The following titles are all from my own personal collection of regional cookbooks—for what can be more regional, more American than the many cookbooks written by various authors?
I will provide as much information as possible, in the event someone wants to find some of these books. Some of the titles are not listed on Amazon.com while others are. For openers:
One of my earliest books by the Browns (Cora, Rose and Bob Brown) is Culinary Americana and the reason why I know it was one of the earliest books in my collection is because it contains an address label from when I lived on Terra Bella Street in Arleta, and I was numbering my books as I went along. Culinary Americana was #40A. Culinary Americana was compiled by Eleanor and Bob Brown (I believe this was after Cora and Rose had passed away and Bob re-married). In the Introduction, we learn that “Bob Brown first got together a cookbook collection for reference when he began to write about cooking. He had 1500 volumes which were purchased promptly by a grocery chain store as nucleus for their research library. It was then necessary for Bob to start a new collection. This was the origin of an interest in cookery books which lasted, and grew to the end of his life. Bob saw cookbooks as social and cultural history in America, particularly those regional books which were so close to the heart of the country”. After Bob’s sudden death, Eleanor continued work on this bibliography, CULINARY AMERICANA. **
Another huge favorite of mine since my earliest days of cookbook collecting is AMERICA COOKS, by the Browns, copyrighted 1940—and I never tire from reading it. If I remember correctly, my penpal Betsy Dearth found a copy of AMERICA COOKS for me.
America cooks is a fun cookbook, saluting all the states and including some rhymed recipes along the way.
FYI there are about a dozen cookbooks by The Browns, all a welcome addition to any cookbook collection ***
A SALUTE TO AMERICAN COOKING, by Stephen and Ethel Longstreet, (and illustrations by Stephen Longstreet), published in 1968, is a hardcover cookbook. A SALUTE TO AMERICAN COOKING is a hardbound cookbook published by Hawthorn Books in 1968 with a wide assortment of recipes. While leafing through the cookbook last night I came across recipes for Old Style Pickled Mushrooms, and Red Pepper Jelly, Farmer’s Pickled Red Cabbage, something different in making stuffed bell peppers and many other tantalizing recipes. Somehow I managed to acquire two copies of A SALUTE TO AMERICAN COOKING. **
One of the most famous cookbook writers decades ago was a woman named Clementine Paddleford (possibly a pen name) who wrote THE BEST IN AMERICAN COOKING, published in 1970. On the dust jacket, the publishers wrote, “Here is a veritable gold mine of regional and traditional food which includes hundreds of treasured recipes gathered from American housewives in 12 states and a few specialties from famous restaurants, governors’ mansions, and even the dining room of the U.S. Senate…Every type of food is included from hearty soups to tempting desserts have been particularly proud of their baking skills, there are recipes galore for breads, biscuits and rolls, pies, cakes and cookies.
Originally published as HOW AMERICA EATS this new edition contains all of the more than 800 superb recipes collected by Clementine Paddleford on her energetic travels from Maine to California, Florida to Alaska. As food editor of This Week Magazine and the New York Herald Tribune, she had a large and devoted following and readers who may have been clipped and saved from her columns will rejoice to find the best of them preserved in book form…” THE BEST IN AMERICAN COOKING was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons copywrite 1970. I am fortunate that even though the dust jacket to my copy of THE BEST IN AMERICAN COOKING shows wear, the book itself is in pristine condition. If you google her name, you will find a wealth of information. I may have to put together a separate blog post about her **
Another favorite of mine that I have referred to from time to time is Betty Fussell’s I HEAR AMERICA COOKING, (subtitled “a Journey of Discovery from Alaska to Florida, the Cooks, the Recipes and the Unique Flavors of our National Cuisine)” published in 1986 by Penguin Viking. More than just a cookbook, I HEAR AMERICA COOKING is more of a history book. **
AS AMERICAN AS APPLE PIE, was published by Simon & Shuster in 1990 and written by Phillip Stephen Schulz. This is a beautifully compiled cookbook with a striking dust jacket and starts—where else? With a chapter on Apple Pies. Schulz starts with a bit of biography on John Chapman, alias “Johnny Appleseed” who, on his own, planted thousands of apple trees in this country in his lifetime.
Schulz writes “….he was eccentric without a doubt, but not the bumbling character depicted by legend…while it is true he had an obsession with apples, he was educated enough to know that apples grown from seed revert back to their wild state. Instead of seeds, Chapman planted seedlings in carefully planned orchard sites, beginning on the Atlantic coast and attempting to work his way across the U.A….” Schulz reports “sad to say, Chapman only got as far was Fort Wayne, Indiana by the time he died in 1845…”
There is more to the story and a tantalizing array of apple pie recipes from which to choose. Many more recipes to whet your appetite as well. **
COLLECTOR’S EDITION AMERICA’S BEST RECIPES/HEALTHY EATING is another hard-cover cookbook which is accompanied by numerous color photographs of various recipes. I don’t have an author of this compilation but it appears to have been published by Landoll’s Inc., in Ashland Ohio. **
AMERICA’S BEST RECIPES, State Fair Blue Ribbon Winners was compiled by Rosemary & Peter Hanley, published in 1983 and could have been included in my collection of State/County fair cookbooks but it had “America” in the title. It contains over 250 mouth-watering recipes that have been blue ribbon prize winners at leading state fairs across the country. Published by Little, Brown and Company, this is another well compiled cookbook, although without photographs except for one on the cover. **
My copy of THE AMERICAN TABLE by Ronald Johnson is a soft-cover cookbook published in 1984 but my copy appears to be the First Fireside edition published in 1991. Subtitled “A celebration of the glories of American Regional Cooking” It reinforces my belief in Americana being another word for “Regional” cooking. I have referred to this cookbook many times.
One of my prize cookbooks is A TASTE OF AMERICA, subtitled “more than 400 delicious regional recipes shown step by step in over 1750 stunning photographs” published by Southwater 1998, 2009, an imprint of Anness Publishing in London. It’s not a hardbound book but not exactly a soft cover book either. It was previously published as The Ultimate American Cookbook. Authors are Carole Clements, Laura Washburn and Patricia Lousada. **
THE AMERICAN SAMPLER COOKBOOK, subtitled “America’s leading statesmen and their families share their favorite recipes, Regional Specialties, Downhome Classics and Gourmet Treats”. This cookbook was published in 1986 is contains more than 200 recipes and is a hardbound cookbook. **
AN AMERICAN FOLKLIFE COOKBOOK by Joan Nathan, was first published by Schocken Books in 1984. In an American Folklife Cookbook, food folklorist Joan Nathan tells the story of American food through its people, giving slices of life as she sees it in kitchens throughout the country. Nathans interviews are valuable social history and good reading…she presents 200 of the best of the many recipes she sampled. **
EARLY AMERICAN COOKING, Recipes from America’s Historic Sites, was compiled and edited by Evelyn L. Beilenson, published by Peter Pauper Press n White Plains, NY, published in 1985 and is a hardbound book, beautifully put together. **
CLASSIC AMERICAN, subtitled “Food Without Fuss” was compiled by Frances Mccullough and Barbara Witt, published in 1996 and is a hardbound book with a beautiful dust jacket. Frances is described as “a well-known book editor who specialized in cookbooks and Barbara Witt is a cookbook author and restaurant consultant. **
THE CHAMBERLAIN SAMPLER OF AMERICAN COOKING subtitled “In Recipes and Pictures, was published in 1961 by Hastings House, publishers in NY, and was written by Narcisse Chamberlain an Narcissa G. Chamberlain, and comes with each recipe accompanied by a photograph. Very readable cookbook. **
An AMERICAN GUMBO, subtitled “Affordable Cuisine for the Everyday Gourmet” published in 1983 by Linda West Eckhardt and is the first spiral bound cookbook I have come across (so far) but makes reading and following recipes a great deal easier than hardbound books. (just saying!) Be sure to read the chapter “Stocking the Everyday Gourmet Kitchen” – a lot of the recipes in this cookbook aren’t ones you will find everywhere else. **
KENNY COOKS AMERICA is a colorful soft cover cookbook written by Kenny Miller and on the back cover we read “The irrepressible Kenny Miller returns with a coast to coast culinary journey across the United States. He introduces us to the best in regional (italics mine—sls) cooking from Mexican border food to New York Jewish and from the soulfood of the deep south to the fusions of the Pacific rim…” copyright by Kenny Miller in 1998, another very readable cookbook. (*Kenny Miller might be called a latter day Clementine Paddleford).
First published in 1974, Evan Jones is the author of AMERICAN FOOD, THE GASTRONOMIC STORY, with a subtitle “Completely Revised and with more than 700 distinctive regional, traditional and contemporary recipes. This is one of my “go to” books whenever I am writing anything about the history of the USA and I want to know something. AMERICAN FOOD was published by Random House in New York. Of Evan Jones, James Beard wrote “I am delighted that Evan Jones has delved into the endless store of lore that is American Cookery. The quantity of previously untouched facts is tremendous. Filled with fascinating stories of how and where American cuisine developed …” **
CLASSIC AMERICAN COOKING by Pearl Byrd Foster subtitled “With over 250 recipes and special menus” is a fireside book published by Simon & Schuster and an Introduction written by James Villas, and drawings by Susan Gaber. My copy of Classic American Cooking has a soft cover and there is quite a story behind Pearl Byrd Foster as told by Villas and a fascinating story in the Foreword written by Pearl herself. CLASSIC AMERICAN COOKING was published in 1983. **
The Saturday Evening Post got into the act with their ALL*AMERICAN COOKBOOK which features a grandma making a pie on the cover while a little boy watches intently (a Norman Rockwell reproduction). This cookbook was compiled by Charlotte Turgeon and Frederic A. Birmingham and contains 500 great recipes. Published in 1979,
ALL*AMERICAN COOKBOOK is chock full of Rockwell paintings as well as early American ads. As interesting to read as well as check out the recipes. **
Over the years, I often supplemented my cookbook collection by ordering cookbooks published by various American food companies and sold to American housewives for a small charge and sometimes, perhaps, a label from one of their products.
Such was the case for AMERICA’S COUNTRY INN COOKBOOK, a spiral bound cookbook offered by R.T. French Company in 1984. The cookbook is made up of country inns and recipes for most of the states being represented. This cookbook is unique in presenting the various inns throughout the country. “some inns are large with many rooms,” write the editors, “Others are small, with only a few choice accommodations” Considering that this cookbook was published over thirty years ago, it’s possible that not all of the inns are still in business—even so, it’s a delight to read and check out the recipes.
HERITAGE OF AMERICA COOKBOOK is a spiral bound Better Homes and Gardens book,
published in 1993 and is called the Kitchen Companion—and is proof positive, I think, that BH&G is keeping up with the times. Recipes are divided into categories of the various sections of America –imagine my surprise finding a recipe for Cincinnati Chili in this cookbook! I will have to try the recipe to see how it holds up against my family’s Cincinnati Chili (we all have our own favorite) –and the BH&G recipe contains a few ingredients not found in my family’s chili recipe. **
GREAT AMERICAN FOOD, subtitled “from the pioneers to present day” is a large hardbound cookbook by Lesley Allin, published in 1994. This cookbook contains a lot of color pages of prepared recipes sure to whet your appetite. Really great format. **
Next is an oversized yet soft cover cookbook titled WHAT’S COOKING AMERICA by Linda Stradley and Andra Cook published by Three Forks Books an imprint of Falcon Publishing. WHAT’S COOKING AMERICA contains more than 800 family-tested recipes from American cooks of today and yesterday. In addition to all the recipes, the book is packed with tips and suggestions for various dishes you may make. (and my tip for oversized cookbooks? When I find a recipe I want to try, I make a copy of it on my printer; just about everyone has a printer nowadays—make a copy and use THAT one to make up the dish you want to try).
365 ALL-AMERICAN FAVORITES by Sarah Reynolds has inside spiral binding and was published in 1997 by John Boswell Management. I love the format to this cookbook; I love that it opens flat to follow a particular recipe. All I did was open the cookbook and I immediately found a recipe I want to try for Chicken Liver Spread with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries. What’s not to like? **
GREAT HOME COOKING IN AMERICA is by the Food Editors of Farm Journal, subtitled “Heirloom Recipes Treasured for Generations”. This is a hardcover cookbook published in 1976. Inside the cookbook is a list of all the cookbooks published by Farm Journal – 15 in all.
