Category Archives: FAVORITE COOKBOOKS

AN ARMFUL OF OLD CLUB & CHURCH COOKBOOKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHEESE CRISPIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

MARINATED CARROTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

CRABETTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sandy

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DINING WITH ROYALTY

FIRST POSTED ON MY BLOG JULY, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REFERENCES:

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

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

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

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

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

–REVIEW BY SANDRA LEE SMITH

ACKNOWLEDGING MICHIGAN FRIENDS & KINFOLK – A FEW OF THEIR COOKBOOKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From “Watermelon Pickles and Watermelon Cake we learn that “The Massies are a husband and wife team specializing in Michigan history. Larry co-authored with Peter Schmitt “KALAMAZOO: THE PLACE BEHIND THE PRODUCTS” and “BATTLE CREEK: THE PLACE BEHIND THE PRODUCTS.” His other publications include “FROM FRONTIER FOLK TO FACTORY SMOKE” “MICHIGANS FIRST CENTURY OF HISTORICAL FICTION”, “VOYAGES INTO MICHIGAN’S PAST” “COPPER TRAILS AND IRON RAILS”, “MORE VOYAGES INTO MICHIGAN’S PAST” and “WARM FRIENDS AND WODE SHOES: A PICTORAL HISTORY OF THE HOLLAND AREA.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy cooking and Happy Cookbook collecting!
Sandy

BLUE RIBBON WINNERS – AMERICA’S BEST STATE FAIR RECIPES and THE COUNTY FAIR COOKBOOK

As you may know, if you happened to read my article CATCHING FAIR FEVER (September, 2012), one of my more recent discoveries among community-type cookbooks are those published by state and county fairs throughout the USA.
I suspect there are hundreds—perhaps thousands—of these cookbooks that I know nothing about (intriguing thought, isn’t it?). Well, if you stop to consider there are fifty states, therefore there are (presumably) fifty state fairs every year (does anyone know if Alaska and Hawaii have state fairs?) – and then there are all the COUNTY fairs throughout the USA every year—and who knows how many counties make up our fifty states?

Back in the 1980s I “discovered” the fun and charm of entering the San Fernando Valley and the Los Angeles County Fairs. (I had really gotten into canning around this time and loved finding and trying unusual recipes for jellies, jams, preserves). At this time, I also “discovered” that the Los Angeles County Fair Home Arts committee published the winning recipes if your entry won a first, second, or third place ribbon. The winning recipes for one year (say 1986) would then appear in a nice spiral bound cookbook the following year, in 1987. These cookbooks were sold for only $10.00 each and when I started to win some ribbons and received an invitation to submit the winning recipes—I was off and running. And the cookbooks made wonderful Christmas presents.

I wrote “discovered” in quotes because I felt like a Johnny-come-lately to this kind of cookbook – which I feel is more accurately described as regional cookbooks than community. I began searching for all of the Los Angeles Fair annual cookbooks and then began searching for other state and/or county fair cookbooks and acquired some from Iowa, some from Texas and others from Del Mar, California. What a bargain these books are! Not only do you have all of the prize winning recipes, the books are usually thick compilations of recipes, for an average price of ten dollars.

However, I have a couple of equally great bargains to share with you. First is BLUE RIBBON WINNERS/AMERICA’S BEST STATE FAIR RECIPES by Catherine Hanley. When I first saw Ms. Hanley’s book, I thought “aha! I’m not the only one who has realized what a treasure trove the winning recipes from state fairs are!”
Ms. Hanley, former manager of consumer public relations for the Pillsbury Company, made an interesting discovery in her line of work involving the Pillsbury Bake-Off contest. Upon checking the biographies of some contestants who were superb cooks and bakers, she realized that a pattern emerged—many of these contestants were also state fair winners. As an enthusiastic fan of the Minnesota State Fair, Ms. Hanley had been interested in state fair competitions for many years. The idea for her book was, to quote the publishers, “a natural result.”

BLUE RIBBON WINNERS/AMERICA’S BEST STATE FAIR RECIPES contains over 170 of the best blue ribbon recipes, carefully selected for this book. Says the author, “During years of working with food, I have been intrigued by what happens when two people make the same recipes with contrasting results. Why does one person turn out a spectacular product and another an indifferent one from the same ingredients? Experience and cooking techniques obviously play a big part. (Italics mine—this is the very same thing I have been exploring for several years, what the Chinese refer to as Wok Presence, recently written about on my blog).

