250 Cookbooks: Recipes for a Small Planet

Cookbook #152: Recipes for a Small Planet, Ellen Buchman Ewald, Ballantine Books, NY, 1973.

Recipes for a Small Planet

“If you are already complaining that your don’t want to spend an extra minute in the kitchen, read no further.” So writes Ewald in her introduction to Recipes for a Small Planet. That could be the intro line for this-here blog of mine!

This book goes hand-in-hand with Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Lappé, a book I covered in a previous post. Recipes for a Small Planet provides hundreds of recipes for high protein meatless cooking – combining different vegetables (with dairy) to get complete or complementary proteins, while Diet for a Small Planet focuses mainly on the theory behind the method. (Since Lappé’s book was published, the research her “complementary proteins” is based on has been disputed. Read the Diet post for details.)

The two women, Ellen Ewald and Frances Lappé – or “Frankie”, as Ellen calls her – were close friends. Lappé writes in the Diet for a Small Planet introduction:

“The fun of writing this book was increased immeasurably by the aid and encouragement of friends. First I must thank the person who created the delicious dinner that introduced me to the pleasures of eating without meat – Ellen Ewald. After dinner I went through her kitchen asking: What’s this? What’s that? And she sent me home with a variety of samples – soy grits, whole oats, buckweeat groats, bulgur – all these strange sounding foods which are really amount the most common foods in the world! Ellen is also the person you  can thank for many of the appetizing redipes you’ll find later in the book. Her help made compiling the recipes an adventure.”

Ellen Ewald’s preface reads:

“If we all took a little time to nourish our bodies in the best way possible (instead of in the quickest way), life could be long and healthy. If we choose to disregard the importance of what is in the food we eat, we may as well disregard the importance of having clean air to breathe. (But it should be obvious to all of us that most industries, including the food industry, consider profit before they consider air polution and the internal polution of our bodies.)”

“Food industry”. Unless we have our own gardens, we are dependent on it, for better or worse.

The recipes in this book tend to have long lists of ingredients. Yes, Ellen Ewald likes spending extra minutes in the kitchen! Each recipe is followed by a little box that shows us the “complete protein” combination. Note that hers is not a vegan diet; milk products and eggs are prevalent throughout the book.

The chapters are: breakfast, lunch, soups and stews, salads, dinners, breads, cookies and bars, desserts, and dairy drinks. Some of the recipes do not appeal to me at all: oatmeal soup (stock, milk, garlic, onions, rolled oats, tomatoes), barley and yogurt soup, cabbage soup, garbanzo stuffed cabbage, soybean stroganoff, and split peas in a cheese sauce over rice. I did find several recipes in the bread, dessert, and cookie sections that were more up my personal-taste alley.

My pantry is not stocked with the ingredients to make many of the recipes. Ewald relies heavily on soy beans. Soy products, once the darling of the vegetarian movement, have faded in popularity. It’s not too hard to find soy beans in local stores, and tofu, but soy grits or soy flour can require searching several natural foods markets or online sources.

I choose to make “Banana Spice Bars” for this blog.

Banana Spice Bars recipeI really don’t think these bars will be “light as cake”, not with the whole wheat flour and nuts and seeds to weigh it down. I couldn’t find soy grits, so I used 3 ounces of tofu.

There are 17 ingredients in these bars!

The box at the bottom of the above recipe lists the sources of protein in these bars. The eggs and buttermilk have complete protein on their own; the whole wheat flour and soy grits are complementary; the peanuts and sunflower seeds are complementary. I am making a half-recipe in a 9-inch pan; if I cut them into 9 bars, each will have 5 grams of usable protein.

Banana Spice Bars
makes one 9-inch pan

  • 3/4 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup honey (4 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or yogurt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla)
  • 2 tablespoons soy grits OR 3 ounces tofu
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds

Put the bananas, egg, honey, oil, buttermilk and almond extract in a blender or food processor. If you are using tofu, add that too. Process until smooth.

Stir together the flour, soy grits (if you are using them), the spices, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and peanuts and sunflower seeds. Pour in the banana mixture and stir to combine (do not overmix).

Pour the batter into an oiled or non-stick-sprayed 9-inch pan. Bake at 350˚ 30-35 minutes, until they test done with a toothpick.

Banana Spice BarsTo my surprise, these really are light as cake! And delicious too! They fall into my personal classification as “healthy”: honey instead of sugar, whole wheat flour, very little oil, tofu, and nuts and seeds. A good snack for an active day.

I was going to recycle this cookbook, but this recipe turned out so well that I think I’ll keep it around and try a few other recipes.

250 Cookbooks: Carousel of Cultures Cookbook

Cookbook #151: Carousel of Cultures Cookbook, Woodbury 1975-76, The Multicultural Committee, Woodbury Elementary School, Garden Grove, California, 1976.

