Archive for the ‘Cookbook Chronicle Challenge’

Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: A Glance to the Past – Boston Cooking School Part I of II

September 12, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Misc.

The Boston Cooking School Cookbook was originally published in 1896 and when it hit the shelves it brought to use something not really known in recipes at the time – common measurements (i.e., cups, teaspoons, etc). Prior to to this, measurements were a bit cryptic asking for a coffee cup, a spoonful, a saucer of an ingredient. (Think about how many different sizes of those objects you have in your kitchen and you can see the problem.)

Fannie Merritt Farmer became principal of the Boston Cooking school years after she herself was a student and she worked to teach not only cooking techniques but also nutrition and domestic sciene. In the preface to the first edition she stated, “At the earnest solicitation of educators, pupils, and friends, I have been urged to prepare this book, and I trust it may be a help to many who need its aid.” Little did she know at that writing that the Fannie Farmer cookbook empire would be born.

The basic foundations for many kitchens to this day are rooted in Ms. Farmer’s writings and techniques. As techniques changed, new equipment was invented and discoveries were made, new editions of her cookbooks were revised and published. Between 1896 to my 1936 edition, the cookbook was revised four times and reprinted every single year in between.

As new versions came out, these cookbooks become a snapshot of life at the time the book was written. It is because of this that rather than spending time going through this 838 page cookbook that is packed full of tips, menus, conversions, advice, guidance and diagrams on cooking techniques I will instead focus more on the sociological and anthropological aspects of this cookbook. (Don’t worry, though, I’ll be profiling one of the recipes in the book in another post soon.)

The preface my particular edition was written on July 18, 1936 by Wilma Lord Perkins. Ms. Perkins, Ms. Farmer’s niece, took on all the revisions and updates after Ms. Farmer’s death in 1915.  The 1936 edition mentions that the changes to this new revision were meant to “conform with modern fashions with food.” In fact, Ms. Perkins goes on to explain that “cocktail parties are so much the vogue that the chapter on canapes and hors d’oeuvres has been considerably lengthened.” Furthermore, “wine as an ingredient is so much more widely used then heretofore that room was made for many fine old recipes requiring its use.” Written a few years after prohibition ended in the United States, housewives were now able to host parties with alcohol and feature it on their menu. Ms. Perkins was ready to oblige with appropriate recipes.

On the title page of my cookbook,  I was greeted by a handwritten note which helps personalize this journey through this 70+ year old book. On a December day in 1936, someone wrote in a scrawling hand “To my Janice – With every confidence. Love.”  It was dated December 9, 1936. I can only imagine that this was either written by a husband to his new wife to build confidence in her new role as keeper of the house. Or, perhaps, Janice was a terrible cook and this cookbook was presented as a last ditch effort to bring some edible fare into the household. (Meanwhile, I’d also like to also imagine Janice and her “Love” hosting some swinging jitterbug to-dos at their house featuring a Fannie Farmer recipe spread of “cocktail puffs”, “toasted mushroom sandwiches”, “cheese wafers” (that the cookbook notes are “especially good with Sherry”) and a giant bowl of punch made with champagne, brandy and rum.)

I’m not sure how Janice originally received this gift. I can assume, however,  that she took this book and ran with it because in the back of the book we now get to see Janice’s handwriting documenting a recipe. Mrs. Lane apparently came to Janice’s rescue with a cake filling that she must have fallen in love with at a recent get-together and insisted on the recipe. But, in a semi-homemade riff, Mrs. Lane recommends using a Swans Down White Cake (which apparently is “very good”.) Mrs. Lane also asks for some sherry wine, candied pineapple, dates and figs to be spread between the cake layers.

With a flip of the page, if Janice finds she has some extra dates, then she’s ready because she’s also written in a recipe for some date pudding. And, she was also inspired by someone’s sauce for chicken as she’s written that recipe, too.  No, wait, the sauce is specifically for (3) chickens…I like how that specific note is added in there as an afterthought.

Who knows if Janice was inspired by the cookbook to venture to other new things and how these particular recipes ended up in the end pages. But, Janice need not worry about running out of ideas when that chicken recipe became boring because her cookbook was packed with recipes and information about tools, products, and techniques. So, while she had Mrs. Lane’s help in some extra recipes. She had a lot of information at her fingertips.

