250 Cookbooks: Elam Biggs Favorites

Cookbook #178: Elam Biggs Favorites, Elam Biggs, Grass Valley, CA, 2009.

Elam Biggs Favorites cookbook

We stayed at the Elam Biggs Bed and Breakfast Inn while visiting family in Grass Valley in 2009. The breakfasts there were amazing! Fruit, juice, eggs, sausage or ham or bacon, and breakfast pastries, served at a fancy table setting. All homemade and wonderful. It was so pleasant to sit and chat with other guests as Elam showed us his card tricks. The rooms are ornately decorated with antiques. A great stay!

I couldn’t resist buying one of the little booklets of breakfast recipes that they offered. Seven years later, though, and I haven’t cooked a single recipe from this booklet. The reason is that they are a little more calorie-laden than we usually have for breakfast (when not on vacation). Elam Biggs Favorites has sat on my shelf as a souveneir of our visit, rather than as a “cookbook”.

There are only eight recipes in this booklet, so it won’t take long to decide which to make for this blog:

  • Dutch Babies (my chosen recipe, below)
  • Corn Flake Potatoes (hash browns, mushroom soup, sour cream, cheese topped with cornflakes and baked)
  • Breakfast Omelette (butter, eggs, flour, baking powder, green chiles, cottage cheese, Jack cheese, baked in the oven)
  • Stuffed French Toast (sourdough bread, cream cheese, raisins, milk, eggs – start the night before)
  • Brunch Enchiladas (flour tortillas rolled around ham, onions, green chiles, and cheese, topped with eggs and half-and-half and baked – start the night before)
  • Scalloped Corn (canned corn, butter, eggs, sour cream, corn muffin mix)
  • Overnite Strawberry French Toast (bread soaked in eggs and milk overnight, next morning put strawberries and bananas in a pan and cover with the soaked bread and bake)
  • Elam’s Eggs (cheese and eggs baked in a ramekin)

I decide to try “Dutch Babies”. These are Dutch pancakes, or pannenkoek. Many versions are available on the web – basically, they are a mixture of eggs, milk, and flour poured into a hot buttered pan and baked. They puff up and then fall, leaving the edges fluffy and the middle gooey and rich. You can serve them with powdered sugar or fruits or syrup. I found 4 clipped Dutch baby recipes in my old “clips” database – and noted that I made them once and loved them. They have always intrigued me, but they rarely fit into our eating pattern. Time to change that!

Below is my adaptation of Elam Bigg’s recipe for Dutch Babies.

Dutch Babies
serves 2

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter

Put the eggs in a blender and blend about half a minute. Then, with the blender open, add the milk and then the flour and blend another half a minute. This batter can rest a while if your pan is not yet ready.

Choose a pan that holds 2 quarts and is at least 2 inches in depth. Add the butter and heat the pan in a 425˚ oven until the butter melts.

Remove the hot pan from the oven and pour in the batter. Put it right back into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until puffy and the edges are well browned.

Here is my Dutch baby right out of the oven:

Dutch Baby

As it cooled the middle fell (as expected). As soon as it was cool enough to eat, we cut chunks and smeared them with fresh peach jam and enjoyed. Very eggy and very buttery. I think you could use less butter (and save a few calories), but this Dutch baby tasted great as is!


Elam Biggs’ directions for other sizes of Dutch babies:

  • 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 3 quart pan
  • 5 eggs, 1 1/4 cup milk, 1 1/4 cup flour, 4 quart pan
  • 6 eggs, 1 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cup flour, 5 quart pan
  • ramekins or any size pan: fill one-quarter full with batter

250 Cookbooks: Cover and Bake

Cookbook #177: Cover and Bake, by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, a Best Recipe Classic, America’s Test Kitchen, Brookline, MA, 2004.

Cover and Bake cookbook

I discovered my first Cook’s Illustrated magazine sometime in the early 2000s. This magazine has no ads – what a treat! I clipped and saved several recipes, then I subscribed to Cook’s Illustrated online. (It’s the only cooking magazine I subscribe to.) I ordered this book, Cover and Bake, and I use it a lot.

Christopher Kimball founded the enterprise that includes Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen, where they develop the recipes in their publications. This “Kitchen” is located in Brookline Massachusetts, and is where the TV show “America’s Test Kitchen” is filmed. Most of my friends who are into cooking love this show!

