Thumb through these cookbooks that nourish creativity.
Recipes for eating in bed.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved to read about cooking. My father used to bring home copies of Cook’s Magazine and I’d pore over them for recipes that cried out “make me!” I especially remember making little chicken salad-filled cheese puff pastries and a salt cod casserole. And I swear I remember reading a letter to the editor that explained how, should your power go out in the middle of your dinner preparations, you could continue cooking a roast turkey by swaddling the roasting pan in blankets and tucking it into your bed. Sadly, I can find no evidence to support this last memory.
But I do have a delightful cookbook that was once my grandmother’s called “The Eating In Bed Cookbook” by Barbara Ninde Byfield. The witty and entertaining recipes in this book range from “Consolers” such as Shoulder of Lamb to Cry On to those for “Eating in the Bathtub” such as Watermelon Hollandaise to “Poleaxers” such as the potent “Triple Seconal.” So there is some hope for at least eating in bed around here.
You know — for kids!
My thing for cookbooks may have begun when my dear auntie passed along the children’s cookbook she learned to cook from — “Mary Alden’s Cook Book for Children.” It takes you through each meal of the day with several options (lunch might include “Snuggled Franks and Cheese,” or a broiled bologna “Hot Sandwich.”) plus party foods with a handy gender-specific icing guide (chocolate for Daddy, pink for Mommy.)
I remember telling my mother that I wanted to try making the breakfast recipe “Puffed Eggs with Cheese Sauce.” She pointed out that this innocuous-sounding recipe was actually a soufflé in disguise, and told me that if I was able to keep it from falling she would reward me with a chef’s hat, apron, and full set of pots and pans. To her surprise, I rose to the challenge, but she made me wait until I moved away for school to deliver on those pots and pans!
Meeting Aunt Jenny
Aunt Jenny takes a special interest in feeding confirmed bachelors.
Another old-timey cookbook that fascinates me was produced by the folks who made Spry shortening and stars a somewhat maniacal looking woman named Aunt Jenny who tells you how to sneak Spry into an alarming range of dishes. Perhaps the most frightening is her recipe for “Pennywise Steak” which involves forming hamburger and breadcrumbs into a steak-like shape and then slathering it with Spry before broiling.
Aunt Jenny is full of country-style advice and a disdain for the letter “G,” but she sure can deep fry a fine “Macaroni and Cheese Cutlet.” “So temptin’an different, your folks will ask for ‘em often,” she promises.
Her husband Calvin, however, has what appears to be a darker past, as evidenced by his review of her “Mellowscotch Pie” – “… the fillin’s as smooth as a kitten’s ear.” How exactly he knows the mouth-feel of a kitten’s ear is not further explained.
Dinner with the Prices
It’s not “The Necronomicon” but it still frightens me.
And speaking of disturbing, I finally hunted down a well-loved copy of Mary and Vincent Price’s imposing tome “A Treasury of Great Recipes.” While one might expect the covers of this hefty volume to house an array of instructions for preparing horror-kitsch foodstuffs, it’s actually packed with all the gourmet delicacies of its day. The Prices were world travelers and this book, published in 1965, is a record of “Famous Specialties of the World’s Foremost Restaurants Adapted for the American Kitchen.” Amazing photographs of the settings and menus of the finest restaurants of the time accompany the recipes. Plus there are shots of the Prices in their motor home, cooking for friends as they travel around.
I must admit that I have yet to cook anything from the Prices’ book. For some reason, I find the way they set up the recipes daunting. But I can see from the many stains and splatters that whoever owned my copy previously used it often. I’ll keep you posted on my efforts to overcome my fears and whip up some Baked Opakapaka or El Gran Frou Frou.
Europa and the Bull.
And speaking of updates, The Head is coming along nicely! I have three inserts done as you will see in the gallery above. Just one more (The Headache) to go. Perhaps when I finish this project, I’ll finally get around to making those homemade tortillas…