery” was closed or sold. Do you happen to know? You are welcome to first crack at what we have. Just let me know what you are interested in because it is VERY diverse! Tons of signed menus, recipes, cookbooks, paintings (yes he was an artist too!), books, pictures, letters, photos, cooking utensils, Hungarian linens, his granite prep table from 1908! And lots lots more…..

from Sandy | August 13, 2013

Hello again, Marie – well just for starters you may get some responses from the people who have written to me, over time, about Chef Szathmary. I am fairly certain that the Bakery closed down. I knew he was artistic; I have one of his cookbooks that is signed with his comic drawing signature. If I were in your shoes (well, if I WERE in your shoes I wouldn’t be selling anything) – but as someone who makes a living on estate sales or foreclosures–I would put it into some kind of order and bundle groups of items–then put it on ebay. How to determine what things are worth? That I don’t know. Personally, I collect cookbooks, recipes, and some Hungarian items (my grandfather on my dad’s side of the family came from Budapest) – I would love to get my hands on that granite prep table but don’t see any easy way of buying it or getting it shipped to California. I would love to get some of the signed menus as well – OMG, what a FIND. I’m thinking his wife must have finally passed away and I don’t believe he had any children. Sometime ago, one of the people who read my blog post was someone who knew Szathmary when they were boys in Hungary–if I can find that letter (it should be amongst the responses I’ve received on this blog) – he wrote a lengthy message to me and he might be someone who would also have a better idea what the collection is worth. when you are prepared to sell some of these things, will you contact me?
I could never have imagined, when I wrote a blog post about Szathmary, the direction that post would take. thanks for writing! I’m absolutely thrilled for you. would also suggest, whatever you feel can’t sell on ebay, you might donate it to Johnson & Wales to go with what Szathmary donated to them some years ago. best wishes, Sandy

From jhartmann88@aol.com | January 8, 2014

Hey Sandy! I’ve been looking for info on the meat thermometer he recommended (someone broke mine) and I haven’t been able to find one on line. It’s a La Pine, made in Switzerland. Any chance the people doing the inventorying might have access to the form he gave to order????? Thanks if so!!

From Sandy | January 9, 2014 Dear J Hartmann:

You are a few weeks too late with this request; Marie, the woman who bought all of the Szathmary books, memorabilia, etc, sold everything to the University of Iowa–which already had a collection of his books, that Szathmary had donated to them years ago. Someone at the University of Iowa saw my blog update in which Marie told me how she had acquired all of Szathmary’s collections–and they contacted her & made her “an offer she couldn’t refuse” – You COULD try writing to the University of Iowa and ask them if they have such a form.

And finally – this email:

Farrow Tamburo | December 9, 2015 a Today I Googled “Fat Uncle Louie, Hungarian Chef”. Louie Szathmary was my Great Great Uncle. I came across your blog and I read it aloud to my mother, who once, had me and my brother bake cookies to send to Uncle Louie and his wife Sada. Apparently we were too clean for kids and threw flour on us for a picture she sent along. I never got to meet them but because of your wonderful article I now, know more of my family history! Thank you so Much it made me and my family’s day. -Farrow

**

*I have to add just one more comment to this article about Chef Louis Szathmary; call me crazy but when I was writing about Chef Louis—and then continued to receive emails about him culminating in a woman named Marie finding me and then selling everything she had found to the University of Iowa—I have felt like the great Chef was looking over my shoulder, nodding approval at what I was able to play a part in the salvation of his many books and collections. Rest in Peace Chef Szathmary!

–Sandra Lee Smith

**
HARRY BAKER AND HIS FAMOUS CHIFFON CAKE)

Originally posted on April 29, 2011 |

The story about Harry Baker and his famous chiffon cake is the kind of stuff on which legends are built and numerous references can be found in food reference books. According to the legend, the chiffon cake was invented in 1927 by Harry Baker, a California insurance salesman turned caterer. Mr. Baker kept the recipe a secret for 20 years, until he sold it to General Mills for an undisclosed amount of money. At this point the name was changed to “chiffon cake” and was released with a set of 14 recipes and variations in a Betty Crocker pamphlet published in 1948. (I checked the chiffon cake recipes in a 50s Betty Crocker cookbook—they came up with a lot of variations!)