Cook’s Illustrated recipes always include a lengthy discussion. In their test kitchen, they try each recipe many different ways, and report on their findings. This appeals to my scientific side! Plus, when I follow the directions, the recipes always come out excellent. For instance, their recipe for pie crust taught me how to finally make a tender, easy-to-roll crust. I often browse the site for new ideas, or how to cook . . . anything! I also use their reviews of kitchen equipment to help decide on a new purchase.

The chapters in Cover and Bake are: Assemble and Bake (casseroles), Pot Pies and More, Oven Braises and Stews, Skillet Casseroles, Savory Side Dishes, Breakfast and Brunch, and Slow-Cooker Favorites. My favorite chapters are the pot pies and oven braises and the slow-cooker recipes. I have so many notes in this cookbook!

It will be easy to find a recipe to cook for this blog. I start flipping through the pages. What catches my eye is “Chili Mac”, from the first chapter, Assemble and Bake. I haven’t made many of the casseroles in this book, and it’s time to try one.

Chili Mac is an American comfort food, although I’ve never made it before. It even has its own Wikipedia entry. Briefly, it’s made with meat-bean chili, noodles, and topped with cheese. Sounds good to me!

Because of copyright issues, I am not scanning in this recipe. It’s a relatively recent publication, and the editors are still actively publishing. The original recipe is on pages 80-81 of the Cover and Bake. Page 80 is a two-column discussion of how they got this recipe “perfect”! Page 81 gives the recipe in 1 1/2 columns. This is the typical layout of Cook’s Illustrated recipes: not a fast food publication! I changed their recipe a bit (my adaptation is below).

Chili Mac: adapted from Cover and Bake, America’s Test Kitchen
makes a 9×13-inch casserole, enough to serve 8, depending on appetites

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup reserved macaroni-cooking-water
  • 1 1/2 pounds hamburger (I used 90% lean)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic (4-8 cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons hot chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomaotes
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 8 ounces grated cheese, preferably “colby Jack” or a mixture of cheddar and Jack cheese

Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water until al dente. At my altitude of 5300 feet, this took about 10 minutes; it would take less time at sea level. (It’s important not to boil the macaroni too long, as it will continue to cook when the casserole is baked.) Before draining the pasta, reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water; this will be used later when the casserole is assembled.

As the macaroni cools, cook the hamburger in a large pan or pot, salting to taste. (The original recipe recommends cooking the hamburger in a little oil; it’s up to you.) When the meat is cooked, drain it in a colander to remove (and discard) the fat. Set the meat aside.

Add a little oil to the now-empty pan and cook the onions, red bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, and cumin, stirring, until the vegetables soften and begin to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add the diced tomaotes, tomato sauce, brown sugar, the 3/4 cup reserved pasta water, and the drained hamburger. Simmer 20 minutes.

Stir the cooked macaroni into the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a 9×13-inch rectangular casserole and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Bake at 400˚ for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Chili MacOh yes, this was good! Yum!

I will definitely keep this cookbook. (And tucked inside is the little Rival Crock-Pot Cookbook that I mentioned in an earlier post.) With fall coming on, I am sure I’ll be back to Cover and Bake soon, looking for warm and hearty meal ideas.

250 Cookbooks: Cooking for Your Dragon

Cookbook #176: Cooking for Your Dragon, a cookbook for chocolate lovers, Randal Spangler, Fantastic Art (Books), Kansas City, 1996.

Cooking For Your Dragon cookbook

I’ve been a fan of Randal Spangler’s art for decades. On the wall above my computer I have two framed Spangler prints. One is a cat chasing a computer mouse that a “dragling” is using to lure her in. The other is a white-haired scientist pedaling a bike in a crazy contraption. Draglings are a Spangler creation, and cats and computers and cookies are among his favorite subjects. (Mine too!)

Cooking for your Dragon is full of Spangler’s artwork and every recipe has chocolate in it. Chocolate is a dragon’s favorite food! Legends of the mythical world of dragons are throughout the cookbook. It’s a delight to read.

The recipes are all very rich. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a single one from this book! Mostly I enjoy the illustrations and whimsical stories. For this blog, I decide on “Brownie Cupcakes”.

Brownie Cupcakes recipe

Well. Here is how my cupcakes turned out:

Brownie CupcakesTotal failure! They look terrible. Rose up, fell down.

The recipe does not explicitly state: “Pour into 24 paper lined cupcake pans”, although it states “24 servings”. I cooked them in two batches. The first batch, I probably filled them too full. I cooked the second batch after I scraped the first batch out of the pan, and I made sure to fill each cupcake only half full of dough. Baked, and same result as above.

