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.

250 Cookbooks: Step-by-Step Microwave Cook Book

Cookbook #168: Step-by-Step Microwave Cook Book, Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, Iowa, 1987.

Microwave Guide and Cookbook

I do like Better Homes and Gardens publications! As I leaf through this one, I find myself enjoying most everything: the photos and the writing and the recipes. Reminds me of the BH&G Golden Treasury of Cooking that I covered a couple weeks ago. Checking my cookbook database, I find 17 BH&G books, and I have covered all but this one so far – and most I decided to keep.

I bought this cookbook for my mother in 1990, when she got a microwave oven.


My mother never really liked “new fangled things”. She held out on a garbage disposal for years, and never wanted (or had) a dishwasher or clothes dryer. She relented to a microwave oven around 1990 – it came as the upper oven in her new stove. (I remember how long she needed a new stove, how the bottom was almost baked through by the time my father gave in and bought a new one.) My guess is that I found this cookbook in a bookstore, because I (still) like it so much (and purchasing in a brick-and-mortar bookstore is likely too because online book-buying was in its infancy in 1990).

I went into some detail on microwave ovens when I covered cookbook #17, Whirlpool Micro Menus Cookbook. I highly recommend reading that “old” post of mine! It talks of early microwaves and my uncle and how we were a bit wary of microwave ovens at first but how even ex-hippie-me finally added one to my kitchen. Now I would hate to live without a microwave oven, even though I use it mostly for tasks like defrosting or re-heating or melting cheese or making burritos, or baking chores like melting chocolate.

Microwave cookbooks encourage the reader to prepare the entire meal in the microwave, from appetizers to soup to stews to meats to breads to desserts. That’s simply not the way I cook! But, I am always looking for ideas and sometimes I need microwave cooking times and methods, so I will keep one or two microwave guides on my cookbook shelf.

Okay, details on why I like this cookbook. The appetizer section gives lots of good ideas, especially South-of-the Border-Style Meatballs, Pork Kabobs, Taco Chicken Nuggets, and party and snack and nut mixes ideas. The bread section describes how to use your microwave to raise yeast dough. I like the quick breads Cranberry Orange Loaf and Chocolate and Whole Wheat Ring and the cakes Pumpkin-Raisin Cake and Applesauce Cake, but I’d probably adapt them for a conventional oven. I’ve never thought of making candies like divinity or brittles in the microwave, but it might be nicer than standing over a hot stove. Excellent instructions for scrambled eggs and omelets. Fish and Vegetables En Papillote sounds good. Mother tried and liked “Saucy Tuna-Mac Casserole”. Walnut Bananas Foster! Sounds good for grandkids (if you leave out the rum!). If my regular oven breaks, I could simmer a pot roast in my microwave. I like the Spaghetti Pie, Mexican-Style Manicotti, and Saucy Sausage and Noodles casseroles. Good instructions for defrosting and cooking chicken pieces and a “Creating a chicken casserole” section. I like the chocolate and butterscotch ice cream toppings.

Clear instructions for thawing and cooking different foods are throughout the book, and the end of each section has the nutritional analysis of each recipe. Throughout, I am impressed by the clear instructions. Yes, I will keep this cookbook.

I choose to make Mexican Beef Salad for this blog.

Mexican Beef Salad recipeThe round steak is cooked in the microwave, plus the prep takes just a few minutes. The whole salad can be prepared in just one bowl. It’s July, and hot, and the less time spent in a hot kitchen, the better! I do think this salad needs a little salsa and avocado. I also put a few tortilla chips in our salads for some crunch.

I had trouble finding a small can of “yellow hominy”. At my local supermarket, they only had 6 pound cans of hominy! The labels didn’t say “yellow” hominy, but the picture on one of the choices looked a little yellower than the others. I bought that one huge can, and when I opened it, the hominy inside was pretty pale. And now I have the rest of the can to re-purpose.

The ingredient amounts in my version of this recipe (below) are approximate. It is, after all, just a salad! Experiment as you wish.

Mexican Beef Salad
serves 2

  • 8-12 ounces beef round steak
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (I used champagne vinegar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican oregano if you have it)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup hominy (about)
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 green (or red) pepper, chopped or sliced
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup sliced black olives
  • halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup jack cheese, cut into small cubes, or grated
  • torn lettuce (I suggest romaine or iceberg)
  • optional: avocados, salsa, and tortilla chips

Slice the round steak into bite-sized strips. (It is easier to slice thinly if you put it in the freezer for about an hour first.)

