all about old cookbooks, what they’re worth, general information


FALSE TONGUES AND SUNDAY BREAD is a tantalizing cookbook that captivated me, not only with the title—but also from the subtitle “A Guatemalan and Mayan Cookbook.” It wasn’t so very long ago that I reviewed a cookbook for you titled “FOODS OF THE MAYA/ A TASTE OF THE YUCATAN” by Nancy & Jeffrey Gerlach.

I have never had a desire to visit any of the countries in South America—but “FOODS OF THE MAYA” piqued my curiosity. Copeland Marks, I learned, is co-author of THE INDONESIAN KITCHEN and often contributed to Gourmet, Bon Appetit and Food and Wine—all of which has me wondering how a New Yorker has produced such a tantalizing title as, FALSE TONGUES AND SUNDAY BFEAD.

My curiosity increased in Marks’ introduction in which he writes, “several years ago I approached a number of people in Guatemala City and told them I wanted to write a book on the cuisine of Guatemala. My comment was received with utter disbelief that there was a cuisine at all; people claimed that the highland Indians ate only beans, tortillas and tamales, and that if there was any semblance of a cooking style it occurred only in the large cities…”
Marks says he collected the textiles of the Maya for twenty years, moving from one village to another where the great tribal textile tradition was still extant. He says he had been impressed by the variety of foods in the daily markets as well as the selection of spices and seasonings available. He knew, he says, there had to be a cuisine. despite fact that none of the restaurants serving tourists were presenting the authentic foods and that there was no real bibliography of cookbooks in English one could study. So Marks returned to the village weavers known to him, all of them women, and proceeded to talk about food and recorded the daily and ceremonial recipes based upon his observation and actual cooking activities with them.
Marks says it wasn’t all that easy—at one point he was bitten by a mad dog in the village of San Juan Sacatepequez and had to undergo 16 injections into his stomach—and there were many other Sacatepequez experiences—during which he asked himself if there wasn’t an easier way to find and write about a cuisine. However, he writes, after a guerilla experience, the veil lifted and Marks was able to collect considerable evidence that the cuisine of Guatemaya Maya is in reality two separate cuisines, –one of the highland Indian with their pre-Hispanic style and the other of the Spanish Colonial era which had been developed by the new race, the Ladinos, who were a mixture of the old and the new. brought about independently of the two other cuisines, a minor satellite that had developed independently in the town of Livingston in Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. It was here that indentured labor from India and Africa was brought in by the British to work in the sugarcane and forests of British Honduras, (now known as Belize). These people developed a vivid style of cooking that was tropical, based on seafood, bananas and coconut milk.

Nowhere will you find more creatively named recipes than those you will find in False Tongues and Sunday Bread! Starting with False Tongues, which is a ground beef loaf, otherwise known as Lengua Fingida.

In the Foreword, Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz writes “Copeland Marks has made a meticulous study of a little-known culinary regions of the Americas—the once-great Mayan empire that stretched from the mother city of “Tikal in Guacamole , north into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula through the modern state of Campeche to Palenque in Chiapas and south to Copan in Honduras, glory had begun to fade by the time of the Spanish Conquest in the sixteenth century. Surprisingly, much has survived the centuries, including the magnificent weavings and the food…the cuisines are, of course, dominated by the indigenous foods. Most of them, like tomatoes, corn, the common bean, chiles and sweet peppers were first cultivated in Mexico, where it is believed agriculture was born millennia ago. These still form the basis of the kitchen, though nowadays with the foods introduced by the Conquest and by the spread of modern trade, all the foods of the world are available. The Guatemalan kitchen of today reflects this and it has also been modified by modern cooking methods and kitchen tools such as the blender and food processor…”

Recipes throughout False Tongues and Sunday Bread reflect the combining of old and new and you will surely reflect all of these and a great deal more. Read and enjoy.

FALSE TONGUES AND SUNDAY BREAD is available on; prices mostly steep but there is one in pre-owned copies for $14.91.




*Your nightstand is piled high with cookbooks that you read in bed at night the way other people read novels.  It’s not unusual for you to find a couple of cookbooks in the bed with you when you awaken in the morning.