Why did they fail? Not sure. But there is no baking powder in the recipe. Compare this recipe with the one I have for “Fudgy Brownies” in Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches. That recipe is almost exactly half of the above recipe, except it has baking powder in it and is baked in an eight-inch square pan.

The only other reason for failure (that I can think of) is that we live at high altitude and I didn’t make any of my usual altitude-dictated adjustments.

Win some, lose some! These did taste good, as “crumbles”. But I won’t try this recipe again – I’ll stick to Fudgy Brownies!

250 Cookbooks: Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches

Cookbook #175: Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches, General Foods Corporation, Golden Press, NY, 1983 (second printing, 1985).

Baker's Book of Chocolate Riches cookbook

I have three Baker’s cookbooks on my shelves. In blog post #118, I enjoyed looking through the 1932 one, Baker’s Best Chocolate Recipes, largely because it is so old. My other Baker’s cookbook is Baker’s Chocolate and Coconut Favorites, 1977.

I once tried the brownie recipe in this 1985 Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches, and the recipe is exactly the same as the 1932 version! Good recipes hold up for years.

Fudgy Brownies recipe

This 1985 Baker’s Book of Chocolate Riches is definitely a cookbook I will keep. I know that each cookie, pie, cake or dessert recipe would cook up great. It’s one of my go-to books for when I need a good dollop of chocolate.

For this blog, I decide to make Crackle-Top Cookies. I’ll keep a few at home, but take most to a potluck meeting I have tonight. (Along with a bottle of wine, what is better than chocolate and wine!)

Crackle-Top Cookies recipeThis recipe is very similar to my recipe for Chocolate Chews. The differences are that this recipe has less flour, adds cinnamon, uses brown sugar instead of white, and has more nuts. Plus the baking time: these are cooked 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

Crackle Top Cookies
makes about 5 dozen

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup chopped nuts
  • powdered sugar

Mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Beat the shortening with a mixer, then beat in the brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, then stir in the chocolate and mix well.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, beating after each addition until smooth. Stir in nuts.

Chill a few hours in the refrigerator. Shape into 1-inch balls, then roll each in powdered sugar. Bake at 350˚ for 10 minutes if you like chewy cookies, or 20 minutes if you like crisp cookies. (My recommendation is 10 minutes.)

Crackle Top CookiesThese are excellent! I cooked the first batches 20 minutes, and I thought they were too crisp. The last batch I cooked only 10 minutes, and they were soft and chewy. We like the soft and chewy ones a lot better!

250 Cookbooks: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 8

Cookbook #174: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 8, Moi-Pec, Woman’s Day, Fawcett Publications, NY, 1966.

Encyclopedia of Cookery Volume 8

I have a set of twelve Encyclopedia of Cookery volumes and this is the eighth of that set – I covered the first seven in previous posts. I’ve enjoyed all of them so far! This volume covers curious and helpful information about foods from moi(sten) to pec(an).

I begin my recipe and curiousity search on the first page. “Molasses” is the entry following “moisten”. I learn that molasses made from sugar cane. When we were in Costa Rica, we saw a demonstration of how they press sugar cane to get out the juice:

volcano region moonshine

But in Costa Rica, that sugar cane juice became moonshine! To make molasses, the cane juice is boiled down to a thick mass of syrup and crystals of sugar. Next, the brew is strained to isolate solid sugar crystals and syrupy liquid. The syrup from this first boiling process is sold as “light molasses”. “Dark molasses” results from a second boiling/straining of the syrup and “blackstrap molasses” results from a third boiling/straining. Light molasses can be used as a syrup on pancakes; dark molasses is less sweet (and darker in color) and is used in baking and candy making. Blackstrap molasses is generally used as cattle food – or as a health food. Molasses was the most widely used sweetener in America until the Civil War.

I like molasses, but none of the recipes in this section intrigue me. So I go on to moussaka (mid-Eastern eggplant casserole) and muffins (surprisingly – no recipe there I liked) and a Mushroom Cook Book. Wow, I’d love to make “cream of mushroom soup”. It would be delightful in a casserole instead of the over-processed canned mushroom soup that we get in the stores. (Someday.)

The Near Eastern Cookery section brings back memories of our trip to Turkey. Nesselrode? I remember it from childhood, but I think it was an ice cream. Perhaps it was:  I learn that “nesselrode” refers to an iced pudding made from egg yolks, sugar, cream, chestnuts, orange peel, currants, and candied cherries.

