250 Cookbooks: Extra-Special Crockery Pot Recipes

Cookbook #183: Extra-Special Crockery Pot Recipes, Lou Seibert Pappas, Bristol Publishing Enterprises, San Leandro, CA, 1975. A Nitty Gritty Cookbook.

Extra Special Crockery Pot Recipes cookbookI have 10 crock pot/slow cooker cookbooks! Crazy. I discussed the history of crock pots in a previous post: The Electric Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Extra-Special Crockery Pot Recipes is similar in design and layout to The Bread Machine Cookbook II, another “Nitty Gritty Cookbook”. These books are all about recipes – cleanly laid out and easy to follow.

I find lots of different ideas to try in Extra-Special Crockery Pot Recipes. The soups chapter includes the basics (French onion soup) and the slightly exotic (Caldo Xochitl). Next is salads. Salads in a slow cooker? At first I thought: cooked salads? But no, the recipes are for regular lettuce-type salads including leftover slow-cooked chicken or beef. I am often looking for “main dish salad” recipes in the hot summertime.

I’m not tempted by any of the recipes in the fish chapter – fish generally needs only a brief cooking. The poultry chapter includes the basics (poached chicken) and the unusual (Chicken and Cherries Jubilee). “Meats and Casseroles” has lots of ideas. It’s the longest chapter in the book, and I like a lot of the recipes: a wide range from the basic (Meat Balls Stroganoff) to the unusual (Choucroute Garni).

“Breads and Cakes”? Why bake bread in a slow cooker? “There are sometimes occasions when you may prefer not to heat the oven or perhaps you are at a location without an oven, when having a crockery pot makes baking possible.” I remember our relatively recent family reunion in California where the oven in the rental did not work, so we cooked a cake in the barbecue. But hey – we could have looked for a crock pot instead!
The fruits chapter gives recipes for cooked fresh fruit to be used in desserts or for breakfast. “Preserves” has a recipe for apple butter (already made it!) as well as orange marmalade and apricot pineapple jam and a couple chutneys. Beverages? Hot Spiced Cider, Swedish Glugg, and Hot Mulled Wine.

I decide to make Savory Swiss Steak for this blog. Wikipedia says “Swiss steak is meat, usually beef, prepared by means of rolling or pounding, and then braising in a cooking pot of stewed tomatoes, mushroom sauce, or some other sauce, either on a stove or in an oven.” That’s a pretty broad definition – and the recipe in Extra-Special Crockery Pot Recipes definitely falls within it. (I have made Swiss Steak for this blog before, but it was not a slow-cooked version.)

Savory Swiss Steak recipe

Round steak is a very lean meat (nice when you don’t want a fatty gravy) but it can be flavorless or tough. Hopefully this recipe makes it tender and tasty! I think I’ve tried this recipe before, since this page was marked when I pulled the book off the shelf.

Slow Cooker Swiss Steak
serves about 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds round steak
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or less)
  • 2 tablespoons oil (or less)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • fresh parsley (optional)

Cut the round steak into about 6 pieces. Mix the flour, dry mustard, and salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan and add half of the butter and oil. Dredge the steak in the flour mixture, then fry in the hot butter/oil until browned. (You might need to do this in a couple batches, it depends on the size of your frying pan.)

Remove the meat from the fying pan and put it in the crock pot. Put the rest of the butter and oil in the hot (now empty) frying pan, then add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until the vegetables are “glazed” or softened. Add the tomatoes, Worchestershire, and brown sugar; heat, scrapping up the fond. Transfer the entire mixture to the crock pot.

Cover and cook on low about 6 hours, or until the beef is tender. Serve over noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice, with some fresh parsley sprinkled on top (if you have it).

Swiss SteakThis was excellent! I will make it again. Very tasty and the meat was very tender. There was enough for two meals for the two of us (I froze half for later use).

250 Cookbooks: Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes

Cookbook #179: Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta, Dettners Printing House, San Franscisco.

Elena's Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes cookbook

Driving out of Boulder last week, I noticed a new Mexican grocery store. I wanted to go in! I love discovering small stores with interesting ethnic products. I used to get the best corn tortillas from a store in almost the same location. Makes me hungry for Mexican food. Time to pull another Mexican cookbook off my shelf!

And I have only one that I have not yet covered: Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes. I covered another of her cookbooks, Elena’s Secrets of Mexican Cooking, in one of my earliest posts. That book was published in 1958, and this one in 1944. Inside the back cover is the price it originally sold for: $1.50 from May Co. I think I bought it from a used book or junk store, way back when we lived in Boulder. But I am not sure. It could have been my mother-in-law’s – there is some writing in this book that might be hers.

The introduction to Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes is written by Elena’s friend Katherine Kerry, while the introduction to the (later) 1958 book is written by Helen Evans Brown. Her friends just loved her! If you read my other blog entry, you will learn that Elena lost her sight as an adult, but blindness didn’t stop her from cooking. That amazes me so much! Katherine Kerry writes of her friend’s book:

“This book of her own much-used recipes is just one expression of Elena’s love of people, her knowledge of how to make them happy. Each recipe is a shining star of courage, faith and hope, plus a full measure of gastronomic enjoyment for you who use them.”