*You immediately head for the cookbook section of your favorite bookstore, just to see what’s new;

*You seldom leave a bookstore without buying a few new cookbooks;

*You go to the Friends of the Library book sales just to search for cookbooks. You might even buy some you already have but will buy them anyway because they are only fifty cents each;

*You don’t see anything unusual about having more than one edition of a favorite cookbook, such as the Joy of Cooking; your logic is that there might be some different recipes in the newer edition;

*You don’t want any of the pages of your cookbooks to become stained or spattered so you will copy a recipe on your printer instead of referring directly to the cookbook. Your refrigerator door is covered with recipes copied from cookbooks;

*When someone says they have a huge collection of cookbooks – at least three hundred books – you snicker because you have more than three thousand cookbooks;

*You think the next best thing to reading cookbooks is – browsing through book catalogs and websites that feature a lot of cookbooks;

*Your idea of a perfect day is spending it in used bookstores that have a lot of old cookbooks for sale—and the storekeeper has to help you lug them all to the trunk of your car when you are finished shopping (one of my favorites is in downtown Cincinnati);

*When someone asks you “What’s your favorite cookbook, the one you can’t live without?” you have to admit you probably have over a hundred favorites you can’t live without.

*You think the next best thing to reading cookbooks and recipes – is writing about them!    You have discovered that it is as rewarding—even more so—when you have the opportunity to participate in the creation of a community (church or club) cookbook. The first one I participated in was RECIPES ROUNDUP for Beachy School in Arleta  (California) in 1971. I volunteered to help and ended up taking over the entire project, typing all of the recipes before submitting them to a publisher. Several of the PTA ladies that participated in the project became life-long friends.  A few years later my sister Becky & I both participated in the compilation of a Christmas cookbook from a group in Cincinnati. And she was a major driving force in a cookbook project by the Cheviot PTA in Cincinnati—she did all of the graphics and submitted dozens of our family’s favorite recipes. Oddly enough—this spiral bound cookbook published by a PTA in Cincinnati somehow ended up in the hands of a girlfriend of mine when she was living in Maryland but some years later, returned to California—where she and her husband retired in the mountains in Southern California—I spotted it on her cookbook shelves one day when I was visiting—and couldn’t believe she had a copy of that particular cookbook.

The greatest project was the family cookbook, Grandma’s Favorite which ended up taking us years to get published in 2004. It’s my favorite turn-to cookbook though—it contains most of the family favorites. Another project that took years to be published was The Office Cookbook that a group of us where I worked began working on in the 1980s. The original manuscript contains over 400 recipes and when a co-worker learned that I had all of them, typed up, in a notebook – he asked if he could copy it and I said yes, of course. He printed both sides of the pages and put the book into nice clear plastic binders—and presented me with a copy.  Some twenty-something years later, when the company’s fund-raising committee wanted a sure fire fund-raiser – I suggested the Office Cookbook. It was reduced to 200 recipes—many of the original contributors had either retired or passed away—but finally it was published in 2002, still under the name of The Office Cookbook. It was never anything else.  But when I want a particular recipe, I almost always turn to the UN-condensed typewritten collection in a 3-ring binder.

*A few years ago, I became acquainted, long-distance, with a woman who is an editor for a cookbook publishing house.  I often think – that has to be the BEST job of all! Kudos to you, Sheila.

Happy Cooking!




paris bistro cookery by alexander watt 001

While putting some books away—notably foreign cookbooks—I came across one I have had so long, I no longer remember how I acquired it. I do know that a few years ago when my sister & I, along with her son Cody and my grandson Ethan, met our niece, Leslie, in San Diego with her son Blake—we found a wonderful used cookbook store and bought literally stacks of cookbooks. Leslie was buying all the French cookbooks she could find and I remarked, offhandedly, that I had a lot of French cookbooks that she was welcome to, as it isn’t one of my favorite foreign cuisines. Later on I mailed two boxes of cookbooks to her.  So, how did I end up with a copy of Alexander Watt’s PARIS BISTRO COOKERY? The copyright on this cookbook is 1957 and although the dust jacket is worn and torn in places, at least it’s there.  This small cookbook was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1958 and appears to be the first edition.

My first thought was “What is bistro cookery and how does it differ from other French cooking?  Good question!  From visiting Bing and finding some definitions, I learned that French bistro food caught on in the U.S. in the ’80s, when we realized that we loved the simple, homey cooking found in those small, casual eateries the French call bistros. An alternative to haute cuisine, this is hearty, rustic, everyday stuff, often characterized by regional roots: crisp roast chickens, savory tarts, hearty stews and robust salads.