Place the meat in a 1-quart glass casserole. Add 1 tablespoon oil, then microwave on high for 3-5 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until the meat is done.

Remove the meat from the casserole with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the drippings in the casserole. Stir in vinegar, salt, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and cayenne. Cook in the microwave on high about 30 seconds, or until it is bubbling. Add the cooked meat, hominy, onion, green pepper, and olives. Toss to coat. Cover and chill 3-24 hours.

When ready to serve the salad, stir the cherry tomatoes into the meat and vegetable mixture. Fill two bowls with as much lettuce as you like. Add the meat-vegetable mixture.

If you like, add chopped avocados and salsa, and garnish with tortilla chips.

Mexican Beef SaladThis was a great salad for a hot summer night! I’m sure I’ll make it again.

250 Cookbooks: Cookies, Cakes ‘n Muffins

Cookbook #167: Cookies, Cakes ‘n Muffins, Kraft Kitchens, Chicago, Illinois, circa 1958.

Cookies Cakes 'n Muffins cookbook

A mystery presents itself as I open Cookies, Cakes ‘n Muffins. What is the publication date? All it says is “The Kraft Kitchens, Chicago, Illinois”.

Sleuthing-me sets out on the internet. When did “Kraft” first emerge as a company name? Wikipedia tells me that James L. Kraft started a cheese business in Chicago in the early 1900s, and his brothers joined him to form “J. L. Kraft and Bros. Company” in 1909. By 1923, the Kraft brothers company was part of the National Dairy Corporation. In 1969, National Dairy changed its name to Kraftco Corporation. In 1976, its name changed to Kraft, Inc.

This all led me to think that since the booklet was produced by “The Kraft Kitchens”, it must have been produced after 1976. But the illustrations are much older-looking than the 1970s era:


Kind of like the era of the TV show “Father Knows Best”. A necklace and all dressed up as the mom works in the kitchen? Definitely the 50s or the 60s. (“Father Knows Best” ran from 1954 to 1960.)

Maybe the phrase “Parkay margarine” will help me figure out the date. No, that clue is no help. Except: the “butter” sales line of the 1973 commercial is not in this booklet. So my booklet must be before 1973.

(An aside: A famous 1973 commercial claims Kraft’s Parkay tastes like butter: “A housewife looks at a square box of Parkay in her kitchen and says ‘Parkay’. In a rather comical voice the box of Parkay says ‘butter’, they go back and forth until she tries a taste of it and she says “butter” so the square box of Parkay says ‘Parkay!'”)

Then this catches my eye:


Kraftco transferred to Glenview, Illinois, in 1972. So I think I am right that this cookbook is pre-1970s. But hey, there is no zip code in the address! Aha, a clue! When did zip codes become part of US addresses? Wikipedia informs me that zip codes were introduced in 1963, became mandatory for 2nd and 3rd class mail in 1967, and thereafter were soon adopted generally. Before zip codes, postal “zones” were used, thus explaining the “Chicago 90″ in the address.”

Therefore, this booklet was definitely produced before 1963.

To further narrow down the publication date, I googled “photo Parkay margarine”. This pulled up a lot of photos of Parkay margarine packages through the years. One package looks just like this illustration on the back of Cookies, Cakes ‘n Muffins:

Parkay photo I follow the photo that looks like my cookbooklet to the page of origin. The photo is a Kraft’s Parkay Advertisement in Ebony Magazine, November, 1959.

My conclusion: this booklet was published sometime in the late 1950s. I add with confidence the publication date of “circa 1958″.

Whew. Now, to the cookbook contents: recipes. They are okay but pretty similar to recipes in other books. And, there aren’t many. Also, I like to use butter rather than margarine. The only reason I might keep this cookbook is that it is “vintage”.

I decide to make “Orange Muffins” for this blog. I will use butter instead of margarine, and cut down the amount of baking powder – 1 tablespoon just seems like too much! The recipe says it makes 12 muffins, but as I fill my muffin pan with batter to my usual “2/3 full” per muffin cup, 8 good sized muffins was all the batter allowed.