As British author Eden Phillpotts suggests (in her quote, ‘No mean woman can cook well; it calls for a generous spirit, a light hand and a large heart’) – but how do you convey this information in a recipe?”

Hanley continues, “As I have had opportunities to learn about the women and men who win blue ribbons in the major state fairs, I realized that here you have a large group of people who are consistently achieving extraordinary results with recipes similar to those we all use. What is special about their recipes and what do these cooks do to make the prize-winning difference? That’s what every other cook really wants to know and BLUE RIBBON WINNERS reveals.

In possibly the only noncommercial cooking contests left, tens of thousands of women and men compete annually in state fair competitions to see who has the best baked goods, pickles and preserves.

The money prizes are modest, not much more than covering the cost of the ingredients (true!) – but this is not important. What these good cooks want are the blue ribbons that signify first place.”

Ms. Hanley goes on to explain that winning blue ribbons at the biggest state and regional fairs in the country are not easily won—judges are often agriculture extension service home economists or college-level food teachers, professionals who know how to measure quality and who have been trained to be objective. Also, she explains, that where commercial recipe contests may reflect the preferences and biases of judges and contest sponsors, state fair judging is done “by the book”—using scorecards, with a perfect product scoring 100%.

The author goes on to explain how her work with the Pillsbury Bake-Off contestants led to her discovery that contestants were often state fair entrants as well. She also explains how, before she learned otherwise, she assumed that the people who entered the fairs would be mostly rural homemakers. Now, she says, she knows that competition cuts across socio-economical boundaries, and in states where the fair is held in a metropolitan area, suburban and urban men and women contestants predominate, and vary in ages—from the youngest age allowed (14 years old in Minnesota)—to octogenarians.

Having told you this much, let me add that the recipes to be found in BLUE RIBBON WINNERS are some of the finest in various categories—there are pies and pastries, cakes, yeast breads, quick breads, cookies, candy and snack, sweet spreads, pickles and condiments.

Another feature of BLUE RIBBON WINNERS that I find especially valuable and interesting is that in the prefaces of each chapter, the author provides us with a closer look at judging criteria—for instance, the explains that the crust, in pies at a state fair, may count for up to 45% of the total score for a two-crust pie. She provides lots of tips for fair-competition wannabees” and cookie baking advice from a many-time winner.

I like the style of the recipes, which include the name and hometown of the winners—I even found a recipe for my absolute favorite candy recipes, (Cranlets—like aplets only made with cranberries) – that I can’t wait to try.
BLUE RIBBON WINNERS/AMERICA’S BEST STATE FAIR RECIPES certainly is a winner, one you will want to add to your cookbook collection. But wait! I’m not finished yet!

Do all of you remember the fabulous BROOKLYN COOKBOOK? Well, coauthors Lyn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy, Jr., returned to cookbook publishing with another winner, this time the title of their book was THE COUNTY FAIR COOKBOOK. Says Bernard Clayton, Jr., author of COOKING ACROSS AMERICA, “I had hardly begun the delightful COUNTY FAIR COOKBOOK when a powerful urge came over me to (1) visit every fair in my part of the country, and (2) immediately go to the kitchen to prepare Minnie Briese’s Potato soup (North Dakota) and Liverity Davis’ chicken pie (Louisiana).

I know how Mr. Clayton feels. Since I started reading these two cookbooks I have made numerous forages to the kitchen to mix cookie dough, bake a ham, and search for my candy thermometer.

State the publishers of THE COUNTY FAIR COOKBOOK, the American county fair! Its tractor pulls and rodeos, racing pigs and three-hundred pound pumpkins, boisterous midways and—food. Nothing brings out the best in the nation’s regional chefs like a county fair, and this jam-packed collection of authentic American foods is a cooking connoisseur’s culinary dream come true. Ranging across all fifty states (with an excursion into Canada), THE COUNTY FAIR COOKBOOK visits the fairs in each region and serves up the personally tried-and-true recipes of devoted fair-participants.

Also, each region features its own distinctive specialties, so that—when in Maine, you may encounter Yankee Johnnycake, while when you read about southern fair favorites, you may find goodies like Georgia’s sweet potato pudding.
This is far more than just a cookbook, though. Each fair that is featured in the book is accompanied by a brief synopsis of that fair, and even directions for getting there! There are lots of photographs taken at fair grounds throughout the country, from the tallest Ferris wheel in the western hemisphere (State Fair of Texas, in Dallas), to Doctor James Kemp judging country hams (Marion county in Kentucky); there is the happy face of a junior winner leading a Hereford bull (Rockingham County fair in Virginia) and square dancers at the Yavapal county Fair in Prescott, Arizona. For those of us on the West Coast, the Orange County Fair and Riverside County’s National Date Festival are featured. I was nonplussed to find a recipe from the Orange County Fair Centennial cookbook of 1992—this is one of the cookbooks I lost in the 1994 earthquake.

Farther north, the Big Fresno Fair is featured along with the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee. Throughout, there are lots and lots of yummy sounding recipes that you will want to try, knowing they are all winners.
If you’ve been to some of your local fairs, I know you will enjoy these books and delight in having at your fingertips hundreds of the blue ribbon recipes. If you haven’t been to a fair, you will surely want to read THE COUNTY FAIR COOKBOOK to get an idea what’s in store for you…and who knows? Maybe next year, those will be some of your blue ribbon winners!
***
Reviews by Sandra Lee Smith

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

REGIONAL COOKBOOKS VERSUS AMERICANA

FOR BETSY

Back in 1965, when I came up with the idea of collecting cookbooks, I was a babe in the woods, with virtually NO idea how to even START collecting cookbooks. (It was all a matter of knowing where to look.)

This little acorn of an idea actually started with my father, who worked at Formica for many years; a coworker brought in some church cookbooks compiled by the Women’s Guild Matthew’s United Church of Christ (Cincinnati, Ohio)
For their 50th Anniversary in 1961.

Dad bought several of the cookbooks for a dollar each. It had everything -ads from local businesses, lots of recipes – and – a fair amount of dishes indigenous to Cincinnati, Ohio—including mock turtle soup (that’s not one you see in a lot of cookbooks). One of the copies was given to me. (Thanks, Dad! You created a monster!)

That was my very first church cookbook, and I think I made most of the recipes at one time or another and every time I looked through it, I wondered “are there more cookbooks like this one, somewhere out there?

A few years passed by; by 1965 we (husband, two sons) were living in a cute little house in North Hollywood.You know how one thing can lead to another? That’s just what happened. A girlfriend (whose husband was Hungarian) mentioned seeing a collection of Hungarian recipes in booklet form (possibly Culinary Arts Press) and said she would like to find a copy of that cookbooklet.

“I know how to find it,” I told her. “There is a magazine called Women’s Circle, by Tower Press–—women write in to the magazine when they want to find something and they offer to buy or trade for it—I’ll write a letter to them” – and so I did.

My letter appeared in an issue of the magazine a few months later. In addition to expressing a desire to find the Hungarian cookbooklet, I also wrote that I was interested in finding cookbooks to buy or trade for—particular church or club cookbooks.

What followed was an onslaught of mail from women all over the USA—over 200 letters, in fact. I bought a couple copies of the Hungarian booklet—one for my friend, Peggy, and one for myself. I also bought or traded for every cookbook any one had to offer. And that’s how I started collecting cookbooks.

One of the first letters I received was from a young woman like myself, with children, and we immediately became penpals. Betsy lives in Michigan and we are still penpals –more than fifty years later. I also discovered that used book stores had a wealth of church and club cookbooks. I thought of these cookbooks as “regional” cookbooks, although I would learn that “regional” can cover a lot of territory.

So many years later, I have thousands of cookbooks; one that I consider outstanding as a regional cookbook is titled CINCINNATI RECIPE TREASURY, THE QUEEN CITY’S CULINARY HERITAGE, by Mary Anna DuSablon.

This one didn’t turn up in a used book store—I was with my brother, Jim, in between flights taking us to Seattle—(whenever he had business on the west coast. I’d take a few vacation days from my job and travel along with him) when I found Mary Anna DuSablon’s cookbook (if I am not mistaken) in a bookstore inside the airport where we were waiting for a flight from Oakland to Seattle. I bought all the copies they had, to put aside for Christmas presents for my siblings. I gave one of the copies to my brother—he read the entire book by the time we reached Seattle. CINCINNATI RECIPE TREASURY remains one of my all-time favorite “regional” cookbooks. The recipes and their history reached out to us, born and raised in Cincinnati.

Whether considered “regional” cookbooks or referred to as “church and club” cookbooks this genre of cookery has a long and lasting history. According to Clifton Fadiman in the Foreword to the Browns’ CULINARY AMERICANA, it is believed that the earliest of the regional cookbooks were brought out to provide funds for he Sanitary Commissions during the Civil War.

I had to smile at Fadiman’s description of CULINARY AMERICANA “…though it seems basically a mere bibiliography, *Italics mine—sls) if carefully read and thoughtfully interpreted, can throw a significant and diverting light on us as a people. It makes clear, for example, in the most unpretentious way, how stubborn, how resistant to change, are those outgrowths of pioneer institutions, the Ladies Aid Society, the church group, the womens’ clubs, the charming little cookbooks they issued (and continue to issue) are an index of the sturdiness of village culture. It has not all gone neon-light”.

(I should mention, however, that Fadiman’s Foreword to Culinary Americana was written in 1961 (also the publishing date of Culinary Americana) and the regional cookbook, in particular the cookbooks published by the Junior
Leagues of the USA, have blossomed into a great deal more than “charming little cookbooks” as described by Fadiman).

Additionally, Culinary Americana is focused on cookbooks published in the cities and towns of the United States of America from 1860 through 1960; to the best of my knowledge, no one has compiled a collection of church and club cookbooks from 1960 to the present time 2017—but I think there are an enormous number of church and club cookbooks published every year and it may have reach the point where it is impossible to keep tabs on how many are published every year.

In my personal collection of regional cookbooks, divided into two large bookcases (East of the Mississippi and West of the Mississippi (for lack of a better solution and lack of space) and separated from those cookbooks is a third bookcase – anything with “American or Americana in the titles.

Possibly a better solution would be to get everything catalogued on my computer. The prospect overwhelms me. And, in the past few years, I began giving away some of the church-and-club cookbooks to nieces just to create bookshelf space for other cookbooks.

In 2010, my housemate, Bob, created a library out of half of the garage; he built some of the book shelves and used existing bookcases to create other “walls” for my books. After Bob passed away, I also began donating fiction – Bob’s authors and some of my own – to the Lancaster (California) Friends of the Library…

In the center of the garage library are categories such as American Presidents, First Ladies, biographies and auto- biographies.

Other categories of cookbooks are in bookcases that makes up “the wall” dividing the garage library from the garage itself, where I park my car.

Bob passed away from cancer of the esophagus in September, 2011. He managed to create a garage library, rebuild the secret garden and even got my clothesline put up again. (I am frequently reminded of the words to a song “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone….they paved paradise and put in a parking lot….”)

Since his passing in 2011, I have donated most of his favorite authors to the Lancaster Library – but also gave some of his authors to people like my friend Mary Jaynne’s husband Steve, who appreciates some of the same authors as Bob did.

As quickly as the shelves went up in the garage library, I unpacked boxes of books that had been stacked in an extra steel shed, bemoaning the discovery that some of my First Ladies’ biographies had gotten wet and were ruined from mildew. Inside the house, I cleared enough shelf space for collections such as my White House books (most written by former employees of the White House) while four smaller bookcases have been filled with my prized collection of food reference and recipes throughout history. The latter are as close to my computer as I can get them.

ALL of my regional cookbooks as well as all of my favorite food authors and all the books with “AMERICAN OR AMERICANA” in the titles are in bookcases that fill all three bedrooms as well as half of the living room. Most of the food authors are books that I collected in the 1990s while writing about those food historians for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange.

I have lost touch with Sue Erwin, the woman who created the CCE and knocked herself out finding books that I would be searching for – generally for an entire year – before sitting down and starting to write about – people like Myra Waldo, Jean Anderson, Meta Given, Nika Hazelton, the Browns (Cora, Rose and Bob Brown) as well as others.