But wait! That’s only part of the story!

Yes, a man named Harry Baker did create a chiffon cake that he sold to places like the Brown Derby which had a simple menu in its earliest years. The first dessert to be sold at the Derby was Harry Baker’s cake which was made by Mr. Baker and sold to the restaurant and to other Hollywood notables for their parties. The Brown Derby cookbook published in 1949 provides a brief explanation for the cake but also offers, in its chapter on Desserts, the Basic Chiffon cake recipe, along with recipes for orange chiffon, chocolate chiffon and walnut chiffon cakes. The pamphlet featuring chiffon cake recipes from Betty Crocker also featured Wesson Oil. The pamphlet offers recipes for Golden Chiffon Cake, Fresh Orange Chiffon Cake, Maple Nut Chiffon and Pineapple Chiffon – and even Spicy Chiffon Cake. For those who remember when a leaflet of recipes with some premium offers (General Mills Tru-Heat Iron, Scranton Lace Dinner Cloth) could be found in every bag of Gold Medal Flour, might also have found a leaflet for making Sunny Orange Chiffon Cake.

My question is—WAS the chiffon cake an original idea? Maybe–maybe not.

And before I go any further, I want to mention that—I had never heard of chiffon cake in the 1950s. My introduction to chiffon cake came through the pages of my manuscript cookbook, Helen’s cookbook, that I have written about before on my blog. Written in real India ink and in fine penmanship, Helen wrote at the top of the page “Harry Bakers Secret Ingredient “X” cake”—and underneath that, “Orange Chiffon Cake”. Helen’s handwritten cookbook was started in the 1920s and continued through the 50s and perhaps into the early 60s and she lived in Los Angeles, so she certainly would have been aware of Harry Baker’s cake. Honestly – I was learning to cook in the early 1950s – and chiffon cake was never on my radar.

The website, The Old Foodie, in a post dated March 25, 2011, provided a recipe for Apricot Chiffon Cake, from a South Carolina newspaper dated 1934 (certainly years before Harry sold his cake to General Mills). Another recipe, from a 1947 Nevada newspaper, is a Velvet Chiffon Cake. Which begs the question, of course, how much digging must we do to find out exactly how far back the concept of a chiffon cake might go. According to a Gold Medal Jubilee recipe pamphlet published in 1955, (and noted in “Fashionable Food/Seven Decades of Food Fads” by Sylvia Lovegren) “light and airy chiffon pies were popular under the name of ‘sissy pies’ in the early 1900s. These sissy pies were also called fairy tarts or fluff, sponge or soufflé pies—were based on variously flavored puddings, lightened with beaten egg whites, that were then baked in a pastry crust. They contained no gelatin, the common ingredient of the modern unbaked chiffon pie…” Lovegren writes that the first mention she was able to find of a chiffon pie as we know it, made with gelatin and uncooked beaten egg whites, appeared under the name of coffee soufflé pie in Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries from 1922. Writes Lovegren, “Gelatin and egg white-lightened chiffon pies, which were basically old-fashioned gelatin sponges or “snows” served in a crust—became all the rage in the forties. They were so popular that they rated a separate section in the 1943 edition of Joy of Cooking…virtually any flavor you could come up with went into these confections. Chiffon pie also helped usher in the era of the crumb pie shell based on crushed graham crackers or breakfast cereal…”
Patricia Bunning Stevens, in a fascinating little book titled “RARE BITS” provides an assortment of recipes and unusual origins and traces the word “chiffon”—which to the French simply meant “rags.” Eventually the meaning was extended to scraps of lace and ribbon, pretty things a lady might use in her needlework and store in her “chiffoniere”, a small chest of drawers. In the 19th century on both sides of the English Channel, chiffons were dress trimmings of every sort that loaded down Victorian gowns.