But, if Janice kept reading beyond the 848 pages of this cookbook, she’d be able to find some solutions to her every day problems in the advertising section in the back of the book. For example, Fleischmann’s yeast reminds Janice that she should depend on her baker and “let him help you with your menu problems.”

But let’s just hope that Janice did not fall victim to having hands that shout “Dishpan Slaves!”. Indeed, hands that shout that are so unnecessary these days and are just as horrid as dirty nails. If Janice used Lux, she had an inexpensive way of keeping hands lovely. There’s just no excuse for those dishpan hands and I can see why women would gossip about that!

Dishpan or not, Janice’s hands were full managing a house and serving up enticing food for the family all in the midst of the depression. Fannie Farmer’s cookbook comes to her rescue helping her stretch the most out of her dollar through creative “made-over dishes” using leftovers and practically every meat and organ possible. That said, there are still many vegetarian recipes scattered through the book that I will feature in a future post here on Veggin’.  In the meantime, I leave you with Mrs. Farmer’s words, “Cooking may be as much a means of self-expression as any of the arts. No cookbook, nor any book dealing with an art, can provide the spark of genius, but it can – and should – serve as a source of inspiration and information.”

Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Panini with Grilled Eggplant, Roasted Peppers, and Spinach-Pesto Sauce

September 03, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Main Dishes, Sandwiches

Last year, at the DC Green Festival, I picked up Vegan Italiano – a cookbook featuring “meat-free, egg-free, dairy-free dishes from sun-drenched Italy.”

This cookbook proves that the vegan diet can indeed be adventurous and delicious.

Donna Klein begins Vegan Italiano with a quick overview of cooking in the various regions of Italy and then provides a little information about ingredients and how nutritional information was calculated. Then, it’s off to the races with 225 recipes including the whole gamut of soups, salads, pasta, rice/grains, vegetables, beans, pizza, breads, sandwiches and desserts.

There are no pictures in the book, but there are quick introductions to each recipe providing a serving suggestion, a hint or a menu idea. In paging through this cookbook, I noted how many of the vegetable dishes would be perfect on a Thanksgiving table – carrots with basil, butternut squash puree, green beans with wild mushroom and tomatoes. Many of these vegan recipes could be added to the table without the carnivore being any the wiser.

For the panini recipe, I used a whole wheat ciabatta bread and cooked everything under the broiler. Be aware when making the spinach-pesto sauce. I used three cloves of a very fresh organic garlic bulb and let’s just say that the In-house Taste Tester and I scared off all vampires in a 3-mile radius from our house after eating these sandwiches. So, if you want less pungent results perhaps cut down the amount of garlic and add more after you have a chance to taste test it.

These sandwiches were fresh and light on a summer’s evening and would be perfect to make when grilling because there really isn’t a lot of preparation involved. (You could make the pesto a day in advance.)

Panini with Grilled Eggplant, Roasted Peppers, and Spinach-Pesto Sauce
Vegan Italiano

1 large round eggplant (about 1 pound), cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
Table salt
1 medium green or red bell pepper (about 6 ounces, cut lengthwise into eights (Note: I used yellow pepper…I also considered using an orange pepper. The recipe is flexible.)
1 medium red onion (about 6 ounces), cut into ½-inch-thick rounds
2 ½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salte, preferably the coarse variety, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 large slices Italian bread (about 1 ¼ ounces each) (Note: I used whole wheat ciabatta.)

Spinach-Pesto Sauce (recipe below)

Sprinkle the eggplant slices with table salt and set in a colander in the sink to drain 30 minutes.

Prepare a medium-hot charcoal grill or gas grill, or preheat a broiler. Position the grill rack or over rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. If broiling, lightly oil a large baking sheet and set aside. Or, place a stovetop grilling pan with grids over medium-high heat.

Rinse the eggplant slices under cold-running water and drain well between paper towels.

Brush the eggplant, bell pepper, and onion on all sides with 2 tablespoons of the oil.

Grill or broil the vegetables until browned and tender, working in batches as necessary. As a general rule, cook the bell pepper 3 to 4 minutes per side, and the eggplant and onion 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place the vegetables on a large baking sheet with sides as they finish cooking.

When all the vegetables are done, drizzle with the remaining ½ tablespoon oil and balsamic vinegar, and the sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss gently with a large spatula to combine. Cover with foil and keep warm while grilling bread.

