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Giveaway – Soup Bible

When Groupon* ran a special for Barnes and Noble a few months ago, I knew exactly what I was going to do with it – share my favorite cookbook.

book cover: mauve-ish tones, a bowl of brownish, yet creamy, soup - The Soup Bible
The Soup Bible – edited by Debra Mayhew

Of all my cookbooks, this one has the most wear and the most dirty pages. It reliably offers inspirations and I’ve only had a couple recipes that were less than satisfactory (and one was definitely my fault for adding much more of an ingredient than called for).

It has light soups and hearty ones, simple and complicated. It has ones made from ingredients scrounged around a bare pantry and ones that require special shopping trips. It has some which have become reliable staples frequently prepared. And there are still new recipes I am excited to try in the future. I think I’ve made about half… maybe fewer… but that’s cooking for one and an eclectic palate.

Now here are my reservations about this book: Debra Mayhew is the editor, not the author. You have to look very hard to figure out who wrote the original recipes. Also, this is not the book Debra Mayhew originally edited (though I didn’t figure that out until I’d already fallen deeply in love with this version), which is The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Soup – and this is a Barnes and Noble abridged version.

Those reservations aside – it’s amazing. The photography looks straightforward and explanatory, but it takes quite a bit of skill to make bean soup look that lovely. The directions are easy to follow, and the language is spare, so you don’t roll your eyes too much at the cultural appropriations. And – yes – so many cultural and so many different soups! It’s really a very exciting collection.

So I’m giving one away. Leave a comment and tell me your favorite soup or favorite cookbook. And if I get more than one comment, I’ll pull out a random number generator to pick a winner.

*note: I am not affiliated with Barnes and Noble. I do have a membership with groupon, and the link is a referral code that will give me $10, if you are new to their service and make a purchase. I don’t actually expect to make any money, but I couldn’t think of any reason not to use that link.

Cookbooks review – Georgeanne Brennan (+ bonus Creamy Peas recipe)

One of the food blogs I have read in the last month, has been raving about recipes from various cookbooks written by Georgeanne Brennan. So I checked my library and its newly massive cookbook collection, and I had a look at the two they have.

Down to Earth – her exploration of root vegetables. Instead of trying to be comprehensive, she instead offers a few recipes each for potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, jicama, lotus root, carrots, radishes, salsify, celery root, horseradish, turnips, leeks, sweet potatoes, and onions. And so if you are going, “OOoooo… I wonder which recipe she chose to highlight onions instead of just counting them as an ingredient as everything… maybe something with really sexy caramelization,” you’d be wrong (and you’d be looking for Smitten Kitchen, instead) – onions just sometimes show up in a lot of recipes, as they do, not really highlighted. I think, I ended up returning the book after looking through it for an hour. It didn’t even make it home. Because while it had a really lovely section talking about the ingredients, the food wasn’t anything I couldn’t figure out on my own. Jicama – apparently, no, there’s no way to cook it or give it flavor, just cut it into little strips and pretend you like the crunch while it bulks out your salad. Horseradish – did you know you could add it to sauces for meat? You get the idea. So by all means, you should grab someone else’s copy and look through the first chapter, but not so much spending money on your own copy.

Great Greens – Suffers from pretty much the exact same problem, but I can talk about it more since this one made it home with me, and I even bookmarked three recipes that might be interesting (Bacon-wrapped cabbage rolls with blue cheese and walnuts, Taco salad with cabbage and red snapper, and Shepherd’s pie with three greens). Actually, you know what? I was going to pan this one just as much as the other one, but then I went to the farmers’ market today – and there was a woman with greens I’d never seen before but recognized from this particular cookbook, so I bought them and have reached for the cookbook to give me ideas. So this one is not a total wash.

So her glossary of greens includes: arugula, bok choi (only one variety, I think), cabbage (many varieties), chard, chicories (belgian endive, radicchio, curly endive/frisee (which I hate with a passion, and she apparently loves with a similar passion), and escarole), kale (oddly, only the lacinato variety, instead of the kind I see cheap and plentiful at the stores), lettuces (crispheads, butterhead, iceberg, looseleaf, romaine), mâche, mesclun (separate from the lettuces), spinach, and watercress. With this variety, you’d think there’d be some pretty exciting recipes, yes? Well, I listed three for you. And that’s about it for me. I mean, there’s a lovely roast chicken with cornbread recipe, served with a garnish (kid you not! Just a garnish) of mâche. There’s some pretty standard soups you’d see anywhere. Salads… with lettuces. Starters such as: make a nifty dip and then serve it on individual leaves. And healthy side dishes like: gratin of belgian endive with pancetta or savoy cabbage gratin or creamed spinach gratin (isn’t that a little redundant?).