“Elena is a bouncing ball of pep, gaiety, kindliness and heart – a heart so big it encompasses all she meets.”

Some of the recipes in Elena’s 1944 book were carried through to the later book – “because no book on Mexican cuisine could possibly be without them”.

The first chapter of Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes is “Sopas – Soups”. I learn that there are two types of soup in Mexico: wet and dry. Wet soups are liquid (plus meats and vegetables) and served at the beginning of the meal, dry soups are served next. Dry soups are rice or vermicelli cooked in soup stock, the stock being entirely absorbed in cooking, in effect making them more like our idea of seasoned cooked rice.

“Eggs, Glorified ways of serving them”, the next chapter, has at least one recipe I’d like to try: “Rice Nests with Egg”. In this recipe, bacon is wrapped around a small pile of cooked rice and secured with a toothpick, then topped with a raw egg and baked in the oven. I like this recipe for a couple reasons. One, it sounds good! And two, it illustrates Elena’s Mexican dishes. They are often simple home cooking, and barely our typical ideas of “Mexican” cooking.

Some of the salad recipes look very good, like an avocado salad with pineapple, oranges, fresh mint, lettuce and French dressing. Chiles Rellenos – green chiles stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg batter, deep fried, and served in a spiced tomato sauce – are in the vegetable chapter. I have made them Elena’s way for years! She suggests frying them the day before serving, an idea that might me prepare these delights more often. (Much easier than frying while your guests are there.) Fish, poultry, meats and beans each has its own chapter. (Some of the meats, like tripe, kidneys, rabbit, and pigs feet, I guarantee I’ll never cook.)

“Tortillas, Tacos, Tostadas, Enchiladas and other things made with masa” is the title of another chapter. Elena talks about treating a pan with “hydrated lime” when one makes homemade tortillas. Hydrated lime is not made from limes, instead, it is calcium hydroxide, and is used to help the masa bind together. All of her recipes that include masa (a type of cornmeal) call for purchasing it fresh from a Mexican store. I’m not sure this type of masa is still available, and I ran into problems when I tried making a tamale casserole using the bagged masa that is currently sold in US supermarkets. But in general, her recipes call for store bought tortillas, so it’s not a huge problem. She also mentions an item I’d like to find called “raspadas”, thin tortillas specially made for tostadas.

And last but not least, desserts! Flan, rum and macaroon pudding, Mexican bread and rice puddings, banana pudding, cookies (Little Drunkards sound interesting!), and turnovers are among the sweet recipes in this chapter.

Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes includes several pages of menus for Mexican meals. Below is a great example:

Mexican menus

I do like this cookbook and definitely will keep it. Lots of good recipes, information on historical Mexican cooking, and written by an interesting woman.

For this blog, I decide to make Carne Deshebrada, or Shredded Skirt Steak, Mexican Style:

Shredded Skirt Steak recipe

Usually when I make “shredded beef”, I braise a roast for a long time until it falls apart easily when shredded with a fork. In this recipe, the skirt steak is broiled just to medium rare – sounds like an interesting variation. I found it hard to “shred with a fork”, so I went back and forth using a fork and a sharp knife to shred/chop instead of following the directions. I couldn’t find a green bell pepper, so I used a red one. I like lots of fresh cilantro and garlic so I increased the amounts. And I added the green chiles as suggested. I preferred not to serve this “in soup plates and eaten with soup spoons”. Instead, I kept the meat a little drier by adding less water, and served the mixture in a corn tortilla with grated cheese and salsa.

Shredded Skirt Steak
serves 4

  • 1 skirt steak, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green (or red) bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder (optional)
  • fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped (or to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles

Cut the steak into several pieces and broil in an oven just until medium rare. Cool, then shred with a fork and a sharp knife.

Fry the chopped onions in a little oil until tender. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, chile powder, cilantro, garlic, chiles, the shredded meat, and about 1/2 cup water. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about a half hour, adding a bit more water if needed to keep the mixture moist. Serve wrapped in tortillas with cheese and salsa.

Below is a photo of the skirt steak after I cooked and “shredded” it.

shredded skirt steak ingredientsAnd here is the pan of shredded beef and vegetables, ready to be served.

Shredded Skirt Steak

And how did it turn out? Wonderful! The skirt steak was so, so flavorful! A different experience than my braised style shredded beef. I used “Tortillaland” corn tortillas, half-cooked tortillas that heat up on a dry grill into soft but sturdy tacos. These tortillas were strong enough to stay together, even packed with shredded beef and fixings.

I made another meal using the leftovers by mounding the mixture and some grated cheese in thin flour tortillas, rolling them up, then browning in a big fry pan in a little oil just until all sides were browned. Then, I cut into bite-sized pieces and served with salsa and sour cream. Yum again.

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: Microwave Guide & Cookbook

Cookbook #147: Microwave Guide & Cookbook, General Electric Co., USA, 1979.