A bistro (/ˈbiːstrəʊ/), sometimes spelled bistrot, is, in its original Parisian incarnation, a small restaurant serving moderately priced simple meals in a modest setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. French home-style cooking with robust earthy dishes, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet, a bean stew, are typical. According to Wikipedia, bistros likely developed out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartments where tenants paid for both room and board. Landlords could supplement their income by opening their kitchen to the paying public. Menus were built around foods that were simple, could be prepared in quantity and would keep over time. Wine and coffee were also served.

The origins of the word bistro are uncertain. Some say that it may derive from the Russian bystro (быстро), “quickly”. According to an urban legend, it entered the French language during the Russian occupation of Paris in 1815. Russian officers or cossacks who wanted to be served quickly would shout “bystro.” However, this etymology is not accepted by several French linguists as there is, notably, no occurrence of this word until the end of the 19th century. Others say the name comes from a type of aperitif, called a bistrouille in (or liqueur coffee), served in some reasonably priced restaurants.

Then I discovered on the cover in much smaller print “50 of Paris’s best small bistros—a cook’s tour with 100 recipes of their specialities de la maison”  (so much for such a small book!) On the inside of the dust jacket, I read “Here is a title to look at twice—for it has a double meaning. This is at once a guidebook and a cookbook  It is a collection of moments savored in those wonderful but often hard-to-find Paris islands where magnificent food is served—and eaten. It is, as well, a collection of the secrets of the chefs who make those islands as singular as they are…”

Cookbook author Alexander Watt was the food and wine expert of the London daily telegraph and knew Paris inside the kitchen and out. In Paris Bistro he cut through to the root of the French cuisine.  Covering a wide cross-section of Paris, Mr. Watt took his readers on a tour of fifty small inexpensive bistros that he personally had discovered, tested, and approved. Granted, this cookbook was published over fifty years ago and I have no way of knowing whether any of the 50 still exist more than sixty years later. Reading the dust jacket, something nudged my memory banks – what other book had I read along similar lines?  I’ll think about that as I continue on.

Author Alexander Watt took us on a tour of fifty small, inexpensive bistros that he personally had visited, bringing to life the ambiance of each bistro, recapturing the atmosphere, the particular nature of the cooking, the regional dishes for which the restaurant may be famous. He not only described the specialties of the bistro, but also offered a  representative menu, suggesting the right  accompanying wine, cheese and liqueur (or digestif, as the French would say—to settle a superlative meal. Then Mr. Watt went on to outline the making of several of the dishes for which each bistro is famous.

Mr. Watt is a Scotsman who—at the time Paris Bistro Cookery was published—had spent 25 years of his life in Paris. Watt was a food and wine expert for the London Daily telegraph and a contributor to Vogue and other international magazines. He was an exacting gourmet and an acknowledged connoisseur of food and wine. In 1954, Watt published with James Beard his first book titled PARIS CUISINES. In 1962 Watt published the Art of Simple French Cooking.  I have been unable to find any additional cookbook titles for Mr. Watt. There are, curiously, a number of non-food titles that may or may not belong to this same Mr. Watt.  While exploring his name, I found a number of Alexander Watts going back in history; most of the dates are too old to be our French expert Alexander Watt.

In the foreword to Paris Bistro Cookery, Mr. Watt writes “By ‘a small bistro type of restaurant’ I mean a small restaurant where the activities of Le Patron, or La Patronne, replace those of the chef, the head waiter and the wine waiter.  This, at once,  implies a friendly ‘enfamille’ atmosphere or ambiance as they say in French, which characterizes the bistro type of restaurant with its sawdust and simplicity, as opposed to the carpets and comfort of the one, two-, and three-starred establishments…”

“What exactly is bistro?” Mr. Watt asks. “Few foreigners, or even Parisians can define the word. The origin is an interesting one and dates back to the time of the fall of Napoleon, when, in 1815, the Allies occupied Paris. Hungry and tired, the Russians, who were then encamped on the Place de la Concorde, felt need to be restored, (hence the origin of the word ‘restaurant’) so they used to wander around the adjoining streets in search of food and drink. ‘Bistro, bistro!’ they would shout as they entered the cafés, meaning in Russian ‘quick, quick’ …give us something to eat and drink.  And so the word stuck and now signifies a small café where meals are served simply and rapidly…”

“The clientele,” Watt continues, “consists of the local tradesmen and shopkeepers who have to eat their midday meal ‘’bistro, bistro’.  As often as not, there will also be a gathering of discerning French and foreign gourmets who have come out of their way to enjoy a good quality meal ‘lento-lento’. The bistro proprietors generally do a very good business and remain on friendly terms with their regular clientele who form a sort of family circle of faithful attendants….”

