Category Archives: FAVORITE BOOKS

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHORS CHERYL & BILL JAMISON PART10 1&2

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHOR – PART 10-1 CHERYL ALTERS JAMISON & BILL JAMISON – AMERICAN HOME COOKING; SMOKE & SPICE, PART 2

While checking through some of my barbecue cookbooks, I remembered writing about Cheryl & Bill Jamison’s fantastic barbecue bible, titled SMOKE & SPICE, which I originally posted on my blog in July of 2012. And I was also reminded of the Jamison’s wonderful “AMERICAN HOME COOKING, subtitled “Over 300 Spirited Recipes Celebrating our Rich Tradition of Home Cooking” published in 1999. So—Part 10 will be all about Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison and some of my favorite cookbooks. -So, first here is AMERICAN HOME COOKING BY CHERYL ALTERS JAMISON & BILL JAMISON.

It never crossed my mind, as we approached the new millennium in 1999 that many cookbook writers would be working fast and furious to complete books about American cuisine of the past 100 years. I think I was busier worrying about Y2K to give new cookbook trends more than a passing thought. I was also busy doing a lot of writing for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange at the time.
A comment made by cookbook author Jean Anderson in the forward to one of these cookbooks set me straight, however, and also sent me in search of “my” kind of cookbook on bookstore shelves. I am partial to a lot of different types of cookbooks but especially those dedicated to what we loosely define as “American” cooking.
As many other cookbook authors have illustrated, different types of cuisine make up what we consider “typically” American food. This is because our country was settled by immigrants from many different countries throughout Europe and South American, people who brought their food traditions to the New world with them, often finding ways to adapt their recipes to the unfamiliar fruits and vegetables discovered in North America.

Several entire bookcases in my house are devoted entirely to cookbooks of this genre—primarily books with “American” in the title, but including any and all that fall into what I call my Americana category. “AMERICAN HOME COOKING” by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison really stood out on the shelves of one of my favorite bookstores.

Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison are the authors of numerous travel guides and cookbooks, including, I discovered while doing a name search on the Internet, “The Border Cookbook” which was a James Beard Award winner in 1996. In 1995, their cookbook “SMOKE AND SPICE” was a 1995 James Beard Award winner.
To compile AMERICAN HOME COOKING, the Jamisons visited family cheese crafters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania Dutch farmers between market days, and learned techniques for frying catfish from the first African American catfish farmer in Mississippi.

The publishers coax, “In a lively and lucid style that appeals to both novice and experienced cooks, the Jamisons invite you to sample a coast-to-coast feast of more than 300 recipes straight from the heart of America’s own home cooking tradition…”
Hefting this fairly weighty cookbook, you would think there were more than 300 recipes—but this volume is packed with other goodies as well, the very kind of background information that those of us who “read cookbooks like novels” are so partial to. (Show me a cookbook collector and I’ll show you someone who has stacks of cookbooks on their nightstand and piled up next to the bed—cookbook readers like to read cookbooks in bed).

AMERICAN HOME COOKING is just such a cookbook. Possibly the most difficult decision you will have to make is how to read it – page by page devouring the entire contents in one fell swoop, or–first the recipes and backing up to enjoy the wealth of historical information contained in numerous sidebars. (Sort of reminds me of the best way to eat an Oreo cookie).

The Jamisons note, “An extraordinary wealth of books exists on American home cooking. From just our familiar collection and two more extensive and professional collections at the Schlesinger Library of Radcliffe College, and Texas Woman’s University, we amassed a bibliography that runs on for fifty one single spaced pages, and that includes only the works that inspired us to take notes. We cut that list severely to produce this selection, honed to the books we used the most and would recommend to others interested in a deeper immersion in the subject….” (Sandy’s cooknote: you have no idea how I would love to do this—compile a bibliography of all MY cookbooks with America in the title.)

The Jamisons also included culinary essays and historical tomes as well as cookbooks. For readers who enjoy reading the bibliography as well as the book itself (and I know you are out there), you will enjoy this portion too. Kind of like a double serving of dessert after a fantastic dinner.

Recipes? Whether Oregon Hot Crab and Cheddar Sandwich, or Pico de Gallo, Prairie Fire Dip, or Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab Cakes, whether Main Steamed Lobster or Mississippi Barbecued Chicken, or Kansas City Sugar-and-Spice Spareribs, AMERICAN HOME COOKING criss-crosses the United States from East to West and from North to South, presenting with obvious forethought the selections chosen for us by the Jamisons.

There are recipes I have not seen or heard of elsewhere, such as “The Gardener’s Wife Salad”, “Maque Choux” and “Honolulu Poke” but many others are familiar traditionally American choices, such as Hoppin’ John, Virginia Country Ham, and new England Boiled Dinner (one of my favorites; my mother-in-law used to make something similar to this—but she was from West Virginia, not New England).