Grill or broil the bread on both sides until nicely toasted. Divide the vegetables evenly among 4 slices of the bread. Spoon equal portions of the Spinach Pesto Sauce (recipe below) over the vegetables. Top each with a slice of toasted bread and serve at once.

Spinach-Pesto Sauce
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup loosely packed baby spinach leaves
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon coarse salt, or more to taste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Combine the basil, spinach, garlic, and salt in a food processor fitted with the knife blade, or in a blender.

Process until finely chopped. Add the oil and process until smooth. If not using immediately, store tightly covered in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

Note from cookbook: This tasty pesto is also wonderful tossed with pasta, gnocchi, boiled potatoes, or steamed vegetables.

Spinach Pesto Nutrition Information
Per serving (about 4 teaspoons)
Calories 76
Protein 2g
Total Fat 7g
Sat. Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Carbohydrate 3g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sodium 130mg

Sandwich Nutrition Information
Calories 393
Protein 9 g
Total Fat 18g
Sat Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0mg
Carbohydrate 50g
Dietary Fiber 8g
Sodium 549g

Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Stuffed Potatoes

August 14, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Main Dishes, Side Dishes

I’d like to take you on a little journey. A little journey through The “New Age Vegetarian Cookbook” printed in 1980 by The Rosicrucian Fellowship out of Oceanside, California. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride as this cookbook is an interesting treasure trove of recipes and surprises…

So, the first thing I need to do is find tell a little more about The Rosicrucian Fellowship. It was founded in 1911 in Oceanside, California by Max Heindel. His mission was to “”prepare mankind for the coming age of Universal Brotherhood, the Age of Aquarius.” The group continues on today using a study course to educate and disseminate the Rosicrucian philosophy and “to spread the gospel and heal the sick.”

When I came across this cookbook, I had never heard about the group. I wondered if all were vegetarian and lo and behold, their website answers my exact question:

The Rosicrucians do not teach that everyone should be a vegetarian AT ONCE. In fact they teach that the vegetarian diet generates an abundance of energy, much more than flesh foods. This energy is not only physical but spiritual, so that if a man leads a sedentary life and is of a material disposition, engaged, perhaps, in sordid business transactions or in other lines of strictly material endeavor, this spiritual energy can find no vent and is apt to cause systemic disturbances. Only those who live an active, outdoor life, where the abundance of energy generated by the vegetarian food can be thrown off, or who transmute that energy into spiritual endeavor, can thrive on the vegetarian diet. Besides, we recognize that the heredity of many generations has made man partly carnivorous, so that in the case of most people the change from a mixed diet to vegetables should be gradual. The diet which suits one man is not fitted for another, VIDE the old proverb that “one man’s meat is another man’s poison,” and no hard and fast rules can be laid down which will apply equally to all people. Therefore, everything that we eat as well as everything else connected with our personality should be determined by ourselves individually.

With that knowledge in hand, let’s dig into this cookbook…Sure, this isn’t a slick four-color photo filled book. In fact, there are no photos or illustrations whatsoever. We only see almost 500 pages of dense Times New Roman text.

We begin with the preface which speaks directly to the Dear Reader and ends with:

Many more recipes may be added but for lack of space. We have tried, however, to make of the book a reasonably representative selection, and trust that having it in your kitchen shelf will make you happy.

I kind of like that sentiment. They address the cooking, the eating and the health but most of all…they want you to be happy.

After the preface, we then launch into a nice section about “useful food facts” and a discussion of what various vitamins and minerals do for the body and where to find them. Then there are 64 pages of food values in a table that includes calories, protein, iron, calcium contents.

Next is a comprehensive menu listings that included school and business lunches as well as the full days of breakfast, lunch and dinner. They explain:

There should be variety from day to day to make meals appetizing, along with variation in texture and color. It is in the combination of hot and cold foods, soft and solid ones, the sweet and tart, too, that the flavor is enhanced, with the use of herbs having a share in the enjoyment of meals.

The menus are extensive. And, when one of the items listed is “New Age Cole Slaw” what’s not to like? Each menu day even lists beverages including:  “Upon arising a glass of cherry juice” or “Upon rising a glass of pineapple juice.”

After the menu section, this is where the cookbook ramps up. Page after page of simple recipes, advice, guidance and suggestions. For example, there is a sandwich section where there are 48 suggestions for various combinations – egg, cream cheese, peanut butter, vegetable and all kinds of variations in between. One such suggestion:

Take equal parts of chopped carrots and pecan nuts and pass trough food chopper, using coarse cutter. Mix with mayonnaise. Spread on dark rye bread, toasted.