The  article “New England: Character and Cookery” was written by Louise Dickinson Rich. I find a recipe in this section for muffins using molasses called “Anthelias’ Sour-milk Gingerbread Cupcakes”. Could make those. Still, I search on for a recipe to make for this blog.

“Noodle” derives from words meaning “food paste”. In “Norwegian Cookery”, I find recipes for marzipan (from almonds, sugar, and egg whites), Puss Pass (a lamb stew), and cold cherry soup, made from fresh cherries (including ground pits), sugar, water, and lots of sherry.

Nutmeg, nutrition (interesting to read a 1966 view of this topic), and oatmeal. Oleomargarine was first prepared in 1870 by a French Chemist, Mège-Mouriès from beef oil, milk, and water, with annatto for coloring. Oleo derives from “elo” (oil) and margaric acid (an animal fat). Annatto seeds are used today in anchiote paste, a deep red seasoning from Mexico.

Olive oil should be “golden or straw yellow”, and “greenish oils are inferior”. My staple, green extra virgin olive oil, is not even mentioned! Next, oranges and oregano. An essay on “Outdoor Cooking” by Craig Claiborne and one on “The Delectable Oyster” by James Beard. Pancakes are the oldest form of bread and are made around the world. Oriental versions of pancakes have been made for “untold Oriental ages”. Next, pasties (meat pies) and a Pastry Cook Book.

“Patty” is a “small, round, flat mass of food dough, cereal, potato, or other vegetable, ground meat fish, poultry, or nuts”. Hmmmm.

Peas, a Peach Cook Book, peacock (yes, people eat them), peanuts, peanut butter – Peanut Butter Muffins! Pears and pecans finish off this volume.

I want to make Peanut Butter Muffins. I haven’t made muffins with peanut butter in them for years!

Peanut-Butter Muffins recipe

I decide to leave the jam out of the muffins, add a bit more sugar, and combine the wet ingredients with a mixer, but otherwise will follow the recipe.

Peanut Butter Muffins
makes 10 muffins

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup (2 3/8 ounces) peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup milk

Stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and wheat germ. Set aside.

Using a mixer, beat the egg. Mix in the shortening, then the peanut butter, then the milk. Stir in the dry ingredients only until the mixture is moistened.

Fill 10 mufffin cups (each should be 2/3 full). Bake at 400˚ for 20-22 minutes.

Peanut Butter Muffins

These tasted very peanut buttery, but were a little dry. With a lot of jam on them, I really enjoyed them. But looking at the original recipe, these are more like scones: the shortening and the peanut butter probably should be “cut in” with a pastry blender. I was reluctant to do this because it would be so messy! But mixed as in the original recipe, these might have been sort of flaky, like pie crust or scones.

I found my old recipe for “Super Chunk Muffins” in my index card recipe file. I’ll make them soon and let you know if I like them better. This old recipe also calls for using a pastry blender to cut in the butter and peanut butter.

Super Chunk Muffins
makes 12 muffins

  • 1 cup oatmeal (quick)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 egga
  • 1/2 cup milk

Stir together the oatmeal, flour, sugar baking powder, and salt. Cut in the peanut butter and margarine with a pastry blender to fine crumbs.

Mix the eggs and milk, stir into flour mixture. Fill 12 muffin cups.

Optional: mix 1/2 cup oatmeal and 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle over the batter.

Bake at 400˚  for 20-25 minutes.

250 Cookbooks: The Crockery Cook

Cookbook #173: The Crockery Cook, Mable Hoffman, Fisher Books, Tucson, AZ, 1998.

The Crockery Cook cookbookA crock pot has been a staple in my kitchen for a very long time. I have 10 crockpot cookbooks! I even have another cookbook written by Mable Hoffman, Crockery Cookery. (See my first crockpot blog entry for a little on the history of crockpots.)

I picked this book off the shelf because a long-cooking meal fit into my schedule one day. Lately I just use the crockpot to cook pots of pork green chile and shredded beef. Time to shake up our meal times with a new recipe.

The Crockery Cook is nicely formatted and illustrated, with a large variety of recipes. I think I could always find something to cook from this cookbook, so I decide to keep it. And for this blog? I decide to make “New-Style Pozole”.
New-Style Posole recipe

I like hominy, and the bacon should add a nice twist. I have some hot peppers (my daughter grew them!) in my refrigerator, and we like things hot, so I’ll add them to the pot.

It’s best to prepare this recipe the day before to allow time for cooling the pozole so that you can skim off the fat.

