Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thought I died dincha?

Okay, I know, I've put this off again and again. Finally, I had a discussion with some wonderful ladies at a 'fan page' on Facebook for cookbooks (yeah, that's right, we're cookbook groupies, got a problem with it?)....There was some really deep stuff I put on in my blog and I really didn't know how to follow up after all of that. I disgorged my psyche on what I perceived as slights by my local congregation, and whether my perceptions were right (I still believe they are) or wrong, I needed to purge myself and walk away. Now, after a cooling off period of say, six Jack Nicholson from one incarnation of the Shining.....I'm Baaaaack.

 Now, back to my friends/fellow groupies. We discuss cookbooks. The need to have and obtain more of them, usually. I raised a topic of novels, short stories, biographies, etc. that don't fit the category of cookbook, but have recipes inserted in the either the story line, or in conjunction with the story at hand. I asked if anyone had 'collected' these recipes. I was told, like in the instance of Frances Mays 'Under the Tuscan Sun', she went back after writing a number of books and wrote a cookbook that included all the recipes earlier referenced, but that was the only one anyone could think of....then came the inevitable. The gauntlet was thrown down. Someone said...'Why don't YOU compile them in your blog? As long as you give proper reference, there should be no accusations of stealing them'....So, the more I thought about it, the more I mulled it over, the more I thought of my poor little blog, sitting here, devoid of my brain cheese (see the description of the blog) for the past six months, I said 'why the heck not!' here I am. But it wasn't so took me 3 hours, yep, 3 hours going back and forth with Google to even get back in...I know I have the user name, but the password was changed, did I write down...Noooooooooo, I'd remember it....NOT. So finally, here goes nothing.

 I am going to start with two books I have recently read. The first is 'The Hardscrabble Chronicles' written by Laurie Bogart Morrow. It pretty much is the trials and tribulations of a young married couple moving from 'the big city' to an inherited fixer-upper in a small New England town known as Hardscrabble. A good read in that it intersperses the writer's life in present time, with the life of another writer who also lived in Hardscrabble approximately 25 years earlier and what they had in common. At the end of the book, she included a few recipes in a chapter called 'From the Hardscrabble Cookery Book'. Here they are:

Carol Mayhofer's Calico Beans
1/2 lb. bacon, cut in 1-2" pieces
1 large onion, chopped coarse
1/2 lb. hamburger
1 can butter beans, drained
1 can kidney beans (do not drain) - or, one cup of dry kidney beans, soaked overnight, and parboiled until soft but firm
1 can pork and beans (do not drain)
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet or 8-quart pot, saute bacon and onion until onion is translucent, then add hamburger. Brown lightly. Drain any excess fat. Add beans and stir with a wooden spoon. Set aside. In a bowl, combine ketchup, mustard, vinegar, and the sugars. Fold these with a wire wisk until the mixture is smooth. Add to the meat and beans. Pour in an oven proof casserole, and bake for 45 minutes. Delicious served with Boston brown bread warm from the oven and a crock of fresh herb butter.

Sweet Potato Casserole (this one has no measurements - so I will copy straight from the book, as it is written) You can substitute winter squash for sweet potatoes in this deliciously simple recipe. However, squash has more water content than sweet potatoes, and you should drain and reserve the vegetable liquor to add, as needed, during the cooking process. This is an excellent accompaniment to pork dishes and is a special favorite at the Thanksgiving feast, on the sideboard alongside the turkey. This dish neither keeps nor freezes well, but it is so delicious that it's doubtful you'll have any left over. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pare the sweet potatoes and cube. In a covered saucepan, boil the cubed potatoes in 2" of water plus one tablespoon of butter on high heat, being careful to turn the potatoes frequently so as they do not stick and burn to the bottom of the pot. Add water if necessary until the potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat, and drain, reserving the excess liquor. Add butter, salt, and pepper to taste, a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon, and a little heavy cream (not whipping) cream until the mixture is smooth, being careful to add just enough so that the mixture is neither too watery or too firm. You may want to use a food processor so that the potatoes are velvety smooth. Pour into an ovenproof casserole. Top with seasoned breadcrumbs that you have tossed with a little melted butter and, on top of this, sift a thin layer of brown sugar. Bake until the casserole starts to bubble and lightly brown, about 20-30 minutes. If the casserole bubbles but does not brown, put under a broiler, watching very carefully that the bread crumbs do not burn. 

Okay, what do you think so far? These are only two of the recipes in this book...I will continue it at another time (I completely wore myself out trying to figure out 'how' to get back on here). Let me know what you think. If you have a book you want me to include, let me know, and I'll try to do what I can.