All recipes are simple and the instructions given are very concise. Sometimes too concise and you have to go into the context clues to figure out what you need to do. So, if they say “4 baked potatoes” in the ingredients you know to bake the potato before beginning the rest of the recipe.

It was when I was doing the perusal of the recipes for this post, the mystical qualities of this cookbook reared it’s head. I’ve used this cookbook several times but this time as I flipped I had to stop as I suddenly came across this:

Yes, a four leaf clover! Oh joy! Someone, who knows how long ago, placed the clover in the book for safe keeping. I smiled, happy with my find, and then turned the page:

Joy of joys! Two more four leaf clovers preserved in the pages! Yes, the writers were correct, having this cookbook on my shelf did make me happy!

The cookbook wraps up with a list of herbs that “provide simple home remedies such as our grandmothers used for minor indispositions.” The extensive herb section begins thusly:

Herbs have come to us so bedimmed by time that we no longer know their origin. Their use has relieved many ailments, serving as an aid to better living.

This introduction is followed by pages upon pages of herbs and their benefits. Such as:

Celandine, wile (plant): ruled by the Sun. Effective in problems of bladder, dropsy, kidney, jaundice, liver, and also for ulcers.

Pumpkin Seeds: ruled by Moon. Beneficial in expelling tapeworm by eating quantity of shelled ones at night, followed next morning by brisk cathartic to expel worm.

I shall remember that around Halloween when I’m carving pumpkins and toasting the seeds. Be gone tapeworms!

After the herb discussion, we head into food equivalents and a quite comprehensive index that does a great job cross referencing and listing by ingredient rather than by recipe title.

Sadly I have to draw this journey to a close. But don’t fret, there is one more section in the book –  a list of books authored by Max Heindel that includes the following titles:

  • Occult Principles of Health and Healing
  • The Message of the Stars
  • Mysteries of the Great Operas
  • Gleanings of a Mystic
  • Simplified Scientific Astrology
  • Simplifies Scientific Ephemeries
  • The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception

To wrap things up, this is one of those cookbooks that you flip through and actually read when waiting for things to cook. It’s a collection of not only cooking advice and references but has some pretty durn good recipes to boot.

Now, on to the business at hand – a recipe from this mystical book. I let the four leaf clover be my guide and chose to make Stuffed Potatoes. I had yet another “happy moment” after getting to pound the living heck out of a bag of cashews and pecans. (I used a wooden crab mallet, laid the bag on the floor and began pulverizing them.) These stuffed potatoes were warm and nutty. I could have used a little more cream in the mixture as they came out a little dry. I noticed it when I was mashing up the stuffing but just didn’t think to add more milk to the mixture. We ate these as a main dish but they can certainly side alongside something else.

Stuffed Potatoes
New Age Vegetarian Cookbook

4 large baked potatoes
1/4 cup ground pecans and cashews
1/2 cup warm certified raw milk (Note: I used skim milk)
1/4 cup grated cheese (Note: I used cheddar)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vegetable salt
2 tsp chopped parsley

Before After

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; remove pulp and mash, adding other ingredients.

Beat until light.

Refill shells, leaving top rough.

Sprinkle with paprika and brown in 400 degree oven.

Veggin’ Cookbook Chronicles: Roasted Cashews with Garam Masala

July 25, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Cookbook Chronicle Challenge, Snacks/Appetizers

This a bonus recipe from a recent review in my cookbook challenge. It comes from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The cook book has seven recipes for roasted nuts and salted seeds and I couldn’t pass them up. All of the recipes are really easy, and they create something different to have on hand for folks to munch on with their beer than just plain old peanuts.

The garam masala mixed with a slight sweet and salty flair worked out quite nicely. This was so good and unique that I’m glad that I doubled it. I was able to have some for a friend’s get-together and have enough leftover for just ourselves.

Roasted Cashews with Garam Masala
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

2 cups raw cashew nuts
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt (Note: if cashews are already salted, skip salt)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Toss the nuts with the oil and toast on a sheet pan until lightly brown all over, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and toss with the garam masala, sugar, and salt.

Note from cookbook: You can also use a mixture of cashews, almonds, and pecans with these seasonings. The pecans are especially good since their crevices catch the seasonings.


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