Microwave Guide & CoobookWho needs an instruction book for a microwave oven? You just put in your coffee cup or lunch, set the dial for a minute or two, and click start, right? And if you ever want to know how long to cook a particular food item, you just google it.

So were my thoughts as I sat down with this book. I started leafing through it. The very first pages describe how microwave ovens work. A magnetron in the microwave oven generates and transmits microwaves. “Microwaves” are high frequency (and short wavelength) radio waves. AM, FM and CB radiowaves are lower frequency (and higher wavelength) than microwaves. Your microwave oven is similar to a miniature broadcasting system! It is self contained – only the inside of the metal-lined oven sees the broadcast.

How do microwaves cook food? They agitate water molecules and cause them to vibrate and generate heat. Most food has plenty of water in it so it heats – and cooks. (And the air around the food does not get hot, so the food does not brown.)

On page 5 of The Microwave Guide & Cookbook, a potato is comparisonally cooked in a pan, an oven, and in a microwave. For each process, they recorded a “heat photo” or thermograph. This tickles my scientistific nerve! After 4 minutes, a microwaved potato is all yellow or hot, while it takes an hour for a potato in a conventional oven to show the same thermograph.

Twelve big pages show photos of foods that cook particularly well in a microwave; I find this practical, visual, and useful. This book recognizes the limits of microwave cooking, while reminding me that I could be using it for more foods than I currently do. A few pages describe microwave safe dishes and food coverings.

And then, in the defrosting section, a lovely photo of a block of ice partially thawed in a microwave:

microwaved block of ice

Isn’t that cool? I think this book is a keeper! I like reviewing the science behind my appliances and I like having good cooking references at home for those times when we don’t have the internet in our semi-rural area.

The Microwave Guide & Cookbook presents different foods in separate chapters: appetizers, meats, poultry, fish, eggs and cheese, sauces, pasta and rice, vegetables, breads, desserts, and jams. Each of the meat, poultry, and fish chapters begins with a description of how to defrost different forms of the food (e.g., details for hamburger, steaks, and roasts) and then gives cooking instructions and a few recipes. The recipes are often for illustration – the cook is encouraged and guided to adapt his or her own recipes to a microwave version.

What I learned or found useful:

In the ground meat section, I liked the instructions for defrosting. My current microwave oven has an autodefrost function that works miserably; now I have the knowledge to use a manual defrost mode more effectively.

In the steak section, they say you can grill a steak briefly to get the grill marks and flavor, then heat it up in the microwave at dinner time. Sounds like a good idea for a busy cook.

I found a ham and pork loaf recipe that might help me use up leftover ham and have an interesting filling for sandwiches.

Bacon can be microwaved on a plate covered with a paper towel.

Explicit instructions for cooking chicken are given: number (and size) of the chicken pieces; cooking power; cooking times; turning instructions. This cookbook has a microwave version of Mexican Chicken Casserole that I would like to compare and contrast with the two versions I have covered in this blog: one and two.

You can boil pasta in a microwave! Maybe we will (again) have an extended power outage and I will only have the use of my microwave oven when using our somewhat-limited backup generator system.

The egg section gives a good “microlesson” on how to microwave scrambled eggs and how to poach an egg. I could definitely learn from this. Hey, they have an egg and cottage cheese scramble, like I make on the stove top! Microwave oven users are given a strict warning NOT to microwave whole eggs in the shell. Oh boy, I learned this in lab. Back in the 70s I was working in a molecular biology lab. We had a microwave oven in the lab, ostensibly to liquify agar gel for bacteria plates. Well, one of our young lab helpers decided to microwave a whole egg in it. It burst loudly and violently! The lab stank for weeks.

The vegetable section is excellent and complete with tables and comments. I know I’ll refer back to this in the future.

Desserts. How to melt chocolate, make fudge, s’mores, custards, puddings, and pies. Brownies. Cakes in a microwave oven rise higher but are not brown; the texture is great, though, and frosting will cover any difference. Quickie chocolate sauce, butterscotch sauce, and cinnamon sugar sauce might come in handy and tasty.

With all these good ideas and learning lessons, what to choose to cook for this blog? Umm, I do love meatballs. Let’s try a microwave meatball recipe and compare and contrast with my usual stovetop method. How about Swedish Meatballs?

Swedish Meatballs recipeIn the Microwave Guide & Cookbook, general instructions for microwave meatballs are given on the same page as the Swedish Meatballs recipe. I find these instructions useful:

microwaving ground beef meatballsI halved the recipe for the two of us. I usually cook 12 ounces of meat for us – I cooked about 14 ounces this time and had a few meatballs left over. I didn’t have brown bouquet sauce (kitchen bouquet) so I left it out.

Microwave Sweedish Meatballs
serves about 2

  • about 14 ounces ground beef
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 egg (whisk an egg, measure wieght or volume, use half)
  • 1/2 packet onion soup mix*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

*Onion soup mix still comes with 2 packets per box. But, now the box weighs 2 oz. instead of the old 2 3/4 oz. I opened one packet and used about half of it for my version of the recipe.