Crockpot Pozole
prepare the day before

    • 1 pound boneless pork, cubed
    • 1 pound chicken thighs (bone-in or boneless)
    • 2 slices bacon, chopped
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 2 16-ounce cans hominy, drained
    • dried pepper flakes (1/4 teaspoon or to taste)
    • fresh hot chili peppers to taste, chopped (optional)
    • garnishes such as: cilantro, avocado, sliced radishes, chopped red bell peppers, chopped red onions, chopped tomatoes, paprika

Mix all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Add water as necessary to keep it soupy. Check seasonings and add salt and peppers to your own taste.

Let the pozole cool, then remove the chicken thighs. Bone them (if necessary) and chop into small pieces.

Put the pozole in the refrigerator overnight, then skim any fat from the top. Re-heat and serve with garnishes of your choice.

Crock Pot Posole

This was good, but not perfect. I thought the hominy was overcooked, too mushy. I couldn’t decide if it was a soup or a stew, but that doesn’t really matter! We like our Mexican food spicy, so if I make it again, I’ll add more peppers.

I served it with grilled quesadillas and it was a satisfying meal.

250 Cookbooks: Putting Food By

Cookbook #172: Putting Food By, Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, Janet Greene, The Stephen Greene Press, Brattleboro, Vermont, 1973.

Putting Food By cookbook

The following is a quote from my own blog a couple years ago, when I covered the Complete Guide to Home Canning, Preserving and Freezing USDA.

“I used to put up tomatoes, hot salsa, jam, and pickles each year. I’d go to local vegetable stands and buy vegetables and fruits by the bushel. Why? So that I’d know the ingredients in my food, and I enjoyed doing it.”

And this is a quote from Putting Food By:

“Putting food by is prudence, and it’s involvement. It’s also a meaningful return to old simplicities and skills. Above all, it is deeply satisfying. We know what is added to food we put by for our families.”

Seems like the authors and I are in complete agreement! Putting Food By also gives a heads up to the USDA-produced pamphlets (like the Complete Guide to Home Canning) in the acknowledgements:

“The authors are grateful to all the anonymous dedicated people in federal- and provincial- and state-run projects in the United States and Canada who are constantly researching better and safer ways to handle our food.”

As I stated in my 2-year old blog post, these days I only put up jams. Well, that is, at least until I wrote that post and made dill pickles – I’ve made them several times since. Home made pickles are wonderful.

Both of these “canning” books are 1973 editions. I must have bought them In the mid-1970s, where for a year we rented a “quaint” old house on Walnut Street, called  “Walnetto” by our circle of friends. Somewhere in that house I found (and kept) two books: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and the Whittier Wildcat Cookbook. Walnetto had a long backyard that went all the way to the creek that runs east between Walnut and Canyon. We used to have volleyball games there. And – we had a garden! The only time my husband and I really had a vegetable garden. He was the real gardener, I have to admit. I might have helped plant seeds but was lame on maintenance, like weeding and watering. But I loved having that garden, going out and picking fresh lettuce and carrots for salads. Lots of tomatoes, and of course overgrown zucchini. (There was even a shed with a fenced yard where we had a few chickens. The last chicken we had was the meanest thing . . . but I digress.)

I probably bought Putting Food By and the Complete Guide to Home Canning, Preserving and Freezing USDA in that era, and used the information to put up the overflow from our garden. We even had an ancient canning-pressure cooker. Ah, the memories.

Putting Food By is still in print! It’s in the 5th edition, published in 2010, with the same three authors. My copy is the first edition (and I’d love to see a copy of the 5th sometime). The chapters are: Canning, Freezing, The Preserving Kettle (jams, marmalade, fruit butters, relishes, pickles, mincemeat), Drying, Root-Cellaring, Curing (salting and smoking), The Roundup (rendering lard, pasteurizing milk, making soap, sausage, and cottage cheese), and Recipes. (There are also recipes throughout the book, the “Recipes” chapter covers using the canned/preserved foods.)

I think it’s the chemist in me that makes this all fascinating. And the fact that I love fooling around in the kitchen. Alas, time and the easy availability of good canned and preserved foods makes delving too far into putting food by . . . well, I’d say I have tons of other things I like doing too. And I don’t have a vegetable garden.

The canning directions and recipes in Putting Food By are clear, and cover the gamut of anything I ever might want to put up. I have no trouble finding something to try for this blog: “Corn Relish”. It’s corn season here in Colorado, and a corn relish sounds like a nice accompaniment for Mexican food.