In addition, I collected the series of the Best of the Best cookbooks, dedicated to collecting recipes from regional cookbooks in each of the states in the USA—there are more than fifty cookbooks in the series because the creators of The Best of the Best sometimes discovered a lot more cookbooks in certain states, such as Texas, Louisiana, and Virginia—which warranted a sequel book 2,

(I should also mention that two books represented the Best of the Best from the Mid-Atlantic (representing Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Washington, D.C—while the Great Plains are features in the Best of the Best from favorite cookbooks in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

I should also mention that the Best of the Best series was the inspiration of Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley—who VISITED each of the States in search of club and church cookbooks from each. They are the creators of Quail Ridge Press. Each of the Best of the Best series contains a list of all the contributing cookbooks…and back when this famous duo was first publishing the Best of the Best series, my girlfriend, Mandy, and I wrote to some of the contributing cookbooks and were able to order a few that especially appealed to us. I can’t say enough about them—if you are really interested in regional cookbooks, this is a great place to start.

Another series of cookbooks that I am particularly fond of are The Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. I have more than fifty of these cookbooks—titles range from Christmas favorites, to best-loved Church Casseroles. These are also spiral-bound books—and the catch to the Gooseberry Patch is that recipes are culled from the many submitted to them—and, if they choose one of your recipes, you receive a free copy of the cookbook when it is published (a value of $16.95). I think I have about half a dozen, possibly more, that were selected from recipes I sent to Gooseberry Patch. I keep the letter they sent to me, announcing the publication of a particular recipe, with the book. They like it when you are able to provide a little history with your recipe—I submitted a chicken dish that had been my Aunt Annie’s—and it was chosen for Gooseberry Patch’s DINNER$ ON A DIME published in 2009.

Years ago, when I was new to cookbook collecting, a few penpals and I embarked on a quest to find a cookbook from each of the States (this was long before the Best of the Best came along) – I remember being unable to find anything for Utah so I wrote to a newspaper in Utah asking why it was so hard to find any church or club cookbooks published in Utah. Someone—maybe the food editor—wrote back to me, saying that it was possible that local people bought up all the copies of fund-raising cookbooks, leaving no reason to search for buyers beyond their borders. Somehow I did find something from Utah. My curiosity was piqued and I began searching for books about Utah pioneers as well. This is just how one thing leads to another.

Over the last few days, I unearthed a copy of the Santa Barbara Junior League Cookbook, published in 1939. (I need to search through my Junior League books to see which has the earliest publishing date).

This one could have fallen into the category of battered, tattered cookbooks and I might have overlooked it if not for the 1939 publishing date—and the many charming recipes featuring local (Southern California) recipes. It belongs with my collection of California cookbooks. My curiosity is piqued again with a recipe for Nabisco Cream Cake—that requires “rolled Nabisco wafers”. Does anyone know what these were? Obviously a cookie from Nabisco—but when did the cookie disappear from grocery shelves? This is a dessert recipe that is refrigerated for at least 12 hours after it has been put together. (I wonder—if I write to Nabisco, do you think they will answer me?)

Back in the 1970s, both my sister Becky and I found ourselves contributing recipes to PTA cookbooks being published by our sons’ schools—the Beachy School PTA Cookbook remains one of my favorites—while Becky’s participation in the Cheviot School PTA (Cincinnati, Ohio) cookbook makes that one a favorite in our household—that’s another way to get yourself involved with the publication of a regional cookbook.

TO CONTACT GOOSEBERRY PATCH, write to Gooseberry Patch, 600 London Road, PO Box 190, Delaware, Oh 43015, or call them at 1-800-854-6673.

To contact the editors of Best of the Best, Quail Ridge Press, PO Box 123, Brandon, Ms OR email them at info@quailridge.com.

To be continued…..coming next, cookbooks with America or Americana in their titles.

Sandra Lee Smith

500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES

(originally posted July, 2012)

Do you have any Storey Books? No, not story – STOREY! As in Storey Books, the publishers in Pownal, Vermont. My first introduction to Storey Books was when we decided to brew our own red wine with grapes grown in our minuscule arbor. At a wine and beer making supply store in the San Fernando Valley, we found everything we needed, but while Bob was inspecting fermentation locks and carboys, I was drawn to a little revolving rack of little booklets from Storey Books, devoted to a variety of subjects—but more importantly in a wine and beer making store, how to create your own brews of these particular beverages. I have a particular fascination with how to make almost anything we eat and drink, whether it is wine or cordials or liqueurs, bread or cheese—but sometimes finding instructions can be a real challenge.

