Category Archives: FAVORITE COOKBOOK AUTHORS

AMERICA SAYS GOODBYE TO BERNARD CLAYTON, JR.

The following was originally posted on my blog in 2011.

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

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

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

Bernard Clayton was a senior editor and writer for Indiana’s University News Bureau. He was formerly the Time-Life Bureau chief in San Francisco and war correspondent for the magazines during World War II. Later, he was vice president and director of public relations for two major San Francisco firms.
Clayton began his career as a journalist and foreign correspondent but began writing cookbooks nearly 45 years ago. (You may think it quite a jump from journalist/foreign correspondent to cookbook author but I can think of at least one other person who did the very same thing; Betty Wason. And, coincidentally, Betty Wason was also born in Indiana and grew up there).

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

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

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

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

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

In “Cooking Across America” Bernard Clayton and his wife, Marje, decided to take to the road in search of North America’s best cookbooks. He posted this note on the wall above his typewriter: “This will be more than a book of recipes. I am as interested in the cook as a person as I am in the thorough step-by-step presentation of the recipe. I believe these together have been the principal reasons readers have found pleasure in reading and cooking with my books”.
So, for three years, this sentiment defined Bernard & Marje’s days. They drove a GMC van and set out on the odyssey of a life time, what the author often called a dream assignment.

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

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

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

The Breads of France and how to Bake them in your own kitchen 1978, Bernard Clayton & Patricia Wells, Amazon pre-owned starting at $25.00
The Complete Book of Pastry, 1984, Amazon pre-owned starting at $3.00
The Complete Book of Soups and Stews, 1984, Amazon new and used from 1 cent.

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

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

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

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

I hesitated to list the higher prices; you can discover these for yourself on any of the cookbook websites. I generally consult Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Alibris, and Jessica’s Biscuit. (JESSICA’S BISCUIT is no longer in business.

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

–Review by Sandra Lee Smith

Happy Cooking and Happy Cookbook Collecting!

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ALL AMERICAN COWBOY COOKBOOK

THE FOLLOWING WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED IN 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gene Autry’s Texas Chili:

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

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

FROM AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE TO THE AMERICAN TABLE PART TWO

As promised, I am embarking on the remaining cookbooks with America or American in their title. I haven’t counted up the books that are in stacks at my feet. Over the weekend I found one that wasn’t with the other Americana cookbooks and I suspect there may be more. Additionally, I have a number of books that were in the Time Life series –one in front of me was a cookbook I found in a thrift store—no, my memory isn’t that fantastic – but this cookbook has a price that was written onto the cover with a red crayon—I know that any others with a red crayon price came from this thrift store—and I will need to search through all of the cookbooks to see what I can find. The problem I faced when we began unpacking all the cookbooks that were in storage, back in 2009, and I was trying to find shelf space for everything. (too many books, not enough shelf space). -sls

First, today, I want to tell you about a hardcover book bearing the title COOKING AMERICAN, written by Sidney w. Dean. Subtitled on the dust jacket, is the following: “This book establishes once and for all the gourmet tradition of American cuisine. It gives American food and cooking the prestige and glamour (sic) far too long attributed solely to foreign cooking.
Over 800 recipes gathered from all parts of the United States and Canada” Since Canada is included, that explains the variation in Glamor vs glamour. Where ever a Canadian spelling is used, I will type it as written in the book.
Included in COOKING AMERICAN offers chapter such as “For the Festive Occasion”, “Sauces for fish, meat, vegetables and poultry” “Outdoor Cookery” and quite a few others. “Cooking American” was published in 1957 with Illustrations from Dorothy Maas. **
From TASTE OF HOME” is a large and colorful hardbound cookbook with 735 reader recipes (I like the inclusion of a nod to the readers who contributed their recipes—this is the first time I have come across this). On the other hand, I have diligently searched for the copyright date, or the date RECIPES ACROSS AMERICA was released for distribution—but I can’t find the copyright date. This is a large cookbook and one of the reasons it’s so large, perhaps, is that each recipe is accompanied by a colorful photo of the recipes. In Part 1 you may recall, there was a cookbook titled “A TASTE OF AMERICA” also from Taste of Home magazine. **
THE BEST AMERICAN RECIPES 2004-2005 has a small subtit
le, “The year’s top picks from books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet” and was edited by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens, with a foreword by Bobby Flay. (I had no idea who the two women were but easily recognized the name of Bobby Flay—I am on the internet and watch a lot of cooking shows—that’s how come I recognized Bobby Flay’s name. I turned to the Introduction, written by the two women and it opens with “We never quite know what we’re going to find when we begin combing through hundreds of cookbooks, magazines, and newspapers looking for the best recipes of the year—which is a good part of why this is such an exciting enterprise…it is not unlike a massive culinary treasure hunt..” (as I continued to read, I couldn’t help but think “hey! I’d like a job like that!”
The Best American Recipes for 2004-2005 was published in 2004 by Houghton Miffln Company in New York. **

My curiosity was piqued so I did what I always do next when I become curious – I googled the two names and discovered a wealth of information. Now, I don’t know if all of the information I unearthed represents a lot of cookbooks such as the one I own by the two women There are numerous listings but no indication that all of these are books or, perhaps, articles written by the two women. If there was one hardbound boo k of the Best American recipes for 200 4-2005, are there other books like this one? **

COOKING HEALTHY ACROSS AMERICA is a healthy exchange cookbook by JoAnna M. Lund with Barbara Alpert. I know I have seen the name JoAnna Lund before, elsewhere. This cookbook is spiral bound and was published in 2000. **

Along similar lines is a hardbound cookbook published by Prevention Magazine, titled LOW-FAT COOKING, and subtitled” FEATURING ALL-AMERICAN FOOD. This cookbook was edited by Jean Rogers, the food editor for Prevention Magazine. The book is packed with information—and we know now that you don’t have to be “on a diet” to want to eat healthy foods and have a healthy lifestyle. For reasons I can’t explain, I am unable to find a publishing date or a copyright date in this cookbook. Still, it’s well done and interesting. **

And while I am expanding on a similar theme, the next cookbook is THE NEW AMERICAN FARM COOKBOOK, subtitled “More than 200 recipes featuring today’s naturally and organically grown foods”. Written by Linda and Fred Griffith, THE NEW AMERICAN FARM COOKBOOK was first published in 1993.

In the Introduction, we read, “Perhaps it was Odessa Piper who started us off on this journey. When we first met Odessa at her wonderful restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin, she said that the key to the quality o what she sent to the tables of her customers was the quality of what her suppliers to her. And her suppliers, it turned out, were farmers in her neighborhood, people she knew…”

So, THE AMERICAN FARM COOKBOOK is a combination of recipes and farmers in a particular region selling their produce to restaurants. (if I knew of a restaurant like this anywhere in my region, believe me I would share it with you! **

Next, I want to share with you a cookbook titled AMERICAN BUFFET, favorite regional recipes from members of the General Federation of Women’s Club, World’s largest and oldest women’s volunteer volunteer service organization (or WFWC Volunteer) which was published by Favorite Recipes Press (which I have written about in the past) and this collection of recipes was published in 1993. This is a nicely compiled cookbook with hidden spiral binding ( which just means, you can see the spiral binding inside the book but it is not visible from the outside—fyi, this type of binding is a lot more durable than ordinary spiral binding.

In the inside of American Buffet is a brief history of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs along with a couple black and white photographs explaining how they came about; I know we take for granted, today, of all the rights and liberties women have in 2017—but those rights didn’t always s exist. Someone – women – had to go to bat to receive those rights. (women were often thrown in jail for marching for women’s equal rights).

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs traces its roots back to Jane Cunningham Croly, an accomplished New York newspaperwoman who wrote under the pen name of Jenny June. Indignant that she and other women were denied admittance to a banquet honoring Charles Dickens in 1868 at the all-male New York Press Club simply because they were women. She determined to organize a club for women only. The name chosen for this club was Sorosis, a Greek word meaning “aggregation, aa sweet flavor of many fruits”
As Sorosis approached its 21st year, Mrs. Croly proposed a conference in New York that brought together delegates from 61 women’s clubs” There is more to the story and I am guessing that more can be found on Google.

The collection of recipes in AMERICAN BUFFET are accompanied by the name of the contributor, along with city and state and the origin of the contributor’s membership. This is a great cookbook for your collection replete with recipes I haven’t seen elsewhere. **
AN AMERICAN PLACE, by Larry Forgione, and subtitled ‘Celebrating the Flavors of America” is the proprietor of An American Place in NY City and the1766 Tavern in Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck NY. Published by William Morrow and Company in 1996. I have to confess, An American Place was a “gotcha” to my mind as I wasn’t expecting An American Place to be the name of a restaurant—but how could I, a southern Californian heart and soul know what is popular in New York City?

The Culinary visionary (Larry Forgione) largely responsible for the rebirth of Farmers’ markets across America and the availability of such quality ingredients as free-range chicken and the field green salad, finally produced his master cookbook.
Well, we know, don’t we, that farmers markets have spread throughout the country but its gratifying to learn who have been instrumental in creating such markets.

Recently (2006 and 2027) , I was visiting a niece in Bothell, Washington, north of Seattle—and whenever I have been to visit Leslie, I have enjoyed visiting some of the farmers markets in her area. In a paragraph in the dust jacket of An American Place, I read “Forgione’s passionate return to freshness has given birth to such cottage industries as local goat cheese producers, growers of specialty berries and field lettuces, the proliferation of smoked and cured fish and shellfish of all kinds, the return of old-fashioned apple varieties, even then raising of buffalo, which he brought back to the American menu nearly a full century since it last appeared.
On both of the above my recent visits to Washington, nieces (and my sister) have gone out to get jelly jars for me and we made blackberry jam the first time and a combination of blackberry and other berries such as raspberries and strawberries the second time. I could go crazy over the abundance of large beautiful fresh blackberries! **

BEST OF THE BEST FROM AMERICA cookbook is, quite obviously, by Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley, editors of the Best of the Best state series.

BEST OF THE BEST FROM AMERICA COOKBOOK published in 2005 by Quail Ridge Press, includes a full-color “we did it!” section that tells the story of how they accomplished the task of finding the best recipes in each state.

“More than two decades ago,” they write in the Preface, “we set out on a journey to find out what people across America liked to cook. Since the two of us have favorite recipes that are quite different—and we’re from neighboring states—Louisiana and Mississippi—we wondered, what are the favorite recipes and how are they different in Michigan and Arizona and Pennsylvania? We wanted to know what dishes are served for family meals, made for parties and tailgates, brought to church socials, etc. the pursuit of this goal proved to be the adventure of a lifetime. Not only did we discover extraordinary recipes, we met wonderful people and got a chance to visit a great portion of our beautiful country…”

BEST OF THE BEST FROM AMERICA COOKBOOK tells the story of how they accomplished the task of finding the best recipes in each state. Everywhere they traveled they asked about local fare and did their best to find it and taste it. They discovered that local cookbooks best revealed what people in that area cooked and often their stories attached to the recipes told them why. They received permission to use the recipes and in exchange listed the region’s cookbooks in a special “catalog of contributing cookbooks” section in each of the Best of the Best cookbooks so that others could purchase a copy of their book (I mentioned previously that a girlfriend and I would send for the local cookbooks referenced in those Best of the Best cookbooks—I no longer remember how many we sent away for – quite a few).