Orange Muffins
makes 8 good sized muffins, or 12 smallish ones

  • 1/3 cup butter (use margarine if you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon orange rind
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup milk

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and orange rind. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine the milk and orange juice. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk-orange juice mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400˚ for 15-20 minutes.

Orange MuffinsThese are very good. Cake-like, but not too sweet for breakfast.

250 Cookbooks: Golden Treasury of Cooking

Cookbook #166: Golden Treasury of Cooking, Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith Corporation, USA, 1973.

The Golden Treasury of Cooking cookbook

“With one foot planted in the past and one in the future, Americans are propelling themselves forward into the ’70s. In all areas of life there is a paradoxical blending of past and future – especially in food. Homemakers are performing a modern juggling act. On one hand, they are using foods that are quick, easy, and convenient. While, on the other hand, they are going back to many of the old, time-tested cooking techniques that their grandmothers used. Out of all this comes such diverse ideas as microwave cooking, making your own breads, computerized meal planning, and organic gardening. What lies in the future? Whatever it is, it’s sure to be the best of both worlds – the nostalgic old one of the past and the bright new one of the future.”

Golden Treasury of Cooking, page 261

One foot in the past, and one in the future. My cooking philosophy for sure. And the present? That’s where I am, thinking about what to learn, to discover, and to cook today.

This week, I decided to take the Golden Treasury of Cooking off the shelf. I’ve been putting this one off because I know it will take some time. This is a special book, a super-collection of nostalgic recipes, and handsomely illustrated and presented. But more than that, it was given to my mother from my father for Christmas 1973.

inscription in Golden Treasury of Cooking

The Golden Treasury of Cooking a gorgeous book. Although now faded, the cover is golden, and a little puffy-soft. I am sure it was meant to be a coffee table book. This book compiles Better Homes and Gardens magazine’s recipes from 1930 to the early 1970s. It’s sectioned into decades: the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s. Each section begins with a bit of history – good Americana. A full page photo of a sample magazine cover graces each historical review, and then a fold-out photo collage of memorabilia from the age. Each decade’s recipes are sectioned into representative featured recipes (recipes from restaurants or famous people, or popular trends such as home canning, barbecues, convenience cooking, or natural foods) and then a good collection of recipes from Better Homes and Gardens magazines of the decade.

I spend quite a few hours this week reading this book. I especially enjoy reading each decade’s introduction, each along the lines of the quote, above. I think of my grandmother in the 30s, my mom in the 40s and 50s, and me in the kitchen in the 60s and 70s. The 70s is especially fun, with its predictions of the future:

Golden Treasury of Cooking excerpt

My mother’s notes are throughout this book. It’s fun to page through the recipes! Some of the recipes that interest me: Daffodil Cake (an angel food and sponge cake all in one), Orange Biscuits, Meatballs Stroganoff, Banana Apricot Bread, Puffy Tortilla Bake (includes crepes), Dilly Bread (a yeast bread with cottage cheese in it), Blueberry Dumplings (stove top blueberries with dumplings), Strawberry Shortcake (a good biscuit recipe), and Pfeffernuesse (old-fashioned anise flavored cookies), Stuffed Date Drops (Mother marked “Delicious!!”), Skillet Enchiladas, and the original Toll House Cookies recipe. I also found a recipe for “Bun-steads”. I think these are the baked tuna sandwiches that Mother used to make. They sound weird today, but I used to like them: a tuna and egg salad mixture baked with cheese inside a frankfurter bun.

The Golden Treasury of Cooking is reviewed by The Iowa Housewife. She included some photos and recipes from the book that you might find interesting.

For this blog I decide to make Pineapple Upside Down Cake, from the 40s section. I currently have a recipe in my documents that I cobbled together, but I’d like to try this one.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe

The only change I plan is to keep the pineapple rings whole, and put a maraschino cherry inside each ring.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake
makes one 8 x 8-inch cake

  • 1 8 1/4-ounce can pineapple slices
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • maraschino cherries
  • milk
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Drain the pineapple, reserving the syrup. Melt the butter in an 8 x 8 x 2-inch baking pan; stir in the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple syrup. Arrange the pineapple rings in the pan – you might have to cut a few in half to cover the bottom of the pan. Put maraschino cherries into the center of each pineapple ring. Set the pan aside.