As the turn of the century approached, the meaning of chiffon changed again as the English referred to a type of fabric. In the 1920s, silk chiffon became the rage in the USA and eventually gave its name to chiffon pie. Per Stevens, chiffon pie was the first really new pie of the 20th century. It is said to have been the brainchild of a professional baker who, at his mother’s suggestion, named it for the filmy floating fabric popular at the time. Meantime, in France, chefs began to make chiffonades, vegetables shredded into fine strips to resemble rags used to garnish consomme. (maybe something we would consider “julienned” today).

**

In an article titled “When Harry Met Betty” author Joseph Hart writes, “One of life’s great truths…is that beneath its surface lies complexity. Our beloved fictions of heroes and villains crumble with scrutiny, leaving only convolution, shifting meanings, and unstable realities. The same is true of things. Even the simplest object has its hidden history of longing, love, and despair. Take, for example, cake. Chiffon cake…”

Hart continues, “Ask someone who lived through the 1950s, to name the icons of that era, and chances are that—along with the ’57 Chevy, Lucy and Ricky, and the cul-de-sac rambler—chiffon cake will make their list. The recipe was introduced by General Mills in 1948 with a major marketing blitz that featured Betty Crocker, another 1950s icon…With Betty’s help, chiffon became a nationwide sensation. Billed as “the first really new cake in a hundred years,” thanks to its “mystery ingredient,” chiffon was light and fluffy like angel food cake, yet also rich and moist like butter cake, and it rapidly became a favorite of housewives from Syracuse to Oceanside…”

The real mystery, says Hart, “Lurking beneath its lemony glaze is not a secret ingredient, but the secret life of its reclusive inventor: the appropriately named Harry Baker…”

Hart continues, “The shorthand version of his history, repeated in a thousand cookbooks, notes that the insurance-salesman-turned-baker invented the cake in Los Angeles in 1927. He baked his chiffon cakes in his apartment kitchen in the Windsor Square neighborhood and sold them to the glamorous Brown Derby restaurant, where they pleased the palates of Hollywood’s studio stars. In 1947, Baker sold his closely guarded recipe to General Mills for an undisclosed sum—‘because,’ as one General Mills publication quotes him, ‘I wanted Betty Crocker to give the secret to the women of America.’”

Hart continues to delve deep into the life of Harry Baker and for the whole story, refer to “When Harry Met Betty” by Joseph Hart, posted on secretsofthecity.com on January 29, 2007. The story behind the creator of chiffon cake is interesting but not uppermost in my mind right now.

Says Hart, although it was wildly popular in the 1950s, the chiffon cake had been figuratively gathering dust for decades by the time he discovered the recipe in the late 1990s. Hart writes that while browsing in a 1956* edition of the Betty Crocker Picture Cook Book, he stumbled upon the recipe for chiffon.

Sandy’s Cooknote: *Betty Crocker’s 1956 edition of the Picture Cook Book notwithstanding, I found the recipe for Chiffon Cake – accompanied by a myriad of variations – in my 1950 limited first edition of Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book. In addition to the basic chiffon cake recipe, you will find maple pecan chiffon, butterscotch chiffon, pineapple chiffon, chocolate chip chiffon—and even a Holiday Fruit Chiffon that contains finely chopped candied cherries, finely chopped pecans and some very finely chopped citron.

Hart writes that HIS Betty still falls open to the creased and batter-spattered pages with the step-by-step directions for chiffon cake because, symbolism aside, it makes a truly splendid dessert.

Before chiffon, Hart explains, “there had been but two types of cake. Foam cakes, like angel food, contain no shortening and rely on eggs for leavening, while butter cakes rise with baking powder. Chiffon combines the two, relying on both eggs and baking powder and the clincher, add Harry Baker’s secret ingredient – vegetable oil (or, as it was called in those days, ‘salad oil’—another General Mills product as it happens)….”