There is more to the book – and then there is the entire Best of the Best from America cookbook for you to delve into. **

I have AMERICA’S BEST RECIPES Hometown Collection, large spiral bound cookbooks, published by Oxmoor House for 1983 to Benefit he U.S. Ski Team, then 1988,1990, 1991, 1992, and 1994 as well as 1995, with just the titled America’s Best Recipes.
There are probably more books in the collection, with other dates—the above is what I have on my book shelves. **

Years ago—particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, I would send for any and all cookbooks published by various American food companies. For instance, A CELEBRATION OF COOKING IN AMERICA, subtitled Timeless Recipes from the Kitchens of Pet. Generally, these were recipes using Pet Evaporated Milk or other products created by Pet. The cookbook has hidden spiral binding and a colorful cover showing pumpkin pie, a couple of tacos and a few other baked dishes on the back cover. A Celebration of Cooking in America was published in 1984. **

Another cookbook from a food company is Land O’ Lakes AMERICAN HERITAGE COOKBOOK, subtitled Time-honored recipes from the Family Farm, published in 1999 by Land O Lakes and Creative Publishing. the American Heritage Cookbook is oddly shaped as cookbooks go, and was published in 1999. On the dust jacket is written “American Heritage Cookbook features over 50 original recipes submitted by Land O’Lakes cooperative members and employees. These recipes not only reflect the wholesome goodness of rural American life, but feature some of Land O’Lakes most delicious, high quality dairy products.

These recipes, hand-picked by Land O’Lakes test kitchen home economists, were chosen for their over-all flavor and great family appeal…”

Recipes are accompanied by beautiful color photographs of most recipes. I may have to Xerox some of the cookie recipes featured in American Heritage Cookbook.

(note—I confess, I don’t take my cookbooks into the kitchen—I copy recipes I want to try on my printer and make a note where it came from. I’m a stickler for keeping my cookbooks pristine.—sls) **

BERNARD CLAYTON was a cookbook author whose work I admired. Sadly, Mr. Clayton passed away a few years ago, in 2011.

He was the author of the Breads of France, Complete Book of Pastry, as well as Bernard Clayton’s Complete Book of Breads, Soups and Stews, and the Complete Book of Breads (a copy of this last one is sitting on my coffee table; I go through it frequently.

Well, the next cookbook I want to mention to you is Bernard Clayton’s COOKING ACROSS AMERICA, subtitled “Cooking with more than 100 of North America’s best cooks and 250 of their favorite recipes”.

There are a number of cookbook authors who have written about the recipes found in one end of the USA to the other. I want to share with you Bernard Clayton’s “Cooking Across America”

On the dust jacket of “Cooking Across America” is the following: Bernard Clayton and his wife, Marie, decided to go on the road in search of North America’s best cooks. He posted this brief note on the wall above his typewriter: “This will be more than a book of recipes. I am as interested in the cook as a person as I am in the thorough step-by-step presentation of the recipe. I believe these together have been the principal reason readers have found pleasure in reading and cooking with my books”
So, “for three years this sentiment defined their days. Driving a GMC van, they set out on the odyssey of a lifetime—what Clayton, a veteran news reporter and foreign correspondent before becoming a best-selling cookbook author, often called a ‘Dream Assignment’.”

There is a great deal more written on the dust jacket and for anyone wanting to know more, this will give you a good idea. “Cooking Across America” is a big thick cookbook explaining in Bernard Clayton’s own words what their adventure was like. **

“THE AMERICAN HERITAGE COOKBOOK” subtitled “more than 500 easy-to-make recipes complete and up-to-date together with 40 Historic Menus, was published in 1964, where new the book cost $6.95. It was compiled by the editors of American Heritage, the magazine of history. Recipes are accompanied by their historic background; in the dust jacket editors have written “More than 500 great traditional recipes, old and new, are gathered together in this new larger-size version of a perennial best seller. It is a book that views our past in terms of the foods our forefathers ate and the drinks they drank..”

This is one of those books I have to read through, first, taking in the historic background before going back to choose recipes to try. It’s also the kind of book I would have gone through in search of historic documentations when I was writing for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange in the 1990s. **

“AMERICAN GASTRONOMY”, an illustrated portfolio of recipes and culinary history, was written by none-other than Louis Szathmary; on the dust jacket cover they have listed him as “Author of The Che’s Secret Cook Book” published in 1974. I admit, I did a double-take when I came across this book—I honestly was unaware that I have it.

Followers of Sandy’s Chatter may recall that I have written about Chef Szathmary on more than one occasion. He has been my idol for years. I couldn’t appreciate him more if I discovered he was a long lost relative of mine.

An introduction to American Cookery, AMERICAN GASTRONOMY is illustrated with over 90 etchings, woodcuts, prints and photographs that together offer a fascinating look into the kitchens and dining rooms of yesteryear. Also included are reproductions of old advertisements of American food products and bills of fare from famous restaurants…”
Judging from the dust jacket, this cookbook was published at the time that Chef Szathmary was owner-chef of The Bakery, a restaurant of international fame located in Chicago; he was also the author of the best selling “Chef’s Secret Cook Book” and editor of a 15 Volume series of classic American cookbooks published by the Arno Press (I have yet to come across any of the cookbooks in the 15 volume series) **

A large cookbook about the size of a 3-ring binder is a book titled AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK, 712 Favorite RECIPES FROM MAIN STREET U.S.A., edited by Barbara Greenman.
This book has hidden spiral binding and a beautiful layout of recipes titled in red or blue backgrounds and I discovered, at the back of the book, recipe cards you can remove for anyone you want to share one of the recipes with. (That’s a first!)

Barbara Greenman, I discovered, developed and edited many cookbooks including The American Century Cookbook by Jean Anderson, Family Circle All-time Favorite Recipes, Family Circle best-ever Cakes & Cookies, and the America Loves—series by Linda West Eckhardt. She is also the editor of Back of the Box Cooking and back of the Box Cooking: 30 minute meals. **

The Four-Star American Community Cook Book with more than 350 Best-Ever Regional recipes chosen from America’s Community Cookbooks with An Patterson Dee, Editor. There is a lengthy introduction but the most outstanding feature of FOUR STAR AMERICAN COMMUNITY COOK BOOK are the recipes, with signatures of the recipe’s contributor and what community cookbook is the source of the recipe. **

AMERICA THE EDIBLE, subtitled “A hungry history from sea to dining sea, by Adam Richman, published in 2010, is yet another collection of recipes from far and wide. Writes the author in the Introduction, “American Edible is a collection of love letters to some of my favorite food places, their histories and the time I spent there. It is an admittedly idiosynernatic (sic) survey. These cities are a pastiche of the places I’ve lived, places work has taken me, places wanderlust and fate have plopped me in the middle of. There was no particular rhyme or reason to their selection, merely the fact that I have had wonderful and varied food experiences in each…” Per the dust jacket, we learn that Richman the exuberant host of Travel Channel’s Man vs Food, has criss-crossed the continent in search of the best eating experiences. **

Pierre franey’s COOKING IN AMERICA is the companion book to the public television series was written by Pierre Franey and Richard Flaste, and was published in 1992 by Alfred A. Knopf. Franey has written twelve cookbooks, counting this one, and his “60 minute Gourmet” column is syndicated nationally. Flaste is a longtime associate of Franey and has collaborated with him on two earlier books on food.

In the dust jacket to COOKING IN AMERICA, we learn that Pierre Franey celebrates American food—the rich lode of fresh produce and the cooking skill, ingenuity and lore that are among our national treasures—and provides us with 200 delectable recipes that are in themselves a celebration.

“Born in Burgundy and trained as a chef in the great French tradition, Franey has become a true champion of American cooking…he visits restaurants and their kitchens, from the elegant River Café in New York and the vibrant Tra Vigne in the Napa Valley of California…we follow him across the country as eh searches out local specialties and secrets, talking to all sorts of Americans, from crabbers in Maryland to citrus growers in Florida, from cattle ranchers in Nevada to strawberry an artichoke growers in California”.

Pierre Franey’s Cooking in America is richly illustrated by Lauren Jarrett and was published in 1992 by Alfred A Knopf, Inc. It is a beautiful hardbound cook with a glossy cover and a dust jacket with a photograph of Pierre Franey—and a comment at the end of the dust jacket, stating “This is a fitting tribute to America’s extraordinary culinary heritage” – I would say Amen to that. **

“EATING IN AMERICA” by Waverly Root and Richard De Rochemont is not a cookbook! From Google, we learn that rather, it is a history. It chronicles the history of American food and eating customs from the time of its earliest explorers to the present. Waverly Root (1903-1982) was an American journalist and writer who became widely known for his writings on food. EATING IN AMERICA was published in 1976. As I wrote above, no recipes. This is a comprehensive history. Well done! – sls **

ALL AMERICAN COOKBOOK II, edibles from notables is a spiral bound cookbook collection of recipes collected by Walsworth Publishing Company to assist yearbook staffs across the country to improve the quality and educational value of their publication. This is a spiral bound cookbook published in 1985 (and I have never seen a volume I) – more of a fun cookbook filled with recipes from who’s who in America back in 1985. Many of the contributors were in politics—governors and U.S. Representatives (such as Bill Clinton when he was Governor of Arkansas!) You will have a good time checking out who contributed to ALLAMERICAN COOKBOOK II. **

THE I HEART AMERICA COOKBOOK from the American Legion Auxiliary from Tucson, Arizona is more of a booklet than a book and I am unable to find a publishing date in it—even so, it meets my criteria for something with “America” in the title—like so many of my cookbooks or cookbooklets, I no longer remember where I found it.

I have a Time Life American Regional Cookbook by the editors of Time-Life Books. This cookbook was published in 1978 by Little Brown and Company.

“Take 350 years of refining savory dishes brought by immigrants from all over the world, add the best of hundreds of new recipes inspired by the New World’s cornucopia of tempting foodstuffs and the result is a truly fine native product: the Time Life American Regional cookbook.

This compendium is a bountiful collection of more than 500 national and regional favorites as well as specialties from some of the nation’s best restaurants…this handsome book includes 45 pages of color pictures and step by step sequence photographs showing exactly how to prepare various dishes…” **
The following are a few of my absolute favorite cookbooks, kept in a bookcase near my computer for easy referencing:

THE AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK, The most popular Recipes of the 20th Century is from notable cookbook author Jean Anderson, published in 1997 **

AMERICAN HOME COOKING by Cheryl Alters Jaison and Bill Jamison, contains over 300 recipes celebrating our rich traditions of home cooking, published in 1999 **

AMERICAN APPETITE, subtitled “The coming of age of a cuisine” is by Leslie Brenner, published in 1999. **

THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AMERICAN FOOD & DRINK, subtitled with more than 500 recipes for American classics is by John F. Mariani, was also published in 1999. **

I should mention something about my cookbooks—when used book stores began to sell their books at reduced prices before closing their doors—I haunted the used book stores in the San Fernando Valley and bought all I could afford. I don’t think there are any more used book stores in southern California. Amazon.com picked up where the used book stores left off.