Watt says this should not discourage the gastronome from getting to know these fascinating out-of-the-way bistros—especially  those owned and run by the friendly couple, the one serving at le zinc the bar), the other working in the kitchen—who will welcome a new client if he adapts himself to the unaffected atmosphere and exhibits a ready interest and appreciation of the wines and specialites de la Maison. (This reminded me of a well known Maison Gerard in North Hollwood, where some of us frequently went to eat at lunchtime – they were famous for the French Onion Soup).

Before beginning your adventure in Bistro restaurants, Watt offers a chapter of Hints on Culinary Procedure in which the author places emphasis on the cook (you) having the proper kind of cooking utensils—namely, in France, copper bottomed saucepans and pots and seem  to think most American kitchens would not contain expensive copper bottom pots and pans for “thin aluminum  pots” will cook too rapidly he wrote. I was bemused by this chapter as for myself I use mostly stainless steel cookware (and cast iron skillets)  and don’t know anyone who cooks with aluminum nowadays. That is a singular example of how far we’ve come and advanced with our cooking tools, some sixty years later.

There is a chapter on French Recipe Terms as well.

Follows are the50 bistros with a little introduction to each. I can’t pretend to know very much about French cooking but I was pleased several basic recipes for making puff pastry, Crepes, and a veal reduction. There is an extensive chapter on “choosing a cheese” and a Glossary of the dishes found in this cookbook which may be the most useful to a novice cook or anyone wanting to learn how to make some French recipes.  (and of course, there is always Julia Child’s famous cookbook). has come pre owned and collectible copies of PARIS BISTRO COOKERY—the cover shown is not the same as mine. It took endless entries onto Google to learn anything at al—the website continuously brings up ads for all sorts of unrelated information. I went to and found the books listed on Amazon. Powell’s bookstore in Portland, Oregon, has a red-covered copy of Paris Bistro Cookery with a backorder of $205.50.  Powell’s also answers the questions uppermost in my mind: they note that many visitors who arrive in Paris expecting to eat well in the bistros the city was once famous for, find many have closed or turned into sushi bars. But although these small restaurants with zinc counters serving delicious traditional “spcialitis de la maison and plats du jour” under the watchful direction of the Patron have all but disappeared from Paris, they live on in the pages of this delightful book. It offers a hundred recipes from fifty of the best authentic Paris bistros, collected in the 1950’s when these establishments were at their height. Part guidebook and part cookbook, this volume gives the address and description of each bistro as it was, and its colorful denizens, followed by its signature recipes. A work to savor.

Before I close leaving you to wonder –should you or shouldn’t you attempt to find a copy of Paris Bistro Cookery, I’ll give you an article more accessible to find – Endless Feasts –60 years of Gourmet Magazine—edited by Ruth Reichl—has an article titled Paris Report, by Don Dresden, which offers a more realistic view of Paris restaurants following World War II when the author had gone back there to live. Paris, it seems, was and is equally famous for its food, not just the wines. Anyone who has been there and wants to talk about it – I am ready to listen. Paris Bistro Cookery—with or without the recipes—is a fascinating little book to read.

Sandra Lee Smith



Some years ago, I was surfing the Internet looking for information about a cookbook author from the 1940s, when I happened to come across an article published some years ago by a newsletter called Simple Cooking.  The title of the article was “THE COOKBOOK CLOSEST TO MY HEART” and the editor of Simple Cooking posed this question to its subscribers: what cookbook would you rescue from a fire, if you could rescue only one? Out of all your favorite cookbooks, which one is closest to your heart?  The responses were varied and interesting, and included replies from a number of cookbook authors (Jean Anderson, Irena Chalmers, Julia Child, Laurie Colwin, Marion Cunningham, Karen Hess, and others) as well as comments from cookbook dealers Marian Gore and Jan Longone.  What surprised me most, though, was the number of cookbooks that I had never heard of!