The first time Bob & I decided to make our own sauerkraut, I spent hours wading through my vast collection of three-ring binders, amassed over a period of fifty years, until I found a newspaper article on how to make your own sauerkraut. (I know, I always say “never again” –we make it in vast batches, about 30-40 quarts at a time—and I always swear this time is the last. Well whenever cabbage was less than 10 cents a pound in March as St Patrick’s Day was drawing near, who could resist? And there we were, busy shredding head after head of cabbage.

Well, if you are interested in how to make a wide variety of things—whether it is sauerkraut (Martha Storey provides a recipe for making small batches) or butter, wine, chutneys, ice cream yogurt or cheese (including directions for building a cheese press!) –now it all can be found in one book! Check this out: “500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES FROM MARTHA STOREY & FRIENDS”.

this is such a comprehensive column that it could have been overwhelming but it isn’t. The format is easy to read and follow with directions anyone can understand. There are even directions for carving a pumpkin, making a gingerbread house (complete with templates), butterflying a leg of lamb, making jellies and jams, curing meats, bottling your own soft drinks – and cutting up a chicken.

And recipes? Oh, my yes! Loads of recipes! Whether it’s Mimi’s Sunday Pot Roast or Chocolate Zucchini Bread, Cock-a-Leekie Soup or Boeuf Bourguignon, there is something here to tantalize every palate. Try Baked Brief with fresh fruit or the Sweet Potato & Carrot Casserole (a lovely change of pace from ordinary sweet potato casserole), from Apricot Salsa to Granny Smith Apple Pie, there is a vast array of recipes from which to choose.

Another great feature of this oversized, comprehensive cookbook are all the “sidebars”—whether Martha Storey is writing about Pasta or Soups you will find margin sidebars explaining, for example, the definition of different kinds of soups to directions for making the perfect pasta. There are sidebars for brewing the perfect pot of tea to making perfect gravy, hints for steaming vegetables to the best way of making pumpkin puree.

For instance, in writing about olives, there is a margin sidebar on the subject: “Olives are a fixture in Greek salads, and they can be used in many other combinations as well. In addition to the familiar seedless black olives and pimiento-stuffed green olives, look for their stronger-flavored briny cousins from the deli. Huge, fleshy GREEN OLIVES, COAL-BLACK, OIL-CURED TANGY Kalamatas, and tiny Nicoise olives add interest to salads. To pit a ripe olive, press on it firmly with the flat side of a knife until it splits; the pit should come out cleanly.

But wait! There’s more! 500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES is packed with other helpful information, such as a chart listing spices and their uses, measurement charts, a comprehensive Equivalent & Substitutions chart, a dictionary of Techniques and terms (such as the differences between chopping, dicing, grating, poaching, or steeping). I couldn’t tell you how many times over the years, one of my sons, daughters in law, nieces or nephews have called to ask “What does sauté mean? What do they mean by fold? (well, all of this took place before Google came along).

But move over Betty Crock and Irma Rombauer – I believe 500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES would be an excellent first cookbook for a new bride, for anyone who wants to learn how to cook –or for anyone who just wants to know how to do anything in the kitchen—this is the book for you.

And for all of you who are artsy-crafty, (I somehow got bypassed from this gene—both of my sisters were the artsy-crafty members of the family) – there is a chapter called Arts of the Country Home which deals with making your own dishwashing liquid, milk bath, herbal bath salts, a bouquet garni wreath
(now this is something I would like to try to make) grapevine wreaths,
pinecone fire starters – and oh, lots more. There is even a chapter for home gardeners with directions for growing herbs in your kitchen!

500 TREASURED COUNTRY RECIPES is the most comprehensive how-to book I have ever found in a single issue. Published in 2000 by Storey Communications, it was published in 2001 and originally sold for $18.95.

Amazon.com has copies as low as .30 cents and up for a pre-owned copy.

Sandra Lee smith