Man oh man, it’s been almost a month since I posted anything. And I had such high hopes for the new year.
Does that ever happen to you? You plan and you plan, and then life happens, and there go the plans?
Of course it does. It happens to everyone. And that’s what happened to my pretty outline for blogging in January. I got sidetracked, waylaid, headed down the wrong road, outta here and straight into a shift in responsibilities at work and a root canal for my left lower molar. Ouch!
Ouch for the root canal, that is, and a heady adjustment for the shift in responsibilities. In betwixt the molar and life, I remembered that I hadn’t written a single thing about my extensive cookbook collection in forever. At least since Caterday Cooking last summer and before then? Not at all.
I have more than 200 cookbooks. I am an eat-like-a-bird lady, and will never, ever cook my way through each and every recipe. I don’t even know if I’ll manage to cook ONE recipe from every cookbook. Here forward, there will be a monthly discussion of cookbooks. I swear.
Oh! And I’ve tried absolutely none of the recipes from the cookbooks. Remember, I am “she who eats like a bird and loves cookbooks.” And clothes, and other stuff.
The Art of Parisian Cooking by Colette Black. This small paperback published in 1962 includes “200 easy-to-prepare recipes from the world-famous haute cuisine.”
The Best Recipe’s of the Feigelson Family. These are the kind of cookbooks I love – homegrown favorites. Sometimes the cookbooks are marked by the cook, sometimes dogearred. In this case it’s neither, but it was clearly put together by a well-fed family, and you’d be very hard pressed to find another copy. Besides, what’s not to love about Chinese Chicken, Apple Crisp, Deviled Eggs, and South African Tuna Salad? Unfortunately there’s nothing to identify where the Feigelson family lived – no city, no dates. Most recipes are what I’d call classic mid-century American. There are a number of Jewish recipes like challah bread, matzoh balls, noodle kugel and a small Passover section with Toffee Squares (made with Matzoh cake meal,) Mandel bread, and apple-nut kugel.
And that “South African” tuna salad? It’s tuna, pickle, green pepper, hard boiled eggs, black olives, lima beans, cherry tomatoes, and cashews combined with sea shell pasta, mayonnaise, worchestershire sauce, tomato sauce, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and tabasco.
Natural Cooking by Barbara Farr, published by Potpourri Press in Greensboro, North Carolina. Remarkably, you can find this 50-year-old, 48-page pamphlet on Amazon. And for all of $2, it’s a teaspoon size sip of healthy cooking.
More Michigan Cooking…and Other Things by Carole Eberly. Here’s another intriguing regional cookbook with recipes like Bunny In A Bag, Cookout Corn, Turkey Waldorf Salad, and Rhubarb Cream Pie. While the recipes are interesting, I really love this cookbook because of the Michigan stories: Lumberjacking in Ontanogon, The Wily Wolverine, and A Christmas on Mackinaw Island in 1800.
The Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating & Drinking Through The Ages by The Editors of Horizon Magazine. This two volume, 700+ page collection was published in 1968 by American Heritage Publishing. I have both volumes in good condition with the slipcase. The first volume is an elaborate and illustrated history of eating and drinking.
The second volume is recipes and oh my goodness. If you’re a foodie, track it down.
Many recipes include a history of the dish. Here’s the history of the wedding cake:
“The many-tiered frosted wedding cake is a relatively modern culinary concoction. As late as the Middle Ages an English bride entered upon her new estate with nothing more than a shower of grain, symbolizing fertility, to sweeten her marriage vows. (The custom of throwing rice was borrowed later from the Orient.) Eventually this ritual was refined, the grain becoming the flour for biscuits which were broken over the bride’s head. From the custom of stacking the edible ammunition in a great pile came the next stage of wedding cake – a pyramidal mound of sweet, soft cakes glazed over with an icing of hardened white sugar- as devised by the cooks of Restoration England. By the eighteenth century when Tobias Smollett described the following scene, the single cake, replete with modern superstitions, was an important feature of a proper wedding: “A cake being broken over the head of Mrs. Tabitha Lismahago, the fragments were distrusted among the bystanders…on the supposition that every person who ate the hallowed cake should that night have a vision of the man or woman whom Heaven designed should be his or her wedding mate.” Whether the bride too had a vision after the blow struck by the bridal cake the author neglected to tell. The fruity Dundee Cake below is often served at traditional Scottish weddings.”
- 1½ cup currants
- 1½ cup black raisins
- 1½ cup white raisins
- 1½ cup candied fruit rind, chopped
- 4 cups flour
- 2⅔ cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 12 eggs
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup almonds, blanched and ground
- 1 tablespoons lemon rind, grated
- ½ cup cognac (optional)
- 1 cup almonds, blanched and slivered
- Vanilla Fondant Icing
- Dredge the fruits and rinds with 4-6 tablespoons flour and reserve.
- Beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Resift the remaining flour, salt, baking powder, and spices, and fold a third at a time into the sugar-butter batter.
- Fold in dredged fruit, ground almonds, lemon rind, and cognac. Beat well to mix.
- Pour into 8-inch and 6-inch spring form pans, buttered and lined with buttered brown paper. Smooth over tops with the back of a spoon and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Bake in preheated 325 oven for 1½ to 2 hours or until cakes shrink at the sides. Cool on a rack.
- Spread each cake with marzipan and fondant icing. Place smaller cake on top and cover with fondant icing. Decorate as desired. Serves 20.
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