Corn Relish recipeCorn Relish recipeThis corn relish requires a “hot pack”. When I put up jam and such, I always use the popular 2-piece canning lids. To hot pack this type of canning lid, you put the hot vegetable or fruit mixture into hot sterilized jars, put a hot “dome” lid (the flat part) on top, screw down tightly with a hot metal screw band, and place the jar into a hot water bath that covers the jar to process. I refreshed my memory on this process by reading pages 10, 19, and 31.

I decide to leave out the turmeric and add a California green chile, but otherwise follow the recipe.

Corn Relish
makes 4 pints

  • 8-9 ears corn (you need enough for 4 cups corn kernels)
  • 1 cup diced sweet red peppers
  • 1 cup diced sweet green peppers
  • 1/2 cup California (Anaheim) green chile, diced (these are the long, milder green chiles)
  • 1 cup celery, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • a few drops of a hot sauce, like Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/4 cup flour (optional)

Shuck the corn and cook in boiling water for 5 minutes. Let cool, then cut the corn from the cob to make 4 cups. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 4-5 pint glass canning jars to sterilize them while you prepare the relish. Also have a small amount of boiling water to sterilize the dome lids.

Combine in a big pot: peppers, celery, onion, vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, celery seed, and hot sauce. Bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you want the relish thickened, at this point, add the flour and water mixture.

Add the corn to the pot and boil, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.

As the relish boils, remove the jars from the boiling water bath. (This water bath is used in the next step, so don’t empty the pot yet!) Drain the jars on a clean cloth.

Immediately pour the cooked, hot relish into the drained, sterilized jars. Top with a sterilized dome lid, then add the screw-top band and tighten. Put the capped relish jar back into the boiling water bath, making sure the level of the boiling water is above the level of the top of the jars.

Process in the boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove the jars and let them cool. They will keep at least a year in your pantry, but always check the jars before use to make sure the seal is not compromised.

In the photo below, I have the relish boiling and the empty jars sterilizing.

cooking the relish and sterilizing the jars

Next, the filled, sealed jars are in their 15 minute boiling water bath.

hot packing the relishAnd here are the jars of canned relish!

corn relish


This relish is good. It is sweet and sour and hot. I will use it mostly as a garnish for Mexican food.

I will definitely keep Putting Food By. Along with Complete Guide to Home Canning, it is a great reference for when I come upon a lot of produce or have a hankering to play around in the kitchen.

250 Cookbooks: Southwestern Grill

Cookbook #171: Southwestern Grill, Michael McLaughlin, the Harvard Common Press, Boston, MA, 2000.

The Southwestern Grill cookbookI bought this cookbook for myself and have always enjoyed it. Such refreshing ideas! Grilling with spices and fresh ingredients. A pleasure after some of my aged cookbooks.

I grew up in the Southwest (southern California), and tacos and enchiladas were part of our everyday meals, especially from the time I was a teen. How did this author develop his own interest in southwestern-style foods? On Wikipedia, I learn that Michael McLaughlin was born the same year I was, in Wray, Colorado. He moved to New York and became a chef. There he met Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, and helped them publish The Silver Palate Cookbook in 1983. This cookbook encourages homecooking with fresh ingredients, and has sold in excess of 2 million copies. (Why have I never heard of it? Sounds right up my alley.)

McLaughlin moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he owned a restaurant for a time. His interest and expertise in fresh foods and grilling expanded to include bright, spicy Southwestern flavors. He became a food writer for Gourmet, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine magazines. McLaughlin authored (or co-authored) over 20 cookbooks. I was sad to learn he passed away in 2002.

McLaughlin writes about two “very good things” that happened in the 1980s-2000. First, grilling, “formerly a casual backyard art form, evolved into an accepted and respected cooking method.” And “second, the food of the Southwest escaped from its regional confines and swept like a mesquite brushfire across the country.” The two combined and now both chefs and home cooks grill southwestern dishes, full of heat, spice and savory smoke. “Grilling has grown up . . . liberally seasoned with a dose of the special magic that is the unique culinary contribution of the American Southwest.”

Here is a sampling of recipe titles, to give you an idea of the variety in this cookbook: Steak and Grilled Green Onion Quesadilla, Cafe Pasqual’s Grilled Salmon Burritos with Cucumber Salsa, Grilled Chicken Totopo Salad, Warmed Grilled Chile-Lime Beef Salad, Arracheras with Crunchy Vegetable Garnish, Heirloom Bean Salad, and Grilled Tequila-Cured Salmon with Mango Pico de Gallo.