Hart says he had been an enthusiastic baker of the cake for some time when one day, as he was going through back issues of Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, he happened to come across an article about chiffon by food writer and Joy of Cooking contributor Stephen Schmidt. If, says Hart, you’ve read Cook’s Illustrated, you already know that Schmidt tinkered exhaustively with the original Betty Crocker recipe to end up with something a little better. Hart says he sticks with the original.

But what caught Hart’s eye was a sidebar article about Harry Baker, repeating the standard biography, insurance salesman, 1927 discovery, service to the stars…but Schmidt had uncovered some new details; for one thing, he noted that Baker during his Hollywood heyday, shared his apartment “with his aging mother” And the sale of the recipe to General Mills took on a new twist in Schmidt’s telling: ‘Having been evicted from his apartment, and fearing memory loss, the usually reclusive Baker trekked uninvited to Minneapolis to sell his recipe,’ he wrote. This information hinted at a story so Hart spent the next five years chasing the elusive Hollywood inventor of his beloved chiffon cake.

Harry Baker arrived in Hollywood in 1923 and began to tinker with cake recipes. Until Joseph Hart’s in depth research, I don’t think anyone knew where Harry came from or what brought him to Southern California (or—maybe no one cared). Baker worked diligently, creating over 400 variations of an angel food cake, trying to create a moister sweeter angel food cake. Nothing satisfied him until he thought to add some salad oil to his recipe. Years later he would tell a reporter at the Minneapolis Tribune that the addition of the salad oil was “a sixth sense, something cosmic” – at any rate, a new Hollywood star was born.

At the same time Harry Baker was treating his neighbors to experimental cakes, another kind of star was being born on Wilshire Blvd. The Brown Derby opened for business in 1926 in a building shaped to go with the name*

*Sandy’s cooknote: I visited the Brown Derby once, in 1961, with a girlfriend and my mother in law—it was a wonderful experience. The walls, I recall, were plastered with framed photographs of many famous movie stars (but then, you can visit almost any place in Burbank—Bob’s Big Boy, the dry cleaners, the shoe repair shop –and you will find framed photographs of movie stars on their walls. It’s a kind of happening thing in greater Los Angeles).

By what Harry Baker might have described as another cosmic twist, two years later he walked into the Brown Derby with a sample of his cake. It became one of the Derby’s signature dishes and as mentioned before, (per the Brown Derby Cook Book) for quite some time it was the ONLY dessert served at the Brown Derby. One of the most popular desserts at the Derby was Harry Baker’s grapefruit chiffon cake** which, according to its creator, he made especially for Hollywood gossip columnist Luella Parsons. “Louella was overweight and she held weekly staff meetings at the Derby,” he explained. “She threatened to move her meeting if they didn’t come up with a less fattening dessert. She told them ‘put grapefruit on something. Everyone knows that grapefruit is less fattening…”

**Sandy’s cooknote see the Grapefruit Chiffon Cake recipe at the end of this article.

Harry Baker’s fortunes rose with the Derby and he began receiving requests for cakes from famous actresses such as Barbara Stanwyck and Dolores del Rio, to be served at their parties. Throughout the 1930s, Baker’s cake reputation spread far and wide and orders came in faster than he could fill them. He mixed batter for each cake individually and baked them separately using twelve tin hot plate ovens set up in a spare bedroom. Finished cakes cooled on the porch where customers retrieved them leaving $2.00 payment in the mail slot. At the height of his business, Baker produced 42 cakes in an 18 hour day from which he grossed in equivalent, in today’s dollars, about $900.00. Joseph Hart began researching the life of Harry Baker and in 2003 wrote a short article for the Larchmont Chronicle, a newspaper that served the Hollywood neighborhood where Harry Baker had lived.

This in turn led eventually to more leads about the life of the elusive Harry Baker. After he sold his recipe to General Mills—the exact amount was kept secret—Harry Baker slipped away from public life. There was speculation about his whereabouts; Hart found, however, a death record for September 27, 1974, at the age of 91, Harry Baker suffered heart failure at the California Convalescent Center in Los Angeles. So, perhaps he never ventured very far from the Hollywood that had given him such a good life in return.

Sandy’s cooknote: For more information about Harry Baker, please DO read Joseph Hart’s in depth article, “When Harry Met Betty” which can be found on http://www.secretsofthecity.com, posted 1/29/07 if it is still listed online.
** The Brown Derby Grapefruit Cake is not included in the 1949 edition of the Brown Derby Cookbook. However, I DID find the recipe in the Brown Derby Cookbook 50th Anniversary Edition published in 1976, noting it is not called “chiffon”. Here, then, is The BROWN DERBY GRAPEFRUIT CAKE.

To make the Brown Derby Grapefruit cake you will need:

1½ CUPS sifted cake flour**
¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, separated
3 TBSP grapefruit juice
½ tsp grated lemon rind
¼ tsp cream of tartar

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into mixing bowl. Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add water, oil, egg yolks, grapefruit juice and lemon rind. Beat until very smooth. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar separately until whites are stiff but not dry. Gradually pour egg yolk mixture over whites, folding gently with a rubber spatula until just blended. DO NOT STIR MIXTURE. Pour into an ungreased pan*. Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched with finger. Invert pan on cake rack until cool. Run spatula around edge of cake. Carefully remove from pan. With a serrated knife, gently cut layer in half.

GRAPEFRUIT CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

12 ounces cream cheese (1½ package of 8 ounce size cream cheese)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 to 8 drops yellow food coloring
1 lb can grapefruit sections, well drained*

Let cream cheese come to room temperature. Beat cheese until fluffy. Add lemon juice and rind. Gradually blend in sugar. Beat until well blended. Add food coloring. Crush several grapefruit sections to measure 2 teaspoons. Blend into frosting. Spread frosting on bottom half of cake. Top with several grapefruit sections. Cover with second layer. Frost top and sides; garnish with remaining grapefruit sections.

*Sandy’s cooknote Can you even buy grapefruit in a can? I’m fairly certain that the only grapefruit sections I have seen in my supermarket are in a jar.