Mix the ground beef, bread crumbs, milk, egg, onion soup mix, salt, and nutmeg. Form into 20 meatballs (I used a kitchen scale to get them all equal-sized).

Put the meatballs in a glass baking dish that fits in your microwave oven. (I used a 9×11-inch glass pan.) Cover with wax paper.

Microwave on high for 6-7 minutes (until done), rearranging the meatballs halfway through the cooking. (If you question whether or not they are done, you can gently cut an opening in one to check.)

Remove the meatballs from the baking dish and set aside. Add the flour to the drippings that remain in the baking dish and stir well, then gradually stir in the milk. Microwave at high for 3-4 minutes, stirring every minute, until the mixture is thickened. Add the sour cream and stir.

Stir the reserved meatballs into the sauce and mix to coat evenly. Microwave at high for 1-2 minutes, until hot. Serve over noodles or rice.

Here are the meatballs before cooking:

uncooked meatballsAnd here they are cooked:

cooked meatballs


Microwave Swedish Meatballs

I got raves for this simple dish! It really was easy and fast, and tasted great. I didn’t have a splattered range top to clean either. I did kind of miss the good odor of browning meat. But other than that, I think these are just about as good as traditionally-cooked meatballs.

It would be easy to adapt any of my current meatball recipes to this microwave version: the rule is 20 meatballs from 14 ounces of meat baked on “high” in a microwave oven for 6 minutes. If I used a pound of meat, I might increase the cooking time a half minute or so. If you are cooking two pounds of meat, cook in two batches.


Note: I covered another microwave cookbook (that I didn’t like) and a bit of the history of microwave ovens in a previous post. I got my first microwave oven (a Whirlpool) in 1981 and it lasted 23 years. I’m currently on my second microwave oven, a combination convection-microwave JennAir.

250 Cookbooks: Let’s Cook It Right

Cookbook #135: Let’s Cook It Right, Adelle Davis, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., NY, NY, 1970.

Let's Cook It Right cookbookAdelle Davis. I remember this author as one of the gurus of the health food movement back in our hippie days.

My copy of this book is well-worn. I keep it in the kitchen as a reference for cooking meats because it has good roast-cooking time tables. I always cook turkeys according to her directions: stuffed and on a rack with the breast side down. Each Thanksgiving since 1995, I have left a note on a piece of paper tucked between pages 54 and 55 of this book. On each note is how I cooked the turkey, and how it turned out.

notes in Let's Cook It RightLet’s Cook it Right was first published in 1947, then updated in 1962 and 1970. My 1970 edition dedication reads:

“Dedicated to my daughter, Barbara, in the hope that here husband and children will not have to eat TV dinners.”

I haven’t actually read this book in decades. I recall Davis as being a bit “preachy”. But I liked her, partly because she – like me – earned a masters in biochemistry. This week I take some time scanning through Let’s Cook it Right. From the preface:

“Surely we all agree that our foods should be both delicious and sufficiently health-building to enhance our enjoyment of life; and that dishes which are good for you but almost impossible to eat deserve little praise. Since we spend approximately a thousand hours each year eating our meals, they should be pleasant hours, times of family unity and companionship.”

Davis stresses that we need to buy nutritious foods and then cook them correctly to preserve the nutrients. And she assumes the cooking is done by the woman of the household, as in:

“Despite the need to retain maximum value in all food preparation, women are advised by thousands of recipes to extract and discard nutrients or to destroy them by high temperatures, long cooking, or the incorporation of air”.

The tone of Adelle Davis’ writing is serious and didactic: women must learn how to cook properly so that they do not ruin or toss nutrients. Her reward for this work:

“When she hears her physician praise the beauty of her children, when she sees her husband, young beyond his years, succeeding because of his energies, when she feels the surge of vibrant health in her own body, she will realize that she is largely responsible. She has shouldered her tasks and has seen to it that good health has come from good cooking.”

Once I get past the preachiness and non-feminist ideas, I do like many of the concepts in this book. “You Need Have No Failures in Cooking Meats” is the chapter I have used the most. “Serve Your Salads First” is a firm and steady rule of my household, just ask any member of my family. In “Get Acquainted with Fish” she asks: “How many hundreds of tmes have you heard housewives remark, ‘I don’t cook fish because I don’t like the odor in the house’? The fact is that when fish is properly cooked, there is no odor.” Davis’ advice for cooking fish at low temperature helped me keep fish odors to the minimum.

Let’s Cook it Right leans heavily towards protein-dense foods. Adelle Davis frowns on sugar, and writes that if a person is sedentary, they should only eat 1 slice of bread per day. The chapter on bread is titled “If You Want to Bake Bread”. In her opinion, one should buy whole wheat bread loaves rather than bake it at home. I am the opposite – I love home-baked bread! From my notes in this cookbook, I can tell that I tried her whole wheat bread recipe, but I did not write whether or not it turned out. There are almost zero cake recipes in this version of Let’s Cook it Right. In the chapter on desserts, “Desserts Can Contribute to Health”, Davis writes: “Frankly, I have never been good at baking cakes.”