The topic itself piqued my curiosity.  Back in the 1990s, a food writer for the Los Angeles Times called me on the phone one day and asked if we could do a telephone interview. I said sure, and she proceeded to ask me a few questions about my collection. One of those questions was “What is your favorite cookbook? If you had to choose just one or two, which would it be?”

I was caught off-guard by the question (and whatever my response was, it didn’t appear in the newspaper article which appeared in the December 15, 1994, issue of the Los Angeles Times). Actually, the article was really about a cookbook dealer who, at that time, had a used cookbook store in Burbank. I’ve never been quite sure how I got into the act.  And, I couldn’t tell you what my response was in 1994—my “favorite” cookbook changes frequently. (I have a theory that the only people who could limit their selection to only one or two books are people who don’t actually collect cookbooks).  At that moment, one of my favorites was  Jean Anderson’s “AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK” which was published in 1997, so it wasn’t even a consideration in 1994. Anderson’s “American Century cookbook” is such a wonderful potpourri of recipes covering a hundred years—and I’ve discovered that I am greatly partial to any cookbook that manages to combine recipes with history and food lore. This thought occurred to me some time ago while I was writing a review of Mary Gunderson’s “FOOD JOURNAL OF LEWIS & CLARK, RECIPES FOR AN EXPEDITION”. The history fascinates me as much as the recipes do.

I might have said, in 1994, my choice was “AMERICA COOKS” by the Browns, – Cora, Rose, and Bob, – who compiled a book of favorite recipes when there were only 48 States, so you won’t find Alaska or Hawaii included in the roster. “AMERICA COOKS” is still one of my favorites, though. Actually, all of the cookbooks written by the Browns are really worth having in your collection.

I am very partial to another cookbook that skillfully combines recipes with history, called “CINCINNATI RECIPE TREASURY” by Mary Anna DuSablon (originally published by the Donning Company in 1983, reprinted by the Ohio University Press in 1992 with a number of reprint editions following).   I found a soft-cover edition of this cookbook back in the 90s when I was in northern California with my brother, Jim—and bought copies for all of my sisters and brothers. For transplanted Cincinnatians, this really is a treasury of recipes for dishes not found anywhere else in the United States (such as Cincinnati chili!)  I got a big kick out of the fact that my brother (a great cook, certainly, but not a cookbook collector) read the entire cookbook as we flew from Oakland to Portland.

On a similar note, I was delighted and charmed to discover Jeanne Voltz’s “THE CALIFORNIA COOKBOOK” some time ago – and this cookbook was published thirty-something years ago!  However, it’s a bonanza of California recipes and I have to admit, after living fifty years of living in California, I am more Californian, now, than Buckeye.

One other favorite Ohio cookbook is a little spiral bound book you’ve probably never heard of, titled “HAPPINESS IS…CHEVIOT PTA COOKBOOK”.  My sister Barbara was greatly involved with the compilation of this little cookbook, published in 1974 and she drew the graphic illustrations that appear throughout the book. It also contains many of our family favorite recipes.

I have to admit to also being very partial to all of my Quail Ridge “Best of….” cookbooks as well as a growing collection of cookbooks from Gooseberry Patch.  Both sets of books are filled with contemporary recipes that are generally quick-and-easy, important factors for today’s busy cook. (Thirty-something years ago, however, I would have said that the Farm Journal series of cookbooks were my favorites for everyday cooking. The Best of the Best as well as the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks remind me of the potato chip commercial that says “bet you can’t eat just one”. Bet you won’t be satisfied with just one of these cookbooks!

And, as I have spent more and more time over the years, researching and learning about books such as The Joy of Cooking, The Meta Given cookbooks, Myra Waldo’s collection of cookbooks and Jean Anderson’s  equally wonderful collection of cookbooks—I don’t think I could ever choose just one or two.  It’s sort of like that old saying, “When I’m not with the one I love, I love the one I’m with” – my favorite cookbook is probably the one I am reading right now. But if I absolutely had to choose just a few?  I think my first choice would have to be “Grandma’s Favorite”, a family collection of recipes that took us over 20 years to finally get published. My sister and I were finally able to get it to a publisher in 2004. Most of our family favorites are in this cookbook. I am also very partial to The Office Cookbook—another endeavor by coworkers and myself that also took over twenty years to get to a publisher. “The Office” referred to here is the one where I worked for 27 years before retiring in 2002.

