250 Cookbooks: Nabisco’s Snack Book

Cookbook #240: Nabisco’s Snack Book, The Pillsbury Company, 1970.

Nabisco's Snack Cook Book cookbook“Dear Homemaker,
Snacking today certainly is a great pastime. With the leisure time we have, one really can relax and enjoy a tasty snack.”

So begins Nabisco’s Snack Book. It continues:

Note the author of the introduction – Mary Ellen Baker, Home Economist. “Baker”? Really?
Her signature is right there. Web searches pulled up nothing about her.

Like so many appetizer books of the sixtie and seventies, most recipes in Nabisco’s Snack Book call for cream cheese, sour cream, various cheeses, packaged meats, and condiments. And, in every recipe in this book, there is a Nabisco brand-name ingredient: Triangle Thins Crackers, Chippers Potato Crackers, Triscuit Wafers, Dromedary Pitted Dates, Flaked Coconut Snack Crackers, Sociables Crackers, Waverly Wafers, French Onion Crackers, Premium Saltine Crackers, Mister Salty Veri-Thin Pretzels, Snack Mate Pasteurized Process Cheese Spread, Whirligigs Caramels, Nabisco Rice Honeys – to name just a few!

Nabisco makes me feel so . . . American.

I find Nabisco’s Snack Book for sale online. On Amazon, today it goes for $3.50. But on this site, the asking price is $25! And to think, Nabisco’s Snack Book originally sold for 99 cents. I really don’t think this cookbook is vintage enough or has enough good recipes to be worth $25. But one reviewer on the referenced site loves this book – SHOUTS about it:

“Here for your delectation is the SPECTACULAR & RARE–NABISCO’S SNACK COOK BOOK by Mary Ellen Baker. TERRIFIC RECIPES for DELICIOUS SNACKS using NABISCO PRODUCTS!! PLUS—-there are L-O-A-D-S of gorgeous, mouth-watering FULL-COLOR photos!!

This book was my mother’s. She did not comment on any of the recipes, and it’s in very good condition. If I keep it, it will be for nostalgia: it is a classic style of 60s and 70s manufacturer’s cookbook. Or I’ll keep it because any item that can go from 99 cents to 25 dollars . . . might be a good investment!

Here is an example of recipes in this book. Note the Stuffed Grape Leaves – more exotic than I expected. Note that it calls for “75 Cheese-NIPS Crackers”. Can you see counting those out? Or even “18 Triangle Thins Crackers” in the Stuffed Pimiento Slimmers. Note too that the “Slimmers” recipe includes a calorie count. A handful of recipes throughout this book include this data for dieters.

Here are some more pages from this book.

Sweet Snacks include Coconut Orange Dreams (stacks of three vanilla wafers layered with frosting – count out those 54 Nilla Wafers!) and Apricot Coconut Pixies.

Below is “Shimmering Party Pate”, with a cream cheese-liver pate mixture embedded in jello:

Cheese Neapolitan, pictured below, has 3 layers. The bottom layer is cream cheese and Parmesan cheese colored with tomato paste, the middle layer cream cheese and ricotta cheese, and the top layer cream cheese and Bel Paese cheese covered with parsley.

And one more, Curried Chicken Tidbits.

I decide to make “Cuke ‘N Tuna Rounds” for this blog:

Mine will not be “round”, because I don’t have Ritz crackers in the house. Maybe Nabisco Triscuits? I have a box of those. (In the end, I leave out the crackers altogether.)

I would (if I had them) substitute fresh red bell peppers for the canned Dromedary Pimientos. I covered pimientos in my post on the Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 9. Here is a quote from me:

“Pimientos are red bell peppers. It is interesting that red bell peppers are actually green bell peppers that have reached a further state of maturity. The pimiento variety of bell peppers are heart-shaped and very sweet. You can find them canned in the markets, often in small glass jars. I usually substitute fresh red bell peppers for pimientos in recipes.”

In my opinion, red peppers have more flavor than expensive, hard to find canned pimientos.

Tuna these days comes in 4- to 5-ounce cans (at least that is what I had in my cupboard), so I down-sized this recipe.

Cuke ‘N Tuna Rounds

  • 1 5-ounce can tuna, drained
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped dill pickles
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely diced red pepper (I left this out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • cucumber slices
  • crackers of your choice (I left these out)

Combine the tuna, cream cheese, mayonnaise, pickles, red pepper, and pepper. Chill. To serve, place a mound of tuna mixture on a cucumber slice. It would be good with crackers beneath the cucumbers too, but I left those out.

Tuna Rounds

We enjoyed these. In fact, it was our low-carb lunch on a picnic with our grandson to Meadow Park in Lyons. For us, it was “lunch” rather than a “snack”!

For now, I am keeping this cookbook. It’s fun to look through old recipes.

250 Cookbooks: Italian Regional Cooking

Cookbook #239: Italian Regional Cooking, Ada Boni, Bonanza Books, NY, 1969. Translated by Maria Langdale and Ursula Whyte.

Italian Regional Cooking cookbookIn my “250 Cookbooks” data base, I entered the publication date for this book as “1969?” Huh? Why the question mark. I went to the copyright page of Italian Regional Cooking and found “© MCMLXIX”. Oh, I see, and sure enough, when I read the whole field in my database, it reads “1969? MCMLXIX”. I had translated the Roman numeral to an Arabic numeral as “1969”, but didn’t check to see if I was correct. Turns out I was: search engines today quickly pulled up the conversion of MCMLXIX to 1969. Kids today no longer need to learn those rules in school, I guess.

Italian Regional Cooking was a gift to my husband and me on 5/25/77 from a couple-friend of ours. We were living in our trailer in Boulder at that time – opening this book brings back memories. But have I ever used this book? I don’t think so. It is a lovely book to page through, with full page glossy photos of regions in Italy. We have always loved Italian food, and I love to cook, so it was (in theory) a perfect gift.

I looked up Italian Regional Cooking online. It is still for sale as a used book; I do not see a newer edition. On thriftbooks.com, several people wrote reviews about this cookbook. I learn from them that this tome is considered a classic Italian cookbook, kept for years by families and cooks alike for its authentic Italian recipes. Readers of this book who had traveled to Italy write that it reflects accurately the cooking of the regions of Italy in the 1960s.

The “perfect gift” and a “classic” cookbook. So why haven’t I used Italian Regional Cooking a lot? Let’s see. I take Italian Regional Cooking and settle in a comfy chair and begin to read, to learn what book I hold in my hands, and to wonder why I have never embraced it as a favorite cookbook.

Each of the 14 chapters covers a different region of Italy, and the first region is “Piedmont”. Here are the first paragraphs in Italian Regional Cooking:

To me, this is an abrupt beginning. It had me looking on the previous page, to see if I missed something. And I looked for an introduction to this book, but, there is none.

I continue through the Piedmont region. The print at the beginning, informative part of the chapter is in a large font, accompanied by glossy pages of photos. Like this one:

I see what might have turned me off about this book: the dead rabbit staring at me from a stick placed above a plate of its cooked bunny friends. And the handsome dead birds on the table. Ironic, since the friends who gave us this book were vegetarians.

After these written and photographic descriptions of the Piedmont region are several pages of recipes. These are printed on rough, grey paper in a smaller font. Bolded recipe titles are in Italian, with the italicized English translation beneath. Here is an example. Recipes for gnocchi (two types, and made from scratch), rarebit (learned about in my Encyclopedia of Cooking), fondue, and polenta.

Here is another example of recipes in the Piedmont chapter. These ingredients aren’t as “Patty-friendly” as they are sweetbreads, oxtail, and frogs legs.

I come to the second chapter, on the region of Lombardy. This time, I look forward to the informative first pages:

“King’s soup”. Now I begin to appreciate that Ada Boni is starting each chapter with an interesting story. I look up the Certosa, the great Charterhouse of Pavia. The author is probably correct as to what has happened to the cottage near the Certosa, because the current website states that the Certosa “was once located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti family of Milan, of which today only scattered parts remain.”

Saffron colors many of the dishes of the Lombardy region. When we traveled to Turkey, I bought some saffron at the Spice Bazaar. Saffron today is one of the world’s most expensive spices, at about $13 per gram (gold today is about $45 per gram). But in fourteenth-century Milan, saffron began as a simple paint pigment, not a “spice”. It was adopted as a culinary ingredient to color food a gold color:

I turn to the third chapter, the region of Veneto. Ida Boni tells the story of how corn came to Italy. Corn “caused a sensation” in the market of Rialto in the Veneto region: 

To this day, polenta, made from corn, is a popular dish in the region of Veneto. And polenta, as a grain or pre-cooked, is easily available in our local supermarkets. Even I have served it as part of an Italian meal. The recipes in the Veneto chapter include polenta recipes, recipes for noodles from scratch, and recipes that call for ham, duck, mutton, chicken, pork sausage, shellfish, beef, lamb, pigeon, rice, liver, tripe, cod, guinea fowl, turkey, snails, eel, and a variety of vegetables.

Pesto is the traditional sauce of Genoa, in the Liguria region.

Here is a recipe for pesto:

I find a recipe for zabaglione, mentioned in my Encyclopedia of Cookery Volume 12.

And so Ida Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking continues. I turn the pages and enjoy new stories, and more wonderful photos of the regions of Italy. It is a very good read.

The recipes? I can’t get the ingredients for a lot of them (even if I wanted too) and many require a lot of work (making your own pasta and gnocchi). I now have the time and ability to make my own pasta, so eventually I may try a few of the harder dishes.


I will definitely keep Italian Regional Cooking as a “classic” Italian cookbook. Back in 1977 when we received this cookbook, I would have only been looking for recipes for pasta and pizza, because that’s all I thought of when I thought of Italian cooking. But now I have traveled to Turkey, near Italy, and have savored the very fresh vegetables and seafood ubiquitous to that country. I have made my own pasta, and learned how to make a very good tomato sauce. I have cooked polenta, and used saffron. I understand and appreciate how Italian regions’ cooking depends on the very fresh game and fish surrounding them – what they ate was controlled by what they could harvest, not by a huge food industry. I can appreciate that this book reflects older Italian cooking, now often overtaken by convenience foods in the current busy cultures.

Note: I covered Italian Light Cooking a couple years ago. In it, the author states that “light” cooking is the more traditional Italian cooking, with less red meat and cheese. That is what this book is all about too.

For this blog, I will make Pallottoline in Brodo, or Sicilian Meat Ball Soup.

This is a simple soup, just meat balls and noodles in broth. The only herb is parsley. As I was preparing it, I had to keep my hand from grabbing my usual Italian spices, like oregano, basil, and thyme. I also had to stop from adding vegetables to this soup, like carrots, celery, and onions. The only change I made was to halve the recipe to serve only two people, but keep the amount of ground beef the same (1/2 pound). Oh – at the last minute I added about 3 tablespoons tomato sauce. I’ll leave that as optional.

Tagliatelle noodles are similar to fettuccine noodles; if possible, find flat noodles about .25 to .375-inches wide.

Sicilian Meat Ball Soup
serves 2

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons (freshly) grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for the top of the soup)
  • 2 tablespoons soft bread crumbs
  • chopped fresh parsley, about 2-3 sprigs
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups meat stock (I used a combination of beef and chicken stock)
  • (3 tablespoons tomato sauce; optional – this is largely for color)
  • 4 ounces ribbon-style noodles (see above)

Mix the meat, egg, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, and salt and pepper in a bowl. (I used a mini food processor to make the bread crumbs and chop the parsley and garlic.) Knead until smooth, then break into pieces and roll into balls about the size of a hazelnut.

Bring the stock to a boil. Add the meatballs and cook about 5 minutes. Add the noodles and cook until the noodles are tender but still firm. Serve immediately with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Sicilian Meat Ball SoupThis was a very thick and very filling soup. It was good, but actually too much for the two of us. I might make it the same way again, or I’d use half the amount of meatballs and serve it as a first course. The flavor was good and I always like meat balls, so I wasn’t complaining!

250 Cookbooks: The Cook’s Book, K C Baking Powder

Cookbook #236: The Cook’s Book, K C Baking Powder, Jaques Manufacturing Co., Chicago, 1935.

The Cook's Book K C Baking Powder

“In the light of scientific knowledge, cakes are no longer considered too rich for daily consumption; in fact, cake is now known to be an exceedingly well balanced food product.” Here is the statement as printed:

Can I go back to 1935? I want my cake, and to have it good for me too!

The Cook’s Book, K C Baking Powder is from the “old books” section of my shelves. It is in perfect condition! And it is older than I am! It was either my mother’s or my grandmother’s cookbook. Stunning nostalgia:

This book is all about how to use baking powder in recipes for cakes, cookies, and breads. I talked about baking powder and how it works In my post on the 1917 Ryzon Baking Book. Ryzon was a brand of baking powder sold for a short period around 1917. According to the Clabber Girl website, “KC Baking Powder was originally manufactured by the Jacques Manufacturing Company in Chicago, Illinois before the brand was purchased by the Clabber Girl Corporation in 1950.” Clabber Girl is the brand of baking powder I currently have in my kitchen.

In 1935, “wholesome foods” were important to the consumer:

How much did a can of K C baking powder cost?

Jaques Manufacturing Company was given the Distinguished Service Award.

Note the KC guarantee statement at the bottom of the page below, “An independent manufacturer. Not a member of any food combine.”

The recipes in The Cook’s Book are modern enough to follow in my own kitchen in 2018. A surprise (to me) is that they often include the ounces of ingredients as well as the volume. Sometimes they leave off the oven temperature and time or the exact size of pan, but I can live with that. Here are some recipe examples:


“K C Old-Fashioned Apple Dumplings” is what I decide to make for this blog.

This is about the only recipe in this book that doesn’t have sugar in the dough/batter! I decide to try whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour. Other recipes in this book (but not this one) call for “entire wheat”. Entire wheat flour is wheat flour made from the whole grain, what we now know as “whole wheat flour”. Whole wheat flour has the same number of calories but a significantly lower glycemic index than white wheat flour. Briefly, the glycemic index of a food reflects how fast a carbohydrate breaks down into sugar in the body. Level sugar levels are (currently) the advice of nutritionists. Both white and whole wheat flours have the same number of calories, but the whole wheat flour has less of a tendency to cause blood sugar spikes. Sugar has the highest glycemic index of all. Since we are low-carb-ing and not no-carb-ing, we eat some bread, and whole wheat is our wheat flour of choice at the moment. I am (sadly) frowning on sugar, so I’ll use just a touch of sugar and a little no-calorie sweetener to make this qualify as a dessert. I’ll skip the suggested hard sauce made with butter and sugar.

How long and at what temperature should I bake these? The recipe doesn’t specify. Online, I found a similar recipe for apple dumplings, and they bake them at 400˚ for 50-60 minutes. I know my oven, and I think I’ll try 375˚ and check them starting at 40 minutes.

Note: I have a better recipe for Apple Dumplings, one from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I didn’t realize I’d made these before!

K C Old-Fashioned Apple Dumplings
makes 2 dumplings

  • 1 cup flour (don’t use whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (vegetable shortening or butter)
  • about 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 apples, peeled and cored (I found my old apple-corer!)
  • cinnamon and sugar for the inside of the apples

Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt; work in the shortening and mix to a dough with the milk. If necessary to make a soft dough that holds together, add more a bit more milk.

Divide the dough in half. Roll each half to a square one-third inch thick. Put an apple on each square and fill the apples with cinnamon and sugar to taste. Draw the dough up to cover each apple and make it smooth.

Bake in a lightly butter pan at 375˚ for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Apple Dumplings

These tasted good, but only healthy-good. We split one dumpling for dessert, topped with cool whip, and ate every morsel. We were very hungry! I’d say, my way with whole wheat flour is just not as good as a white flour and apples full of butter and sugar with lots of hard sauce. If you are going to have dessert, have dessert. I would not make these apple dumplings this way again.

I suggest using white flour in this recipe, and putting more goodies in the apple cores, like butter and lots of sugar, and serving them with the hard sauce or rich ice cream. Desserts are, after all, meant to be overindulgence. In this I will have to disagree with The Cook’s Book. I have learned that I can’t eat cake made with flour, sugar, eggs, and butter every day or I will gain weight and the health care professionals will say that I am not healthy. Maybe in another 78 years (The Cook’s Book is 78 years old), it will be a different story for the human population.

The last page in The Cook’s Book. A chemistry lab!

250 Cookbooks: Best International Recipe

Cookbook #235: Best International Recipe, Cook’s Illustrated, a Best Recipe Classic, America’s Test Kitchen, Brookline, Massachusetts, 2007.

The Best International Recipes cookbook

Cook’s Illustrated is one of my favorite producers of cookbooks. It is relatively “modern”, one of the five newest books in my database. Another Cook’s Illustrated Best Recipe book that I have is Cover and Bake. I talked about the style of Cook’s Illustrated books in that post. Briefly, you don’t just get a recipe, you get a page of talk about how that recipe was developed – what they tried that did and did not work. Further information about ingredients and techniques is often presented in boxes or side notes. I find that a Cook’s Illustrated recipe might take a bit more concentration to follow than common recipes, but the recipes always work for me.

I know that it will be easy to find a recipe to cook from this book. In fact, when I open to the first chapter “Mexico”, I want to cook the very first recipe! It is “Melted Cheese with Poblano and Chorizo”, or Queso Fundido. This is a “table dip” meant to be scooped up with warm soft tortillas. Three printed columns discuss how they developed this recipe, and two boxes with “pantry spotlights” give information on Mexican cheeses and chorizo sausage. What does the test kitchen discuss in this article? How to get the proper “gooeyness” of an authentic queso fundido. In a specialty shop, they found the traditional Mexican cheese, queso asadero, but what is the American cook to do if he/she can’t find that cheese? They discovered that Monterey Jack cheese is the best substitute. Next, should the cheese be shredded or cubed? They tried freshly shredded, purchased shredded, and freshly cubed jack cheese. The purchased shredded was the least favorite, as it is sold coated with an anticaking agent and the cheese “seized up” almost instantly once out of the oven. Between the freshly shredded or cubed jack cheeses, the shredded one melted “far too quickly, so that by the time the last shreds had melted the rest of the cheese had overcooked”. Cubed cheese melted fine, and they noticed the importance of removing the cheese from the oven as soon as it was melted, “as soon as the last chunk had flattened”.

And so you see what Cook’s Illustrated and the American Test Kitchen is all about. I’d love to make Queso Fundido, but it’s on my no-no list of foods this January.

I continue leafing through Best International Recipe. Here are the countries/areas covered in this book, each in a separate chapter.

  • Mexico
  • Latin America and the Caribbean
  • British Isles and Ireland
  • Central Europe and Scandinavia
  • France
  • Spain and Portugal
  • Italy
  • Greece and Turkey
  • Russia and Eastern Europe
  • Africa and the Middle East
  • India
  • Southeast Asia
  • China
  • Japan and Korea

I noted quite a few recipes I’d like to try. Jamaican Jerk Chicken from Latin America and the Caribbean sounds like an adventure. If I ever want to make real Fish and Chips, I’d use the recipe in the “British Isles and Ireland” chapter. ” Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage from Central Europe and Scandinavia, Braised Leeks from France, Spanish Tortilla from Spain and Portugal, and Classic Bolognese Sauce from Italy all sound interesting to try. The “Italy” chapter is particularly long.

Hmmm. It dawns on me: this book is very scientific. Where are the discussions of how the author found a particular dish in an off-road little restaurant that it took days to get to? Who were the people who cooked for them? What were their traditions? What adventures did they have in discovering new foods? Where are the stories by writers like James Beard, M. F. K. Fisher, Emily Hahn, Joseph Wechsberg, Rafael Steinberg, and Nika Standen?

I continue through this “science” book (it’s a long, large tome!). I’d like to try Chicken in Walnut Sauce from Turkey and Green Beans with Cilantro Sauce from Russia. Ethiopian Flatbread uses “teff” flour, and I study different types of grains for my personal curiosity (and a future blog post). Tandoori Chicken from India is marinated in a wonderfully spiced yogurt sauce (and I might have made it before). Pad Thai from Southeast Asia and Spicy Sichuan Noodles with Ground Pork from China sound good. Ramen Soup! This college student mainstay is discussed at length in the chapter on Japan.

For this blog, I decide to make “Tortilla Soup”. It took me awhile to get out of the first chapter, “Mexico”! Over the years, I’ve saved several tortilla soup recipes, and have probably made some version once or twice. I’ve never had tortilla soup in a restaurant, so I don’t know what traditional tortilla soup tastes like. The recipe in The Best International Recipes is low-carb, and would be no-carb if I left out the tortilla strips. But no! We are past our two weeks of no-carbs, and I will enjoy this soup as it is intended to be made.

I pretty much followed the recipe, although I cut the ingredients in half. My chicken breast was huge, but I liked the amount of meat it yielded. It’s important to shred the chicken with a fork and not just cut it into pieces with a knife. I skipped the jalapeno and found the chipotle in adobo sauce to be quite sufficient for heat in this soup. We ate almost all the soup between the two of us, but we had nothing else for the meal – I did not use the soup as a first course. Note that this soup can be prepared a day or so ahead.

(I am not scanning in the recipe for copyright issues.)

Tortilla Soup
serves 2 as a main dish


  • 1 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast (the one I used weighed over a pound)
  • 4 cups chicken stock (I used my homemade broth)
  • 1/2 of a large onion, quartered and peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • cilantro, about 5 fresh sprigs (do not skip this fresh cilantro)
  • oregano, 1 fresh sprig or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tomato, cored and quartered
  • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle chile in adobo sauce (this comes in a can)
  • 4 corn tortillas


  • 1 lime, cut into wedges (oops! I forgot to add this, but highly suggest the lime)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, pitted and diced
  • 4 ounces cheese – Jack cheese (diced) or crumbled queso afiejdo (I used Panela cheese)
  • chopped fresh cilantro
  • minced jalapeno chile (optional)
  • Mexican crema or sour cream (optional)

Put the chicken stock, chicken, one quarter onion, one clove garlic, cilantro, and oregano in a pot. Add salt if necessary. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, just until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken breast and set aside to cool. Pour the broth through a strainer, keeping the broth and discarding the strained-out solids. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, use a fork to shred it into bite-sized pieces. Set the broth and chicken aside.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice the 4 tortillas into 1/2-inch strips. Put about 1 tablespoon oil in a sheet pan, then add the tortilla strips and spread them out. Bake, stirring occasionally (and checking often), until crisp and dark golden, 10-12 minutes. (I baked them for 14 minutes and forgot to stir and had to toss a batch that burned.)

Puree the tomatoes, the remaining onion quarter and the remaining clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon chipotle chile, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor until smooth. Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a sauce pan over high heat until shimmering. Add the pureed mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture ha darkened in color, about 10 minutes. (I did not cook it 10 minutes; next time I will choose a heavier pan for this step. But, the soup turned out fine anyway.)

Stir in the reserved, strained chicken broth and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes. The volume should be about 4 cups at this point; my volume was less so I added more chicken stock.

At this point, cool and refrigerate the soup for a day or two, if that is convenient for you. (I did!)

Taste the soup, and add more chipotle chile if you want (I didn’t – that stuff is hot!) Add the shredded chicken and heat about five minutes. Serve with the garnished.

Tortilla Soup

This was delicious! The shredded chicken was the best I’ve ever made (even before putting it back in the broth). I loved the tortilla strips in the soup. They were the perfect size, and kept a good texture or “bite”. I started with my own very good chicken stock, it’s a lot stronger in flavor than store bought kinds. I never measured it when I added it to the chicken, that’s why I have a note in the instructions to add a bit more at the end if necessary. You want the chicken covered with broth, and you want a lot of shredded chicken in the bowl.

I had both Jack cheese and a Mexican fresh, semi-crumbly cheese called Panela. The Jack cheese melts into the soup, but the Panela gets warm but stays in little flavorful chunks. Try either!

250 Cookbooks: Sunset Cook Book for Entertaining

 Cookbook #234: Sunset Cook Book for Entertaining, the Editors fo Sunset Books and Sunset Magazine, Lane Books, Menlo Park, California, 1971.

Sunset Cook Book for EntertainingEntertaining, not my forté! I’m a bit too much of an introvert so I’ve never practiced it a lot. Sort of shy. And don’t get me wrong, I love cooking for people, but when it comes to presentation, I am lacking in ability and (desire). When company comes over (usually family), I want something delicious to serve and I don’t want diners getting full on appetizers. Save room for dessert!

I always thought that Sunset Cook Book for Entertaining was all about “appetizers” and I have only rarely looked through it. I am not sure even where this book came from, and it has no markings in it as clues. I pick it up and wonder how in the world I am going to be able to cook something from this cookbook, since we are on our January low-carb eating plan.

The first chapter is, indeed, appetizers. But hmmm, I see some good ideas, and only a few bad ideas. Like, no cream cheese-sour cream dips! (bad idea). The good ideas: Marinated Mushrooms, Ginger-Minted Carrots, wine-poached scallops (Coquilles St. Jacques), Quiche Lorraine Appetizers, and Hawaiian Beef Sticks. Sunset Cook Book for Entertaining also suggests having “sit-down” appetizers, where guests sit down to a first course of these goodies. I can see making that a meal, like tapas.

Maybe this is not a cookbook to be recycled.

Next is Soups and Salads – the traditional beginning of a meal. The soup and salad recipes are all easy with a few interesting flavor twists. I like the Greens with Dilled Shrimp, largely, probably, because of our low-carbed-ness moment.

dilled shrimp and greens recipeDistinctive Entrees begins: “The entree is the most important part of a meal, and the deciding factor in all the other things you serve before, with, or after.” Let’s see what they have. Most of the recipes sound good, like Beef Burgundy, Veal Veronique, and Giant Beef-Lobster Kebabs. But what I like about this chapter’s recipes is that almost each one requires very little last minute prep from the cook: “The foremost consideration in the selection of these entrees has been whether they are practical for entertaining. Nearly all of these dishes may be made partially or entirely ahead; many may be frozen.” A few of the recipes  look very involved but I might find them fun: Danish Chicken and Meatblls au Gratin, for instance, calls for veal meatballs, chicken breasts, and sweetbreads, all cooked and assembled in a rich sauce ahead of time and simply heated briefly just before serving. “Pheasant-in-a-Bag” is an example of one of the more unusual dishes in this chapter. I note a recipe for Turkey Tetrazzini, one I’ve come across several times in cookbooks of this era, and one that I have explored before (Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 11, All-Time Favorite Recipes, and All-Time Favorite Casserole Recipes). An easy last-minute dish is “Steak, Mushrooms, and Asparagus”, a dish I plan to make for us soon.

I find throughout the chapters a series of “helpful hints”. For instance, soup garnish ideas, folded napkins, flavored butter seasonings, coffees from around the world, cooking with wine, the art of the small dinner party, and a guide to serving cheeses.

Accompaniments and Side Dishes has recipes for cooked vegetables (Green Beans, Mediterranean Style), potatoes (Skillet Potatoes Anna, Pecan-Topped Sweet Potatoes), rice (Risotto), bulgur (Wheat Pilaf with Peas and Lemon), pasta (Parsley Spaghetti), and breads (Buttery Pan Rolls, Pine Nut Sticks, Honey-Pecan Cornbread Sticks, Cheesy Spoonbread).

Distinguished Desserts is next. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I find myself drooling over most of these recipes, but am holding back on cooking them because they are calorie-laden (and carb-laden!). These tempting recipes are for tortes and souffles, puddings and pies, sherberts and glacés (one with flaming strawberry sauce), and cakes and cookies. Most of the recipes in this chapter are a little different, a little fancier than my recipes for simple chocolate cakes and such. But none are for me today. I keep reading.

Hot and Cold Drinks recipes include hot drinks (Mexican chocolate, wassail bowl), cold drinks (citrus punch, yogurt coolers, fizzes) and alcoholic drinks (sangria, glögg, milk punch with brandy, Kahlua frost).

The final chapter is Special Meals for Special Occasions.This section combines new recipes and references to previous recipes for many dinner party menus. I’d say there are tons of ideas in this chapter for “hostesses” (including a good version of Beef Fondue). Different, unusual, and tasty ideas at that. I’d like to go to one of these dinner parties! But make them? Doubt I will.

I’ve scanned in several of the menus from this chapter. They show the breadth of menus and recipes included in this book.

page 66

page 71page 73page 76page 86

For this blog, I decide to make Steak, Mushrooms, and Asparagus from the Entrees chapter. This is a low-carb recipe, by the way! The suggested side dish carb, brown rice, is a good low-glycemic index grain choice, but I will use quinoa instead.

steak and asparagusI’ve adjusted the herbs and thickening agent (cornstarch) up a bit to our own tastes, and made twice the amount of sauce.

Steak, Mushrooms, and Asparagus
serves 2

  • 12 ounces flank steak (cut one flank steak into two pieces lengthwise, use one and reserve the other for another meal)
  • 1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup asparagus (about 1/2 pound) cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)

Cut the flank steak on the diagonal into 1/4-inch strips.

Place the mushrooms and asparagus in a frying pan. Add 3/4 cup water, bring to a boil, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until the asparagus is barely tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid, and set aside.

Mix 1/2 cup water with the 1 tablespoon cornstarch, then add the wine, salt, thyme, tarragon, and garlic powder. Set aside.

Brown the meat quickly in very hot olive oil; reduce heat, return vegetables to pan, add the cornstarch mixture, and cook for about 1 minute longer, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened. Blend in some of the reserved vegetable liquid if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Steak, Mushroooms, and AsparagusI liked this a lot, but all I got was a “pretty good” from my hubby. He is used to this type of meal with a lot of soy sauce; I, on the other hand, appreciated the subtle red wine sauce. I am not an asparagus fan, but the asparagus I found at the store was very small and young, and cut into the small pieces, I found it to be quite good.

I also made the Dilled Shrimp with greens another day last week. It was good, but the shrimp I bought were not good – they were tiny and tough. I’m sure it would be excellent with good shrimp.

Dilled Shrimp and GreensI have decided to keep this cookbook. Online, I find that it is still for sale (used) for several dollars a copy. And I found one favorable review – so I know I am not alone in appreciating this book. I have always liked the type of Southwestern cuisine that Sunset magazine promotes. Another “found” cookbook, right on my shelves!


250 Cookbooks: The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two

 Cookbook #233: The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two, Anna Thomas, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1978.

The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two cookbookThe Vegetarian Epicure Book Two is pleasantly illustrated and is printed on solid, rough paper – such a good tactile touch. Anna Thomas is a friendly author, and the recipes straightforward. I bought this cookbook for myself, and I’m sure that I leafed through it at the store and was intrigued by the look of the book and the variety of recipes.

Who is Anna Thomas? I find that she is alive and kicking, and has a website and a wikipedia entry. She is the author of five books, and my book, The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two, is still being printed, and in the same paperback format. This is pretty amazing. She is a popular food writer, and contributes to several periodicals. But perhaps more interesting than that, she studied filmmaking in school, and is a screenwriter and producer! The Haunting of M, El Norte, and Mi Familia are among the films she produced.

I decide this book needs more than a casual glance. So I dig into Anna Thomas’ introduction. “Book Two is not just a continuation of the first volume but an exploration of rich new lodes. The first book came out of my own past . . . this second volume is the result of new adventures.” Namely, “Work and whim took me through large parts of Europe – Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Austria, Hungary, Poland – as well as to England . . . the Middle East . . . Mexico.” She looked for vegetarian dishes: “Many people, I found, were curious how a vegetarian could survive, and even eat splendidly, while traveling abroad. The answer is, easily. Nearly everywhere I went, I discovered that the emphasis on meat was much less overwhelming than it is here in the United States.”

This book is not for vegetarians only. “It is for anyone who can enjoy foods like fettucine alfredo, pea soup with dumplings, fondue, pimiento and olive quiche, tomatoes filled with hearts of palm, Liptauer cheese, wild mushroom souffle, Caesar salad, and frozen strawberry mousse.” I am in that group!

And I agree with Anna Thomas in this next: “The most important thing about food, after all, is enjoyment, and what a grand thing it is that eating is such a renewable pleasure: We always do get hungry again! We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly. It’s true that the meals we consume in a lifetime number in the tens of thousands, but the number is finite; each one should be as nice as it can be, for it can never be regained.”

Yes, we all get hungry again! Anna Thomas has made me smile. I turn the next pages ready for a little adventure, a little more acceptance of a dinner without meat.

A menu section precedes the recipes. This is really helpful for me. Sure, I have a vegetarian main dish or two in my repertoire, but a whole meal for guests? I would need some help.

“Breads” is the first recipe chapter. Well if you know me, you know that bread is one of my favorite foods. Her breads vary from whole wheat to white, yeast to quick breads. I’ve tried An Easy Herb Bread on page 35.This is a yeast bread, but can be ready in two hours. The herbs are basil, oregano, and thyme, with garlic and egg in the dough – it makes a nice bread to accompany soups and the like. Oatmeal Raisin Bread is interesting because it is made from cooked oatmeal – I usually just add dry oats to a batter. It also has honey, whole wheat flour, and wheat germ. Beer Bread has whole wheat berries, molasses, beer, white and rye flours, and a hint of fennel seed. Pumpkin Corn Bread is a quick bread with whole wheat flour, spices, corn meal, and pumpkin. Chapitis, Puris, and Sweet Finnish Rusks recipes reflect Anna’s travels. I might try her muffins: Corn and Rye Muffins, Four-Grain Muffins, and Oatmeal Muffins.

“Soups” begins with recipes for vegetable broths. I’ve  made non-meat stocks before, but only a couple times, and I don’t have the best recipe. The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two has two variations on vegetable broth recipes, and also a garlic broth and a potato peel broth. These recipes look so interesting – so chemistry-lab-experiment-style interesting – that I think I’d have fun trying them. I also like these soup recipes: Tortilla Soup Tlaxcalteca, Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and bean soup), and Creamed Fresh Pea Soup with Dumplings.

The “Sauces and Salad Dressings” chapter has good recipes, but none strike me today as better than what I have in my repertoire. “Eggs, Souffles, Omelets” is next. Souffles tend to have a lot of calories so I stay away from them, although she has some interesting ones. I like the chapter on “Salads and Cold Vegetables”. Marinated Leeks, Garbanzo Bean Salad, Lima Bean Salad, and White Bean Salad tempt me. Potato Salad Tzapanos is cooked carrots and potatoes with dill and garlic. Gnocchi Salad! I love gnocchi – and this one has fresh peas in it. And the “Cold Omelet Salad” would be tasty when we are on a low-carb eating plan.

“Stews, Casseroles, Hot Vegetable Dishes” employs a lot of vegetables that I have to admit I don’t really like, such as eggplant, brussels sprouts, turnips, and cooked cabbage. But I might try the Red Cabbage with Apples and the Mushrooms on Toast (marinated and then cooked). The Stuffed Potato Pancakes begin with pancakes made with eggs, potatoes, flour, cream, and parsley. These cook up as “crepes” rather than my usual flat potato pancakes. They are filled with a wild mushroom, onion, celery, and walnut mixture, then sauced with hot paprika sauce that is hot with both spice and temperature. I think I’d really like these.

Anna Thomas states that “Croquettes, Pâtés, Cheeses” are “hard to classify, but only because they’re so well suited to so many purposes”. Honestly, I doubt they would fit into my repertoire, because I don’t “entertain” very much. Plus I can’t get hubby to enjoy white beans, much less white beans chopped up into a molded appetizer. And the croquettes are deep fried, and so pretty much off the list of foods that we eat (although I am sure they are good). I did note the Mushroom Pâté II and White Bean Pâté, though, and maybe I’ll make them for a family get together. The mushroom pâté has hoop cheese in it. And Noodle Kugel, a slightly sweet hot noodle pudding dish might be just the recipe I have tried to find for years to duplicate a dish a college friend made.

“Savory Pastries: Quiches, Pizzas, Pierogi” recipes are good, but few catch my interest. The quiches are high calorie and I already have tons of pizza recipes. I would like to make the Yeast Pierogi, but doubt I will – they are a lot of work. I made notes on the basic crepes recipe in “Crepes”. The Parmesan Crepes recipe jogs my brain: I think I was looking for this recipe a long time ago, for use in Pizza Crepes with Garlicky Marinara Sauce, a recipe clipped from a magazine ages ago. I also like the Crepes with Feta Cheese – a folded rather than rolled crepe. In “Italian Pastas, Vegetables, and Fritattas”, I like the Fritatta of Zucchini. It would fit into a no-carb diet, as it’s just chopped zucchini, eggs, onions, basil, and a bit of olive oil. The Conchiglie Tutto Giardino (pasta with fresh vegetables, “the whole garden”) has cooked radishes in it.

“Spanish Specialties, including Tapas and Tortillas” has several recipes that I noted: spinach enchiladas suizas, Enchiladas Salsa Verde, and Tortitas con Queso (a tapa). Cantaloupe Water sounds interesting – blended cantaloupe with water and honey!

“Indian Foods” I pass by, because hubby really doesn’t like curry. Desserts? Well, I have too many dessert recipes, but I do like a couple of the apple desserts. The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two even has a “Preserves and Relishes” section. Catsup, dill pickles, and chutneys. The last chapter is “Tiny Open-faced Sandwiches”. These might be nice for Tapas.

I decide to make the Cold Omelet Salad for this blog. Fits in well with our current January low-carb diet.

Cold Omelet Salad recipe

I know this omelet would be very good served over lettuce, tomatoes, and beets, with a sour cream dressing. But I can’t eat beets, and I decided to just make the omelet and cut it into pieces to use as high-protein snacks for us. To make the omelet, I consulted both this book and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Cold Omelet Bites

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh herb: parsley, dill weed, cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives or green onion tops
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper

Crack the 2 eggs into a bowl and mix with a whisk until the eggs are all mixed together. In a large skillet, on medium high heat, melt the butter until it starts to foam and brown. Turn the heat to medium, and pour in the eggs, tilting the pan to cover the bottom. Shake the pan to loosen the bottom. Lightly spread the uncooked egg areas around the top of the omelet so it all gets cooked. After about 30 seconds, the top of the omelet should look almost cooked. Loosen the edges of the omelet and carefully slide it onto a plate or work surface.

Combine the chopped herbs, chives, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper. Carefully spread over the surface of the omelet.

cold omeletCarefully roll the omelet. Chill a couple hours, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces to serve as a snack.

cold omeletWe enjoyed these as a late-afternoon snack – they are delicious! We both liked them.

Wow. When I first opened this book I thought I didn’t like any of the recipes and thought my conclusion would be “recycle”. But I found many, many recipes to try! Glad I found this book again.

We all get hungry again! Thank you, Anna Thomas.

250 Cookbooks: Cuisinart Elite Collection, 14-cup Elite Collection

 Cookbook #232: Cuisinart Elite Collection, 14-cup Elite Collection, Cuisinart, Conair Corporation, NJ, circa 2010.

Cuisinart Elite Collection cookbookMy current food processor is the 14-cup Elite (I covered my old one in this post). I give this Cuisinart permanent residence on the counter in my kitchen! I chose this 14-cup food processor for myself in 2010, when I retired from the University of Colorado. The folks in the Chem Dept took up a collection and gave me a gift card the night of my retirement celebration – and this Cuisinart Elite is what I chose to buy for myself. I look at it with fond memories.

The 14-cup Elite comes with 3 bowls: small, medium, and large; a blade for chopping and a blade for dough; and the usual slicing discs and grating discs. The blades and discs fit into a cute Barbie-style plastic storage box. I use the large bowl a lot, and the small one is especially nice when I am preparing food for the two of us.

How would I review this Cuisinart, after using it for 8 years? Well, no food processor is perfect. Liquid sometimes leaks from the top, because the rubber gasket does a poor job of sealing the connection between the bowl(s) and the top of the unit. It’s also tricky sometimes to get the lid and feeder in the proper position for the switch to work (sometimes I have to hold the lid down with my hand while chopping). Cheese, especially jack cheese, just doesn’t want to grate in it, it gobs up into chunks. When I grate carrots or any vegetable, big chunks are left on top of the shredding disc. Sure there are 3 bowls, supposedly so you can quickly move through different parts of a recipe, but the blades and discs and the processor lid always have to be rinsed inbetween. If I had a clean-up person following me around, I’d use my Cuisinart a lot more. Often it’s easier to just grab a good knife and chop.

But would I choose to live without it? Heck no. It’s my best tool for quantities of chopped vegetables, it’s what I use to make pie crusts, it’s what I use to make hummus, pesto, and salad dressings. As I said, I allow it permanent space on my kitchen counter, and that says a lot. It looks good too. Plus, Cuisinart has excellent support for their products. My food processor and I just have a sort of love-hate relationship.

Cuisinart Elite food processorI page through the recipes in this booklet. Yum, I want to make about every-other recipe! Just like my Cuisinart Prep 11 booklet, this is an excellent and enticing recipe resource. (A complete opposite from the Pressure Cooker, User’s Manual booklet that I covered a couple weeks ago.)

Here are all the recipes I’d like to try: Tartar Sauce, Spinach Pasta Dough, Classic Bruschetta, Caramelized Onion, Steak and Gruyere Quesadillas, Tomato Soup, Shredded Carrot Salad with Honey-Ginger Dressing, Spinach Ravioli, Classic Meatballs, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas, Stuffed Roasted Peppers, Cherry Crumb Muffins, Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake, and Pound Cake with Pine Nuts and Olive Oil.

For this blog, I will make the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, scanned in below. Note how nicely this book is laid out – so much nicer than my other appliance recipe/instruction books:

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce recipeI decided to make just a half recipe for the two of us.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 4 medium to large red peppers (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 8 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 shallot, about 1/2 ounce, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • optional: 1-2 tablespoons white wine or a few splashes of white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • dash of fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oven to 425˚. Put half the red peppers and all of the garlic on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast it all in oven 20 minutes, remove and save the garlic, then continue roasting the red peppers for 30 more minutes. Turn the peppers occasionally so that they become evenly blackened. When they are charred all over, remove them and immediately seal them in a plastic bag. After about 30 minutes, the peppers will be cool and the skin easy to remove. Peel both the roasted peppers, removing the seeds, and also peel the garlic cloves. Store them together until you are ready to complete the sauce (I left mine overnight in the refrigerator).

Put the shallots in a food processor bowl fitted with a chopping blade. Pulse to chop, then remove them and set aside. By hand, chop the remaining 2 red peppers into 1-inch chunks and put these chunks in the food processor; pulse several times to roughly chop. Remove and set aside.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan using medium heat. Cook the shallots a couple minutes to soften – don’t let them get brown. Stir in the chopped red peppers, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. After 30 minutes, the peppers will be soft and “sweated”. Remove the lid from the pan and increase the heat slightly. Add the white wine (if you are using it) and stir unti the liquid is mostly evaporated (2 minutes). Add the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Put all of this shallot-pepper-stock mixture into the work bowl of the food processor, add the lemon juice and salt and pepper, and add the reserved roasted red peppers and garlic. Process about 40 seconds, until the mixture is well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This was a lot more work than I signed up for! I didn’t read the recipe carefully enough before I started. But it is a very, very good sauce. So far I’ve just eaten it on celery – it would also be good on sandwiches but we are on a two-week no-carb stint. But this sauce/relish should keep a week or so in the refrigerator, and I will look for a chicken dish to use it on.

250 Cookbooks: Complete World Bartender Guide

 Cookbook #231: Complete World Bartender Guide, Bob Sennett, editor, Baronet Publishing Company, NY, 1977.

Complete World Bartenders Guide cookbookWhy did I buy this book? We rarely make “cocktails”. Guess I had a moment when I wanted to act “civilized”, like my parents’ generation, where fancy cocktails were routine at social get-togethers. Whatever the cause, I bought the book. And the result was Complete World Bartender Guide sat my shelf, gathering dust.

I searched online for the title “Complete World Bartender Guide”. I was a little surprised that this book is still for sale. Seems it is still an important reference for aspiring bartenders as well as at-home cocktail makers. My 1977 edition is the first, there was a new edition with the same cover in 1987, and a new one with a different cover in 1993. Lots of hits – more than twenty. Amazon sells the Complete World Bartender Guide: The Standard Reference to More than 2,400 Drinks, 1993 edition, for $6.06. I paged through the available online content of this edition and the content looks much like mine. Here are some more copies for sale:

  • WebRestaurantStore $7.99
  • DiscoverBooks $3.23
  • eBay $3.49
  • AbeBooks $6.66

On occasion, I have poured over the multitude of recipes in the Complete World Bartender Guide. There are 356 recipe pages, and about 5-6 recipes per page. That’s about 2000 drink recipes! If I made one drink per day from this book, it would take me five and a half years to make them all!

Hmmm. That might be an interesting topic for a new daily blog: “2000 Cocktails”. I’m sure it would lead to some amusing anecdotes. But no, I am not going to do it.

I touched on cocktails in this post: Zestful Recipes for Every Meal. That vintage cookbook had suggestions for using lemons, oranges and grapefruit and was authored by the  orange distributors in Southern California. I made a lemon simple syrup and used it in a martini. What does Complete World Bartender Guide say about sugar syrups? Here, on page 7:

simple syrupActually, this page might be useful to me in the future. But I also have another recipe source for simple syrups in my comprehensive reference book, Food Lover’s Companion. As well as this simple syrup, Complete World Bartender Guide lists different types of liquors and liquers, such as sloe gin, armagnac, anisette, and dry gin. Is Food Lover’s Companion a good reference for these as well? It does lists the first three, but not dry gin. So if I recycle Complete World Bartender Guide, I might lose access to some important printed informaiton.

While in the reference section of the Complete World Bartender Guide, I see the entry “sloe gin”. I’ve bought that before – but what for? Oh, I remember, “Skip and Go Nakeds”. Yes, “Skip and Go Nakeds”, devilish drinks made for us by my uncle from vodka, beer, lemonade, and as I remember it, sloe gin. He even gave us the glasses to make them in so we could have them properly served at home in Colorado:

skip and go naked glassesMy uncle served in World War II and was for a time a bartender. Spending an evening with my aunt and uncle was always entertaining! We have the best memories of our visits to their home in Southern California.

Back to definitions, like sloe gin. What is it? It’s a liqueur made from the berries of the blackthorn bush, called “sloe berries”. Sloe gin is red and thickly sweet and sinks to the bottom of the glass, kind of like grenadine. And what is grenadine? It’s a flavoring made from pomegranates. Note that the sloe gin is red and has sugar and adds alcohol to the already potent Skip and Go Nakeds.

One drink I am curious about is the “Tom Collins”. Decades ago, one could easily find “collins mix” on shelves. That stopped – I remember having a longing for a Tom Collins, but I could not find the mix. What could I have done? Why, simple look in my copy of “Complete World Bartender Guide”:

Tom CollinsCollins mix is masde with simple syrup, lemon juice, and soda water. I could have used my Lemon Simple Syrup to make a Tom Collins. I should have looked on my own bookshelves for answers long ago.

This list of measurements might come in handy:

bar measurementsBar glasses – they don’t have my “Skip and Go Nakeds!”

bar glasses 1bar glasses 2

Here is the book open at a typical page of bar drinks:

example bar drinks pageWhat am I going to make for this blog? We don’t really drink cocktails, especially this time of year, largely because we are trying to cut calories. There are a few low-calorie alcoholic drinks . . . and at the very back, a few non-alcoholic drinks. That suits the bill for us this January as we recover from the excesses of last year. I’ll try one of the tomato cocktails:

tomato cocktailsI will make the tomato cocktail with carrots. I keep small cans of tomato sauce in my pantry because I often use them when making marinara sauce. I took out a carrot to use, and wondered how much it weighed. Less than one ounce! This was an averaged-sized carrot. Heavens, I am supposed to use 4 ounces of carrots! That seemed way too much for me, so I only used that one 1-ounce carrot.

Alcohol-free Tomato Cocktail with Carrots
serves 1

  • 1 8-ounce can tomato juice
  • 1 carrot (use more if you want)
  • a dash of Tobasco
  • salt to taste

Cut the carrot into very thin slices. Blend until smooth. Serve over ice if you like.

tomato carrot cocktailSure, this was good. The carrots were still a bit crunchy after a minute of blending, though. I didn’t mind, but you might use carrot juice instead, or a juicer.

Shall I keep the Complete World Bartender Guide? I haven’t really decided. I meant to recycle it when I first picked it up, but I had some fun going through it, and might again in the future. I guess I’ll keep it for now!

250 Cookbooks: Five Hundred ways to prepare California Sea Foods

Cookbook #229: Five Hundred ways to prepare California Sea Foods, Compiled by State Fish Exchange, California State Printing Office, Harry Hammond, State Printer, Sacramento, CA, 1934.

California Sea Foods cookbookThe sheer abundance of fish covered in this book is amazing – about 60 species! The table below shows the types, poundage, and total amount of fish produced in 1933 in California.

fishing production 1933

How does this compare with California’s fishery products today? On the California Department of Fish and Wildlife site, I found this document: California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Table 7 – Origin and Poundage of Commercia Fish Landings Into California During 2016. Here is a summary of a comparison of totals in 1933 and 2016:

  • 1933: 669,775,413 pounds of commercial fish and crustaceans/mollusks
  • 2016: 165,184,101 pounds of commercial fish and mollusks

Over 4 times as much was produced in 1933 than in 2016 – that is impressive. And below is my rough summary comparing the most fished types of fish 1933 and of the most fished types of fish in2016, in poundage per year (“m” is “million”):

  • 1933: sardines (510 m), mackerel (69 m), yellowfin tuna (51 m), , skipjack (16.5 m), sole (8 m), rockfish, salmon, anchovies, abalone, shrimp, crab (these last all 2-5 m)
  • 2016: squid (82 m), crab (dungess, 26.5 m), anchovies (18 m), sea urchin (6 m), mackerel (4 m), sole (4 m), shrimp, rockfish, hagfish, sablefish (these last all 2-3 m)

Fish tales abound in this data! Sardines were a huge industry in California until the 1940s. Sardine canneries abounded in the San Fransisco area – Cannery Row in Monterey was made famous by the book of the same name by John Steinbeck. Overfishing forced the canneries to close. Yellowfin tuna populations have dropped since the thirties – overfishing has declined the tuna population. Mackerel was heavily fished and canned in California, depleting the populations, but they came back by the 1970s. The higher proportion of dungess crabs today surprised me, until I learned that until 1938, it was illegal to can crabs. Why is squid such a huge proportion of the California fisheries in 2016? Because it is the popular “calamari”. But that’s not the whole story. According to a 2016 NPR aritcle, “More than 80 percent of U.S. squid landings are exported — most of it to China. The rare percentage of that catch that stays domestically goes to Asian fresh fish markets or is used as bait. Ironically, the lion’s share of the squid consumed in the United States is imported.”

California Sea Foods encourages Californians to eat more fish. “Make Tuesday Fish Day Too!” reads the front inside cover.

inner coverThis takes me back: when I was in elementary school, we always had fish on Friday – a tuna fish sandwich in my lunchbox. Fish on Friday was a Catholic practice, and although we were not Catholic, we nevertheless had those tuna sandwiches. Curious about this tradition, I found several interesting articles. In Lust, Lies And Empire: The Fishy Tale Behind Eating Fish On Friday, an npr.org article, I learn that this “no fish” policy was once thought to be because of a medieval pope who was trying to prop up the fishing industry. But instead, according to Christian teaching, abstinence was observed as a penance on Fridays is to commemorate the Friday death of Jesus, who redeemed a sinful world. “Abstinence” in this case refers to refraining from meat (Wikipedia). Why meat? Because it’s the flesh of warmblooded mammals, animals that have sacrificed their lives for us. Fish, the flesh of coldblooded animals, is “considered fair game”. (Many books have been written on this topic, including Fish on Friday by Leonard Feeney and Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday by Michael Foley.)

Five Hundred ways to prepare California Sea Foods has a very useful table of contents/index, handily referring the reader to recipes for cooking and serving all of the fish in the above table. The fishes can be baked, boiled, cooked in a bouillabaise or cioppino, broiled, made into cakes or croquettes or fritada, fried, jellied (made into a mold), made in a pie, put in a salad or sandwich, put in a souffle or soup, or steamed (and I still haven’t listed all the methods!). After the fish recipes are lots of recipes for fish sauces.

As an example, I look up “sole”, a fish I cooked for a recent post:

soleThat’s not the only page of recipes for sole – they go on for four more pages!

Here’s another page from Five Hundred ways to prepare California Sea Foods:

tartar sauceThe book ends with “Reasons Why you should make Tuesday Fish Day too!” touts fish as “one of the most heathful and nourishing foods known to science”.

inner back cover

I will make Tartar Sauce for this blog. The original recipe is in one of the scans, above. My version is below. I didn’t have chervil

Tartar Sauce
enough for 2-3 people

  • one dill pickle, chopped (don’t use a huge pickle; you want about 1 tablespoon chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (or use fresh, or use chervil as given in the original recipe)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 green onion, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Mix all of the above together and serve.

tartar sauceThis tartar sauce was amazingly good. Fresh and zingy. I served it with salmon along with wedges of lemon. I usually make “tartar sauce” by mixing together mayo or yogurt with a little pickle relish and tarragon. But this one is a big step up in flavor, and still very easy to make. I am sure I’ll use it a lot in the future!

I’ll end with the photo on the back of the book. Peace.

back cover

250 Cookbooks: Sunbeam Mixmaster

Cookbook #228: Sunbeam Mixmaster, Sunbeam Corporation, Chicago, Illinois, Canada, 1957.

Sunbeam Mixmaster cookbook

I open the first page of this vintage cookbook and a slip of paper falls out:

original receipt

The receipt for my mother’s Sunbeam mixer! Purchased 1/23/1963 at Builders Emporium in Van Nuys California – for $20.79. The clerk wrote “as is, display”. Since it was neither Christmas nor my mother’s birthday, my guess is that she bought it for herself with “mad”  money, money she received at birthdays and Christmas. I remember this mixer in her kitchen, mixing up cakes and pie fillings and batches of cookies. Mother believed in homemade, and loved baking. So her mixer really, really got used.

I don’t know if this was her first electric mixer, or a replacement. The first electric mixers were introduced to the American public in 1910-1920, so she probably had some sort of electric mixer before. But I’m sure that this was a big step-up for her.

(I covered the history of electric mixers in my post on my own Sunbeam that I got in 1983. Please see my 250 Cookbooks post Sunbeam Deluxe Mixmaster Mixer for more on this topic.)

I will keep this booklet ony for my own nostalgia. The recipes? They all look good, but nothing stands out, I’ve seen similar recipes in the many other older cookbooks I’ve covered. But do join me in perusing some of the pages of this 1963 cookbook. First, the inside cover:

inside cover

Two pages of instructions:

directionsBasic instructions for making cakes. I like the vintage black-and-white photos:

cakesLoaf cakes:

loaf cakes

I like this next one for several reasons. First, I like the banana cake recipe. I’m not positive I have a layered banana cake recipe in my repertoire. Second, there is a discussion of what it means to “cream” the shortening and the sugar. Finally, the photo at the bottom of the page is a cake baked in a Sunbeam electric fry pan. (See this and this.)

banana cake and more

Cookies, of course!

cakesI like the following page for the kitchen counter photo at the top of the page. And the text below suggests to use a Sunbeam electric fry pan for the pan cakes, a waffle iron for the waffles, and a blender as well as the mixmaster for the meat loaf.

appliancesFinally, the back cover, showing all the available Sunbeam appliances in 1957. I made a similar scan of the back cover of Sunbeam Controlled Heat Automatic Frypan (1953), if you want to compare.

back cover

I decide to make Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies for this blog, the ones describe in the second paragraph on the scanned “cookie” page, above, under Basic Butter Cookies. I like refrigerator cookies – I have recipes for four types in this blog so far! When cooking for just two, they are nice because I don’t have to bake up a whole batch at a time to get a few fresh cookies for dessert.

Butterscotch Refrigerator Cookies

  • 4 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup very finely chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 pound butter (1 cup or 2 sticks)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk

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

Combine the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla and beat in an electric mixer at relatively high speed for 2 minutes. Turn to low speed and add the milk and then the flour mixture gradually, beating until blended, about 3 minutes.

Turn the dough onto a work space and shape it into two rolls, each 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 11-12 inches in length. Wrap the rolls and refrigerate several hours.

Cut with a sharp knife (dipping the knife in hot water then drying might make this easier). Make the slices 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Cut only as many as you want to bake at one time.

Bake at 375˚ on ungreased cookie sheets for about 10 minutes.

Butterscotch Refrigerator CookiesThese are tasty. I cooked them too long because I didn’t read my directions! I thought it was “12 minutes”, but it was “10 minutes”. I checked them at 12 and thought they weren’t brown enough, so I gave them another 2 minutes and they actually tasted burned. 10 minutes! They will not look real brown but will be done!