This excerpt from the bread chapter illustrates the tone of Davis’ writing:

“Never shall I forget a dinner to which a friend invited me, saying, ‘I’m going to prepare everything from your cookbook.’ It was her first attempt to use whole-wheat flour and powdered milk. She had tried to make yeast bread of rancid pastry flour and still more rancid wheat germ, purchased from a market where the turnover was slow. She had added to the bread powdered milk which should have been sweet-smelling and as fine as face powder but which had an offensive odor and looked like crushed rock; such changes occur when powdered milk has been left exposed to the air. It was impossible to say who was the more embarrassed, my hostess or myself. We ate cold cereal, however, and remained friends. But I shudder when I think of how many other hosewives may have unknowingly obtained products of inferior quality.”

Davis would be amazed to walk into today’s stores with their abundant fresh whole grain flours, not to mention the ready availability of responsibly grown beef, pork, and chicken products.

(I note this with some distress: Davis writes that if we are enjoying the aroma of something cooking, we should be aware that the nutrients are leaving the meal along with the smells.)

In Let’s Cook it Right, Adelle Davis does not toute vitamin supplements. But apparently that is not true of all of her writings. On Quackwatch, the article “The Legacy of Adelle Davis” by Stephen Barrett claims that her recommendations of supplements for certain conditions were sometimes dangerous. From Wikipedia: “She . . .  became the most recognized nutritionist in the country. Despite her popularity, she was heavily criticized by her peers for many recommendations she made that were not supported by the scientific literature, some of which were considered dangerous.” On the other hand, the Adelle Davis Foundation is entirely positive about her contributions and continues her legacy.

For this blog, I turn to the chapter “You Need Have No Failures in Cooking Meats”. Adelle Davis presents a wonderful way to cook a beef roast. You put it in a 300˚ oven for an hour, then turn the oven down to the temperature you want it to end up at (or turn the oven off) and leave it the entire day. Come home and the roast is cooked to perfection, evenly medium-rare pink throughout. I used to do this all the time! It’s great for the working person, and it’s also great (according to Davis) for keeping nutrients in the meat. This method is similar to sous vide, in that you slow cook the meat by setting the cooking device – the oven in this case – to the desired finished temperature.

(No scan of this recipe; Davis’ method is explained in a two-page section titled “Slow Roasting”.)

In the spirit of Adelle Davis, I buy a responsively grown 4 pound beef rump-round roast at Whole Foods. (She would not have approved of the cost, however!)

uncooked roastIn 2015, I have an oven that I can set to any temperature from 100˚ to 550 ˚ F. This should work even better than the oven I had back when I first explored this method, as that oven did not have low temperature settings.

Slow-Roasted Beef

  • 3-4 pound beef rump or round roast
  • salt and pepper
  • olive or vegetable oil

If the meat has more than 1/2 inch of fat on it, trim some of the fat off. Season the roast with salt and pepper (Davis says not to salt the meat; I disagree). Rub a little oil over the surface of the roast. Place the roast in a roasting pan, on a rack if possible. Do not cover the roast. Insert a meat thermometer in the center of the roast.

Place the roast in a preheated 300˚ oven for 1 hour (to destroy bacteria on the surface). Then, turn the oven down to internal temperature that you desire. (If your oven does not have a low setting, simply turn it off. It should work.) Do not open the oven door!

  • rare 135˚
  • medium 150˚
  • well done 160˚

For a rare-cooked roast, it takes about 2 1/2 hours per pound.

When the meat has reached the internal temperature that you want, take it out and serve.

slow-cooked roastMine turned out perfect! I cooked it to rare. It was evenly pink throughout, just the way we like it! Good the first night with mashed potatoes and gravy, and excellent sliced/shaved very thin for sandwiches the next several days.

250 Cookbooks: Bon Appétit Tastes of the World

Cookbook #123: Bon Appétit Tastes of the World, Bon Appetit, The Condé Nast Publications, Inc., NY, NY, 1996.

Tastes of the World CookbookThis little cookbook has lots of interesting ideas for spicing up my cooking. I am pretty surprised at this! It’s just one of those “free gifts” that one gets when they subscribe to a magazine. I covered another such Bon Appetit cookbook in a previous post and wasn’t impressed. But this one – almost every page has a recipe I could try.

I decide to make Paprika Pork Patties for this blog. A nice change on ordinary hamburgers! First, pork instead of beef. And then, bacon! Since my daughter is visiting I decide to splurge on some bacon calories. How can one go wrong? And then, lots of paprika. Finally, chopped sauerkraut is mixed into the patties. Nice for both moisture and taste. Here is the original recipe:

Paprika Pork PattiesPaprika Pork PattiesI can’t find hot Hungarian paprika so I substitute a little hot chile powder. (But next time I am at Savory Spice Shop in Boulder I will look for it because I am curious.) I decide to grill these because it’s summer and we have company and it’s nice being outside with lots for my toddler grandson to do (like chase bubbles!). Below is my version of the recipe.