So, yeah, it’s not a keeper, but it’s worth a slightly longer term borrow.


Meanwhile, today for lunch I made fried rice. For some reason, it is ingrained into my psyche that fried rice must contain peas.

Well, about a year ago, I found a great sale on canned vegetables and I only really trusted two kinds: peas and corn. So I bought 5 cans of each. I have been very happy with having cans of corn on hand to dump randomly into soups – I only have one left. However, I have 3.75 cans of peas left.

The only recipe I have for canned peas is from Meghan:

Make some bacon. With the bacon grease, make a béchamel sauce. Dump in peas. Maybe half a teaspoon of brown mustard. If there are any pieces of the bacon still uneaten, crumble them on top. If you were being really fancy, there could be another pot getting dirty making some pasta to go with that, but we aren’t that fancy.

But for every other purpose, I have learned that I much prefer frozen peas.

I mean, sure, there are fresh peas, but I have only seen them in the early spring at the farmers’ market in Baltimore where you have to wake up early in order to fight your way to the head of the line before the peas run out.

So in conclusion, I think I can reconcile myself to losing $1.50 to donate the remaining three cans to some Thanksgiving food drive and then let myself buy some proper frozen food.

Ye Grande Cookbooke Post (or something like that)

I kept thinking I ought to do a post with reviews of my cookbooks – and I finally got around to it – YAY!

Cookbooks for general stuff

American Heart Association Cookbook, 5th edition

This is a surprisingly decent and solid cookbook – dieting or not. The first time I ever made black bean soup it was from this cookbook, and even though my mother had sworn she’d never met a black bean that was worth eating this soup turned out full of flavor and delicious. It has standard foods and ones with twists that appeal to me – like the mexican ratatouille.

The Best Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

Aww! This was a birthday gift from moot, and it was a wonderful gift. This is the book that finally comforted me about my inability to make tasty beef stock (in that it takes almost as much beef as you want stock). This it the book I go to if there is a common recipe that just keeps giving me trouble because these are the people who have taken common recipes and made them over and over again with tiny variations until they come up with a “perfect” version. Now my aesthetic does not always agree with theirs, but they tell you what they are aiming toward and exactly how each modification altered their results, so I can still extrapolate how to tweak my recipes to get the results I want. This is the shortcut to avoid wasting a lot of ingredients on your own.

Better Homes and Gardens (Plaid) New Cook Book (2002 edition)

So I grew up with this cookbook, and I always considered it a staple of a good household. So when my sister and I moved into our own places, my mother bought each of us our own copies of this cookbook and the Joy of Cooking. Only I have discovered that the only recipe I ever used this cookbook for was the banana bread, and the new edition changed that recipe! So it pretty much just takes up space. I does have some good conversion charts, but I have an internet for that, too. (banana bread bitching) So I think I’ll be getting rid of this cookbook as soon as I remember to do so.

Cooking with the Seasons: A Year in My Kitchen by Monique Jamet Hooker

I love the idea of this cookbook, and I even am rather fond of some of the recipes, but I wish it were more a list of tasty foods you can make with seasonal foods instead of trying to offer me organized meals. Nonetheless, I love the idea of certain foods being late summer foods and tailoring one’s menu around that.

Going Solo in the Kitchen by Jane Doerfer

I picked up this cookbook from the library after a discussion about cookbooks for eating in smaller households. It’s a good, solid book with not only simple (but not too boring) recipes, but also a lot of good tips on shopping, meal planning, budgeting, and cooking techniques. And it has a lot of quotes and discussion about how it really is better to get to eat alone without that bastard of a husband who just left you for some bimbo, and you get a sneaking suspicion that the cheerfulness is a bit forced… which I found pleasantly amusing. YMMV. Most of the tips were things I had already discovered, but they were often the things I was the most proud of having figured out because they were things other people don’t always get (like homemade stock and coordinating lunches with leftovers).

Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker (1964 edition)

This was the other book I got from my mother when I got my own apartment… only this one, I ended up deciding that I really had liked my mother’s enough that when the modern version proved not as useful, I gave it back and we hunted through used books for an older edition that still would tell you how to skin a squirrel and other such handy things. This is the book I use if I want to know the oven temperature for a roast. This is the book I go to when I have a new (not too regional) ingredient or an ingredient I want a new way to cook. There’s an amazingly tasty asparagus recipe (in which the advocate roasting at a much higher temperature than you’d expect, but the results were lovely). Most of the recipes are very simple and necessary. This is a good book for basic sauces – when someone says, “Let’s just whip up a hollandaise sauce,” and you don’t have a packet mix for that, you go to this book. And it tells you how to butcher a pig, dress a squab, and – most importantly – skin one of those pesky squirrels that keeps trying to break into my apartment.