One special feature of AMERICAN HOME COOKING that you will absolutely love are sidebars—interesting food related quotes from many of our favorite cookbook authors of the past century or two, such as current writers James Villas and John Egerton, but including quotes from M.F.K. Fisher, Sarah Tyson Rorer, James Beard and Irma Rombauer. There is even a rhymed recipe from one of the Brown’s cookbooks, AMERICA COOKS, a great favorite of mine.
I especially like a quotation credited to Laurie Colwin in Gourmet Magazine in May, 1990, in which she stated “Anyone who spends any time in the kitchen eventually comes to realize that what she or he is looking for is the perfect chocolate cake”.
Another delight was from George Rector, author of DINE AT HOME WITH RECTOR (1934) in which he sang the praises of pie, stating “A nation with its heart in the right place would long since have erected a monument as tall as the State of Liberty to the unknown heroine who baked the first American pie—its unworthy ancestors abroad can be discarded. The pedestal should be round and divided into six pieces and the figure should be holding up a pie the size of those in Paul Bunyan’s lumber camps On the pedestal should be inscribed what might be a quotation from Walt Whitman’s ‘O Pioneers!’”

Some years ago, a columnist from the Los Angeles Times asked me, if I could only choose five cookbooks, which five would they be? I was hard-pressed at the time to choose just five. But I have to say, now, that AMERICAN HOME COOKING would be my number one choice.

AMERICAN HOME COOKING by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison, was published by Broadway Books, NY, in 1999. It originally sold for $35.00.

You can find it on Amazon.com—Hardcover copies are available starting at one cent, softcover new or preowned staring at twenty three cents (shipping and handling will cost you $3.99 This is a worthy addition to any cookbook collector’s collection.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith
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SMOKE & SPICE B7 CHERYL AND BILL JAMISON, PART 10 – 2
“SMOKE & SPICE”,

Newly re-published (revised edition) in 2003, was at that time the very latest cookbook from outdoor cooking experts Cheryl and Bill Jamison, who are the authors of over a dozen cookbooks and travel guides.

I’ve been a fan of the Jamisons ever since I discovered “AMERICAN HOME COOKING”.

“SMOKE & SPICE” is a James Beard Award winner that has already sold more than half a million copies – and, state the publishers, is the only authoritative book on the subject of genuine smoke-cooked barbecue. (Prior to acquiring “Smoke & Spice”, the only recipes I had on this subject were in a small booklet that accompanied the Brinkmann® Smoker that we bought some years ago).

In the preface to the Revised Edition, the Jamisons write, “From the time we first started writing cookbooks, more than a dozen years ago, we’ve always seen our efforts as paeans to underappreciated foods and the cultures that surround them…” They say their previous cookbooks so far have dealt with things like Texas home cooking, border traditions that Americans share with northern Mexico, and breakfast outside the box (see a list of the Jamisons’ cookbooks at the end of this review). They feel the subjects they choose to write about don’t make much buzz when chefs and other culinary pros gather (I have to say, I wouldn’t care what the professionals thought as long as ordinary people like us were impressed and buying their books).

However, the Jamisons continue, “Imagine our shock, then, when the cookbook that seemed the mostly clearly out of the mainstream happened upon a trend. When we decided to write “SMOKE & SPICE”, even our long-term publisher balked at the idea. Who could possibly be interested in an old-fashioned style of cooking that is slow, smoky, and dominated by good ol’ boys and grizzled black pitmasters? We couldn’t find one person who thought that real barbecue was cookbook material…”

Luckily for us, the Jamisons didn’t care—they love to barbecue and knew that it would be great fun to cook, eat, and write about
this food topic.

“SMOKE & SPICE” they say, “came along at a time when Americans wanted to spend more time outside, when we finally got fed up with burned birds for outdoor dinners, when we went through a nostalgia phase….”

These and a lot of other reasons caused a revival of interest in real, smoke-cooked barbecue. Now, a decade later, barbecue continues to soar in popularity. “Even chefs, women and city folks talk about it now,” the Jamisons say. Consequently, they decided to take a fresh look at the book. Their publishers wanted to know whether the original recipes are still on target, or if they had been barbecuing anything new in recent years that other people would like. Were they doing different side dishes, now, or desserts, or other special treats? Did the Jamisons have a stockpile of fresh barbecue stories and tips? The answer was yes, yes, yes, to everything – so it was back to the drawing board (or in this case, the computer) where the Jamisons added 100 new recipes and many other changes to their original book.

“It’s time to graduate from grilling,” say the Jamisons. “American cooks have been enrolled in ‘Introductory Barbecue’ for a half-century now, since the days when we all liked Ike…” (for those of you too young to remember, Ike was President Eisenhower. When he campaigned for the presidency in the 1950s, we all wore big buttons that read “I like Ike.” We had two black lab puppies we named Mike & Ike).

“We’ve enjoyed cooking outdoors,” reflect the Jamisons, “but we’re weary of wieners and charred chicken, yearning more and more for the full flavor of old-time, real barbecue, the kind popularly known as ‘Bar-B-Q’ food that dances on your senses and gets to your lips to rejoicing…”

“SMOKE & SPICE” is a complete guide to the genuine article. “Where we move,” write Cheryl and Bill, “beyond searing and sizzling into really smoking. Some of the hundreds of books on barbecue grilling acknowledge and applaud this advanced art but they usually suggest that a home cook can’t hope to match the results of a professional pitmaster in the Carolinas, Kansas City, Memphis, or Texas. At best, they may say, you can add a few wood chips to a conventional grill or slather or smoky sauce over food…”

“Bunk!” decry the Jamisons. In the last two decades, they say, there’s been a revolution in home smoking equipment and supplies, the subject of the first two chapters of their book. These new developments allow anyone to make great barbecue—real, honest to goodness “Q”—in your back yard or on your balcony or even inside, often in ways that avoid the potential health hazards of grilling. “All you need to succeed” suggest the Jamisons, “are the right resources and a little learning about the barbecue craft and its delightful part-and-parcel culture..”