Paprika Pork Patties
serves 3-4

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped drained sauerkraut
  • garnishes such as more sauerkraut, onions, roasted red peppers, pickles, mustard, whatever are your favorites

Set up a food processor. With the motor running, drop the garlic through the feed tube until it is minced. Then, add the bacon, water, paprika, chile powder, salt, pepper, and allspice and process until a thick paste forms. Turn off the processor, add the pork, then pulse a few quick times until all is combined.

Remove the pork-spice mixture from the processor and stir n the sauerkraut. Form into six patties.

Heat a grill and set to medium high. Cook patties about 4 minutes per side. (You can also cook these in a skillet on the stove top.)

pork patties on the grillServe on toasted rye bread with the garnishes of your choice.

pork patties on a bunThese were enjoyed by all! I will probably make them again, although I tried a pork sliders recipe a few weeks ago that my husband and I liked a little better.


250 Cookbooks: Settlers’ Recipes and Remedies

Cookbook #117: Settlers’ Recipes and Remedies, Historic Boulder, Inc., 1978.

Settlers Recipes and Remedies Cookbook“Hiccups are immediately stopped by giving a lump of sugar saturated with wine vinegar.”  “For a headache, peel and slice raw potatoes and bind them on the forehead in a cloth that reaches around the head.” “It will be bad weather if carrots grow deeper.”

Such is the lore of the first settlers in Boulder, Colorado. Settlers’ Recipes and Remedies includes small black and white photos of people and serving ware and  a store and historic homes in Boulder. There are quite a few recipes – some basic, some interesting, some odd – but few very are practical for today’s cooks. No oven temperatures! No cooking times!

I must have bought this book used in a bookstore in Boulder, since “$3.00” is written in pencil on the first page. I’ve never used it as a recipe source. I can’t find any information about it online, except that the Denver Public Library has a copy. Historic Boulder has a current website, but they don’t mention this book.

I will cook “Wild Bill Hickock’s Smothered Beefsteak” for this blog. You take a thin steak, smooth a bread stuffing on top, roll it up, and cook it til done. Good basic foodstuff. Then, I will recycle this book.

Beef Rolls recipeSteak Roll
serves 2

  • one thin-cut steak, sirloin or round, about 12 ounces
  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon summer savory (or, use oregano or thyme)
  • salt and pepper
  • milk, about 1/4 cup
  • salt pork, about a tablespoon, chopped
  • beef broth, 1-2 cups, or use water
  • flour

Lay the steak out on a breadboard and pound with a meat pounder/tenderizer until it is smooth and flat.

Put the breadcrumbs, butter, herbs, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Add enough milk to make a “stiff” mixture (one that hold together when pressed with your hands). Spread this mixture over the steak in an even layer.

Roll the steak (from either side, your choice) and tie with pieces of string. Set aside.

In a pot on the stove top, brown the salt pork. Add the steak roll and brown on all sides. Add beef broth (or water); the roll does not need to be submersed in liquid, just have the depth of liquid at about an inch. Cover the pot and simmer 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Check about every 30 minutes and add more broth or water if it is evaporating away.

The roll is done when it is knife-tender. Remove the roll from the pan and set aside. Add a tablespoon or two of flour to the gravy in the pot and mix in; add water until the gravy is as thick or thin as you like.

Slice the roll and serve with the gravy.

Beef RollsWe liked these – good comfort food. They were excellent with mashed potatoes and peas!I think the salt pork added a lot of flavor. If you can’t find it, use a piece or two of bacon. I was able to find salt pork at Whole Foods. Part of the current movement to bring saturated fats back into the US diet, I guess!

Salt Pork

250 Cookbooks: Weber Charcoal Barbecue Kettles

Cookbook #116: Weber Charcoal Barbecue Kettles, Weber-Stephens Procuts Co., Arlington Heights, Illinois, circa late 1970s.

Weber Charcoal Barbecue Kettles“Pork tenderloin surprise packages on p. 15, but missing that page!” That is what I wrote in my database when I entered this small instruction and recipe booklet. And that recipe is all I think about now when I pick up this booklet to find a recipe for this blog! None of the other (remaining) recipes are anything I want to make.

What are pork tenderloin surprise packages? Well, as I recall, you take some bacon and wrap it around a thick slice of pork tenderloin topped with – something else – and toothpick it all together. You put it on the grill and cook it – at some temperature – until done. Cheese enters the picture at some point. We loved these back in the day but I haven’t made them in years.

On a hunch, I googled “pork tenderloin surprise packages” and hit the jackpot. I guess I’m not the only fan of this recipe! I found several very similar versions of the recipe online. Yay!

Here is a photo of the original recipe (1972 edition, not the same as my little booklet) from the Let’s Talk BBQ site. Visit that site for great photos of the steps for making Pork Tenderloin Surprise Packages! Cooks.com has a version that is a little easier to read. Saz’s site’s version suggests mozzarella cheese and specifies “indirect heat” and a cooking time of 55 minutes (not 45 minutes like the original) and a doneness temperature of 170˚. I like this version too; it suggests that you can cook them in the oven.