But I have a confession to make: A few years ago a brush fire was burning dangerously close to homes in Quartz Hill, Palmdale and Lancaster. People were being evacuated close to my sister’s home, a few miles away.  At night, looking up the street, the line of fire coming over the mountain range was frighteningly close. For the first time I really DID think long and hard about what could be saved if evacuation became necessary. I then realized there would be no way to save my collections of cookbooks, cookie jars and other things. There would only be enough room for us and our pets and that would be assuming that I could get the cats into carriers. I did take out a valise and filled it with our most important documents. I could also save all the photographs that are on CDs but not the albums themselves. It was a moment of truth. Things can be replaced (maybe) but lives can’t.

But assuming we live in a perfect world in which our favorite things could be saved– what’s YOUR favorite cookbook? The one dearest to your heart?

Happy Cooking!







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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wash and remove the tips from 1 lb fresh green asparagus, simmer the tips, covered until they are tender in a small amount of milk or water.

Cut the stalks into pieces and place them in a saucepan. Add

6 cups of veal or chicken stock page 490

¼    cup chopped onions

½ cup chopped celery

Simmer these ingredients, covered,  for about ½ hour  rub them through a sieve.


3 Tablespoons butter

Stir in until blended

3 Tablespoons flour

Stir in slowly:

½ cup cream

Add the asparagus stock. Heat the soup well in a double boiler. Add the asparagus tips. Season the soup immediately before serving with salt, paprika, and white pepper. Before serving, garnish with:

A diced hard-cooked egg    **

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

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

Bunny & Sandy, July, 1984, Florida



My bad! I posted an article for you about lists and cookbooks and then neglected to write something else for ten days. My excuse is just that I have been taking down Christmas decorations, et al, which took about a week, and then a few days ago, two of my grandchildren and I went to the mountains to visit friends for a few days. Kids were elated – it began to snow on Thursday and came down steadily for some hours—they were hoping we’d get snowed in. Grammy was hoping – not. I wanted to get home to my two dogs and one cat on
Friday and get back into some kind of routine.

Well, I’ve had a stack of cookbooks at my elbow for a couple of weeks with the intention of sharing these with you. Cookbook reviews always make a good topic to write about, don’t you agree? I have so many cookbooks I’ve wanted to share with other cookbook aficionados that stacks of these books have been piling up throughout the house. So, let’s start with one of these – first on my list is ]

AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK/712 FAVORITE RECIPES FROM MAIN STREET U.S.A. edited by Barbara Greeman. This big thick cookbook with plastic spiral binding is designed to lay flat on a counter surface anywhere in the book. The recipes are from church suppers, church socials, state and county fairs, family & friends. I think it  caught my eye when I was searching through my “Americana” collection a few months ago. AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK was published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers and distributed by Workman Publishing Company.

In the introduction, Barbara Greenman confesses, “I wish I could say this idea was mine! All the credit and thanks go to my publisher, my editor and their team. Yes, I  provide them the raw material, but from it they have spun gold. Here it is, AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK, highlighting 712 recipes from the more than 2, 000 sent to us by America’s churches and state and county fairs. It is the perfect cookbook for our times…”

Truer words were never spoken. Barbara says that “Excellence was the criteria for inclusion in this new collection. Instead of five chicken salad recipes and seven meatloaf recipes, we offer the best of each category and a wide variety of              food…”  And anyone who has collected club-and-church cookbooks for any length of time (in my case over forty years) knows that duplicate or very similar recipes often fill many of the pages of a community cookbook. The persons collecting the recipes don’t want to leave anyone out, so every one of the recipes is included even at the risk of being repetitive.