Some recipes are a bit “out-there” for my own cooking, partly because I’m not sure I could get some members of my family to eat them, for instance: grilled cactus, grilled eggplant dip, and portobello mushroom burgers.

I like the Salsas, Sauces, and Condiments chapter a lot. For one, many of the recipes in this cookbook refer to this chapter for sauce/salsa/rubs recipes (for example, see the scan of the Grilled Fish Tacos recipe). And too, it allows the cook (me!) to be creative, adding a fresh salsa to “same old” tacos, for instance.

I am going to share a couple recipes that I love from this cookbook. I know, I usually try something new from a cookbook, but the rules are mine, and I can bend them! I have made the “Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw” many times.

Grilled Fish Tacos recipeCitrus Slaw is a separate entry.

Citrus Slaw RecipeAnd so is the Lime Cream.

Lime Cream recipeI made these exactly according to the above recipes. And they were good, as always!

Fish TacosThank you Michael McLaughlin for this wonderful recipe! If you want to make them for yourself, pick up a copy of his book, or use my scans, above.

250 Cookbooks: Menu Magic in a Nutshell

Cookbook #170: Menu Magic in a Nutshell, Diamond Walnuts, California Walnut Growers Association, 1950.

Menu Magic Diamond Walnuts cookbook

I have to admit something: the photo above is not mine. The cover on my booklet is missing, but I found the above photo online. This booklet is currently sold on the Etsy site for $12. The seller claims the book was published in 1950, and authored by cook(s) at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Who buys these old booklets? Vintage books are used in scrapbooking or decoupage. Or maybe someone lost their old copy, or simply like walnut recipes!

My mother liked walnuts This was her booklet, and I think she used it a lot. You can see how beat up the first page is:

Menu Magic in a Nutshell

It’s fun to read, isn’t it? Note it refers to the name “Diamond” branded on each nutshell. It took me a moment to remember: walnuts used to be available only in the shell. We used to spend hours shelling walnuts for Mother. In California, you could even pick your own walnuts off the trees, still in the soft skin that covered the hard shell. One birthday or Mother’s Day, us kids picked a whole bunch and shelled them all for Mother. By the time they were shelled and wrapped as a present and opened on the special day, the entire lot was wormy. Boy, that’s an old memory.

Today I buy shelled walnuts in bulk or bags. I always have some in the freezer, ready to add to muffins and breads, salads and desserts.

Let’s see what this vintage cookbook has to offer. Mixed Fruit and Walnut Salad has pineapple, dates, orange, banana, grapes, and walnuts, and is served over lettuce. Sounds pretty good to me. Diamond Chicken Salad adds walnuts to chicken, celery and mayonnaise salad. Yummy. There are several molded salads that were so popular in the 50s and 60s. Desserts are next: Brown Betty, Apple Walnut Tapioca, Raisin Walnut Pie, Walnut Peach Shortcake, Apricot Caramel Shortcake, Danish Apple Pudding, and Apple Crumb Pie all sound good. Mother marked “Prune Whip” as “good“. (Prune Whip is a meringue dessert with stewed prunes and walnuts.) She also liked Walnut Sticks, a bar cookie made with brown sugar, eggs, and walnuts. Just about all of the cookies and cakes look good to me!

Main courses? You can include walnuts with apples and sweet potatoes, or walnuts in turkey dressing, or in meatballs. The meatless walnut loaves do not appeal to me, though. Finally, candies: Divinity (Mother marked it “good”), Uncooked Fudge, and Sugared Walnuts. Looks like I’m missing pages 23-30. Sad, because the index tells me those pages included the bread recipes.

Well, I guess I’m going to have to keep this little “cookbook”. Maybe I’ll find the rest of this booklet someday.

For this blog, I choose to make Ice Box Cookies. I like refrigerator cookies because I can always have them on hand to bake up fresh, and I can bake just a few at a time. Mother marked this recipe with her notes, so I know they are “Good”!

Ice Box Cookies recipe

I like brown sugar, so I am going to up the amount of brown sugar and decrease the amount of white sugar. Mother noted, and then crossed out, that there is too much flour in this recipe. I’ll add the flour very gradually and use the mixer to combine it in.