Add milk to the remaining pineapple syrup to make 1/2 cup liquid. Cream together the white sugar, shortening, and vanilla. Add egg; beat well. Stir together the dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with liquid, beating after each addition.

Spread the dough carefully over the pineapple-brown sugar mixture in the pan. Bake at 350˚ for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is turning brown around the edges. Cool 5 minutes and then invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Pineapply Upside Down CakeOh yes, this was good! It has always been one of my husband’s favorite desserts. It was rich and sweet and very pineapple-y. Will I make it again, and do I recommend it? Yes to both. But next time I make this cake, I will compare and contrast the above recipe with my cobbled-together recipe. It’s almost too sweet, even for my taste!

250 Cookbooks: Land O Lakes Cookie Collection

Cookbook #165: Land O Lakes Cookie Collection, Favorite Recipes™ Magazine, Publications International, 1990.

Land O Lakes Cookie Collection cookbook

Cookies, more cookies! Do I really need another cookie recipe? Well no, but just can’t resist.

This cookbook-magazine was published in December 1990. I am sure I was planning my Christmas cookie selection for that year, standing in the grocery line and looking for something to read, and it caught my eye and my interest. Only $2.50! So I put it in my cart and took it home.

Favorite Recipes™ magazine published recipes for various brand names: Best Foods and Karo Syrup are two examples revealed by a google search. Land O Lakes is currently a co-op for milk products and eggs. This little 1990 cookbook, though, is all about butter – butter in each and every recipe. I used to use margarine in cookies, thinking it prevented them from spreading out too much on baking. These days, I much prefer natural butter, and am adapting my current margarine recipes to butter instead. So, Land O Lakes Cookie Collection is of more interest to me in 2016 than it was in 1990.

Today I can buy this booklet online for $1.49! Guess I could have saved myself a little money by waiting.

I don’t think I ever tried any of these recipes. None of the recipes look familiar, and there are no markings, no food stains. There are about 100 recipes in this book, and most of them look pretty good. Drop cookies, bars, fancy cookies, they are all here. I’d love to eat them all, but that old friend/enemy, calories, lurks in every recipe.

I decide to try “Coconut Snowdrops” for this blog. These are simple drop cookies with lots of butter and coconut.

Coconut Snowdrops Recipe

The recipe says you can put everything in a mixer bowl in one step. I am in the habit of mixing the butter and sugar, beating in the eggs, and then adding the flour last, so that’s how I made these.

Coconut Snowdrops
makes about 3 dozen

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • powdered sugar for sprinkling

Beat the butter with the sugar, then add the egg, milk, and vanilla and beat again. Slowly mix in the flour and coconut until incorporated.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a cookie sheet. (I rolled the dough between my hands to form round balls, but that is optional.) Bake at 350˚ for about 15 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Coconut SnowdropsThese are excellent cookies! Soft and rich, but not too sweet. We all liked them, and they disappeared in a hurry!

I will keep this little cookbook and try another recipe someday. I do like the butter-y-ness of these cookies. And it might help me convert some margarine-based recipes to butter instead.

250 Cookbooks: Recipes from Donna’s Board

Cookbook #164: Recipes from Donna’s Board, Sierra Cahuenga District #15, 1980-1981.

Recipes from Donna's Board cookbookThis little community cookbook was compiled by Lorraine Moore, the vice president of the Sierra Cahuenga District Women’s Club Board in 1980-81. Donna Smith – “Donna’s Board” – was the president at the time. My mother was a member of the Sun Valley Women’s Club, one of the clubs in the Sierra Cahuenga District. I remember her talking about going to those meetings for years, and I think she served for a time as secretary – she was an excellent typist and great at organizing. The California Federation of Women’s Clubs is still an active service organization, although the Sun Valley chapter no longer exists.

What jumps out at me the most when I open the pages of Recipes from Donna’s Board is THAT IT IS IN ALL CAPS! Since it was written in 1980, I know it must have been prepared on a typewriter. Someone sure liked the ‘caps lock’ key.