It was a sad day for me when a girlfriend and I, back in 2008, drove up the California Coast and stopped in San Luis Obispo – I wanted to share my favorite used book store with girlfriend Sharon—and it was gone. Just an empty store front where one of my favorite used book stores used to be.

For that matter, I think—at one time, back when, there were four or five bookstores in SLO, within walking distance to one another—and Bob and I would make a point to visit all of them when we were spending a holiday in the area.

Quite possibly I bought many of the cookbooks I have listed in FROM AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE TO THE AMERICAN TABLE, PARTS ONE AND TWO in various used bookstores in the San Fernando Valley, in Burbank, California, Reseda, and San Luis Obispo. Nowadays, I buy most of my pre-owned books through Amazon.com—and its gratifying to me when I buy a pre-owned cookbook and it comes to me from a book dealer in a different part of the U.S.A. They are out there—you just have to know how to find them.

Sandra Lee Smith

CROSS CREEK REVISITED

THE FOLLOWING WAS ALSO ORIGINALLY POSTED IN 2011:

CROSS CREEK REVISITED

Asked if she had to choose between people and trees, she chose trees.
“Cross Creek is a bend in a country road, by land, and the flowing of the Lochloosa Lake into Orange Lake, by water…” (In first chapter of “Cross Creek”).

When I first conceived of the idea of writing about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and her Cross Creek Cookbook, the year was 1998 and I was writing, at the time, for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange, a newsletter for cookbook collectors. I mistakenly thought, at the time, that hardly anyone knew about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings anymore, aside from school children reading her classic Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Yearling”.

I would reintroduce her to the world – at least the world of Cookbook Collectors Exchange subscribers. Was I ever mistaken! Not only is Rawlings’ home in Cross Creek a National Historical Site, there is even a Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society and books about her life continue to be published, while many of her previously unpublished works have found publishers – and more importantly – an audience. Google Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and you will get 351,000 hits—and it’s thanks to Google that I have been able to find some of Rawlings’ lesser known works. Some of her previously unpublished material has been published in the past decade.

(A list of the books by MKR and as list of books about her and Cross Creek can be found at the end of this article).

She was a woman far ahead of her time and at a later time in history, would have been considered a feminist, yet—she was a latter-day pioneering woman in the continental United States.

She was an opinionated individual at a time when women were expected to be nothing more than “the little woman”, cooking and cleaning for the man of the house. In addition to her career as a writer, she maintained her orchards of oranges and pecans, often under the most difficult of situations and sometimes with very little assistance.

Rawlings was enormously popular amongst her friends, comfortable whether hobnobbing with the rich and famous or living with her impoverished scrub neighbors…at the same time she was a very private individual who relished her privacy and solitude. She could be at ease whether visiting the White House or attending a play on Broadway in New York—or hunting and fishing with the “fellows” – whether those fellows were themselves famous writers or her neighbor Floridian crackers*. She was openly frank about her preference to the company of men, rather than women.

(*The term “cracker” is very old, dating back to the time when the driver of oxen cracked yards of rawhide whips over his beasts. “There are ‘Georgia Crackers’ and ‘Florida Crackers’ Rawlings once wrote, saying “one hates the other as mothers and daughters sometimes hate.”)

In 1928, accompanied by her husband Charles, Marjorie first set eyes on Cross Creek. It was love at first sight for Marjorie – for Charles, maybe not so much. Marjorie was enchanted with its remoteness and the simplicity of life and immediately felt a connection to the land. (I can relate to this feeling, it was what I felt the first time I saw the Arleta house in the San Fernando Valley).

The property came with two cows, two mules, 150 chicken coops—and an old Ford truck. They had hoped to live off the citrus groves—that didn’t happen—but they WERE able to live off of Rawlings’ income as a writer. There is some speculation as to what ended the marriage between Marjorie and Charles. He didn’t like Florida or he may not have been able to deal with a wife more successful than he. One of the last things Charles said to her at the time of their divorce was “Of course, you realize you have no friends. Nobody likes you.” (Any of us who have had similar sentiments directed towards us at the end of a marriage could emphasize with Marjorie at this time in her life.) Then, too, Charles may have found Marjorie’s SUCCESS as a writer a bitter pill to swallow when he, himself, was also a writer but not nearly as successful .

Maybe sour grapes on Charles’ part? The world knows who Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was—what does the world know about Charles, except that he was her first husband?

Some years later Marjorie would remarry and that marriage would endure, even though she and her husband often lived apart while she pursued her career as a writer and he operated a hotel in St. Augustine, often causing rumors to fly that their marriage was unstable when, in fact, it was very secure.

Of her one writer – Roger L. Tarr writes, “Rawlings was not a feminist, at least not in the post-modern sense, but she was a strong willed woman who detested role playing. Equality of opportunity was paramount to her…what (she) fought against all her life—was the powerlessness of the average woman.”

In “Short Stories by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings” which Roger L. Tarr edited, he writes that “Rawlings interest in the concept of justice and its application to human endeavor had a personal as well as a public context.

Her life in Florida led her to one of the most difficult issues she ever faced: racism. As a child growing up in Washington, D.C., and as a student at the University of Wisconsin, she had witnessed first-hand the effects of racial injustice. However, life in the South was quite another thing. There racism was blatant and it was accepted as a fact of life. When she moved to Florida, Rawlings by her own admission fell into the ethos of racism; it was all around her*….”

*(Sandy’s note: From 1979 to 1982, my husband and children and I lived in Florida. Racism was alive and well these many decades after Rawlings’ life—and what disturbed me most is that the racism was blatant).

Tarr continues, “Her (Rawlings) personal dilemma soon became a professional one as well. If she were to portray accurately the situation and the language of the people she wrote about, if she were to be honest…for the sake of historical record, how was she to treat the subject of racism? Her Cracker friends and Cracker characters were with few exceptions, racists.

Her dilemma was not unlike that of any writer whose subject is the Deep South. What was even more traumatic for her as the realization that she herself as often racist in attitude and in her use of language. Yet she had a deep commitment to the presentation and ennobling of the black culture…”
Prior to the publication of “The Yearling” in 1938, Rawlings’ fiction did not focus on the black culture. I think an important factor in her change of attitude were the years in close contact with African Americans, with the people who lived and worked with her from day to day and whose companionship became important I her life.

Writes Tarr, “Majorie’s personal attitudes began to change and in consequence so did the language of her fiction. By the mid 1940s, Rawlings admitted, ‘There is no question that we must all go out for ‘full equality’, meaningless though the phrase may be. Anything else is the height of hypocrisy’. (I am reminded of Maya Angelou’s oft-repeated quote by Oprah Winfrey, “When you know better, you do better.”)

With regard to women’s causes, Rawlings was outspoken on these since her student days at the University of Wisconsin.

Rawlings counted as friends many other famous writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Marcia Davenport, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Margaret Mitchell and Zora Neal Hurston. Rawlings even managed to hobnob a bit with Eleanor Roosevelt (who was a firm and famous advocate for the rights and equality of all people). Rawlings was once a guest at the White House and even slept in the Lincoln Bedroom.

You may know her best as the author of a most successful novel, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1938 for her book “The Yearling” which went through twenty-one printings in just two years. “The Yearling” was also made into a movie, starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman.

Or, perhaps, if you are a cookbook collector like I am, you may be familiar with Rawlings’ almost-equally-famous “Cross Creek Cookery” I am fortunate enough to first editions of both “Cross Creek” and “Cross Creek Cookery.”
Rawlings did write prior to moving to Cross Creek; she and husband Charles both worked for the Courier-Journal in Louisville Kentucky for several years—he as a reporter and she as a feature writer.

It was a difficult time and Rawlings struggled after graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1918 to make her mark on the literary world. The USA had just emerged from World War I. She moved to New York City where she found employment, eventually, as a writer and editor for the War Work Counsel at their national headquarters of the YWCA. In her spare time she continued to attempt to sell her short stories and poetry, sometimes with a bit of success. From 1926 to 1928 she wrote nearly 500 poems for the Rochester Times-Union under the title “Songs of a Housewife”. (Roger L. Tarr edited the poems and published them under this title in 1996).

However, after a few years working in Kentucky, the pair realized their journalistic work in Louisville had little future and they returned to Rochester, where Charles became a traveling salesman but Marjorie was unable to find a market for her short stories. By 1922 she was writing feature articles for the Rochester Evening Journal and the Rochester American, under her own by-line. Occasionally, Marjorie’s feature stories made the front page of the Rochester Sunday American. A few years passed by with Charles trying to sell shoes and Marjorie attempting to sell her stories by free-lance writing*.

*(Sandy’s note: *It’s a curious paradox in writing—you need an agent to sell your work, but most agents don’t want to take you on unless you have had success selling. This is something I learned firsthand many years ago. There is an expression in writing, “Over the transom” which refers to an unsolicited manuscript, submitted by an author without the benefit of an agent.)

Feeling they needed a vacation, Charles and Marjorie sailed from New York down the East Coast and into the mouth of the St John’s River, on a Clyde Line Steamer. They soon discovered that the north central interior of Florida was nothing like the famous Florida Gold Coast—but it was during this visit, while Marjorie visited the scrub area, fished for bass on the lakes and took a boat trip on the74-mile long Ocklawaha River—that she “discovered” the remoteness and the mystery of the scrub, and the simplicity of the local people’s daily lives.

“Let’s sell everything and move south,” Marjorie suggested to Charles. “How we could write!” – And he agreed. They asked a friend to look for a place where they could grow citrus while they tried to find a market for their writing. In July, their friend told them of a place, 74 acres, a shabby farmhouse, two story bar, 3300 orange trees and 800 pecan trees. The price was $9,000.

Using a small inheritance Marjorie had received from her mother’s estate, they paid $7,400.00 down with the balance to be paid off at $500.00 a year.
“When I came to the Creek,” Marjorie writes in “Cross Creek”, “and knew the old grove and farmhouse at once as home, “there was some terror, such as one feels in the first recognition of a human love, for the joining of person to place, as of person to person, is a commitment to shred sorrow, even as to shared joy. The farmhouse was all dinginess. It sat snugly then as now under tall old orange trees, and had a simple grace of line, low rambling and one-storied….”

She relates that the house was cracked and gray for lack of paint; there was a tin roof that would have ruined a mansion, and the porch was an excrescence, scarcely wide enough for one to pass in front of the chairs. “The yard was bare and spotted with sandspurs,” she recalled, “with three lean Duchess rosebushes, left behind to starve, like cats….”

“Inside the house…the walls were painted a battleship gray and the floors a muddy ochre. The brick fireplaces were walled over with tin and filled with a year’s rubbish…” It took the Rawlings’ four years before the gray of the last room was decently covered with white, money for paint being scarce, and time so filled with other work that an hour with a brush was a stolen pleasure…”

But for Marjorie, it was love at first sight.