“Today,” note the authors, “we use the term ‘barbecue’ in a multitude of ways, but in the American past, it mainly meant a big, festive community gathering…George Washington probably even slept at one. In his diary, the first president noted that he once went to Alexandria, Virginia, for a ‘barbicue’ that lasted three days…”

And when workers laid the cornerstone for our nation’s capitol in 1793, the leaders of the new country celebrated with a huge barbecue. And, as the Jamisons themselves point out, who could forget when Scarlett O’Hara met Rhett Butler at a barbecue in “GONE WITH THE WIND”?

“The cooks didn’t grill hamburgers at those affairs,” note the Jamisons. “They dug a long, deep pit in the ground, filled this trench with logs, burned the wood down to low-temperature coals, and then slow-roasted whole animals and fish suspended above the smoky fire…” That was barbecue, and, say the Jamisons, it’s still the essence of the art. To really return to your roots, you must celebrate a meal with friends and family by smoking food slowly and low over smoldering wood.

However, much of this tradition has been lost except in the rural regions of the South, Southwest, and Midwest.

“SMOKE & SPICE” will take you by the hand (the one holding onto the basting brush) and provide easy to follow lessons on the various kinds of smokers, including the vertical water smoker (which is what we have at my house) and the how-to of putting together everything you need to have your own smoker. There is a chapter devoted to fuels and tools, all of which you should read carefully before you embark on preparing your own Bar-B-Q in this unique method. One method that may interest you, if space is a problem, is Stovetop Smoking, for those who don’t have the yard or balcony or other appropriate space for smoking meat. For you, ”the ‘barbecue pit’ of choice,” write the Jamisons, “is a crafty inexpensive device called a stovetop smoker…” Cheryl and Bill use one made by a Colorado Springs company, Camerons who you can call at 888-563-0227) or you can look them up on their website at http://www.cameronssmoker.com.

What can you expect from “SMOKE & SPICE”?

After the Introduction, and a chapter titled “The Secret of Success” which delves into barbecue basics, the various types of fuels and different kinds of smokers, “SMOKE & SPICE” starts out with recipes for rubs and spice medleys, pastes, and marinades. I especially like the Name-Your-Herb Paste, nice for those of us who have an herb garden….but there is Roasted Garlic Mash, Wild Willy’s Number One-derful Rub, Poultry Perfect Rub, rubs for seafood and rubs for beef. Primo Paste is a paste especially good on lean foods, especially turkey, while Kentucky Pride is a smoky sweet paste that will enhance better cuts of pork and beef. Everything you ever wanted to know about rubs and pastes and marinades is right here! Along with the recipes are BBQ tips and side bars which I find as interesting to read as the recipes. For instance: “Hundreds of Web Sites deal with barbecue in one way or another, often promoting cook-offs, sauces and rubs, catering businesses, smoking equipment and the like. A large number of the sites are linked through http://www.smokering.net. From there you can surf yourself silly through wave after wave of barbecue boasting. (Recently, when I was visiting my sister in Tennessee, we watched on cable the cook-off held annually by Jack Daniels—it really makes you want to get into cook-offs….or at least be a taster at one of these events!).

Marinades in “SMOKE & SPICE” range from James Beard’s Basic Barbecue Marinade to a Red Wine Marinade, Stout Beer Marinade, and Jalapeno-Lime Marinade. Cheryl’s Cider Soak, made with apple cider and cider vinegar sounds right up my alley. Next are an assortment of “Mops and Bastes”, important ingredients in traditional barbecuing, needed to keep the food moist and adding an extra layer of flavor. Choose from Southern Sop to Basic Beer Mop, Lemon Splash, Lightning Mop (made with pickled jalapenos) and Pop Mop (easily made with Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola or R.C. Cola).

I’m telling you, there are so many wonderful recipes for pork that you’ll be hard-pressed deciding where to start. There is even a recipe for going “Whole Hog” – barbecuing a full grown hog, 120 to 150 pounds! While most of us may not be quite so adventurous…the recipe is there in case you need it for your next luau party. As for me, I like the sound of Memphis Mustard Pork Sandwich, Lone Star Spareribs, Kansas City Sloppy Ribs and Cajun Country Ribs. Or, you may be tantalized by Ginger-Glazed Ham, or Maple-Bourbon Ham, both easily made with a 12 to 14 pound cooked ready-to-eat ham. (I can’t wait to try both of these recipes). Or, you might be tempted by Weeknight Pork Tenderloin which, say the Jamisons, because of its long thin shape, is one of the quickest and easiest meats to transform with smoke. Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite meats to cook for the family – because everyone likes it so much. I suspect they will like it even more as Weeknight Pork Tenderloin or Sweet and Fruit Pork Tenderloin. There are these and many other pork recipes from which to choose.