I have most if not all of the Farm Journal cookbooks. Years ago, my long-time Oklahoma penpal, Penny, introduced me to the Farm Journal cookbooks. That probably was in the mid-70s. we followed all of Farm Journal recipes religiously, especially the Farm Journal Homemade Cookies cookbook. I collect a lot of cookbooks. Back in the 70s, I cooked with Farm Journal recipes. That says a lot, doesn’t it? At that time in our lives, the Farm Journal recipes were the most reliable. **
AMERICAN REGIONAL COOKERY BY Sheila Hibben is a hardbound cookbook that, while she attributes various recipes to different places in the USA, the author has made a dedicated effort to provide recipes that are easy to follow with standard ingredients found in most kitchen cupboards around the country. In the Introduction, Sheila explains the logic and beliefs in how she produces recipes.
In the dust jacket of American Regional Cookery, the publishers explain “This is a cook book of indigenous dishes, that is, dishes which belong to the very soil of America, which have grown out of its fields and plains, its rivers and forests and sea lanes. It is also a book of the recipes preferred in each section of America: the way in which native dishes are cooked in Maine or Michigan or California, Boston, New York or New Orleans. In addition, there are recipes from Europe and the Orient which have become, in time a part of American culture, just as foreigners themselves became a part of our great nation”. This edition of American Regional Cookery was published by Gramercy Publishing Company. **
Cracker Barrel, Old Country Store, is a chain of restaurants which, regretfully, are not in Southern California—but there is one in Sioux Falls, where my son Steve & his wife Lori live—and there is a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Nashville that I visited many times with my sister, Becky—so I am familiar with Cracker Barrel cuisine which is, to my way of thinking, down home food. Some where along the way I acquired a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Celebrates AMERICAN HOLIDAYS COOKBOOK VOLUME II, BY Phila Hach. Information about the author fills an entire page—so let me just say that she is the author of six previous cookbooks—one of which (be still my heart!) is titled FROM PHILA WITH LOVE, an intimate handwritten collection of her favorite recipes, but she also wrote Phila Hach’s United Nations Cookbook, a great collection of recipes received from the Ambassadors of the United Nations as well as OFFICIAL 1982 WORLD’S FAIR COOKBOOK, containing 600 of Phila’s favorite international, southern and Appalachian recipes.
The reason I am mentioning all of the above—is because I don’t have any of those cookbooks. I also learned that Phila is one of the South’s most sought after caterers.
The Cracker Barrel’s AMERICAN HOLIDAYS COOKBOOK was published in 1985; it is a spiral bound cookbook which makes it easy to lay open flat when you are following one of the recipes. I’ll have to try and find Volume I. **
AMERICAN SANDWICH, subtitled “Great Eats from all 50 States” is one of my favorite cookbooks—for one thing, I have been acquainted by mail and by computer with Becky Mercuri, the author. Becky was a columnist for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange during the same years I was writing for the CCE as well.
“America is a nation of sandwich eaters, “ Becky wrote in the Introduction to AMERICAN SANDWICH in 2004 when her cookbook was published. “We commonly live life in the fast lane and we necessarily dote on food that is portable. The sandwich has thus become a mainstay of our existence. Sandwiches are to Americans what pasta is to Italians or what tortillas are to Mexicans. Sandwich shops are everywhere. Take out and delivery are not just window dressing for many such businesses; they are integral to attracting and keeping a loyal clientele who commonly lunch at their desks or even behind the wheels of their cars. Even when eating in restaurants, Americans love sandwiches and not just for lunch. Sandwiches are now common offerings for breakfast and up-scale sandwich creations are even appearing on dinner menus.
Becky Mercuri has divided up the chapters by state (Alabama, Alaska) and provides sandwich recipes indigenous to that region. An enormous amount of work obviously has gone into AMERICAN SANDWICH and in the Introduction you will find background information and history for the sandwich.
AMERICAN SANDWICH is a softcover recipe collection but the covers- which I have seen on a few other cookbooks – is sturdier than ordinary soft-bound cookbooks. **
Sandra’s cooknote: I didn’t anticipate that I would find so many books in my own personal collection with “America” or “American” in the titles – and this doesn’t even include cookbooks with “USA” or similar titles – so I have divided the blog post into two parts. This concludes Part One.
TO BE CONTINUED
Sandra Lee Smith