In writing of her love for this place, she wrote—again, in “Cross Creek”, “…I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to. In the lakeside hammock there is a constant stirring in the treetops as though on the stillest days the breathing of the earth is yet audible. The Spanish moss sways a little always. The heavy forest thins into occasional great trees, live oaks and palms and pines. In spring, the yellow Jessamine is heavy on the air. In summer the red trumpet vine shouts from the gray trunks, and in autumn and winter the holly berries are small bright lamps in the half-light….”

Marjorie began to sell some of her short stories, or sketches, about people and life in the Florida scrub—usually based on real people and true incidents, following the axiom to writers to write about the things you know best. It got the author embroiled in a lawsuit and the dissolution of a friendship between herself and another Cross Creek inhabitant, Zelma
Cason.

Zelma sued Marjorie for libel, then later changed the charge to invasion of privacy. It was the first time in Florida history that a case pitted privacy rights against freedom of speech right. Up to then, authors had been describing real people and using real names as a matter of course.
The courtroom battle dragged on for years, ending up in the Florida Supreme Court; the trial in Gainesville circuit court had ended up with a not guilty verdict. On appeal, the Florida Supreme Court reversed the verdict—but only awarded Zelma $1.00. (She had asked for $100,000). The case had taken five years and cost Marjorie $32,000 in legal fees. The friendship between the two women was severed. Zelma wept at Marjorie’s funeral—one wonders, was the lawsuit the result of poor advice given to Zelma? Oddly enough, the two women are buried not far apart from each other in Antioch Cemetery, near Island Grove, a few miles from Cross Creek.

What was certainly far more costly, in the long run, was the affect the trial had on Marjorie’s health, which was often precarious to begin with, and her psyche.

Mostly, though, the people who lived in Cross Creek didn’t read and were generally unimpressed with her other-worldly fame as a writer. One time, for lack of having anything else handy at the time, Marjorie used a copy of The Yearling to kill a snake that had gotten into the house. In describing the incident to her handyman afterwards, he chuckled and said “It sho’ do come in handy to write books.”

On the subject of snakes, elsewhere in “Cross Creek”, Marjorie wrote, “My determination to use common sense might have been my undoing. One late winter day in my first year I discovered under the palm tree by the gate a small pile of Amaryllis bulbs. The yard was desperate for flowers and greenery and I began separating the bulbs to set out for spring blooming. I dug with my fingers under the pile and brought out in my hand not a snake,
surely, but a ten-inch long piece of Chinese lacquer. The slim inert reptile was an exquisite series of shining bands of yellow and black and vermilion, with a tiny black nose. I thought, “Here is a snake, in my hands, and it is as beautiful as a necklace. This is the moment in which to forget all nonsense.” I let it slide back and forth through my fingers. Its texture was like satin. I played with it a long time, then killed it
reluctantly with a stick, not for fear or hate, but because I decided to cure the skin for an ornament on the handle of a riding crop. I salted the hide and tacked it to a sunny wall. I showed it proudly to my friend Ed Hopkins, who was teaching me the Florida flora and fauna.

He said, “God takes care of fools and children.”
The snake was the deadly coral snake. Its venom is of the cobra type, killing within a few minutes by a paralyzing of the nerves….” Mrs. Rawlings’ fear of snakes returned.
**
In 1931, Marjorie’s story “Jacob’s Ladder” was published in Scribner’s Magazine for which the author received $700.00—quite a lot of money at the height of the Great Depression! Since Marjorie had a great fear of snakes and a greater fear of encountering something worse in the outhouse after dark, the $700.00 paid for an indoor bathroom with a toilet ordered new from Sears Roebuck.

Elizabeth Silverthorne, author of “Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Sojourner at Cross Creek” writes that “part of her appeal to the natives [of Cross Creek] was her sincere interest in them and her frank eagerness to learn from them everything they could teach her, from how to prepare their natives dishes to how to hunt and fish…” Indeed, Marjorie became a good fisherman and a “pretty good hunter” according to her grove manager. A few years later, when her love of animals overcame her enjoyment of the sport, she still loved to go along with the huntsmen for the pleasure of the company and the enjoyment she got from being outdoors. In her own words, Marjorie said “There was great sport at first in all the hunting. Then it came to sicken me, and now I go to the pines as a guest and not an invader…”

And, as Marjorie came to understand the Cracker’s viewpoint, she also came to sympathize with it. In a number of her stories and novels, explains Silverthorne, “Crackers do things that are wrong according to the law but right according to their own code.”
In late summer of 1932, Marjorie went to live with a family in the big scrub country—she lived with them for over two months, helping with the chores, Washing heavy quilts by stomping them in wash tubs, helping to make lye soap and sleeping under a mosquito net, as the family did, with one sheet covered by a quilt. She scrubbed floors with corn shuck brushes and helped the family keep in squirrel meat. She did all of the illegal things the men of the scrub did, including stalking deer with a light at night, out of season.

Eventually, her first novel, “South Moon Under” was written. (“south moon under” was a native Floridian phrase, used by the people of the scrub, who were constantly conscious of the phases of the sun, the moon, the stars, and the wind. It was important for them to know that deer, fish, and other creatures stirred and fed ‘on the moon’ – at moon rise, at south-moon over, when the moon was at its zenith, at moon down and at south moon under—when the moon was directly under the earth). “South Moon Under” tells the story of a young man, Lant, who must support himself and his mother by making and selling moonshine, and what he must do when a traitorous cousin threatens to turn him in. Moonshiners were the subject of several of Marjorie’s stories and she lived with a moonshiner for several weeks, near Ocala, to prepare for writing the book.

“South Moon Under,” published in 1933, was chosen by the Book of the Month Club along with George Bernard Shaw’s “Adventures of a Black Girl in Search for God”. It was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Ms Silverthorne writes that one of Marjorie’s most admirable qualities was her complete freedom from professional jealousy…she often wrote letters to writers whose work she admired and frequently struck up lifelong friendships with them as a result. She became friends with John and Margaret Marsh (you may know her better as Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone with the Wind”). Marjorie and Margaret discovered they had a lot in common.

One of my favorite stories about Marjorie is that of a meeting with Ernest Hemingway She was having lunch with friends at her husband Norton’s Castle Warden Hotel one day, and thought she recognized Hemingway across the room. She sent him a note that read, “If you are Ernest Hemingway, please come have a drink with us.”

He sent a note back, saying, “If you are Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, I’d be delighted”. (Marjorie had met Hemingway initially on a friend’s yacht).

After she read “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” she wrote a letter of praise to him and invited him and his family to visit Cross Creek to hunt. There are, actually, a wealth of stories about Marjorie and the well-known authors with whom she corresponded. She became friends not only with Hemingway and Margaret Mitchell, but also Thomas Wolfe, Robert Frost, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. She also wrote to writers such as A.J. Cronin and John Steinbeck, praising them for their work.

In 1935, while continuously writing short stories which were published in various popular magazines of the day, Marjorie’s book, “Golden Apples” was published. It was one of her least well received books and she herself was disappointed in it. In a 1935 letter to her publisher Max Perkins, she called it “Interesting trash instead of literature.”
But she found enormous success in 1938 with “The Yearling”. It was her most famous book, for which Marjorie is best known. It is considered a classic in children’s literature. Oddly enough, she and her editor had agreed that the book would be written for adults but in a spirit that would appeal to children.

The story was based on an actual family living in the Florida scrub, and a boy who made a pet out of a deer, and in the end was forced to kill it. “The Yearling” was an instant success and received rave reviews. Two weeks after its publication, it was on the list of best sellers, where it remained for 93 weeks. During the first two months, 60,000 copies were sold, and in just over a year, it went through 21 American printings, selling over 500,000 copies. (Letters were sent to Marjorie, in response to reader appreciation for “The Yearling”, even fifteen years after her death. The book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939. (*My copy of “The Yearling” is from the Palmetto Edition which was offered at a special price of $1.30 only until Christmas, 1942.)

Following “The Yearling” in 1938, Scribner’s published her book “When the Whippoorwill” a collection of short stories, in 1940.

From the University of Miami, Treasuries of South Florida Library, comes this explanation of the title (which I had to do some searching to find):
The title, “When the Whippoorwill”, derives from another Florida country or Cracker expression, “When the first whippoorwill calls it is time for the corn to be in the ground.” This is a most appropriate title for a collection of stories about the lives of Florida Crackers. Readers are treated to this familiar Cracker terminology in the short story “Varmints.” The book also includes “A Crop of Beans;” “Benny and the Bird Dogs;” “Jacob’s Ladder;” “The Pardon;” “The Enemy;” “Gal Young Un;” “Alligators;” “A Plumb Clare Conscience;” “A Mother in Mannville;” and “Cocks Must Crow.” Many of the stories were first published in magazines, including “Varmints,” which appeared in the December, 1936, issue of Scribner’s. In “Varmints,” Rawlings offers a narrative tale of Quincey Dover’s troubles with “an unnatural mule belonging to two of her acquaintances.”

The typescript is accompanied by an autographed copy of the story’s first book printing in 1940. This copy is inscribed by Rawlings to her future husband Norton Baskin, and was a gift from him to the University of Florida Libraries.

Rawlings gave her manuscripts and correspondence to the University of Florida in 1950. This typescript typifies Rawlings’ writing process: she typed first drafts on cheap yellow second sheets, then revised generously, usually in pencil. As with the original manuscript of the Yearling, the paper used is pulpy and highly acidic. All the Rawlings’ manuscripts were, by the 1990s, too fragile for use, and could be consulted only by using the microfilm copies. The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Society and other concerned individuals provided generous private support and the Libraries’ Preservation Department was able to purchase the supplies needed to treat and thereby conserve each page. Every sheet of manuscript paper has been deacidified, encapsulated in archival mylar, and bound in protective covers. Thus the originals may be examined by students and scholars without harm. The pages are kept in proper order, and are safe from the ravages of dirt, insects, dampness, and, insofar as possible, time.”

It would appear—judging from the prices I have encountered for pre-owned copies of “When the Whippoorwill”—that it was not as widely published as “The Yearling”. Some of the stories in “When the Whippoorwill” can be found in “Short Stories by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings”, edited by Roger L. Tarr and published in 1994 by the University Press of Florida.

After the publication and huge success of “The Yearling” Marjorie’s publishers suggested a book about life in the Florida scrub. Marjorie’s thoughts were already running along the same lines; she didn’t have to fret over a title—the book named itself: “Cross Creek”. It was first published in 1942.

“Cross Creek was chosen for a Book of the Month selection, along with John Steinbeck’s “The Moon is Down”. Cross Creek received immediate critical acclaim with some reviewers calling her “a female Thoreau.”

“Cross Creek” rose to the top of the best seller lists and remained there for many months. The armed forces published a special edition of “Cross Creek” which led, in turn , to Marjorie being inundated with mail from servicemen…bearing in mind this was 1942 and the USA was deeply embroiled in World War II. Marjorie strived to answer all of their letters. I think the charm and quietness, the native humor and Marjorie’s love of the earth endeared her to the world during this difficult period in American history.
“Who owns Cross Creek?” Marjorie writes on the last page of the book. She answers her own question; “The red-birds, I think, more than I, for they will have their nests even in the face of delinquent mortgages. And after I am dead, who am childless, the human ownership of grove and field and hammock is hypothetical. But a long line of red-birds and whippoorwills and blue-jays and ground doves will descend from the present owners of nests in the orange trees, and their claim will be less subject to dispute than that of any human heirs Houses are individual and can be owned, like nests, and fought for. But what of the land? It seems to me that the earth may be borrowed but not bought. It may be used but not owned. It gives itself in response to love and tending, offers its seasonal flowering and fruiting. But we are tenants and not possessors, lovers and not masters. Cross Creek belongs to the wind and the rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time.” (I am inclined to think that it was with these words, this writing, that Marjorie must have decided she would leave the house and most of the property to the University of Florida).