Carousel of Cultures cookbook

I just returned from a fun visit to my sister’s lovely home in Southern California, so when my hand reached for this cookbook on the shelf yesterday, I smiled. My sister taught at Woodbury Elementary School and she gave me this cookbook way back when. In it are handwritten notes for me. I’m keeping this cookbook!

Carousel of Cultures Cookbook is a “community” cookbook, similar to my Lyons Elementary Cookbook. Teachers and parents at Woodbury Elementary contributed all of the recipes. The introduction reads: “This cookbook is our way of sharing the different ways food is enjoyed in the many cultures of our community.” Each section is illustrated with a drawing by one of the students.

student drawing

So many cultures joining together in Southern California in 1976! Below are the countries represented and a sample recipe title from each:

African (Fufu)
Chinese (Chinese Beef and Peppers)
English (Maids of Honour cakes)
French (Crepes with Creamed Seafood)
German (Sauerbraten)
Greek (Telley Savalas’ Lamb Pallakari)
Indian (Hurgha Kari)
Italian (Fettuccine)
Mexican (Pescado en Mantequilla)
Moroccon (Lamb Moroccan)
Philipino(Chicken a la Monja)
Polynesian (Crab Meat Polynesian)
Swiss (Chicken with Tomato Sauce and Bacon)
Spanish (Leg of Veal)
Turkish (Rice Pilav)
Russian (Karabakh Loby)
Sweden (Rye Bread)
U.S.A. (Company Stew)

I was surprised to see a recipe for the African dish “fufu” in this 1976 gathering of recipes. In 2010, we traveled to Togo, West Africa to visit our daughter in the Peace Corps. Her favorite food there was fufu. Of course we had never heard of it! Making fufu in Africa was a long and usually social project. The ingredients were plaintains (a less sweet banana usually eaten cooked) and yams. But the “yams” were not the orange sweet potatoes that we eat at Thanksgiving. No, these yams are large and long and white and starchy, and look like a root. (See my footnote on yams at the bottom of this blog entry.) For fufu, they are peeled and then boiled, then they are put in a huge wooden bowl and pounded with a large mallet for about an hour. Traditionally, the men take turns doing the pounding, and the women move the mixture around under the mallet between pounds. When the pounding is finished, the fufu has a consistency of sticky mashed potatoes. Here is a photo of authentic fufu prepared in Togo at a gathering of friends of my daughter in 2010:

making fufu

Here is the recipe for fufu from Carousel of Cultures:

Fufu recipe

I was surprised at how many recipes I’d like to try from this cookbook: a Greek lamb dish, French seafood crepes, sauerbraten, rice and bread puddings, fig nut bread, Greek nut cake, and one or all of the raw apple cakes. Spinach Salad, with notes from my sister, is a classic potluck dish that is worth saving. I like the almond cookies for a Chinese meal. My sister contributed a recipe for English Toffee Brownies and my mother contributed Frosty Lemon Pie. My sister’s mother-in-law contributed Chocolate Nut Balls.

family recipes

I decide to make “Rice Pilav” for this blog:

Rice Pilav recipeWe traveled to Turkey a couple years ago and thoroughly enjoyed the food (and the trip!). We often had rice like this rice pilav on that trip.

Rice Pilav (Turkey)
serves about 4

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups boiling water and 1 cube bouillon OR mix and boil 1 cup water and 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup currants
  • 1 whole clove, or a few shakes of ground cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cover the rice and salt with hot tap water (this is not the boiling water indicated in the ingredient list). Let soak about 15 minutes, then drain.

Melt the butter and add the chopped onion; cook until the onion wilts. Add the pine nuts and the drained rice; cook and stir until the pine nuts are lightly browned. Add the boiling water/bouillon OR water/stock mixture, currants, clove, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the rice is soft, adding more water if necessary.

Rice Pilav

I served this with my own Lamb Stew with Cinnamon and it was delicious! Perfect combination of flavors.

Footnote about yams
(a note about the yams used in fufu)

In the US, yams and sweet potatoes are often called the same thing. In botanical terms, they are different species. True yams are seldom grown in the US, but around the world, over 150 species of yams are cultivated. Yams can range from potato-size to over 7 1/2 feet long and 120 pounds. The ones we saw in Togo were about a foot long, white to tan in color, and a couple inches in diameter. (Reference: Food Lover’s Companion)

250 Cookbooks: Woman’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 7

Cookbook #150: Encyclopedia of Cookery, Vol. 7, Kid-Moc, Woman’s Day, Fawcett Publications, NY, 1966.

Encyclopedia of Cookery Volume 7 cookbookI have a set of twelve Encyclopedia of Cookery volumes and this is the seventh of that set – I covered the first six in previous posts. I’ve enjoyed all of them so far, and I happily open this one to learn curious and helpful information about foods from kid(ney) to moc(ha).

The entry for kidney begins with a story by of a woman who traveled through Europe with her kidney-loving husband. He believed the worth of a restaurant is revealed by how well they cook this organ meat. Well, I’m not a fan of kidneys as food. I used to eat this meat because some health food authors of the day touted its nutritional value (like Adele Davis). I gave up that idea long ago, although I used to make a decent “Steak and Kidney Pie”. Below is my own recipe card, written sometime in the 1970s.

Steak and Kidney PieSteak and Kidney PieSteak and Kidney Pie

The next entry that catches my eye is “kiss”. The Encyclopedia defines a kiss as “a small chewy mound-shape confection prepared with egg white and sugar”. A kiss also refers to a bite-size piece of candy, including commercially producte chocolate, usually wrapped in paper or foil. Yup, Hershey’s Kisses™!

One of my husband’s favorite meals is knackwursts (or knockwursts). He likes them served with sauerkraut and mustard. According to the Encyclopedia, “The name is of German origin, knack meaning ‘to crackle’ or ‘to make a noise when breaking’, and wurst means sausage”. Knockwursts are made from a recipe similar to hot dogs, except they have more garlic and are a lot bigger. Sadly, I’ve only rarely been able to find these in local markets since the 1970s.

I continue through the K’s and L’s. Korean cookery (Mother tried a recipe for “Korean Broiled Short Ribs” and didn’t like it), kumquat (these grew in our yard in Southern California where I grew up), Lamb Cook Book, lard. Lard is pork fat from “fat backs, clear plates, and leaf kidney fat which has been rendered [melted away from connective tissues] and clarified”. The Encyclopedia gives a recipe for lard pastry – I might try this someday, since “lard is particularly desirable in making flaky texttures in biscuits and pastry.”

I am not surprised that my mother lingered on the “layer cake” section. She tried the “Orange Gold Layer Cake” and declared it “delicious”. This is a cake with 8 egg yolks, orange juice, and orange rind in the batter, and a butter frosting made with orange juice, lemon, butter, egg yolk, and powdered sugar. Sounds good, and rich.

Lebkuchen (a spicecake of Germa origin and one of the oldest of cakes) and Lemon Cookbook. Lentils are one of the first plants whose seeds were used for food. “The lentil is extremely nutritious and is one of the staple foods of the Near East, where a dish called ‘Esau’s Dish of Lentils’ is still a favorite.” The story goes that Esau sold his birthright for bread and a “pottage of lentiles”.

Lobsters – the first English settlers to America bought lobsters for as little as a penny apiece! I learn that mace, a spice, is made from the arillode that covers the nutmeg seed. The mango tree is considered sacred in India. (I love mangoes but my body responds to them with a food allergy.) The manioc is a tropical plant also known as cassava, mandioc, or yucca. Maraschino cherries are made from sweet cherries that are “bleached, pitted, and steeped in a syrup made of sugar, water, a touch of oil of bitter almonds, and food coloring.”

Mother liked the “Basic Meat Loaf” on page 1125. I like the meat balls! This volume has a section on Midwestern Cookery that kind of intrigues me.  Mirepoix is the culinary term for a concentrate of diced carrot, onion, and celery cooked in butter – I use this mixture of vegetables a lot to begin sauces, now I have a fancy name for it. Mincemeat pies were a family tradition when I was a little girl. Those pies began with purchased mincemeat; this book has an 18th-century recipe for mincemeat from ground beef, apples, candied lemon and orange peels, citron, raisins, currants, orange and lemon juice and rind, beef suet, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, mace, nutmeg, bourbon, and rum.

The last entry is mocha. We know this as a mixture of chocolate and coffee, but it originally referred to a kind of coffee grown in the Yemen district of Arabia and exported from the port of Mocha on the Red Sea.

And what shall I make for this blog? I decide to make “Lentil Salad”.

Lentil Salad RecipeI’ve cooked lentils before, but not very often. I think this salad sounds tasty and fresh, and nutritious!

Lentil Salad
serves 2-4 as a side salad

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup French dressing (bottled or *home made)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garnishes, such as lettuce, red pepper strips, chopped tomatoes

Wash the lentils, then put in a pot with the salt; cover with water and boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with a lid, and let stand for about an hour.

Add the onion and bay leaf and bring again to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Check often – do not overcook! You want them tender but not mushy.

Drain the lentils (I used a strainer). Place them in a bowl and add the green onions, parsley, and French dressing. Season iwth salt and pepper.

Serve chilled or at room temperature. If desired, plate over salad greens and garnish with strips of red pepper.

*Keeping on the alphabetical theme of Kid-Moc, I used the Lemon French Dressing from page 1053 of this cookbook. Briefly, shake together 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon paprika, a dash of cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.


I served the lentil salad alongside grilled lamb (keeping with the “L” theme!). Even my dining partner liked it! Not something I could serve every day, but it’s a good salad and nice to have in my repertoire.

Lentil SaladI liked the cooking method for the lentils because it didn’t get them too done. Note that I left the cloves out and used chopped onion, changes from the original recipe. This basic lentil salad could be varied tons of ways with different seasonings, vegetable additions, and dressings.