The recipes are interesting. Lura Lovick, a friend of my mother’s, contributed Date Nut Bread. I’d like to make the Green Chile Cornbread and the Poppy Seed Strudel. The Fresh Apple Cake with Good Frosting sounds good too, although I’d leave off the frosting.  Over half of the book is desserts! “Mom’s Applesauce Cake” sounds like a recipe that I used to make, but lost. Sun Valley Woman’s Club contributed Yum Yum Cake and Chicken Florentine. “No Name Dessert” is made from butter, soda crackers, chocolate chips, coconut, and sweetened condensed milk – sounds weird to me. Baked Chicken Sandwiches sound particularly yucky: you mix mushroom soup with chicken, put between crustless white bread slices, dip in egg, then roll in crushed potato chips before baking. The casserole recipes abound with canned soups. Several molded salads are included, food favorites of the 60s and 70s. The Beef Stroganoff has cream cheese in it as well as sour cream. I’d like to try the Tostada Quiche.

I decide to try Donna’s Carrot Cake for this blog. Carrot cake is a standby of many American cooks – at least those of us who grew up in the second half of the twentieth century. The basic recipe has lots of eggs, sugar, oil and carrots. Sweet and delicious, especially with cream cheese frosting! Some versions of carrot cake include pineapple, as in Donna’s recipe (below), but I have never made that type before. I like Donna’s version because it also includes coconut (love it) and walnuts (a bit of nutrition).

Donna's Carrot Cake recipe

I decide to make half of this as “muffins” to qualify this treat as breakfast food. The other half of the batter will go into one 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan. I research cooking times using a favorite online reference. I skip the “buttermilk syrup” topping. Since the muffins cooked better than the loaf, I’ve written this recipe as “muffins”.

Carrot Cake Muffins
makes 24 (but yes, make a half recipe and 12 muffins if you wish)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

Stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Beat the eggs with the oil and sugar until fairly light. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and mix again. Add the flour mixture and mix just until all the flour is incorporated. Stir in the pineapple, carrots, nuts, and coconut.

Spoon the batter into 24 muffins cups. Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes, or until they test done with a toothpick.

Donna's Carrot Cake Muffins

Well, these were absolutely delicious! They have enough sugar in them to make me want “more, more, more!” But hey, they are dense with carrots and nuts and pineapple in them too, good healthy foods . . . I only had one for breakfast even though they called to me for awhile.

This batter is really dense, which is probably why the loaf that I cooked was a little un-done in the center, even after careful toothpick-testing. If you prefer loaves, cook the batter as two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaves at 350˚ for at least 55-60 minutes.

250 Cookbooks: M’sieur Crêpe Electric Crepemaker

Cookbook #163: M’sieur Crêpe Electric Crepemaker, Sunbeam Appliance Company, 1976.

M'sieur Crepe Crepemaker cookbook

This cookbook came from my mother’s collection. Someone must have given her a M’sieur Crêpe Electric Crepemaker back in the late 1970s. I was already on my own and living in Colorado by that time, and I don’t remember her ever talking about making crepes. She didn’t mark any of the recipes, but she stuffed a lot of crepe recipe clippings into this little instruction/recipe cookbook!

The M’sieur Crêpe Electric Crepemaker was a “dip and cook” type of crepemaker. It came with a hot plate, a pan that fit over it, and a large flat dish to hold the batter. To use this set up, first, you pre-heat the pan – inverted – on the hot plate. Then, take it off the hot plane dip the bottom (the outside) of the pan into the batter and hold it there for a few seconds. Finally, put the pan, again inverted, on the hot plate. In about a minute, the crepe bakes on the top of the underside of the pan. (Details at about.com.)

Below is a photo of the M’sieur Crepemaker that I pulled from the web. Unfortunately, I don’t have my mother’s crepemaker in my possession. It would be fun to try!

MSieur Crepemaker

You can no longer buy this Sunbeam M’sieur Crêpemaker, although I saw a few vintage ones for sale on a couple sites accessed June 2016. The Day, a New London, Connecticut paper, includes this crepemaker in a July 28 1976 article entitled “Versatile French crepes are latest food fad everywhere“. It cost $29.95. Dip-and-Cook crepemakers are available new: for instance, the CucinaPro cordless crepemaker for $35.99.

I am a big fan of crepes and have already posted several crepe-dish recipes on this blog. Last fall, we travelled to Paris and thoroughly enjoyed street crepes.