“Cross Creek Cookery” grew out of the popularity of a chapter in “Cross Creek”, titled “Our Daily Bread” so when Marjorie suggested to her editors at Scribner’s that she compile a cookbook, they quickly agreed. Of her cooking, Marjorie wrote (in “Cross Creek”) “Cookery is my one vanity and I am a slave to any guest who praises my culinary art. This is my Achilles heel…” (I smiled, reading those lines; I could have written them myself). Because Cross Creek Cookery was a cook book, and I often review cookbooks, I will write a separate review of the book for you. “Cross Creek Cookery” was published by Scribner’s in 1942.

By the end of 1942, writes The Literary Traveler, “Both The Yearling and Cross Creek had been translated into 13 foreign languages and published in the armed forces edition. Shortly after Marjorie’s 50th birthday, the motion picture version of The Yearling starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman came out to critical acclaim.”

More than a decade would pass before Marjorie completed “The Sojourner”. She suffered from ill health (undoubtedly not helped by a heavy cigarette addiction—she smoked up to five packs a day of “Lucky Strikes”). She was in two automobile accidents and the slander lawsuit lasted five years. “The Sojourner” was published in 1953 to mixed reviews; that December, Marjorie died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage. She is buried in Antioch Cemetery, a short distance from Cross Creek.

Her husband Baskin had written on her gravestone, “Through her writings, she endeared herself to the people of the world.”

In 1970, the Florida Parks Service began managing Marjorie’s home at Cross Creek. It needed a great deal of restoration. By 1980, there was just the house surrounded by a vast emptiness. Major restoration was completed in 1996, the year of MKR’s 100th birthday.

Marjorie had written, “I do not know how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.” These words bring tears to my eyes. I can relate. And I suppose this explains my love for Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and the books and short stories that she wrote. I feel in her a kindred spirit, even though she passed away when I was just a young girl myself—and had not yet discovered who SHE was.

Books by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
• South Moon Under, 1933
• Golden Apples, 1935
• The Yearling, 1938
• When the Whippoorwill, 1940
• Cross Creek, 1942
• Cross Creek Cookery, 1942
• The Sojourner, 1953
Published posthumously:
• The Secret River, 1955)
• The Marjorie Rawlings Reader, Edited by Julia Scribner Bigham 1956
• Short Stories by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, edited by Roger Tarr,
1994
• Poems by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: Songs of a Housewife, edited by Roger Tarr, 1996

• Blood of My Blood, edited by Anne Blythe Meriwether, 2002

Books About Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and the Creek

• Frontier Eden: The Literary Career of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Gordon Bigelow, 1966
• The Selected Letters of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Edited by Gordon Bigelow and Laura V. Monti, 1983

• Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings: Sojourner at Cross Creek, Elizabeth Silverthorne, 1988
• Invasion of P
privacy: The Cross Creek Trial of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Patricia Nassif Acton, 1988
• Idella, Marjorie Rawlings’ “Perfect Maid”, Idella Parker, 1992
• The Creek, J.T. Glisson, 1993
• Cross Creek Kitchens, Sally Morrison and Kate Barnes, 1993
• Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and the Florida Crackers, Sandra Wallus Sammons and Nina McGuire, 1995
• Vegetable Gardening in Florida, James M. Stephens, 1999
• From Reddick to Cross Creek, Idella Parker, 1999
• Max & Marjorie (Letters Between Maxwell Perkins and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings), Edited by Rodger Tarr, 1999
• The Private Marjorie (Letters from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings to Norton S. Baskin), Edited by Rodger Tarr, 2004
• The Uncollected Writings of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Collection of juvenilia, college writing, newspaper pieces, and stories of life in Florida), Edited by Rodger L. Tarr and Brent E. Kinser, 2007

–Sandra Lee Smith

AN UPDATE ON THOSE INCOMPORABLE BROWNS: CORA, ROSE & BOB — COOKBOOK AUTHORS

AN UPDATE ON THOSE INCOMPORABLE BROWNS: CORA, ROSE & BOB — COOKBOOK AUTHORS
(previously posted 9/2012)

Back in 1965, when I first began collecting cookbooks, one of my first cookbook penpals was a woman in Michigan, Betsy, who has remained my friend to this day. I have been the happy recipient of many of her cookbooks as she began to downsize.

Betsy was the person who “introduced” me to the Browns – Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, authors of over a dozen really fantastic, outstanding cookbooks. Betsy had some duplicates of the Browns’ cookbooks and sent them to me. Well, I was quickly hooked. And it was the Browns’ “America Cooks” (published 1940 by Halcyon House), that really turned me onto church-and-club community cookbooks. (I was stunned to see “America Cooks” listed at $300 by an antiquarian book dealer. I bought an extra copy for $5.00 some time ago and gave it to someone who didn’t have a copy!)

Everyone of you who reads cookbooks like novels (and thinks you are the only person in the world who does this) would find “America Cooks” a most readable cookbook. Since “America Cooks” was published in 1940, others have followed in the Browns’ footsteps with dozens of cookbooks with “America” in the titles. None can compare with The Browns’ “America Cooks”.

In the foreword, the Browns wr0te, “We put in twenty years of culinary adventuring in as many countries and wrote a dozen books about it before finding out that we might as well have stayed at home and specialized in the regional dishes of our own forty-eight states. For America cooks and devours a greater variety of viands than any other country. We’re the world’s richest stewpot and there’s scarcely a notable foreign dish or drink that can’t be had to perfection in one or another section of our country….”

“For many years we Browns have been collecting regional American cooking lore, gathering characteristic recipes from each of the forty-eight states (Hawaii and Alaska had not yet become states in 1940) with colorful notes on regional culinary customs. Our collection is complete and savory. It has been our aim to make this America’s culinary source book, a means whereby each state and city may interchange its fine foods and dishes with every other, from coast to coast and from border to border. Here are forty-eight different cookbooks merged into one handy volume—a guide to the best in food and drink that this bounteous country offers. Obviously, no one person nor three, can cover every kitchen, even with such enthusiastic help as we have had from several hundred local authorities. But we believe this is our best food book, and in order to build it bigger and better in later editions, we should like to swap regional recipes and gustatory lore with all who are interested…”

And seventy something years later, I think “America Cooks” remains the Browns’ best food book. However, that being said, I found the most elusive cookbook of the Browns to be “THE VEGETABLE COOK BOOK”, subtitled “FROM TROWEL TO TABLE” by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown. Published by J. B. Lippincott Company in 1939—I only recently obtained a copy through Alibris.com and paid a whopping $25.00 for a copy. (I justified it by it having the original dust jacket and being a first edition—although to tell the truth, I rarely spend that much on a book. And it seems that other copies are going for much higher prices.

Cora Brown, Robert’s mother, was born in Charlotte, Michigan, graduated from the Chicago Conservatory of music, married and brought up a family. She took up writing fiction and in 1920 went to Brazil to become co-publisher with her son and daughter in law, Rose. Cora lived with Bob and Rose in Japan, China, France, Germany, etc, becoming familiar with foreign customs and kitchens and collecting recipes with Rose. Cora is the author of “The Guide to Rio de Janerio” and co-authored ten cookbooks with Bob and Rose.

Rose Brown was born in Middletown, Ohio (not far from my hometown of Cincinnati), and graduated from Barnard College and Teachers College. She was a teacher, interior decorator, and journalist, contributing articles on cooking to Colliers, Vogue, This Week and other magazines. Rose was co-author with Cora and Bob on most of their cookbooks. One cookbook that does not list Cora is “Look Before You Cook” which shows Rose and Bob as authors. One cookbook authored solely by Bob Brown is “The Complete Book of Cheese.” “Culinary Americana” was written by Eleanor Parker and Bob Brown—Eleanor becoming Bob’s wife after Rose’s death.

According to Lippincott, the initiation of Rose into the mysteries of cooking was over a camp fire with game and instruction by her father. During World War I, she worked as a writer for the Committee of Public Information in Santiago, Chile. In Buenos Aires, Mrs. Brown became co publisher with Bob Brown of weekly magazines in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico and London. Rose Brown had her own kitchen in a dozen countries and traveled all over the world, always pursuing her hobbies of collecting recipes and cooking lore—and going fishing with her husband. Rose Brown passed away in 1952.

Bob brown was born in Chicago and was graduated from Oak Park High School and the University of Wisconsin. He arrived in New York in 1908 to enter the writing lists, contributing verse and fiction to practically all the periodicals of the time. One of his first books, written after the end of Prohibition, was called “Let There Be Beer!” He then collaborated with his mother and wife Rose on “The Wine Cookbook,” first published in 1934 and reprinted many times. A 1960 edition was re-named “Cooking with Wine” .

Robert Carlton Brown (1886-1959) was a writer, editor, publisher, and traveler. From 1908 to 1917, he wrote poetry and prose for numerous magazines and newspapers in New York City, publishing two pulp novels, “What Happened to Mary” and “The Remarkable Adventures of Christopher Poe” (1913), and one volume of poetry, “My Marjonary” (1916).

In 1918, Bob Brown traveled extensively in Mexico and Central America, writing for the U.S. Committee of Public Information in Santiago de Chile. In 1919, he moved with his wife, Rose Brown, to Rio de Janeiro, where they founded Brazilian American, a weekly magazine that ran until 1929. With Brown’s mother, Cora, the Browns also established magazines in Mexico City and London: Mexican American (1924-1929) and British American (1926-1929).

Following the stock market crash of 1929, the Browns retired from publishing and traveled through Asia and Europe, settling in France from 1929-1933. Brown became involved in the expatriate literary community in Paris, publishing several volumes of poetry, including” Globe Gliding” (1930), “Gems” (1931), “Words” (1931), and “Demonics” (1931), as well as “1450-1950” (1929), a book of visual poetry. While in France, Brown also made plans toward, and wrote a manifesto for, the development of a “reading machine” involving the magnified projection of miniaturized type printed on movable spools of tape. Arguing that such a device would enable literature to compete with cinema in a visual age, Brown published a book of “Readies”—poems by Gertrude Stein, Fillipo Marinetti, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and others, typeset in a manner appropriate to operation of his projected reading machine. Although Brown’s reading machine was never developed, his papers include letters and papers pertaining to its projected design and technical specifications, as well as a collection of his own published and unpublished visual and conceptual writing. (Bob Brown was way ahead of his time – today, we have the Kindle and Nook. I can’t help but wonder if someone came across his manifesto and ran with it).

In 1933, Brown returned to New York. In the 1930s, he wrote a series of international cookbooks in collaboration with Rose and Cora Brown. He also lived in cooperative colonies in Arkansas and Louisiana, visited the USSR, and wrote a book, “Can We Co-Operate” (1940), regarding the parameters of a viable American socialism. In 1941, he and Rose returned to South America. While traveling down the Amazon they amassed a substantial collection of art and cultural artifacts and collaborated on a book, “Amazing Amazon” (1942). The Browns eventually reestablished residence in Rio de Janeiro, where they lived until Rose Brown’s death in 1952.

After thirty years of living in many foreign countries, and following the deaths of Cora and Rose, Bob Brown closed their mountain home in Petropolis, Brazil, and returned to New York, where he married Eleanor Parker in 1953. Brown continued to write and ran a shop called Bob Brown’s Books in Greenwich Village and ran a mail order business until his death in 1959. Shortly after Brown’s death, a new edition of “1450-1950” was published by Jonathan Williams’s Jargon/Corinth Press.
During his lifetime, Bob Brown authored more than a thousand short stories and thirty full length books.
The Browns appear to have used a number of different publishers for their cookbooks. While “Soups, Sauces and Gravies,” “Fish and Sea Food Cookbook,” Salad and Herbs” were published by Lippincott, “The Complete Book of Cheese” was published by Gramercy Publishing Company. “America Cooks” and “10,000 Snacks” were published by Halcyon House and “The European Cook Book” by Prentice-Hall, Inc. A few were published by companies I am unfamiliar with; “The Country Cookbook” by A.S. Barnes and Company, and “Most for Your Money Cookbook” by Modern Age Books. “Culinary Americana”, co-authored by Brown Brown and Eleanor Parker Brown, was published by Roving Eye Press (Bob Brown’s own publication name). For whatever reason, the Browns appear to have shopped around whenever they had a book ready for publication. (Or did they copyright them all first, and then shop for publishers?)
Recently, I began to rediscover the fabulous cookbooks written the Browns. Some unexpected surprises turned up—for instance, as I was browsing through the pages of “Most for Your Money” I found a chapter titled “Mulligans Slugullions, Lobscouses and Burgoos”—while I am unfamiliar with mulligans and lobscouses, I’ve written about slumgullion stew in sandychatter and have received messages from readers from time to time, sharing their stories about slumgullion stews of their childhoods. It starts out “Jack London’s recipe for slumgullion is both simple and appetizing…” providing some enlightenment about the history of slumgullion. (some other time, perhaps we can explore the obscure and mostly forgotten names of recipes).

And – synchronicity – I had just finished writing about sauces for my blog when I rediscovered, on my bookshelves, the Browns “Soups Sauces and Gravies” which simply reaffirmed my belief that the best cookbooks on sauces will be found in older cookbooks. This cookbook by the Browns was published in 1939.
The most complete list I have of the Browns’ cookbooks is as follows:
The Wine Cookbook, by Cora, Rose & Bob Brown, originally published in 1934, revised edition 1944, Little Brown & Company. In 1960 Bob Brown published a reprint of The Wine Cookbook with the title “Cooking With Wine” and under his Roving Eye Press logo.

The European Cook Book/The European Cookbook for American Homes is apparently the same book with slightly different titles. Subtitled The Four in One book of continental cookery, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France. I saw and nearly purchased on the internet an English version of the same book from a dealer in England. I already have three copies, don’t need a fourth! However, it should be noted that the original European Cook Book for American Homes was published in 1936 by Farrar & Rinehart. The 1951 edition with a shortened title was published by Prentice-Hall.
The Country Cook Book by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1937 by A.S. Barnes and Company.
Most for your Money CookBook, by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1938 by Modern Age Books
Salads and Herbs, By Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1938 by J.B. Lippincott
The South American Cookbook (what I have is a Dover Publication reprint first published in 1971. The original was published by Doubleday, Doran & Company in 1939 – Cora, Rose and Bob Brown
Soups, Sauces and Gravies by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1939 by J.B. Lippincott Company
The Vegetable Cookbook by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1939 by J.B. Lippincott
America Cooks by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1940 by Halcyon House.
Outdoor Cooking by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1940 The Greystone Press (*notes that parts of this book appeared in Collier’s and Esquire magazines)
Fish and Seafood Cook Book by Cora, Rose and Bob Brown, published 1940 by J.B. Lippincott Company
Look Before you Cook by Rose and Bob Brown, published 1941 by Consumers Union of the United States, Inc.
10,000 Snacks by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown, published 1948 by Halcyon House—the format and chatty style of 10,000 snacks is quite similar to “America Cooks”.
The Complete Book of Cheese, by Bob Brown, published 1955 by Gramercy Publishing
Culinary Americana by Eleanor Parker Brown and Bob Brown is a bibliography of cookbooks published in the cities and towns of the United States during the years from 1860 through 1960. It is believed that the first fund-raiser cookbook was compiled and published during the Civil War, by women to raised money for the Sanitation Commission. Culinary American focuses primarily on “regional” cookbooks, and notes that, “Certainly, it was after the War (i.e., the Civil War) that we find them printed in many states of the union,” writes Eleanor Parker Brown in the Introduction to Culinary Americana, “A survey of 200 cookbooks of our own collection, published at various times during this last century in Massachusetts showed that they came from seventy-four different cities and villages. In the case of many of the smaller places, these titles constitute the only books ever printed in these localities, which makes them important landmarks in the history of bookmaking in the state.
The regional cookbooks are a treasure trove of original recipes, as well as a record of old ‘receipts,’ reflecting the nationality background of the settlers of the community. Thus you will expect, and find, German foods in the old books of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Scandinavian receipts in the pamphlets of the Midwest, and Spanish dishes in the booklets published in the southwest…the little books, some in the handwriting of the contributor, often with signed recipes, gives us a glimpse of the gallant women who proudly cooked these meals and generously gave up their secrets ‘for the benefit of…others…”
Eleanor Parker Brown also shares with us, in the introduction, “Bob Brown first got together a cookbook collection for reference when he began to write about cooking. He had 1500 volumes which were purchased promptly by a grocery chain store as nucleus for their research library. It was then necessary for him to start a new collection. This was the origin of an interest in cookery books which lasted, and grew, to the end of this life. Bob saw cook books as social and cultural history in America; particularly, those regional books which were so close to the heart of the country…”
Eleanor says that after Bob’s sudden death, she continued work o this bibliography.” Culinary Americana includes listings of all the regional cookbooks we could either locate or obtain information about. It runs the gamut from ‘fifteen cent dinners for families of six’ to the extravagant and elaborate collations of Oscar of the Waldorf….”
“Culinary Americana” is the kind of book that cookbook collectors simply drool over.
As an aside, I find it curious that the Browns flooded the cookbook market within the span of a few years; from “The Wine Cookbook”, published in 1934, to “Look Before You Cook” published in 1941, the Browns published eleven cookbooks. Then they appear to have gone on hiatus until 10,000 snacks was published in 1948. However, given the extent of their travels and living in countries all over the world – it crossed my mind that perhaps all of these cookbooks were “in the works” while they lived abroad—and perhaps came home to get their cookbooks published. I’m speculating, of course. The first time I wrote about the Browns (for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange in 1994) – information was scarce. Almost everything I wrote about was gleaned from the books or their dust jackets. Today, thanks to the internet, there is more biographical information available but not enough to satisfy my greedy soul. Of all the authors I have collected in the past 45 years, those by The Browns remain my all time favorites. I was stunned to discover Bob Brown had a bookstore and that he wrote over a thousand short stories and 30 full length books. Yowza – this trio did it all.
Another update! Some months ago I was stunned to receive a message on my blog from Rory Brown—Bob Brown was his great grandfather; Cora Brown was his great-great-grandmother. It isn’t the first time (and hopefully won’t be the last) that a descendant of someone I have written about on Sandychatter has written to me. It was with Rory’s assistance that I located a copy of the Browns’ Vegetable Cookbook. I’m not sure why this particular cookbook has been so elusive—possibly because it was never reprinted like some of the other cookbooks have been? The Brown descendants have mentioned the possibility of having the books reprinted—wouldn’t that be nice?
Meantime, here’s a bit to chew on from The Vegetable Cookbook – it starts out “Speaking of Spinach” and introduces us to Cora’s great-granddaughter, Sylvie—then age 4—at a Thanksgiving dinner of the whole Brown family “Last Thanksgiving” which I assume to have taken place in 1938, since the book was published in 1939. The Browns noted that “She possessed herself in patience until the napkin was knotted in place and the plate set before her. Surveying the many good things, she made a quick choice, jabbed her fork into the beans with a forthright gesture, appraised the mouthful, wiped a buttery trickle from her chin, beamed around at everybody and gave a little squeal of delight—‘Oh, I just love string beans, don’t you, Bob?’” and the authors take it from there.
Well, I love Spinach and home-grown cooked green beans (aka string beans) and the Browns write that “Greens are only an appetizing nibble at our subject, for in Florida alone, the State Department of Agriculture lists more than sixty local favorites” which they go on to list. The Browns stated they had, for years, been ardent readers of seed catalogs and had gardens of their own whenever they had the chance. It was from growing their own that they had the idea of writing The Vegetable Cook Book – from Trowel to Table”. They wrote of being fed up with “woody turnips, wilted spinach, limp beans and peas that would give you some bruises on the gullet, frayed heads of cauliflower, broccoli and iceberg lettuce past their prime, as well as those terrible lopsided little scallions that are sold for spring onions by grocers nowadays, we got a head start with a compost bed and survey of half a hundred catalogs…”
I wonder what the Browns would think if they could observe the produce department in many supermarkets more than seventy years later—the array is, admittedly, dazzling—but I find too often that whatever I buy fresh needs to be used almost immediately. A few days later, most lettuce and other greens has to be thrown out.
But returning to The Vegetable Cook Book – I was entertained (and reminded of personal experiences) as they wrote of their first vegetable gardens, forgetting what was planted where when the little sticks identifying various veggies would be lost or blown away and other hit-or-miss experiences…everyone who has had similar experiences will relate. For almost 25 years, I had a house-mate also named Bob, who tended our compost and planted the veggie gardens at our home in the San Fernando Valley, until we moved to the Antelope Valley in 2008 and discovered the need to re-learn gardening in the desert.
But getting back to my favorite cookbook authors, following their introduction and induction into vegetable gardening, the Browns move forward, alphabetically from Artichokes and Asparagus to Avocados (with a side-trip into the variables of vegetables that are a fruit, or fruits that are a vegetable, such as tomatoes and avocados). There are chapters on cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery and chives, Kohlrabi and parsley, parsnips, peas – and many more…all the way down to Yams. I suspect that possibly one reason why The Vegetable Cook Book is so difficult to find is that it’s a dictionary of sorts, listing all the vegetables available to the Browns—with ways to cook them—maybe it belongs with my reference books rather than the cookbooks!

“The Vegetable Cook Book, From Trowel to Table” may pose a challenge for sandychatter readers to find a copy—but it’s sure to become a favorite reference cookbook if and when you do. (Cookbook collectors love the challenge of searching for a particular book).