I am tickled to find the original recipe, but I still have some work to do: I need to work out how to cook these on a gas grill, both time and temperature.

I know that the bacon grease will drip off these little packages – so I begin by making sure the drip pan at the bottom of my gas grill is clean and wiping off some of the chunks of build-up on the inside of the BBQ. My grill top has a temperature gauge; while cooking these packages I will nudge the burners to get it to read 350-375˚. I’ll put them over indirect heat. Starting at 40 minutes, I will check the temperature of the pork with an instant-read thermometer. When the temperature is about 160˚, I’ll add the cheese to the top and check every couple minutes until the cheese is melted. Ready, set, go!

Here is my version of the recipe.

Pork Tenderloin Surprise Packages
this is written for one; multiply as necessary

These work best with the pork in a thick chunk. Pork tenderloins have both a skinny and a fat end. I found that I could cut a 2-inch thick slice from a skinnier end and flatten it to 1 1/2-inch if necessary.

  • 1 slice of pork tenderloin, 3-6 ounces (depending on appetite); thickness about 1 1/2-inch
  • seasoning (salt and pepper; but you barely need salt if the bacon is salty)
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 slice of cheese: aim for 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 slice of tomato: aim for 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 chunk of bell pepper
  • 1 slice of cheese (I used sharp cheddar)

Cross the two slices of bacon and put the pork tenderloin in the center. Add the onion, then tomato, then bell pepper. Fold the bacon ends in and secure with a toothpick.

Heat your gas grill to about 375˚. I did this by turning on all the burners to get the grill good and hot. Then, on my Weber gas grill with three burner strips, I set the front one to “high” and turned off the other two. I found that this maintained the 375˚ temperature for the duration of the cooking.

Put the pork packets on the grill over indirect heat: on my grill, I put them over the back two unlit burners. Close the BBQ.

After 40 minutes, begin checking the temperature of the pork tenderloin. Cook the meat to 160˚. (Mine took 45 minutes.) Add the slice of cheese to the top of the package and cook only until the cheese melts – about 5 minutes.


Preparation steps:

These are really easy to make. I served them with artichokes and fresh sourdough bread.

surprise packagesSlice and stack! An X marks the spot.

surprise packagesAnd here is one of the grilled pork tenderloin surprise packages:

pork tenderloin surprise packagesYes these were fatty but who cares! The onion was soft-cooked, the tomato perfect, and the bacon – well, if you like bacon, you know that bacon makes everything taste great. I’m glad I found my old recipe and made these again. The missing pages from this booklet may show up tucked in one of my other cookbooks, but it doesn’t matter anymore, I have the recipe I want. Now I can recycle the remains of this booklet.

Favorites: Sukiyaki

One of my college roommates was Japanese, and she wrote out this recipe for Sukiyaki for me:Sukiyaki RecipeWhen we cooked in our on-campus apartment, we made this in my electric fry pan. She was a very neat person (I, on the other hand, can tend to be slovenly) and put neat little piles of the different ingredients – meat, veggies, tofu, noodles – in different sections of the pan. I always loved this meal. And the memories of our times together, including visits to her aunt’s house in Southern California.

I just re-discovered my electric fry pan and was inspired to dig out my old recipe card. I actually found it! Here is how I prepared Sukiyaki last Saturday, here in the year 2015.

serves 2

  • 9 ounces beef tenderloin or sirloin, cut into small strips
  • a couple green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • bamboo shoots, about half a can
  • yam noodles (fresh, from an Asian market, or maybe a local supermarket)
  • water cress (one small bunch; could use spinach)
  • mushrooms, sliced (I used fresh shitakes)
  • tofu, about 10 half-inch chunks
  • sauce: 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon mirin (rice wine, or use sherry), 1/2 cup water

Heat a large electric fry pan to 360˚ (or use a large, flat skillet on your stove top). Add a few tablespoons vegetable oil and fry the meat until brown. Push the meat to a corner of the pan. Lower the heat to 320˚ and add the sauce. Put the green onions, bamboo shoots, noodles, water cress, mushrooms, and tofu in separate piles in the pan. Continue to heat until all the ingredients are hot. Serve!


250 Cookbooks: Rice – 200 Delightful ways to serve it

Cookbook #112: Rice – 200 Delightful ways to serve it, Southern Rice Industry, New Orleans, LA, 7th edition, 1937. Prepared by the home economics department of the Southern Rice Industry, New Orleans; recipes tested and approved by the Home Economics Department of Louisiana State University (Director: Beth Bailey McLean).

RiceCB“The set table must appear balanced. Dishes must be so placed that no spot is crowded, no side or end is over-balanced with dishes. All the lines on the table should go across or lengthwise of the table. A diagonal line attracts attention, and should be avoided. Therefore, the handles of dishes, bread-and-butter spreaders, oyster forks, salt-and-pepper sets, must follow this rule. If round doilies are used, the threads should also be placed parallel to the edge of the table, not on a diagonal. All dishes, linen, and silver must be placed to follow this rule, or the effect is one of carelessness.”

This is the delightful advice from page 11 of Rice. Yes the book has many recipes for rice, but I enjoy the glimpse into 1930s Americana even more.

table settingMy copy of Rice is almost 80 years old but is in excellent condition. I am not sure whether this cookbook was my mother’s, her mother’s, or from the “Ruth C. Vandenhoudt” house (relatives of my father’s mother). It doesn’t look like it was ever used: no writing or food stains.

As the title states, this book contains 200 recipes for cooking with rice:

“For this book, we have selected recipes that are usable in every section of the United States. Some of the rice recipes are excellent for the main dish in the low cost diet. Other rice recipes are ideally suited to the most elaborate menu in the high cost diet.”

Rice waffles, muffins, fritters; codfish and rice omelet, rice with poached eggs, cheese soup with rice, cream of rice soup, crabs with rice, Mexican and Uruguayan rice, rice loaves, jambalaya, risotto, baked rice and cheese, luncheon salad, rice pudding, rice and raisin pie . . . and more. The recipes are dated, but I’ll be able to adapt at least one of them for this blog.

More Americana, on “Types of Table Service”:

“The English, or family type, is the one most suited to the average family where there is no maid or cook. In this service, all the food is served att he table by the host and hostess, instead of being brought in from the kitchen in individual servings. The hostess of today would do better to perfect this type of service, rathere than to attempt the more formal types.”

 “Rules for Waiting on a Table”:

  1. Food dishes and soiled dishes from the last course must be removed.
  2. Clean dishes and food for the next course must be placed.
  3. This exchange must be done quietly and quickly.
  4. There should be no unsightliness or appearance of great haste.
  5. There should be no display of dishes or silver.
  6. There should be no unnecessary trips to and from the kitchen.
  7. Always consider the comfort of those at the table. Do not make them fear an accident because of the clumsiness or carelessness of the waitress.

I TOTALLY FAIL! If I serve you food, you may be fearing an accident because of my clumsiness!

Okay, enough levity. For this blog, I decide to cook “Stylish Meat Balls”.

Tomato soup? Was there really canned tomato soup in the 1930s? Yes, apparently so. In 1897 a a chemist at  Campbell’s named Dr. John T. Dorrance “invented” Campbell’s Soup as we know it. His idea was to take the water out of the soup, thus selling it in a smaller can and for less money. Here is a little on the history of Campbell’s Tomato soup and on the soup can design.

I do keep canned tomato soup in my pantry, but mostly for making French dressing. For Stylish Meat Balls, I want to make my own tomato soup. I consulted Cooks Illustrated, and modified their recipe for “Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup”. Below is my version of this recipe.

Uncanned Tomato Soup

  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole or diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • salt to taste
  • 1tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Drain the tomatoes; reserve the juice. Pat the tomatoes dry, then place them on a half-sheet pan lined with parchment. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the brown sugar. Bake at 450˚ until the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes begin to color; do not let them char. Remove from oven and let cool.

Heat the butter in a pan and add the shallots (or onions). Cook until they soften, then add the tomato paste and a little salt. Cook a few minutes, then add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds, until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the chicken broth, the reserved juice from the can of tomatoes, and the tomatoes that were roasted in the oven. Let simmer about 10-15 minutes.

If you have an immersion blender, use it to blend the hot soup. If not, let it cool a bit and then blend it in batches in a blender or food processor. If the soup is too thick for your taste, thin it with water or chicken stock.

The soup is ready to eat at this point, or you can add a few tablespoons of cream. I tasted it without cream and said “yum”. But we didn’t eat it as soup, I used it in the “Stylish Meat Balls”.

Stylish Meat BallsBelow is my recipe for Stylish Meat Balls. Note that the original recipe says to shape into “small balls”, but also note that it says it makes 10 meat balls. For 1 1/2 pounds of meat, that’s 2.4 ounces per meat ball. I consider those large meat balls. When I made the recipe, I made about 16-20 meat balls, and they were bigger than the meat balls I usually make.

Stylish Meat Balls
serves 4-6, depending on appetites

  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground meat
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • Uncanned Tomato Soup (recipe above)
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion (this is very good)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green pepper

Mix the rice, ground meat, salt and pepper. Form into about 16-20 meat balls.

Heat the tomato soup. (I suggest a very large flat pan, so that the meat balls can rest in a single layer in the pan.) Add the meat balls, cover, and cook over very low heat for about 45 minutes. If you cook this too hot, it WILL stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Check it frequently as it cooks and add a little water if it gets too thick.

Serve the meat balls – and the sauce in which they cooked – over rice or noodles. I served mine over brown rice with cooked mushrooms and fresh basil:

Stylish Meat BallsMy Stylish Meat Balls got the comment “these are better than your usual meatballs”. I liked them too! The rice inside the meat balls keeps them moist. (They are kind of like inside-out Pearl Balls!) They definitely earned a “yum” from me.