Weight Watchers – Favorite Homestyle Recipes

I haven’t opened this one recently, but I should. The recipes in it were pretty good. I got it back in the days when I studiously went through and made little post-it tabs to index every recipe that looked promising, and this one has a lot of post-its. It is, however, one of the diet cookbooks that stupidly confuses spaghetti squash with a spaghetti alternative – and really, it’s much tastier if you let it just be a stringy squash instead of trying to top it with marinara and meatballs.

Cookbooks for entertaining – Appetizers / Parties

Cocktail Food Deck

This is a fun format, but it’s not as useful as I’d hoped. Most of the recipes are duplicated elsewhere. BUT – and this is a big one – it is the place where I get most of the recipe for my homemade pita chips, which are awesome, if I may be modest for a moment. 🙂

Finger Food by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen

This is my quintessential book of appetizers and party food. The author appreciates the sexiness of heavy cream and dainty presentations, but the techniques are rarely all that complicated – and there are a lot of options here that travel well. This book has stuff for the gluten intolerant (Mmmm – wild rice pancakes topped with smoked salmon, and cucumber cups filled with smoked trout) and encompasses a wide variety of flavors and techniques. I have been using this book rather hard for several years now, and there are still some tempting and simple recipes I haven’t gotten around to trying (partly because the ones I’ve tried have all worked so well they have become reliable standbys), and it’s only 96 pages.

New Vegetarian Entertaining by Jane Noraika

This one looked a lot like finger food in the way the recipes were presented, but they really aren’t very similar cookbooks. I hardly ever find something I decide to make in this book, but I keep it around because I do run into a decent amount of vegetarians and you never know.

Winterthur’s Culinary Collection compiled by Anne Beckley Coleman

This is a book I bought after having looked through the copy at the library. It has several recipes that I were common around the town where I grew up (e.g. proper Chadd’s Ford stuffed mushrooms), and is full of tasty food, but it’s in the appetizer category in my head because those were the one’s most familiar and evocative.

Soup Cookbooks

Betty Crocker – Soup, Stew, and Chili (Feb 2004 magazine, #205)

This little pamphlet is so wee that I keep forgetting I have it when I want to make soup. And then I find it and go, “Hmmm, I should use this someday.” And so the cycle continues.

Glorious Stew by Dorothy Ivens (1976 edition)

This stew is, indeed, glorious. I looked through a copy at the library and liked it so much that I bought my own copy. Okay, so that’s a lie: I still have the library’s copy, but I talked my mother into buying the book. It has a recipe for goulash that it the closest I have seen to Cee’s authentic recipe picked up in a little place in Slovakia. It separates stews by main meat product and then by whether it it browned first or cooked unbrowned. This cookbook makes the winter pass more easily.

New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker and Clara Silverstein

On the other hand, this cookbook does not impress me. My mother bought it for me because she knew I made a lot of soup, but (and I may be judging it too harshly here) I already have all the soup recipes I need, and this one didn’t seem to have anything particularly new or interesting to contribute. At some point, I might give it another chance.

The Soup Bible by Debra Mayhew

THIS! This is the best soup cookbook ever. Actually, this is the best / most-used cookbook I own. Every single time I go to this cookbook, I find a couple things I want to make. There are recipes that will use up random extraneous ingredients (green bean soup – which I have not yet been bold enough to try). There are light soups and heavy soups, exotic soups and homey ones. There are exotic homey soups (garlic soup!). This is the best cookbook ever – and I found it randomly on the clearance rack of crappy books at Barnes and Noble.

Cookbooks for Miscellaneous Food Types

The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Chicken contributing editor: Linda Fraser

All chicken all the time. I’m really not short of things to do with chicken, but every now and then I am so hungry that nothing sounds right and I’ll turn to this book. This is where I started when I wanted to experiment with coronation chicken and needed a recipe from which to start.

Filo! by Jan Nix

MMmmmm! I want to use this cookbook more often, but I’m not usually willing to go to the effort to clear space to work with phyllo. But still, I like that I have this book checked out from the library.