—Sandra Lee Smith

A PEEK INTO THE PAST–ANTIQUARIAN COOKBOOKS

A PEEK INTO THE PAST….ANTIQUE COOKBOOKS
AN UPDATE IN 2016 (originally posted 5/29/11
Say “antiquarian cookbooks” and most people imagine that anything they consider old—cookbooks over 30 years old, for instance–to be “antiques”. Strictly speaking, a thirty year old cookbook isn’t an antique; however, many cookbooks published in fairly recent decades may be extremely valuable to a collector. If, for instance, you have a first edition copy of “Joy of Cooking” – the very first copies, the true first editions, were self published by the author in 1931, making one of those 80 years old. It has been in print continuously since 1936 with more than 18 million copies sold. In 1936, Bobs-Merrill began publishing “Joy”. A first edition of “Joy” was listed recently by ABE books for $3,000.00.

Many cookbook dealers call themselves antiquarian book dealers while most of the cookbooks they are offering for sale are not truly antiquarian…but may be merely out of print or scarce. And remember the #1 golden rule of cookbook collecting or trying to sell some of your books—a cookbook is only worth $3,000.00 (or even $100.00) if someone will PAY that price. As a collector you have to decide for yourself whether the asking price of a book is worth that much. (Heck, I would love to complete my collection of The Browns cookbooks but am missing their Vegetable cookbook—I have seen it listed by antiquarian dealers for $90.00 – and to MY mind, $90.00 is too steep. I think even $50.00 would be too much –Tag it at $25.00 and I would probably start writing a check. (After originally posting this article, someone from the Browns’ family found a copy of the Vegetable Cookbook and I was able to purchase it for $25.00!)

Personally, I think most dealer prices are too pricey; I find most of my treasures in thrift stores and other out-of-the-way places where the prices are often more reasonable. On the other hand, I HAVE paid rather high prices for cookbooks I have coveted too much not to own them. And in recent years, I have been doing a lot of my searching on Amazon.com.

So, you ask, what IS an antiquarian cookbook? To be truly an antique, it should be over one hundred years old.

We are fortunate that cookbooks, over the centuries, have enjoyed a high enough status to have been collected and preserved.

The earliest cookbooks were handwritten manuscripts, prior to the invention of the printing press in 1455. All books were handwritten manuscripts. The Gutenberg Bible, as we know, was the first book printed on the printing press, but cookbooks also played an important role in the development of printed books.

Per Esther Aresty in her 1964 “The Delectable Past” (Simon & Schuster), the first cookbook printed on the printing press originated in Italy. It was written by a Vatican librarian named Bartolomeo de’ Sacchi and was titled “DE HONESTA VOLUPTATE” which loosely translates to mean “Permissible Pleasures.”
England’s first printed cookbook, “The Boke of Cokery” (sic) was published in 1500; “The Good House-Wive Treasure” (sic) was printed in 1588; “The English House-wife” (sic) by Gervase Markham was printed in 1615, and along with other cookbooks being published during those periods of time, were all written by men – women were not thought to be competent enough to write cookbooks!
Also, these books were owned only by the wealthy or royalty—bearing in mind, it really was a man’s world; most women in medieval times did not have the luxury of an education.

From Betty Confidential I learned that the very first female cookbook writer is believed to be Sabina Welserin of Augsburg, Germany. Her Kochbuch of 1553, however, remained in manuscript form until modern times.

Also from Betty Confidential, “Anna Weckerin’s Ein Köstlich new Kochbuch (A Delicious New Cookbook) of 1598 is the first cookbook published by a woman. It went through many editions up through the 17th century. She was the wife of a prominent professor of medicine, Johann Jacob Wecker, and not surprisingly, was health conscious. Her recipes include a roast salmon with a sour sauce, an eel pie, as well as more familiar German dishes like Bratwurst and Lebkuchen.” Betty Confidential also refers to “One of the most delightful and least known of antique cookbooks is ‘Rare and Excellent Receipts’ by Mary Tillinghast published in 1690. (This is the first I have ever heard of Mary Tillinghast’s cookbook).

In my original article for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange in 1993, I noted that “Possibly the first English cookbook with a woman’s by-line appeared in London in 1681 and was titled “The Queen-like Closet or Rich Cabinet” by Hannah Wooley. While searching on Google to re-verify my 1993 notes, I came across the earlier references to Sabina Welserin and Anna Weckerin.
Another of the earliest female cookbook authors was Mary Kettilby who, in 1714, published “A Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick and Surgery; For the Use of All Good Wives, Tender Mothers and Careful Nurses.” But one woman writer who was to greatly influence English cookbooks and to prove that women were just as capable as men when it came to compiling cookbooks was Hannah Glasse, whose book “The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy” was published in 1747.

These early cookbooks were scarcely JUST cookbooks—they contained everything from household hints to directions for making up one’s own medicines, instructions for managing the household servants and proper etiquette, to directions for concocting perfumes, wines, cordials, soap, yeast – just about everything.

Early cookbooks began with the premise that first you had to KILL the animal that was to be eaten, and provide gory details for dismembering and preparing meat. I remember one old cookbook’s directions for cooking calf’s head—first you had to hold it by an ear and dip the head in boiling water! Still think it was so great back in the good old days? Calf’s head jelly was a forerunner of Jello gelatin—but Calf’s head was also cooked to make “mock turtle soup” – when you didn’t have a turtle but did have a calf’s head laying around. Ew, ew. Directions for killing a turtle to make authentic turtle soup are so gruesome that I, for one, am grateful for mock turtle soup. More recent versions of mock turtle soup are made with…ground beef.

Many seventeenth and eighteenth century cookbooks found their way across the ocean—ALL cookbooks first available in this country came from Europe. Not that it mattered very much; pioneer Americans were learning to adapt to a wide variety of new foods and one can suppose that even if the lady of the house COULD read and write, much of the discourse on managing servants would have been useless to early pioneer women.

The first American cookbook was printed in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1742, and reprinted there in 1752. According to “The Delectable Past”, however, this book was American by imprint only for it was actually Eliza Smith’s “The Compleat Housewife” (sic) which, at the time, was the most popular cookbook in England. The same book was reprinted in New York in 1764. (There was a lot of plagiarism ‘back in the day’ and apparently, it was done with impunity.)
In 1772, a cookbook was published in Boston, Susannah Carter’s “The Frugal Housewife,” followed in 1792 by Richard Briggs’ cookbook “The New Art of Cookery”. However, these first “American” cookbooks were actually English cookbooks; none contained recipes using Native American foods. Cookbooks were not in great demand in this country. In the south (and in the homes of some of the well-to-do) hostesses kept manuscript recipe journals and guarded their treasured recipes carefully, while in pioneer households across the land, young girls learned to cook by watching and helping their mothers in the kitchen.

The first cookbook written by an American woman was Amelia Simmon’s “American Cookery” which appeared in print in 1796. Amelia, according to cooklore, was an orphan and is credited with also being the first American cookbook writer to use American recipes with American ingredients. Her book was enormously successful—so much so that many of her recipes turned up later in Susannah Carter’s book “The Frugal Housewife” which in turn was plagiarized later in a reprint edition of Hannah Glasse’s book for American readers! But as noted earlier, these aren’t the first instances of plagiarism—stealing other cookbook authors’ works was a common practice that goes back hundreds of years.

Even Alexander Dumas, famous for having written “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “The Three Musketeers” was guilty of plagiarizing when he was compiling his “Le Grand Dictionaire de Cuisine”. This was such a common practice, one can only assume that in the absence of laws protecting writers, authors had no compunctions against lifting material from other writers’ works.
The publishing market was replete, throughout the 1800s, with cookbooks written by women (bearing in mind, it was one of the few things a respectable “lady” could pursue as a source of income).

One written by a man was “The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined: comprising ample directions for preparing every article requisite for furnishing the tables of the nobleman, gentleman and tradesman, by John Mollard. (Presumably, in Mr. Mollard’s world there were no women in the kitchen).

From the previously mentioned Susannah Carter, in 1803, was “The Frugal Housewife: or, Complete Woman Cook: Wherein the Art of Dressing All Sorts of Viands is Explained in Upwards of Five Hundred Approved Receipts” (Has anyone ever wondered how those long titles ever fit on the cover of a book?)

Sometimes the author of a cookbook, if a woman, would write anonymously to preserve her dignity and reputation. “A New System of Domestic Cookery, published in 1807 “by a Lady” was later identified when the book was reprinted.
And, in 1808 Lucy Emerson is credited with “The New-England Cookery, Or The Art of Dressing All Kinds of Flesh, Fish, and Vegetables—etc etc” and if it sounds familiar, it’s because Lucy plagiarized the 1798 cookbook by Amelia Simmons.

I was curious about copyright laws and when they went into effect, so – digressing and sidetracking, which I am known to do, I Googled a number of websites. I learned this:

The world’s first copyright law was the Queen Anne Statute, or “An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned”. It was passed by the English Parliament on 10 April 1710.

The purpose of this was to protect work of authors, but copyright laws have now extended to all forms of media. The Queen Anne Statute was the origin of all modern copyright laws.

In the USA, the basis for both copyright and patent law is established in Article 1, section 8, clause 8 of the US Constitution (adopted 17 September 1787).

The first actual US copyright legislation was passed by the Congress on 25 May 1790 and signed into law by then President George Washington on 31 May 1790. While Benjamin Franklin is rumored to have birthed the idea of copyrights, it can be seen that it was present in the UK well before then.

Well, despite the existence of copyright laws, would-be authors went right on plagiarizing, or pirating, other authors’ works.

In 1815, Priscilla Homespun published “The Universal Receipt Book” (do you think that was really her surname?) and in 1819, The New Family Receipt Book was published by Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell, who published a number of other cookbooks in her time.

In 1820, Rundell published “The New Family Receipt Book” while (same year) Mrs. Frazer published “The Practice of Cookery, Pastry, Confectionary, Pickling, Preserving…”

There was in 1830, “Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats” by “A Lady of Philadelphia”—in 1832, reprint identified the Lady of Philadelphia as Miss Leslie of Philadelphia.

One of the first of these that I actually recognize and remember reading about elsewhere is “The Virginia Housewife, Or, Methodical cook”, published in 1838 by Mary Randolph….I could spend hours typing up all the references to cookbooks published in the 1800s, but you get the picture.

From Feeding America, we learn that “by 1860 more and more cookbooks were being printed, and American cookbooks had become an integral part of the publishing business. The upheaval of the Civil War caused a decline in the publication of all books, including cookbooks. Then, in the 1870s, three major cookbooks explosions occurred, the effects of which are still with us. The first was a Civil War legacy: cookbooks compiled by women’s charitable organizations to raise funds to aid victims of the War – orphans, widows, wounded, veterans. When the Civil War ended, these organizations turned their charitable attentions to other causes. The trickle of these early books published in the 1860s and 1870s has become a flood today, as hundreds, perhaps thousands, of charitable cookbooks to benefit every conceivable cause are published in the United States each year…(another) important development was the growth of the cooking school movement. It began with the cooking schools started in New York City by Pierre Blot and Juliet Corson and intensified with the great cooking schools and their teachers – Mrs. Rorer in Philadelphia and Mrs. Lincoln and Fannie Farmer in Boston. These schools dominated American cookbook publishing for the remainder of the nineteenth century and early into the twentieth”.