Then, under a chapter titled “Bodacious Beef” you will find so many great recipes—I’ll be making Braggin’ Rights Brisket next time my brother comes to visit, just to prove that I can make a great brisket too! However, there are recipes for Simply Elegant Beef Tenderloin, Drunk and Dirty Tenderloin, Carpetbag Steak, Soy-Glazed Flank Steak, Standing Tall Prime Rib – and “Ain’t Momma’s Meat Loaf” – Meat Loaf made in my smoker! Who would have ever guessed?

There are recipes for barbecuing lamb, mutton, goat, veal, venison and rabbit. Then there are the recipes for chicken, turkey, duck, quail, and pheasant. Then there are all of the recipes for barbecuing salmon, trout, catfish, flounder, rockfish, snapper, tuna (no, not your canned chopped tuna – this calls for tuna steaks), as well as swordfish, grouper, shrimp, scallops – as well as other seafood.

Next are all the recipes for smoke-scented salads, pastas, and pizzas. “It makes no sense to us,” say Cheryl and Bill, “to spend hours barbecuing for just one meal. You might as well buy socks one at a time. With hardly any more expenditure or effort, time, or beer, you can easily smoke food for several meals at once…”
The Jamisons say that, typically, when they fire up their big barbecue pit, they cook enough pork butt, beef brisket, and other freezer-friendly goodies to last them for months of sandwiches, salads, hashes, pastas, and the like—and what’s left after an initial feeding frenzy with friends. They write, “Even when we’re barbecuing in an outdoor smoker with a small capacity, we fill it with sausages, fish fillets, peppers and other tuck-away items for deliberate leftovers in the days ahead….” Their chapter on Smoke-Scented Salads, Pastas and Pizzas covers some of the dishes they make with the extra food, each suitable for serving as a main course. This great section contains recipes with mouth-watering names, such as Calico Pepper Salad, Smoldering Vegetable Antipasto Platter, Wild Mushroom Calzone and Smoky Summer Spaghetti.
The next section is titled “While You Wait” and these are recipes you can pop into your smoker when dinner won’t be ready for a while and you have hungry people standing around waiting to be fed. These are appetizer and hors d’oeuvre recipes but unlike appetizers you’ve seen elsewhere. Think: Nachos Blancos, Smoke Mushroom Quesadillas, Curry Pecans, Smoked Rosemary Walnuts, Smoke Trout on Apple Slices – and much, much, more.

The following chapter is devoted to Barbecue Sauces and here the Jamisons provide more than twenty recipes . I had to laugh out loud reading the sidebar “Serious Secrets”—“Barbecuists,” write the Jamisons, quoting John Thorne, editor of “Simple Cooking newsletter in 1988, “put secret ingredients into their sauces for the same reason that dogs piss on trees; to mark out a piece of territory as their own. The secret ingredient is not intended to make the sauce ‘better’ but to mark it in such a way as to leave no doubt that it’s unique—it is peerlessness, not flavor, that makes it perfect, The praise it wants is not culinary exclamation but surrender. ‘Damn it, J.D., but I’ve never tasted the like.’” So, whether you want Struttin’ Sauce or Smoke Butter, Memphis Magic or West Coast wonder, Cinderella Sauce or South Florida Citrus Sauce – there is something to satisfy the taste buds of every one of us.

Since “SMOKE & SPICE” is a cookbook intended to provide you with all the recipes you need for your next barbecue, the Jamisons have thoughtfully included side dishes –explaining, “What pitmasters serve on the side has a lot to do with what they serve in the center, and that has a lot to do with where they happen to be holding forth. Somewhere in this country, someone offers almost anything you can imagine, from pig snouts to tamales. However, Cheryl and Bill’s recipes cover the most traditional dishes plus a few of the most unusual, but they don’t always fix them in a purely old-fashioned way. “In some cases,” they say, “we’ve spiced up the preparation a bit to help finish off the flavor of a dish, so that it can stand alone as well as sit on the side…” However, despite these occasional embellishments, they tell us their recipes remain true to their tradition. Look here for recipes for creamy coleslaw, Kansas City Baked Beans, Candied Sweet Potatoes or Buttermilk Onion Rings, Prize Pilau and Buttermilk Biscuits. These and other recipes will answer any questions about what to serve with your barbecue. There is also an entire chapter on Side-Dish Salads and Relishes and I have to confess, pickles and relishes are one of my favorite things to make and eat. So, along with Southern Caesar Salad and San Antonio Cactus and Corn Salad, look for Hot German Potato Salad and Okra Pickles, Bodacious Bread-and-Butter Pickles and Wonderful Watermelon Pickles…as for me, I am heading for the kitchen to whip up a batch of Bourbon Peaches from the peaches growing in my own back yard—this recipe is absolutely perfect for using small to medium size peaches.

No barbecue would be complete without dessert – “Barbecue demands dessert,” say the Jamisons, “even if it’s no more than a packaged peanut pattie or fried pie…Sweet follows smoke as naturally as amorous eyes track after tight jeans…” And, they say, the best desserts for a barbecue pig-out are the old American favorites. Think: Prodigal Pecan Pie, Peanut Butter Cake, Black Walnut Cake, Peach Melba Ice Cream and Key Lime Pie.