I checked the back of the cookbook to see if a list of contributing cookbooks was offered – while they weren’t, a list of the contributing churches (54 of them) was provided.  The following page provides a long list of state and county fairs whose recipes were provided on the pages of AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK—sixty-five of them, including my favorite Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona, California—the greatest difficulty with a cookbook such as this one is trying to decide what to check out first – the recipes? The contributors? Looking for a favorite recipe? To see if your hometown is represented?  Well, with over seven hundred recipes that will keep you occupied for a while. And at the risk of being even more repetitive, cookbook people read cookbooks the way other people read novels. No lie. I have a stack of cookbooks and a stack of novels on and next to and inside my nightstand at any given moment. A good way to read a cookbook is keeping a pad of those little square post-its on the nightstand next to your bottle or glass of water, a pen, any medication you take at night and the telephone. (I am often in bed and getting warm when I realize I am missing one of the above items (usually my bottle of water) and have to get back up and go to the kitchen to get it. Brody, my Jack Russell-Chihuahua new addition to the family always feels obligated to get up and follow me to the kitchen no matter how comfy he has gotten too. I am not sure whether he does this to protect me, or in the hopes that I may drop something, like a piece of bacon.

I know I am not alone in marking pages with post-it notes because I have acquired a lot of cookbooks at sales that are festooned with dozens of post it notes. I then remove their post-it notes to add my own post-it notes.  But, I digress (as you may have noticed, I have a tendency of doing this) – let me tell you about the categories of recipes you will find in AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK. Along with the Introduction and a Table of Equivalents (so handy to have), you will find recipes for













and a list of contributors.  I must confess, the layout for this cookbook is unlike any I have seen before. I do approve of Breakfast and Brunch coming first, though. The cookbook starts out with a generous collection of muffin recipes that is sure to please any cook and anyone waiting for muffins for breakfast or brunch. I love muffins – muffins were the very first thing I learned how to bake around the age of ten. Choose from blueberry muffins, blueberry-peach muffins, blackberry corn muffins, hearty oatmeal raisin muffins or cranberry muffins, just to name a few. When in doubt, just check through the array of muffins to find something corresponding with what you have in the frig or pantry (which is how I learned to cook from Ida Bailey Allen’s Service Cookbook).     Muffins are followed by Scones and French Toast recipes, including an Apple Cinnamon French Toast that I can’t wait to try. Then there are recipes for pancakes, which includes an Apple Cider Pancakes with Apple Cider Syrup—a good one to share with my penpal in Oregon, who has an orchard of half a dozen or so apple trees.  Next are recipes for coffee cakes; a post-it note has been attached to the Overnight Coffee Cake recipe. This is just a slight sampling of Breakfast and Brunch Recipes – there are fritters and buns, doughnuts and hushpuppies, bagels and omelets, frittatas and breakfast casseroles—in all, thirty three pages of Breakfast and Brunch recipes, enough to fill up one of those little recipe booklets – but this is in AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK/712 FAVORITE RECIPES FROM MAIN STREET U.S.A and can be at your fingertips any day, any time.

Chapter 2 is APPETIZERS.  Let me share something with you about appetizers, or as the French say, “hors d’oeuvres.”  I have a couple of shelves full of appetizer/hors d’oeuvres cookbooks.  I also have several recipe boxes full of appetizer/hors d’oeuvres recipes. The reason I have acquired so many of these perfect-for-party recipes is that we used to have some pretty big parties several times a year. By “we” I mean Bob and myself and my sons and their wives. After some years of throwing parties for which I would take off work and spend three days cooking in the kitchen, I made a startling (startling to me, at least) discovery – appetizers. Hors d’oeuvres. You can make a lot of them up in advance. You can buy a lot of different kinds of appetizers in the freezer cases at stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. When someone asks what they can bring to a party you can reply “your favorite appetizer—or a bottle of wine” I discovered that these tidbits, hot or cold, are perfect party food – a guest can pile different ones onto a plate and walk around chatting with other guests, go back to more if they want to and try some of the other appetizer/hors d’oeuvres. Well! in AMERICA’S HOMETOWN RECIPE BOOK/712 FAVORITE RECIPES FROM MAIN STREET U.S.A, Barbara Greeman has filled twenty three pages with appetizer/hors d’oeuvre recipes, ranging from a Horseradish Cheese Ball with Crackers to Mexican Chicken Bites, from Spinach Cheese Squares to Green Chili Pie, from Cocktail Meatballs to various dips.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. This is one fantastic cookbook, published in 2011. I was unable to find it listed under but has the book for $7.98 new, from Amazon, or $3.16 for a pre-owned copy from a private vendor.   A lot of cookbooks come and go, but this is one, I predict, that you will keep within reach.