So, fast forward a little bit – to the latter 1800s, when along came Fannie – Fannie Farmer. Fannie was born in Medford, Massachusetts in March, 1857, the oldest of four daughters, born into a family that highly valued education and expected Fannie to go to college. However, when she was just sixteen years old, she suffered a paralytic stroke and was unable to continue her education. For several years she couldn’t walk and remained at home with her parents. During this period of time. Fannie took up cooking, eventually turning her mother’s home into a boarding house that developed a reputation for the quality of the meals they served. At the age of 30, Fannie – now walking with a limp – enrolled in the Boston Cooking School. Fannie trained at the school until 1889 learning what were then considered the most important elements of cooking, nutrition, diet for convalescents, cleaning and sanitation, chemical analysis of food, techniques of cooking and baking, and household management. Fannie was one of the school’s top students. She was kept on as assistant to the director, and in 1891 took on the job of school principal. Fannie published her best-known work, “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book”, in 1896. Her cookbook introduced the concept of using standardized measuring spoons and cups, as well as level measurement.

“The Boston Cooking School Cookbook” was actually a follow-up to an earlier version called “Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book”, published by Mary J. Lincoln in 1884 under Fannie Farmer’s direction. Fannie Farmer’s cookbook eventually contained 1,849 recipes. Fannie also included essays on housekeeping, cleaning, canning, and drying fruits and vegetables, and providing nutritional information. The book’s publisher (Little, Brown & Company) didn’t expect good sales and limited the first edition to 3,000 copies, published at the author’s expense. The book was so popular in America, so thorough, and so comprehensive that cooks would refer to later editions simply as the “Fannie Farmer cookbook”, and it is still available in print over 100 years later. (Yes, Virginia, a first edition of the 1896 cookbook would be worth some bucks especially since only 3000 copies were published).

Fannie Farmer’s book listed ingredients separately from directions, presented readers with accurate, level measurements. Earlier cookbooks would instruct the cook to “use butter the size of an egg”. (What size egg? Small? Medium? Jumbo?) or to “heat the oven until you can only hold your hand inside for 15 seconds, (or until you have a second degree burn?) or might call for “a teacup of flour” (what size teacup?).

Actually, Ms. Farmer wasn’t the FIRST to list ingredients separately from directions; Sarah Tyson Rorer had done that some years before, in her book “Mrs. Rorer’s Philadelphia Cookbook” (where Mrs. Rorer had a cooking school of HER own), but the concept of level, accurate, standardized measurements brought science into the kitchen.

Why are these old cookbooks so fascinating to read? Certainly they often lack usefulness in today’s kitchen; the recipes are generally vague about directions and quantities needed. However, they provide us with a stunning glimpse into the past, in an area (the kitchen) that most of us are familiar with. We see – perhaps better than most historians – just how time consuming and difficult a housewife’s role was a hundred or two hundred years ago. With the vast amount of work required in the kitchen, it’s a wonder that the lady of the house managed to accomplish so many other things as well. I have been reminded that families were often large and it was not uncommon for a maiden aunt or a grandmother or other extended family members to live in the house and thereby providing extra helping hands (confirming the axiom that many hands make light work).

Middle to upper class homes one hundred years ago might easily have had a maid or two, or a housekeeper or cook as well. I think we can safely assume that not ALL households had extra aunties or grandmothers, nor did all families have maids and cooks. Meals alone were a full time task that began at sunrise. If the lady of the house had a wood-burning stove, it meant laying the wood for the fire, keeping it hot, baking breads (which started with making one’s own yeast and sometimes getting the yeast starter going the night before) and then preparing meals for the entire family. Although wood stoves were commonly used, gas and oil stoves and ranges were available from the late 1800s. Miss Parloa, the author of a cookbook titled “Miss Parloa’s Every Day Cooking and Marketing Guide”, copyrighted in 1880 and published by Estes and Lauriat, judiciously expounds on the virtues of gas and oil stoves and ranges; she writes that the two products were so near perfection that it was difficult to imagine how they could be improved upon.

Miss Parloa deplored, however, the commonly used refrigerators of her time. She claimed that the food developed a peculiar odor due to the wood used in the construction of refrigerator’s interior and shelves. As most of us know, these “refrigerators” were actually “ice boxes” which contained blocks of ice (which you purchased from an ice man). The food was stored, literally, on ice. A few years later, a “better” ice box came along. The ice was stored in a separate compartment with vents on either side to allow air n either side to flow freely through the upper compartment, where the food was kept. What would Miss Parloa think if she could see our modern refrigerator/freezers with automatic ice cube and cold water dispensers on the doors?

Another of Maria Parloa’s cookbooks was “The Original Appledore Cook Book/Practical Receipts for Plain and Rich Cooking” published in 1872 and reprinted in 1881. My copy is in a truly battered, tattered, condition with the binding falling away from the contents, but what is intriguing are the last dozen pages or so, all covered with handwritten recipes that are so faded, it’s almost impossible to decipher the script. (When I began collecting cookbooks, I’d buy anything in any condition—just to have the books.)

And then there were the Beechers. Father Lyman was a Presbyterian minister. Daughter Harriet Beecher Stowe was the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, published in 1852.

“Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book: Designed as a Supplement to her Treatise on Domestic economy” was published in 1850 by Harriet’s sister, Catharine Esther Beecher. But there is an intriguing story behind the Domestic Receipt book—as told in Cookbooks-A-La-Carte:

“Catharine Beecher invited to tea one afternoon in 1846—twenty years after their graduation from the Hartford Female Seminary—two dozen of her former students. They listened with interest and sympathy as she described how the year before, promising to write a new cookbook, she had taken an advance from Harper & Brothers to send her gravely ill younger sister Harriet to the Brattleboro Spa in Vermont and of how, now, with only the first of over twenty projected chapters written, the deadline was fast approaching—which, if not met, would result in a severe financial penalty.

There was a solution . . . if each of those present would write a chapter, with a sufficient number of receipts—recipes—for the projected book, the whole book could be completed in a week! Never doubting their wholehearted support, she had the titles for the chapters ready on little slips of paper in her hand–meat, fish, vegetables, soups, pies, bread, breakfast and tea cakes, cakes, preserves and jellies, pickles, food for the sick . . .

The completed assignments were quickly assembled into Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book, which soon became one of the nineteenth century’s most successful cook-books. Far ahead of its time, it warned about the dangers of animal fats and excessive sugar. Today there is, perhaps, no more detailed picture of what Americans were eating a hundred and fifty years ago and how it was cooked. In helping organize the kitchen and its work properly, Miss Beecher intended to enable women to lead longer, happier lives…”

In 1874 there was Marian Harland’s “Common Sense in the Household: a Manual of Practical Housewifery.” My copy is literally falling apart and is one of the oldest cookbooks in my collection. Marion Harland’s life was so interesting, it would be worth a post just about her. After writing 15 novels, starting at the age of 16, Marion wrote her first cookbook, “Common Sense in the Household” and continued writing many more books before her death at age 91.

There was also “English Bread-Book for Domestic Us, Adapted to Families of Every Grade” by Eliza Acton in 1857 and in 1877, “Buckeye Cookery, and Practical Housekeeping: Compiled from Original Recipes” – which has been reproduced in a facsimile edition.

Buckeye Cookery was the great mid-American cookbook of its day. It began life as a charity cookbook when, in 1876, the women of the First Congregational Church in Marysville, Ohio, published a cookbook to raise money to build a parsonage. They named it The Centennial Buckeye Cook Book, in honor of America’s Centennial.

The author, Estelle Woods Wilcox, who grew up in Marysville had moved with her husband to Minneapolis, where he managed the Minneapolis Daily Tribune. From Minneapolis, Mrs. Wilcox edited the contributions of the Marysville women and wrote the introductory essays to each section. The book was published in Minneapolis and the ladies of Marysville accomplished their goal by raising two thousand dollars for the parsonage.

Throughout the last years of the century, cookbooks continued to be published—more of Miss Parloa’s, some of Marion Harland’s, the White House cookbook by F. L. Gillette which led to numerous reprints over several decades (and is worthy of a post all its own), right up to 1899’s Catering For Two; Comfort and Economy for Small Households by Alice James, and Marion Harland’s “Bits of common Sense Series”.

And then there were all the cookbooks published in the 1900s….but, as you know, except for those published between 1900 and 1911, the rest don’t qualify as antiquarian cookbooks. However, that being said – there were cookbooks like the Settlement Cook book, Sarah Rorer’s New Cookbook, a Manual of Housekeeping published in 1902, Fannie Farmer’s “Food and Cookery for the Sick and Convalescent” published in 1904, Maria’s Parloa’s “Canned Fruit, Preserves, and Jellies: Household Methods of Preparation” also published in 1904, The Blue Grass Cookbook, by Minerva Fox, was also published in 1904, as was German National Cookery for American Kitchens, by Henriette Davids. The Times Cookbook by California Women was the result of a series of recipe contests in the Los Angeles Times and published by the Los Angeles Times in 1905, while the Good Housekeeping Family Cookbook was published in 1906- and the list goes on and on.

Collecting cookbooks is such a fascinating hobby—and it can be a valuable one, too. I bought a #1 Pillsbury Bake Off book at a flea market in Palm Springs one year, for $1.00. I almost didn’t buy it—the box of booklets on a table had a sign “books, 50c each” but when I held it up to the vendor, she said “Oh, I need a dollar for that one”. Grumbling, I paid her a dollar. It wasn’t until we were back in the car that I realized what I had—I had never before seen a picture of the first bake off book. They’re scarce and worth about $50.00 give or take a little depending on condition.

It’s an addictive kind of hobby as other collectors will testify. A few months ago, I began writing the current price of some of my old cookbooks on post-its to stick on the flyleaf, when I came across some of the going prices. The idea was for my family to have some kind of idea what some of the books are worth.

Did you know that Laura Bush collects vintage cookbooks? So do many top chefs including the Food Network’s Cat Cora. Booksellers throughout the country say that vintage cookbooks are in constant demand. A first edition of American Cookery by Amelia Simmons may be worth as much as ten thousand dollars—but I don’t think it’s the value of a book that attracts a true collector, as much as just HAVING a particular book. My having the #1 bake off booklet makes my collection of the Bake Off books complete even though they’re nowhere near being vintage cookbooks. Neither is the Vincent Price cookbook (which I do have)–one in good condition can be worth up to $200.00.

(Cookbooks written by the rich and famous is another whole ball of wax. I have several shelves-full of these books, dating back about 50 years. One of these days I will write about those).

Collecting cookbooks can pretty much take over your life, if you let it. (We have wall to wall bookshelves filled with cookbooks, inside the house. Bob had to convert half of our garage into a library to house all of our other books).

And when you aren’t reading antiquarian cookbooks, you can do as I do—WRITE about them!

Happy cooking and happy cookbook collecting!
Sandy

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

WHERE ARE YOU NOW, RUTH REICHL?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Sandra Lee Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Villas is also the author of the following:

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

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

— Sandra Lee Smith