Finally, there is a chapter dedicated to “Cool and Cheery Drinks” and here you will find directions for making such all time favorites as Derby Day Mint Julep, Turquoise Margarita, Sangrita Maria and more.

Cheryl and Bill Jamison have outdone themselves with “SMOKE & SPICE”, packed with over 300 recipes as well as tons of tips and information. It’s a book you will refer to time and time again, sure to become your barbecue bible.

Cheryl and Bill Jamison, who live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, are the authors of 15 cookbooks and travel guides including the following titles:

SMOKE & SPICE first edition (winner of a James Beard Book Award)
SMOKE & SPICE 2003 revised edition
BORN TO GRILL (winner of a Food & Wine Best of the Best Award)
A REAL AMERICAN BREAKFAST
AMERICAN HOME COOKING (winner of a James Beard Book Award and an IACP Cookbook Award)
THE BORDER COOKBOOK (winner of a James Beard Book Award)
SUBLIME SMOKE
TEXAS HOME COOKING
THE RANCHO DE CHIMAYO COOKBOOK

I visited the Jamisons’ website and discovered their latest cookbook titles –

TASTING NEW MEXICO
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DINNERS
And in 2007
THE BIG BOOK OF OTUDOOR COOKING & ENTERTAINING (James Beard award winner).
The Jamisons are also the authors of the following travel guides:
THE INSIDER’S GUIDE TO SANTA FE, TAOS AND ALBUQUERQUE
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN HAWAII
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN THE CARIBBEAN
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MEXICO

To find a copy of SMOKE & SPICE, I found it listed on Amazon.com new, hardbound copy for $15.71 in paperback new and preowned starting at 5.41. When I searched on Amazon.com for Smoke & Spice I discovered it has been republished a couple of times so you can pretty much find whatever you are looking for, in price and/or condition. If you just want one good barbecue cookbook, this would be a good choice.

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith

HAPPY COOKING AND HAPPY COOKBOOK COLLECTING!
SANDY

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

**
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 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

I DIDN’T KNOW THAT I WAS LONELY

I didn’t know that I was lonely,
I’m not sure when it all began,
I never thought I needed others,
So it’s hard to understand
The how and why these altered feelings
Have changed my life which has always been
About books.
I thought that books were all I’d need
To befriend me, to favorite authors who
Would guide me as I traveled
Through life–
From the early Alcott’s Little Women,
The first book my mother bought for me
One Christmas. For a while it was my
Only book—so I read it over and over again–
To my first five Nancy Drew’s that
My brother Jim somehow managed to get for
Me another Christmas.
I have never been satisfied
just to read them,
Books were a major part of my life
And I wanted to own them.
But now…as I turn seventy-five,
I am beginning to feel that
Books are no longer the greatest
Solace;
Part of the love of a book
Is being able to tell someone about it.
Joy was having a partner who
Loved books as much as I
And now he is gone—
And I didn’t know
That I was lonely
And now I am.

—Sandra Lee Smith

FOR THE LOVE OF BOOKS

Mark Twain once said “Those who don’t read good books have no advantage over those who can’t”.

Before I ever embarked on a quest to collect as many cookbooks as I could, I was interested in two particular authors; one was Norah Lofts, perhaps the most prolific fiction novel author in my collection (*There are undoubtedly other authors who have written as many if not more novels than Norah Lofts—but I am referencing just those authors whose work I have collected). I began collecting the works of Norah Lofts around in 1965, about the same time I began collecting cookbooks. Norah Lofts’ published works is enormous—so much so that she has published works under other names. When I began collecting the fiction (as well as some non-fiction) works of Norah Lofts, I would buy two or three copies for a girlfriend here in California—as well as for a penpal in Australia. You could often find one of her titles for about a dollar each. My collection of Norah Lofts is undoubtedly incomplete, as I discovered when I began finding titles published in the United Kingdom but not always in the USA. The Internet has changed all that!

Another much-loved author was Janice Holt Giles. I think I began searching for her titles in roughly the same time period as I was searching for Norah Lofts. Again, I would buy more than one copy of JHG’s novels—one for me, one for girlfriend Connie – and sometimes one for my Aussie penpal. I think I have all of Giles’ published titles—several were published after she passed away, by the University Press of Kentucky, (I was in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Newport, Kentucky, with a nephew, grabbing up reprints and newly published copies of Giles’ books and I exclaimed to the cashier “I can’t believe how many of my favorite Kentucky authors you have on your shelves” – to which he drawled, “well, MAM, You ARE in Kentucky!” My nephew Russ and I laughed all the way back across the bridge to Cincinnati.

Kentucky was Giles’ home for most of her life—and the setting, often, for one of her novels. I once wrote a letter to Giles, in appreciation for one of my favorite novels, “The Believers” – she sent me a typewritten response, mentioning that the day she received MY letter, she also received a letter from a fan in another state, also about The Believers. It was through Giles’ novels that I developed a love for and an abiding appreciation for American pioneers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.

Another favorite fiction author of mine—but one who only wrote a few novels—was a woman named Ardyth Kennelly. “The Peaceable Kingdom” was followed by a sequel, “Up Home” and are two books I have read repeatedly. The setting was Salt Lake City and the period of time was when Polygamy was being practiced. Also published was “Marry Me, Carry Me” and “The Spur”.
I am aware through the Internet that Kennelly had many other publications and works, not necessarily fiction novels; she passed away in 2005 at the age of 92. “Variation West” is a 2014 novel published posthumously and I don’t have that one yet. (I found an excellent article about Ardyth Kennelly in Wikipedia, for anyone who wants more information about Kennelly’s life.)

I remember back in the 1970s, when I took my young children to Ohio for the summer, taking my kid brother with me to downtown Cincinnati to explore the extensive shelves of a large used book store named Acre of Books—I had begun collecting cookbooks but still searched for books by any of my favorite authors; it is one of the major blessings of the Internet that you don’t have to search for the bookstores or their contents—it all comes to you via the Internet.

I would search for anything by Janice Holt Giles, Norah Lofts, Ardyth Kennelly—and some others. I had not yet discovered many of the authors whose works I would search for, and collect, for my own bookshelves. I also started a steno notebook of the business cards for bookstores that crossed my path—as well as the telephone book yellow pages in the cities I visited spanning several decades of my adult life – B.I. (before internet). It came as a distinct shock when, in 2008, my Canadian penpal Sharon and I stopped to visit a favorite book store in San Luis Obispo – only to find it gone; all that remained was an empty store front. Obviously, what the country gained in Internet services providing vendors throughout the country, we lost something vital to the life’s blood of any avid book lover….actually being there, browsing, touching, finding—and buying books.

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. – P. J. O’Rourke

And one of my favorites: Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book. –Author Unknown**

One of my favorite chefs, Louis 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!)
**
Szathmary’s confessions about buying books struck a chord in me; when I first started working full time at Western/Southern Life Insurance Company in downtown Cincinnati, where I was born, I often spent a portion of my paycheck on books that I found in thrift stores—sometimes in trays placed outside the entrance—for 25 cents each. Some times I found old early editions of Nancy Drew books. I wasn’t in the least interested in finding old books for their value—I wanted them because I wanted books; I didn’t want to just READ the books; I wanted to OWN them.

After Jim & I moved to California, my mother began sending my books to me and I began searching for used book stores in Burbank or North Hollywood, where we had settled. I found paperback mysteries at a used book store in North Hollywood, that I could buy for ten cents each. Michael was about 2 years old and in a stroller when I would walk to that bookstore in North Hollywood.

(I was a steady customer of another used book store in Burbank, on Magnolia, for decades—until the owner, Pete, passed away. When I would take all four sons to that book store, he’d warn me “I’m counting children! Make sure you leave with the right number!” What a fantastic bookstore THAT one was.

Are all the used book stores a thing of the past? Brand Bookshop in Glendale? Moe’s in Berkeley? Ravenscar Books in Sherman Oaks? The Book Village in Pasadena? David’s Books in Ann Arbor? After Words, also in Ann Arbor? Margaret Mannati in San Diego? Vintage Books in Vancouver (Washington)? Bart’s Books in Ojai, California? Madhatters’ Old Books in Langley, Washington? Phantom Bookshop in Ventura, California? Book Castle, Inc., Burbank, California? Shorey’s Used, Rare and New Books in Seattle, Wa? Simmer Pot Press/More than Just Cookbooks, in Boone, North Carolina? Yesterday’s Books in Washington, DC? Idle Time Books, also in Washington, DC? Earthling Book Shop and Café in Santa Barbara, CA? Again Books, also in Santa Barbara? Bookcellar in Carson City, NV? Timeless Books in Redding, CA? the Seattle Book Center, Seattle, WA? CODY’S BOOKS in Berkeley, CA? and one of my all-time favorite sources for cookbooks, MARION GORE BOOKSELLER in San Gabriel, CA? (I know, she has been gone for a long time—but not long ago I came across one of the annual booklets she would publish and send to customers. I met her once a long time ago.

And how about some of your favorite book stores?

The only redemption that we have is that many booksellers are now peddling their wares on sites like Amazon.com. It’s not the same thing as walking into a dusty used bookstore and spending hours browsing through their shelves—but it may be the next best thing—providing us access to hundreds of used bookstores of the past.

–Sandy@sandychatter

TOO MANY BOOKS?

TOO MANY BOOKS?

To paraphrase the Duchess of Windsor (the former Wallace Simpson for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in
1936) “you can’t be too rich or too poor….or have too many cookbooks”*

*Amongst my collection of favorite books are those about monarchs of Great Britain—and their wives/husbands or children.

I never imagined that the thought (having too many books) ever crossed my mind – until recently when I started finding it more difficult to find enough shelf space for my books.

As a child, I didn’t have any books to call my own. (I’d often read the same library books over and over again).

My very first book was a copy of Little Women that my mother gave to me one Christmas. I read and re-read little women until I could recite whole pages by heart. I’d give my book to one of my two best girlfriends and then when we had a squabble, I’d ask for it back. It went back and forth a few times.

Then one Christmas, my brother Jim gave me five brand-spanking new Nancy Drew books. I was hooked – not just hooked on Nancy Drew, which I was, but also the idea of having books of my own began to take place in a fertile corner of my mind.