Happy cooking and happier cookbook collecting!


OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS by Vickie and JoAnn of Gooseberry Patch

In honor of the approaching holidays, I would like to share some of my Christmas cookbook reviews and Christmas related articles with you.

OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS  by Vickie and JoAnn of Gooseberry Patch

From the ladies at Gooseberry Patch, comes a wonderful Christmas cookbook that you are definitely going to want to add to your collection. Over the years, Gooseberry Patch has produced numerous Christmas-themed cookbooks. OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS is just one of many Gooseberry Patch books but I checked with Amazon before I began typing, to see if you could find copies. It was published in 1992. And it is available.

OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, to quote authors Vickie and Joann, “is a holiday keepsake of recipes, traditions, homemade gifts, decorating ideas and favorite childhood memories…”

What the authors did…being the owners of the Gooseberry Patch, was to invite subscribers to contribute their favorite recipes and memories. It’s a tried and true format that Gooseberry Patch has used repeatedly with their books, with great success.  If a recipe or memory of yours is selected for publication in one of their books, you will receive a free copy of the book when it is published. I have maybe half a dozen of their cookbooks that I have gotten, free, this way. And it’s fun to give one of their cookbooks – containing one of your recipes – to friends or family for Christmas. For many years, Gooseberry Patch published a catalog and offered many great gifts and decorative items, calendars and day planners and other specially selected items. A few years ago, the merchandise was discontinued with the exception of the calendars and day planners, which I buy for myself, my daughter in law, Keara, and my sister. But back in the day – starting in 1984 – Gooseberry Patch was sending cookie cutters, Santas,
Christmas trees and ornaments, country gift baskets and all sorts of other things all over the country.

OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, in the words of Vickie and JoAnn,  is “a collection of recipes handed down from generations, well-loved family traditions, favorite holiday tips and homespun gifts to make straight from the heart…”

OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS is spiral bound, with these wonderful captivating illustrations that I adore.  And, as many of you already know, I am some kind of Christmas fool—this is definitely my kind of cookbook. Over the years I discovered that many of you also love Christmas and take pride in your collection of Christmas cookbooks.

So, what can you expect from OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS and what sets this particular Christmas cookbook apart from so many others?
Well, for one thing, you’re going to love the recipes! This is a very 90s kind of cookbook with up to date holiday recipes and tips. There are loads of quick and easy holiday recipes, ranging from a nice variety of cookies and candies, such as Buckeye Balls (an Ohio tradition), cinnamon Graham Crackers, to some new and different gift giving treats such as pumpkin fruitcake. There are some more elaborate recipes, too, covering everything from brunch on Christmas morning to your elegant Christmas dinner. There is a recipe for the Juiciest-ever roast turkey that I am planning to try.

There are also lots of simple craft ideas—nice for those of us who have good intentions but are ‘all thumbs’. Even moi can handle the craft idea for Christmas pomegranates (I even had my own pomegranate trees in Arleta. This year, my son and I collected 50 pounds of pomegranates from the tree of his friend, Angelo.)  I HAVE made the spicy gingerbread ornaments (see page 39) and I’ve also made graham cracker houses (this has been a Christmas cookie and craft project with my grandchildren and nephews and niece more than once) – once it ended disastrously, in Florida, when I thought I could get the melted sugar glue to dry faster in my electric oven and set the oven on fire. (WHAT WAS I THINKING?) – follow the recipe in OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS and use powdered sugar frosting. Now, the kids and I make royal frosting to hold little gingerbread or graham cracker houses together.

As you may have guessed, I love Christmas. I collect ornaments and Santas; it often took us two weeks to get everything up…in our Arleta house, we had 8 Christmas trees throughout the house. Now I am in a much smaller house and have to restrict myself to one big tree but can put up three or four of the small kitchen-theme trees.  I have loved baking Christmas cookies since my first Christmas as a young wife in 1958—and it became a tradition to share cookies and candy with everyone we know. I’ve shared some of my traditions with you; you may want to adopt some of the ones in OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS,   This is a cookbook you will enjoy and treasure forever after.

OLD FASHIONED COUNTRY CHRISTMAS is available on for $6.00, new, or starting at one cent for a pre-owned copy. has copies starting at 99c.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith