250 Cookbooks: Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 4

Cookbook #72: Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 4, Cre-Fin. Woman’s Day, Fawcett Publications, NY, 1966.

Encyclopedia of Cookery 4This is the fourth in a series of 12 food encyclopedia volumes. I discussed the first three volumes here: Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3.

The first entry in this volume is “Creole Cookery”. I marked a couple recipes to try, especially “Louisiana Pecan Cake” with 3 1/2 cups pecans and a whole cup of whiskey! Next come crepes, croaker (a fish that makes a grunting noise), croissants, and crumpets. The curry recipes look interesting, as they do not rely solely on American curry powder. Czechoslavakian and Danish cooking follow. Devil’s food cake! James Beard contributed an article on desserts.

Following James Beard’s essay is one entitled “Dinner-Party Desserts from a Jittery Cook”, by Margot Sandler. Jittery!

“Well, jittery or not, I like to give dinner parties, and I have learned to avoid some of the more common pitfalls. I have found, for instance, that there is nothing better for soothing the nerves than the thought of the good dessert waiting calmly in the refrigerator.”

I stop and read the section on “Diet”, an essay titled “The Truth About Diets” by Fredrick J. Stare, MD, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health. An excerpt:

“. . . with the automobile, the outboard engine, electric golf cart, and now the motorized toothbrush, there seems to be a conspiracy against adults securing any physical exercise.”

I hardly think my “motorized” toothbrush robs me of exercise! (The rest of the essay is totally sensible though, encouraging a varied diet, small portions, and lots of exercise. He also mentions “electronic cooking” which is probably a reference to microwave ovens.)

Dinners, Duck Cook Book (looks useful), dumplings, durum wheat, Dutch cookery. The éclairs entry includes a good recipe for a from-scratch vanilla cream filling. Eels! Eek! I doubt I’ll ever make “Matelote of Eels”.

Eggs, eggplant, elderberries, English cookery, an Entertaining Cook Book, escarole, fair (“Country-Fair Dinner”), fermentation, fiasco (an Italian wine bottle), fiddlehead (a fern), figs. “Fines Herbes” ends the entries in this volume.

I decide to make “Date-Nut Muffins” for this blog. I have a handful of dates in my pantry that are getting pretty dry and need to be used, and muffins are always great for breakfast.

Date-Nut Muffins recipeThe recipe doesn’t call for a lot of sugar (1/4 cup) but has a bit of butter (1/4 cup). Is that legal for breakfast? When does a muffin become dessert? I’m not the only one who wonders about this. From Deb Perelman’s Smitten Kitchen blog:

“We all know that muffins teeter precariously on a razor-thin line that divides the food categories of “Acceptable for Breakfast” and “Nope, This Is Dessert” and one must maintain firm boundaries during the breakfast hours lest the day that follows devolve into a full-on bacchanal of Resolution decompensation that ends with one passed out amid scatters of Cheetos, ketchup packets and French fry grease with a side of cronut.”

“Whole grains and oats = breakfast!
White flour = cake.
An egg or two = breakfast!
Lots of eggs = cake.
Natural sweeteners = breakfast!
White sugar = cake.
Unsaturated fats = breakfast!
Butter = cake.”

The recipe for “Date-Nut Muffins” leans towards “dessert”. I would add another criteria to Deb’s list: “fruits and nuts = breakfast”. I’m willing to use whole wheat pastry flour and a bit of honey, teetering these back to “breakfast”. But I want the butter in these!

Below is my version of these muffins. I added some vanilla and honey, and used brown sugar instead of white sugar. I was out of fresh milk, so I used water and dry milk instead. Since my dates were dry and hard, I warmed up the 1 cup of water, added the dates, and let it stand until the water cooled. Next time I’ll add more dates, and that change is reflected in my version below.

Date-Nut Muffins
makes 10

  • 1 cup milk (can substitute 1 cup water and 3 tablespoons dry milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Beat the milk, egg, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla. Stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder, then add to the milk mixture and stir to combine. Add nuts and dates, then butter, and mix only enough to blend.

Fill 10 muffin cups (paper-lined, or greased, or use a non-stick pan) and bake at 400˚ for 20 minutes, until browned.

Date-Nut MuffinsI had to try one as soon as they were baked! They are excellent. I like the whole wheat flour in them. I consider them healthy enough to be called a breakfast food!

250 Cookbooks: Cookie Book #1

Cookbook #71: Cookie Book #1. Covina Woman’s Club, Covina, California, March 1980.

Cookie Book #1This community cookbook was a gift to my mother from Betty, a good friend of hers and of my aunt’s. My mother and father, both born in 1916,  grew up in Covina, California, and my Aunt Werdie still lives there. Both Betty and my aunt contributed a few recipes to this cookbook. Betty’s contribution of “Santa Claus Cookies” has this comment: “My favorite cookie in the whole-wide world!” Werdie’s contribution “Cookies” states “That’s the only name I have for them”.

Wow, all of these recipes are great! They are just the type of cookie that I grew up with. Werdie contributed her “Snowballs” recipe, those buttery-nutty-powdered-sugar-covered round cookies that she always made – and shared – at Christmas time. One of my favorites, Chocolate Chews, is in this book, contributed by Werdie.

I noted several recipes I’d like to try: Persimmon Oatmeal Cookies, Pumpkin Bars, Anna Banana Squares, Lemon Squares, Cornflake Peanut Butter Bars, Applesauce Bars, and Fresh Ginger Cookies (fresh ginger!). I consider some of the recipes classics of that era: Forgotten Cookies, Unbaked Cookies, Hermits, Brandy Balls.

I grew up on cookies. I love this little community cookbook!

My mother made notes on several recipes in this book. And inside the front cover she has written “from Betty Fletcher Christmas 1979”. See where I get my organizing genes? Those genes led me to do this crazy blog, going through and organizing 250 old cookbooks, some of which should have been thrown away years ago.

I decided to try Lemon Refrigerator Cookies for this blog. Refrigerator cookies are great: you mix them up, roll them into a log, chill them, then slice off individual cookies to bake. Not only are they convenient, but they bake up in a characteristically flat shape, browning nicely around the edges. Generally, these cookies are a bit more shortbread-y than drop cookies. A refrigerator cookie with lemon? Oooo, yum, sounds good.

Lemon Refrigerator Cookies recipeThe recipe calls for “candied lemon”. That’s a stumper: where can I find this ingredient?

I looked up “candied lemon” in my book, Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Herbst (2001). Candied fruits, also called glacé fruits, are prepared by boiling the fruit in sugar and then drying it. In the case of citrus fruits, it is the rind that is used, not the fruit itself. So, I know I am on the right track if I ask for “candied lemon peel”. Candied fruits are generally used in cakes, breads and other sweets.

I googled “candied lemon peel” and came up with several sources. But, I wanted to make the cookies this week, rather than waiting for an ingredient to be shipped. So I took to the stores in Boulder.

First, Whole Foods. A worker at the store helped me search, first pointing out a jar of preserved lemons to which I shook my head “no”. We kept looking. He said they used to carry candied lemon peel, or perhaps “citron”, but could no longer find a source that did not have unacceptable ingredients. “Citron” is an ingredient I used to put in fruitcake. According to Food Lover’s Companion, citron is a semitropical citrus fruit with a lemon-perfumed peel. It is not a lemon, although “citron” is the French word for lemon. (No wonder we get confused.) I eventually gave up the search for candied lemon peel at Whole Foods.

I went downtown and asked for candied lemon peel at the Savory Spice Shop. Nope, they had none, although they do carry some candied items. But they did have a wonderful lemon extract and dried, minced lemon peel. I figured these ingredients would help give the lemon cookies the zip I wanted, so I bought them. Then I walked to Peppercorn.

Peppercorn is chock-full of unusual stuff, although I didn’t have a lot of hope by the time I got there. Perhaps candied lemon peel is an outdated item in 2014. But then – I found it! Yay!

Here are the three lemon products I bought that day:

lemon cookies ingredientsI think the candied lemon peel is important in these cookies because it will add the sensation of chewy bursts of lemon flavor. I will ramp up the lemon zing with the lemon extract and dried lemon peel. If you can’t find any of these ingredients, I suggest you just use lemon juice (2 tablespoons) and grated lemon peel (1 tablespoon). The cookies will still taste great!

Lemon Refrigerator Cookies
makes about 4 dozen

  • 1 cup vegetable shortening (7 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon minced, dried lemon peel
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied lemon peel (if you can find it)

Cream shortening and sugars. Add the egg and beat well, then mix in the lemon juice, extract, rind, and dried peel.

Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to creamed mixture and mix in. Add the nuts and candied lemon peel.

Form into 2 rolls, each about 2 inched in diameter. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

To bake, cut into 1/4-inch slices and bake on parchment-lined (or greased) baking sheets. Bake at 375˚ for about 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies begin to brown.

Comments

I ended up making 45 cookies, as opposed to my mother’s 58 cookies. It all depends on how big you make the cookie rolls and how thick you slice them. I used a ruler and found my slices were about 3/8-inch.

slicing lemon cookie doughI like to use parchment-lined baking sheets:

lemon cookies ready to bakeHere the cookies are, nicely cooked and a little brown around the edges:

baked lemon cookiesAnd here they are in the pig!

lemon cookies in pigThese are excellent cookies. I broke one cookie in half the next morning to see how they tasted after sitting overnight, and I wanted more more more! They are that good.

Happy Cooky Baking!Happy Cooky Baking to all!

250 Cookbooks: Cooking Through the Year

Cookbook #70: Cooking Through the Year. Shirley Gill, Smithmark Publishers Inc., NY, NY, 1994.

Cooking Through the YearCooking Through the Year is a beautiful cookbook. Over the years that I have owned it, I have often left it out on a coffee table, leisurely paging through the glossy photos and interesting recipes. At the time of this blog, it had been shelved too long – time for it to come back out and be enjoyed again.

A gift from my daughter, I will definitely keep this cookbook!

This book has no preface, no introduction, and no personal information at all about Shirley Gill, the author. I like to know about the authors of my books! I resorted to a Google search and found this on Amazon:

“Shirley Gill graduated with a diploma in Home Economics before starting work in publishing, first for the Food Magazine, and then for Cook’s Weekly. She worked as Cookery Editor of the successful Taste magazine, then later moved to Essentials. Since then Shirley has worked as a food writer and home economist, contributing to many books and magazines.”

Shirley has also authored or co-authored several other cookbooks, including recent ones on wok and pizza cooking.

Cooking Through the Year is a great resource for Saturday night and company dinners. Each recipe is just a little fancier than my usual fare. Everything I have tried from this book has been great. Many are a little rich for our calorie budget, but in moderation, they can fit into a sensible eating strategy. These titles exemplify the variety of recipes in this cookbook: Spiced Eggplant with Mint Yogurt, Skate with Lemon and Capers, Venison with Cranberry Sauce, Spiced Sweet Potato Turnovers, Spaghetti with Herb Sauce, Smoked Trout Pilaf, Cod with Spiced Red Lentils, Onion and Gruyère Tart, and Rhubarb Meringue Pie. There are over 135 recipes in all in this 8 1/2 x 11-inch book.

I chose to make “Chicken Parcels with Herb Butter”. The scan below illustrates both the recipe style and Karl Adamson’s  photography.

Chicken Parcels RecipeThe instructions are clear, and the photos are very helpful. I will cut the recipe in half, and use fresh herbs from my own garden:

herb gardenI harvested a mixture of basil and thyme and a little parsley. I like the way the recipe is “open-ended” in the choice of herbs.

To go with the Chicken Parcels with Herb Butter, I made “Spinach Salad with Bacon and Shrimp” on page 10 of this cookbook. It was a good variation of one of our favorites: wilted spinach salad. I used only the lean part of strips of bacon to lower the fat. The shrimps added a nice flare! I’ll make it again.

Chicken Parcels with Herb Butter
adapted from Shirley Gill’s Cooking Through the Year
serves 2

  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, about 4-6 ounces each
  • 5 tablespoons soft butter, divided (I used unsalted butter)
  • about 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs: basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, rosemary, cilantro – your choice!
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice, if you have it
  • 3 sheets of filo pastry (available frozen in most supermarkets)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Fry the chicken breasts in a tablespoon of hot butter until lightly brown. This step seals the outside of the breasts; the inside will be cooked later. Sprinkle the breasts with a little salt and pepper as they cook.

Chop up the fresh herbs by hand or use a food processor. Mix them with 4 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper, and a little lemon juice (optional), then melt half of this herb butter.

Take a sheet of the filo dough and brush it with the melted herb butter. Fold the filo sheet in half and brush again with herb butter. Place a chicken breast just below the top of the prepared sheet.

Dot the chicken with half of the unmelted herb butter. Fold in the sides of the pastry, then roll up to enclose completely. Place on a greased or parchment-lined half sheet pan. Repeat with the other chicken breast.

Brush the filo-wrapped chicken with the beaten egg. If you like, use the third sheet of filo dough to decorate the parcels: cut into strips, then scrunch up and arrange on top.

Brush the parcels again with beaten egg, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375˚ for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.

Comments

These are great! I’ll make them again.

Chicken Parcels

from the kitchen

I love the view out my kitchen window, and have for the past 33 years. The window itself had to be removed and replaced last month. I had a moment while my husband lugged the new window around the house. I grabbed my camera.

My view, no glass no screens no window in the way:

windowA bit of protective plastic floats in the next one. I was up on the counter poking the camera through.

kitchen windowThat’s my view!

250 Cookbooks: 100 Best Chicken Recipes

Cookbook #69: Better Homes and Gardens. Better Homes and Gardens, Meredith Corporation, U.S.A., 1982. “Courtesy of Holly Farms.”

100 Best Chicken RecipesNot sure where I got this cookbook. It’s water-warped and stained but not written in. It might have been a freebie booklet that came with a cookbook or a package of Holly Farms chicken. (I still can buy Holly Farms chicken!)

Most recipes in this booklet call for cut-up bone-in chicken pieces or cooked chicken. If boneless chicken breasts are called for, you are directed to bone them yourself. Back in 1982, boneless chicken breasts were expensive! I learned how to bone them to save money. Today, frozen boneless-skinless chicken breasts are easy to find, and not terribly expensive. I love their convenience. Oddly enough, it’s hard to find a package of cut-up chicken in stores these days; instead, thighs, legs, wings, and breasts are sold separately. Whatever happened to “pick-of-the-chix”?

I an not entranced with the recipes in this booklet.  Many of them start with chicken pieces that are fried for about 15 minutes, then sauced and cooked to completion. So, when you go to eat, you have to fish the cooked chicken out of the sauce, and away from the bones, and the fatty skin if you are watching calories. I saved a couple of these recipes to try at a later time, and I found one for this blog, but I am recycling this cook-booklet.

The recipe below is #96 of the 100 recipes. (All the way at the end!) It is “Chicken with Walnuts”, a stir-fry with fresh ginger and walnut halves and a suggested garnish of kumquats.

kumquats and walnutsKumquats! We had a kumquat tree in our half-acre yard in Southern California where I grew up. Some years it would be heavily laden with these bright orange oval fruits. Tart! They are almost too much to eat in one bite. A blog entry from Susan Russo sums up the experience: “Then my teeth sunk into the juicy flesh and — POW! — a jolt of tartness hit my taste buds. Involuntarily, my cheeks sucked in, my lips puckered, and my eyes watered.”

Kumquats are great for jams and chutneys. My sister recently sent me a photo of a big bowl of kumquats that they were preserving:

kumquatsI found kumquats in Colorado at Safeway! In June! Kind of surprising.

Here is the original recipe for Chicken with Walnuts:

Chicken with WalnutsThe photo below illustrates their suggestion for the kumquat garnish:

kumquat as a garnishSee the two kumquats at the lower left? The peeled back the thin skin of the kumquats so that they look like flowers. I tried that on one kumquat, but didn’t quite see the sense in it, since eating a kumquat is all about the explosive flavor of skin and flesh together. Instead, I thinly sliced a couple kumquats and put them next to the chicken-walnut mixture on our plates. We each stirred in just enough kumquat to zing up the taste, without it being overwhelming. I also added a bit of fresh cilantro.

Here is my version of Chicken with Walnuts.

Chicken with Walnuts
serves about 2

  • 9-10 ounces boneless chicken (breasts or thighs), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • cooking oil and water as needed
  • sliced red and/or green bell peppers, cut into thin slices, about 1/2 cup total
  • 2 big green onions, cut on the diagonal into thin slices
  • 1/2 carrot, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • fresh kumquats, maybe about 4-6, thinly sliced
  • a few sprigs of fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine the soy sauce, cornstarch, sherry, ginger, sugar, and crushed red pepper. I added about a half-cup of water to this mixture to make the dish saucier, but this water-addition is optional.

Heat a wok or skillet until it feels hot, then turn the heat to medium-high. Add the walnuts and toast them, watching carefully so they do not burn. Remove them from the wok.

Add a little oil to the wok, then add the carrots and stir fry for a couple minutes. Add the bell peppers and green onions and stir fry another couple minutes. Remove them from the wok.

Add the chicken to the wok and cook 2-5 minutes, until it loses its pink color. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook until hot and bubbly; add more water if you like it that way. Stir in the vegetables and walnuts and cook a minute or two more.

Serve over rice, with the chopped cilantro on top and the sliced kumquats on the side – or mixed in, if you are sure you will like it!

Chicken with WalnutsComments

We liked this, but didn’t go crazy over it. I thought the kumquats and cilantro gave it a zippy and fun taste – but I wouldn’t want to eat it every day of the week. I liked the walnuts in this stir fry.

But the cookbook? I’m not keeping it.

250 Cookbooks: The Ideals Cookie Cookbook

Cookbook #68: Ideals Cookie Cookbook. Darlene Kronschnabel. An ideals Publication, Milwaukee, Wis, 1977.

Ideals Cookie CookbookLook at the cover of this cookbook: No author is listed. I only know that the author is “Darlene Kronschnabel” because her name is at the bottom of the brief introduction on the first page. A google search reveals that she authored quite a few cookbooks. She looks like a nice lady!

I had trouble finding the publication date too! It is not printed anywhere inside or on the cover. But the ISBN is, and by following this lead I found that it was published in 1977.

I am not quite sure how I came to own this cookbook, although on the back cover is printed “U. of C. Federal Credit Union”. But is that University of California, or University of Colorado? California would mean it came from my mother, Colorado would be my acquisition. Neither of us marked up this cookbook.

This is a pretty good cookie cookbook. If I didn’t already have oodles of cookie recipes, this book would be a useful addition to my bookshelves. I like the recipes – they are clear and include reasonable ingredients. I probably will keep this book as a general reference. One recipe I marked to try is the one for Chinese-style fortune cookies. Decades ago I had fun making fortune cookies from scratch and might want to do it again some day, and I have no idea where my original recipe is.

I had no trouble finding a recipe to try. I chose to make an oatmeal cookie. On page 24 is a recipe for the “Best Raisin Oatmeal Cookie” (in the section for flavorful fruit cookies) and on page 39 is a recipe for “Chewy Oatmeal Cookies” (in the section for old-fashioned cereal and grain cookies). The two recipes are almost identical. The chewy ones call for cinnamon and nutmeg, and that swayed my choice. Here is the original recipe:

Chewy Oatmeal CookiesThe recipe does not specify what type of oats to use. Old-fashioned? Quick? My guess is that in 1977 most Americans used quick oats. But to make them chewier, I used some quick oats and some whole rolled oats (the kind I use for granola). I like a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg, so if I make these again, I’ll use the amounts I list below.

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 4 dozen

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening (5 1/4 ounces)
  • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups oatmeal (I used 1 1/2 cups minute-oatmeal and 1/2 cup thick rolled oats)
  • 1 cup raisins

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

Cream the shortening with the brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in oatmeal and raisins.

Drop rounded teaspoons of dough onto baking sheets. (Used greased baking sheets, or use parchment-lined baking sheets.) Bake at 350˚ for 12-15 minutes.

Chewy Oatmeal CookiesThese are good! I used a mixture of sultans and raisins; my advice is to use only regular raisins because they show up better and look nice.

Would I make these again? Maybe. My go-to oatmeal cookie recipe is my very favorite Oatmeal Chip Cookies. That recipe has more sugar and flour, and uses margarine instead of shortening. Plus they have chocolate chips and nuts. Hard to beat, even with these good Chewy Oatmeal Cookies.

 

 

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oatmeal chip cookies – more sugar/shortening/flour, adds nuts and chocolate chips