I was already making trips downtown (Cincinnati) by myself – whether to pay off my mother’s coat that was in layaway at Lerner’s, or to turn in the blue Wilson labels from evaporated milk for which you could get a towel or a pot holder.

My mother made batches of formula in glass bottles with evaporated milk for whoever was the baby at the time. I have to wonder, though – she breast fed the baby—was the one who wasn’t the youngest anymore weaned onto bottles? This muddles my mind a bit—Biff was three years younger than me, and Bill was three years younger than Biff.

Bill remained the baby until our brother Scott was born when Bill was about twelve years old. Scott and my sister Susie were almost like a second family. I was seventeen when Scott was born—and the neighbors thought he was my baby, because I was the one waking him up and down the street in his stroller. I was twenty and married when Susie came along.

I need to back track, though, because I was the middle child, and my two younger brothers, Biff (whose name is actually George Calvin after two of our uncles who served during World War II) and Bill were often my responsibility. I looked after them all the time (and even took them with me on dates, when my current BF was taking me to a drive in movie), and began taking them with me downtown on the bus in December, to do our Christmas shopping. I have written about those trips downtown, growing up in Cincinnati, before on my blog so I won’t repeat all of that now. My point, really, is that I began going downtown—often by myself—and during those excursions I discovered books—books for sale in dusty dark thrift shops and (be still my heart!)—a huge used book store housing four stories of books. I bought a lot of those books—one at a time, seldom having any money to call my own—for about twenty-five cents each. I discovered some old editions of Nancy Drew, and a few other series similar to Nancy Drew.

Now I needed a bookcase – I think my mother must have given a bookcase to me one Christmas—and I took it with me when Jim (Smith, not to be confused with my brother Jim Schmidt!) & I got married but I think that bookcase must have been left behind when Jim & I moved to California. Jim had no use for my books OR the collection of 45s that I had accumulated and that he sailed over the back yard of his mother’s house

(How could I have married a man who didn’t like to read AND had no interest in my collection of 45s records? From my viewpoint fifty-something years later, it is almost too difficult to fathom. Was it love? I don’t think so—the night before the wedding, I knew I was making a mistake; I just didn’t know any way to get out of it. I was unhappy with the way my mother was treating me after I finally got a job (Western-Southern Life Insurance in downtown Cincinnati) – I had been taking care of my brothers all along, and babysat my baby brother from the time he was born until I got married—neighbors on Mulberry Street thought Scott was MY baby and that my brother Jim, then in the Air Force—was my husband. Susie set them all straight when she became old enough to play with little girls her age on our street. My mother decreed that I had to start paying room and board. I was so upset about that, I told Jim Smith, who said “well, we could get married”. And so we did. For all the wrong reasons. And, in retrospect, I don’t think he really loved me, either. Months of counseling prior to divorce revealed that he had been cheating on me throughout our marriage. That was the final blow, the realization that he had never been true to me and was unlikely to change.

My little white bookcase went with me to the house on Biegler Street where we lived downstairs from my husband’s mother. We didn’t take it with us to California – neither that or a kitchen cupboard that we bought—and what I wished for years I had somehow managed to keep. As far as I know, Jim’s sister still has those things.

We drove to California in 1961 as a lark—and rented a furnished duplex next door to Jim’s best friend Marvin who had taken his wife and children to California the year before. Michael was a little over a year old and I would take him in his stroller up Hollywood Way to a bookstore on Magnolia where I began buying books as cheap as possible, mostly paperbacks. I would read anything I could lay my hands on.

In 1962 we moved to an apartment on Sarah Street and I would walk Michael in his stroller up to a used bookstore on Lankershim Blvd—paperbacks ten cents each! Then I found a job at Household Finance in Hollywood and my free time was taken up just getting to and from work on buses; I did some exploring along Hollywood Boulevard but I don’t remember finding any thrift stores (or if I did, I’ve forgotten) – much of 1962 going into 1963 has been forgotten. I had a serious miscarriage in 1962 that landed me in the hospital for a few days.

What I remember is being hurried to the hospital by my husband, to a Seventh Day Adventist hospital because I had gone there when I suspected I was pregnant and it was affirmed. This was my second miscarriage – my first was in 1959 when we were still living in Cincinnati. This time I was bleeding heavily as we reached the hospital in Glendale. The next morning the doctor on call performed a D&C—when I miscarried, I’d lose everything except the fetus.

Well, it couldn’t have been too much longer after that we
moved into a wonderful large apartment on Sarah Street in North Hollywood. The “tenants” in the other downstairs apartment were actually the owners whose house was being remodeled; the parents had three adorable little girls who all, in turn, adored Michael and lavished attention on him. We were also invited to swim in their pool.

I can’t remember having many books much less a bookcase during the period of time that we lived there. When I became pregnant again, I flew back to Cincinnati with Michael in March of 1963 (I wanted my own obstetrician). We gave away the various items we had accumulated in a few years.

In Cincinnati, I returned to my old job, thankfully, and worked until two weeks before Steven’s birth. In December, 1963, we drove back to California—Jim couldn’t (or wouldn’t) find a job and we were mostly penniless when, after Steve’s birth, I developed a blood clot in my right leg and was bedridden for six weeks; one week I had $5 for baby food; we went to my mother’s where she gave us some meat out of her freezer; then we went to my sister Becky’s and she gave us half of everything in her pantry.