Ice Box Cookies
makes about 4 dozen

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream the shortening and sugars for several minutes. Add the egg and beat in well. Mix in the walnuts and vanilla.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add gradually to the creamed mixture. (Do not add all of the flour mixture if the dough no longer holds together.) Remove from the mixing bowl and, with your hands, press the dough into one solid mass, then form it into a couple 1 1/2-inch logs. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 48 hours.

Cut into 1/8-inch slices and bake 7 minutes at 425˚.


My dough was too dry. I should have paid attention to my mother’s first note. In Colorado, I know from long experience that flour is very dry here. Next time I’ll use 1/4 cup less flour, though. They were kind of crumbly to slice before baking.

But are they good?

Ice Box CookiesYes! These are sweet, crisp, and tasty. I had one, and wanted more!

250 Cookbooks: Weber’s Real Grilling

Cookbook #169: Weber’s Real Grilling, Jamie Purviance, Sunset and Weber books, Weber-Stephen Products Co., 2005.

Weber's Real Grilling cookbook

Ages ago we had a covered Weber charcoal grill, then changed to a gas grill at some point in time. Today I consider a gas grill an essential component of my cooking equipment, summer, fall, winter, and spring!

I got Weber’s Real Grilling about six years ago, when we purchased our current Weber gas grill. I use this book a lot! It sort of flops open to “Basic Baby Back Ribs”, where I have several post-its pressed into place.

I highly recommend this cookbook. It taught me how to cook over direct and indirect heat on a gas grill, and how to set the temperature of the grill. If I want to know about rubs, or BBQ sauces, I go to this book first. If I want to know how long to cook a cut of meat, poultry, or fish, I go to this book first. The recipe chapters are: red meat, pork, poultry, fish, veggies and sides, and desserts. Each recipe has an accompanying photo that makes this amateur photographer envious!

The recipes offer a variety of seasonings: Rib-Eye Steaks with Tomato Harissa, Flatiron Steaks with Little Italy Relish, Sweet Chili-Mustard Chicken Salad with Toasted Almonds, Smoked Pulled Pork in Hot Chile Sauce, and Soft Tacos with Halibut, Guacamole, and South American Slaw are some examples. A fun range of ingredients and lots of fresh herbs and vegetables – I can always find a recipe to try in this book!

In September 2013 we were “stranded” at our home northwest of Lyons by a 500-year flood. Rushing water covered our only drivable way to civilization. Our power was out for a week in our all-electric home. We had no landline service. No cell phone reception. I am a packrat, so we had plenty of food, but how to cook? The Weber grill! That’s when I pulled out Weber’s Real Grilling and learned how to grill pizzas. They were wonderful!

For this blog I choose to make “Greek Chicken Salad Sandwiches”.

Greek Chicken Salad Sandwiches recipe

I like the seasoning mix for the marinade, and I like using chicken thighs sometimes instead of chicken breasts. Ever since our trip to Turkey, I’ve especially enjoyed Mediterranean-style food. Plus: pitas! It’s been ages since I’ve bought (or made) pita bread. For the “creamy cucumber or blue cheese dressing”, I will substitute a cucumber dressing that I have in my own cooking documents.

Greek Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Cucumber Dressing for Two

  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic (or use fresh garlic)
  • a few shakes each: dry mustard, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper (to your own tastes)
  • 8-10 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 pita breads
  • lettuce and tomatoes
  • cucumber dressing: 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, a couple leaves fresh mint (if you have it), and about a third of a cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

Whisk together the marinade ingredients (lemon though the spices). Place the chicken thighs in a plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Close the bag and refrigerate 2-3 hours.

Combine the cucumber dressing ingredients and set aside.

Remove the thighs from the bag and discard the marinade. Grill over direct high heat until the meat is firm, 8-10 minutes, turning once or twice. Remove from the grill, and when cool enough to handle, chop the chicken into small pieces. Combine with enough of the dressing to coat the chicken and mix well.

Cut the pita breads in half. Open each half and fill with the chicken mixture, lettuce, and tomatoes and serve.


My cucumber dressing, pita pockets, marinated chicken, and the veggies:

Pita Sandwich ingredients

Here is an assembled sandwich

pita sandwiches

We both enjoyed these! The chicken in nicely seasoned and well complimented by the cucumber dressing. We had them for dinner on a hot summer day, but they’d be good for lunch too.

I’ve made chicken salad for sandwiches before, zillions of times. Usually I use boiled chicken. Marinating and grilling the chicken – for chicken salad? A great idea. Putting the salad in pita bread? Another great idea. Next time, I’ll probably cook the chicken ahead of time, since they are served at room temperature.