**Sandy’s cooknote: Don’t have any cake flour? To convert regular flour into cake flour: Measure out the all purpose flour that you will need for your recipe. This recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of cake flour. Measure 1 ½ cups of regular flour. For every cup of flour, remove two tablespoons of flour. For this recipe, remove three tablespoons of flour (put it back into the flour canister). Put remaining flour into a sifter set over a bowl. Replace the three tablespoons of flour with three tablespoons of cornstarch. Sift and sift the flour and cornstarch about five times. You now have cake flour.
~~~~~

To make Meta Given’s Golden Feather Cake you will need:

1 2/3 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
¾ tsp vanilla
2/3 cup milk

Sift flour, measure and resift 3 times with baking powder and salt. Cream shortening until smooth and soft. Blend in ¾ cup of the sugar. Add beaten egg yolks and beat until smooth and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture and milk in alternate portions, beginning and ending with flour and beating until smooth after each addition. Beat egg whites until just stiff: add remaining sugar gradually and continue beating until very stiff. Fold lightly but thoroughly into batter. Turn into two 8” pans which have been buttered and lined with waxed paper in the bottom. Bake in a moderate 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until cake is springy when touched with finger tips. Turn out on cake coolers (racks) and cool before removing waxed paper. Spread any desired frosting or broken up jelly between layers and on top and sides of cake. Makes10 servings.

TO MAKE HELEN’S X INGREDIENT ORANGE CHIFFON CAKE

Set out but do not grease a 10” tube (angel food cake) pan
Sift together in a mixing bowl:
2¼ cups sifted cake flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in order given:
½ cup cooking oil
5 egg yolks, unbeaten
¾ cup orange juice
3 TBSP grated orange rind
Beat with a spoon until smooth. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl mix together:
1 cup egg whites (7 or 8 eggs)
½ tsp cream of tartar

Beat the egg white mixture at high speed until very stiff peaks form. Pour egg yolk mixture gradually over whipped whites, gently folding with rubber scraper just until blended. Pour into ungreased tube cake pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes, then at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. When cake tests done, remove from oven, invert and let hang upside down until cold.

Sandy’s cooknote: I keep a bottle on hand to put my angel food cakes on after they are baked. A wine bottle is usually the right size.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you the chiffon cake recipe sent to me by my niece Stephanie, who has perfected a coconut chiffon cake. Here, then, is Stephanie’s recipe exactly as directed:

STEPHANIE’S COCONUT CHIFFON CAKE WITH ADJUSTMENTS

By Stephanie Swetland

Cake:
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk, divided (I use silk coconut vanilla milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
My addition:
2 teaspoons coconut extract
Icing:
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 large egg whites
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 fresh coconut

I also used some cream of coconut when building the cake (you will see how at the bottom) It’s the kind you get near where the ingredients for mixed drinks is sold.
To make the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 8″ cake pans. Set aside. In small bowl beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar and continue to beat for 1 minute. In a medium bowl sift the remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil and 1/2 cup of the milk. Beat for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, and vanilla (this is also where I add the coconut extract.) Beat 1 more minute. (I found that you really need to scrape the bowl down and beat a little more to make sure you get to the bottom of the bowl when scraping.) After it is thoroughly mixed, add the egg whites and gently fold in.

Divide the batter among the 3 pans (it’s about 2 cups each pan). Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and place on wax paper to continue to cool (they are kind of sticky cakes and very light. I put them directly onto my cooling racks and they stick a bit so it is best to use waxed paper.) Allow the cakes to cool completely.

To Make the Icing:

In a large saucepan mix the sugar, water, and light corn syrup together. Place over medium heat and cook until a soft ball forms, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a temp of 238 degrees. This should take 4-6 minutes.
While the sugar mixture cooks, add the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat till soft peaks form. When the sugar mixture has reached the desired temp, with the mixer running at a medium speed, gradually add sugar mixture to egg whites.
Continue to beat until all the syrup is incorporated into the egg whites. Continue to mix for 6-8 minutes until the icing is creamy and soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and mix for 1 minute.

Here’s the hard part

Pierce the eye of the coconut with an ice pick and drain the coconut water into a small bowl. I do not have an ice pick so I used the drill and drilled out 2 of the eyes and poured the water out.

Crack the coconut shell, pry out the meat, and peel with a vegetable peeler. I did not know how to crack open the shell so I went out to the back porch and threw it against the concrete*. It worked, then it took a lot of work and pulling and prying to get the meat out and to peel the coconut. I DO NOT recommend using your vegetable peeler, I completely dulled mine by doing this Just use a knife to get the peel off and then put it in your food processor and grind it up till it’s fine.

Sandy’s cooknote *to make the job a little easier, try putting the coconut inside two plastic bags before cracking it against the concrete.

To assemble the cake:
Place one layer on the cake plate. prick the layers with a fork and drizzle 1/3 of the coconut water over the layer (this is where I also drizzle a bit of the cream of coconut over); place 1/3 of the icing on the first layer and frost the top and sides, sprinkle 1/3 of the grated coconut over the icing, repeat the layers until finished. I made sure to have enough coconut to cover top and sides with it. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.

Stephanie says this cake is a lot of work but oh-so-worth it!

My only final question is – did Harry Baker name his cake “chiffon” or was that the idea of someone at General Mills? – Maybe—maybe not!

Happy Cooking and Happy Cookbook collecting!

–Sandra Lee Smith