Shades of Scarlett O’Hara! I cried all the way home and swore we would never go without groceries again. I said I wanted to go back to California – at least there Jim was always able to find a job. (*mind you, there was no such thing as welfare or food stamps in 1963).

I left my collection of books with my mother, who began sending them to me a few at a time. In 1965, when my parents came to visit us, my mother packed a suitcase with the rest of my books.

But it was also in 1965 that I began collecting cookbooks—I have written about that before on my blog so wont repeat all of it here. I had also become acquainted with Connie, who babysat for us for some months while both Jim & I got jobs at Weber Aircraft.

Connie was a kindred spirit – one time we found an ad for a collection of presidential and white House books, for $100. We split the cost and sight unseen bought all of those books which formed the nucleus of my collection of Presidents/White House books. We went through the books one at a time dividing them up.

I was keenly interested in anything about the assassination of JFK and many books were published on the subject. (After Connie died in 1999, her daughter Dawn gave me large bags full of Connie’s books that her children didn’t want). And I probably bought over a hundred cookbooks forming the nucleus of THAT collection, also in 1965.

When we were preparing to move to Florida in 1979, I donated carloads of children’s books for my sons’ school and when we were preparing to move back to California, I gave boxes full of cookbooks to a new friend whose daughter wanted to start a collection of cookbooks of her own. I packed up and mailed 50 boxes of cookbooks back to California—to Connie’s house, in fact—so I had a pretty good guess how many pounds of cookbooks and other favorite books I had in 1982 when we returned to California.

So, upon reflection—I think the bulk of my cookbook collection was acquired after I moved to a little house in Van Nuys, following my breakup with Jim living there for a few years before moving back into the Arleta house (where we had lived from 1974-79, before moving to Florida). The Arleta house was large and was accompanied by a guest house that Bob (who came into my life in 1986) converted into a guest room/office for him.

And for nineteen years we were off and running – collecting books—not just cookbooks—and when we ran out of shelf space, we’d go out and buy more bookcases.

When I bought a house in 2008, we went from roughly 3000 square feet of space—to roughly 1500 square feet. I gave away SUV-loads full of books to the Burbank library for their Friends of the Library Sales; I gave a lot of other books away—and even so, filled over 600 boxes with books that Kelly carted to the Antelope Valley one weekend at a time, and stored in a rental storage unit. My books were in storage for a few months, then my son and daughter in law moved all the boxes to my garage. I was without garage space for a year.

Then in 2010, Bob converted half of the garage into a ….Library, of course! My collection of fiction and presidents/white house/first ladies books were all still in boxes…as quickly as Bob put up some shelves, I was unpacking boxes. The beauty of being able to open exactly what I wanted opened is that I had numbered all of the boxes. I had also written on the boxes what was inside each box. Everything was also written down in a little steno notebook that was my moving bible.

Even so, I found myself donating a lot of books to the Lancaster Library for their Friends of the Lancaster Library sales…there was this dim realization that I was never going to read a lot of those books again—and after Bob passed away in 2011, I began giving away some of his favorite authors’ novels. I also gave away his collection of books by or about Mark Twain to a friend who I knew would appreciate them.

It saddens me to have come to this realization—I have too many books. Bob’s room has bookcases on either side of the bed—just enough space to get in and out—one side contains all my foreign cookbooks in one bookcase and all of my canning/preserving cookbooks in another bookcase, while the other side has all of my regional cookbooks – one half contains books east of the Mississippi and the other side is west of the Mississippi; my favorite books of Americana cookbooks are in one extra bookcase along that wall.

(One winter, when we were still living in Arleta, I spent six weeks separating east from west. These are cookbooks published by various church or club groups as fundraisers). We had also gone to a place in Van Nuys where you could buy unfinished bookcases and do the finishing yourselves—we’d buy a couple of those ceiling to floor bookcases at a time.

What was pretty great about my relationship with Bob is that he loved books as much as I – the difference between us is that he would start a book and not do another thing until he finished it—while I always had my priorities—in addition to working full time, there were always other chores to do.

My bedroom contains all of my California cookbooks, the bulk of my Americana cookbooks and my Presidential/White House cookbooks. A third bedroom contains books by favorite cookbook authors while in the living room I have all of my Christmas cookbooks, a Gooseberry Patch cookbook collection, a collection of celebrity cookbooks as well as dessert cookbooks. A collection of NON cookbooks –mostly books about the history of food—fill five smallish bookcases in the family room where my computer is located. These are most of my reference books.

So, by the end of 2010, I had a garage library – A to L along one wall and M to Z along another; I also have a smallish collection of children’s books that I keep in a bookcase near the door; included are any books I know will be required reading for my grandchildren or my sister Susie’s kids.

But now I find…I need to do more donating of books I know I will not read (any of Bob’s authors—except Teddy Roosevelt; I will keep those in my Presidential collection. I’ve run out of bookshelf space.

All of which begs the question – can you have too many books? Sadly, the answer to this is yes – if you don’t have enough bookshelves to house all of your books. Books are meant to be read and displayed on bookshelves.

How many cookbooks do I have now? I have no idea. I don’t know of anyone with enough patience to count all of them.

–Sandra Lee Smith