Crepe batters are made from eggs, flour, and milk or water, and often a little butter or oil. Some batters include sour cream, baking powder, cornmeal, whole wheat flour, sugar, and even chocolate. The exact ratios of these ingredients vary; French crepes are thin, some of the American ones I make are thick. I have a little 7-inch crepe pan that I use for everyday crepes. I have also made French-style crepes (a recipe from Cooks Illustrated) In a 12-inch skillet.

For this blog, I decide to try one of the recipes that my mother tucked into this booklet: Ham and Sour Cream Crepes.

Ham and Cheese CrepesHam and Cheese CrepesHam and Cheese Crepes

Ham and Sour Cream Crepes
serves 2

  • crepes (recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 12 ounces chopped ham
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Mix the sour cream, green onions, and mustard. Sprinkle the cheese on the crepes. Top with ham, then spread a heaping tablespoon of the sour cream mixture on top of the ham. Roll the crepes and place in a baking dish.

Mix the bread crumbs and the melted butter and sprinkle this mixture on the crepes. Bake at 350˚ about 12 minutes, until golden brown.

makes 6-8

  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix in a blender and let stand an hour or so. Use about 3 tablespoons batter to cook each crepe on a hot skillet or crepe pan. (More crepe-cooking instructions are here.)

These were indeed “very good”! I will definitely make them again. A good way to use leftover ham.

Ham and Sour Cream CrepesNote: Later in the week, I made chocolate crepes following a recipe in M’sieur Crêpe Electric Crepemaker. Filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce, they too were delicious!

250 Cookbooks: Fagor Pressure Cookers

Cookbook #162: Fagor Pressure Cookers, More than 50 Recipes, Fagor America, Inc., Lyndhurst, NJ., publication date not given.

Fagor Pressure Cookers cookbook

Fagor Pressure Cookers, More than 50 Recipes is the instruction/recipe booklet that came with the stove-top pressure cooker that I bought sometime in the 2000s. This cooker has one pressure lid that covers two sizes of nice, heavy pots. I bought it as a replacement for my old broken pressure cooker. Somehow I quickly broke this pressure cooker too! I ruined the gasket and/or pressure regulator, and the replacements I ordered did not fit. (Unusable as a pressure cooker, the pots as still usable as cooking pots.) A couple years ago, I bought an electric pressure cooker that works great. So, I can still use the recipes in this booklet, I’ll just have to adapt them to my new electric cooker.

Shall I keep this cookbook? It has “More than 50 recipes”. Let’s see if this booklet has enough good recipes to warrant saving.

The first recipe is for tomato sauce for pasta, with carrots, celery, garlic, 3 cups canned tomatoes, herbs, and wine. Hey, this is pretty much how I make stove-top sauce! But in a pressure cooker it only takes 10 minutes, not an an hour or two stove-top simmer. Maybe I’ll try that next time. I like the “German Potato Salad” with just 2 minutes cooking time! “Country Style Potatoes”, with mushrooms and onions, take only 3 minutes. This recipe for potatoes would go well with the grilled meat I have planned for dinner. “Everyone’s Favorite Meatball Stew” sounds good to me – given my love of meatballs in general. I have a Cornish hen in the freezer, so I might try the “Oriental-Style Cornish Hen” or “Cornish Hens Braised in White Wine”. “Mom’s Rice Pudding” would be a homey dessert.

But that’s it. I decide to make the Country Style Potatoes for dinner, scan copies of the other recipes, and recycle this booklet. It has served it’s purpose!

Country Style PotatoesThe “suggested time” in the above recipe is indicated by a little chart below each recipe. I perused the instruction pages of the booklet and figured out that I should set my current pressure cooker to “high”.

Country Style Potatoes
serves 2
this recipe is written for an electric pressure cooker

  • scant tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups potatoes cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Saute the mushrooms and onions in the pressure cooker (my cooker has a “saute” setting). Add the potatotes, water, parsley, and salt and pepper.

Close the lid and set to “high pressure” and set the timer for “3 minutes”. When the timer beeps, quick-release the pressure.


Country Style PotatoesThese were very good! And so fast and simple. I have to remember that it’s often worth the effort to carry the pressure cooker up from the basement. It really is time-saving, and clean-up is easy. I will make these again!