Great Bread Machine Baking by Marlene Brown

It’s a good book with clear directions, and I think I might get better results from it now that I know how important it is to check the temperature of the water… only now I’m kind of dieting a bit, so I haven’t been making bread. But for special occasions, yeah.

World of Dumplings by Brian Yarvin

Includes: Japan, Korea, China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Uzbekistan, Georgia, the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Ashkenazic traditional, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Great Britain, Brazil, Mexico, Jamaica, United States, and Canada. I saw this book in the library and coveted it. And then a friend got it and was experimenting with it a bit and having issues with the author, so I was thinking of not getting it… and then my mother bought it, so I stole it from her. And, yeah, the author is talking our of his ass rather frequently, but if you skip the storytelling sections and go straight to the recipes, it’s pretty decent. I’d love to use this cookbook more, but like Filo!, it’s more effort than I usually spend. Hmmm… maybe I could have a dumpling stuffing party sometime (I did have one friend over to make things in phyllo before, and I got a whole pirogi lesson when I visited another friend, so it’s not inconceivable). But in the meanwhile, I have discovered the joys of frozen dumplings bought from the asian grocer.

Regional cuisine: Chinese, Thai, and other countries in eastern Asia

Classic Chinese Cuisine by Nina Simonds (1994 edition)

I love this cookbook. It has clear directions and beautiful pictures and a confidence about the recipes that makes me think that cooking from these recipes will produce foods with authentic flavors… now the reviews on Amazon keep praising the availability of the ingredients they call for, so that might be a delusion, but it’s a delusion that makes me happy. There are very few true vegetarian dishes – most vegetable heavy dishes still have meat incorporated, but that makes me perfectly happy. This has become my primary Chinese cookbook, and it might stay that way.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery

Includes: Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Japan. This cookbook is so over the place that it’s hard to predict what will be in it and use as a reference. Instead, I have to be perusing the cookbook and construct meals around it. On the other hand, this has one of the best section on ingredients that I have found – lots of pictures and clear descriptions and storage instructions – and it is very good at disambiguating similar sauces across cuisines. From this book, I learned how to easily find the right kind of rice to make sticky rice. This was (I think) a gift from the moot people as well, but if I am wrong, it has been a very long and useful loan.

Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott

YAY! I looked long and hard for a Thai cookbook that would appeal to me, and this is the only one I have found. It is a lot of text and no pictures, and it is broken down by region. The only problem with this cookbook is that right at about the same time I found it, I also found wonderful canned Thai curries that had wonderful fresh flavors that made it unnecessary to make the pastes from scratch. Still, this is a very good cookbook, and I have made several of the recipes. Oh, and this is the source of the recipe for the awesome Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce.

Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook by Gloria Bley Miller

This is a big heavy book that looked quite promising. Now, I just go to it if I can’t find the answer elsewhere just because this book has so many recipes – but the recipe it has is not guaranteed to be good.

Regional Cuisine: Indian

Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julia Sahni

Found this recently at the Free Library’s book sale, and it looks very useful, but my other Indian cookbook is so good that I haven’t even really cracked this one yet.

Indian Epicure: Classic Recipes from North India by Meera Taneja

The grumpy guy surrounded by spices on the cover looks so trustworthy that I was completely suckered into this book (which was totally not written by the random guy pictured on the cover). This book completely reshaped my taste in cookbooks to the standards I have been talking about above. It’s all text, and very reliable. This, and the cooking class on the Bend It Like Beckham DVD, has taught me how to make Indian food that is decently passable as possibly authentic. Also, I am lucky to have plentiful access to good Indian groceries. I love the eggplant recipe. From this cookbook, I successfully made a five course Indian meal for my parents’ vegetarian house guests (plus a small family recipe beef curry for my emphatically non-vegetarian father). Good times.

Regional Cuisine: Mediterranean

The Food of Greece: Cooking, Folkways, and Travel in the Mainland and Islands of Greece by Vilma Liacouras Chantiles

My kind of cookbook – all text, convincing backstory, and divided by region… but I just haven’t found myself using it much.

Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Bastianich

So I kinda like cooking shows, but not usually for the recipes (more for the warm fuzzy glow of people being dynamic in the presence of food: +4 to charisma) (But not Emeril – for some reason, he annoys me no end). But Lidia’s show had me wishing I had written down the recipe because it was something I really wanted to eat, thought I could make decently easily, and could not remember how to make it – Eggplant Rollatini (or something like that). So I started watching her show whenever it was an option, and I really enjoy the foods she makes. Just last weekend, I watched a show where she made olives look tasty to me. So I love this cookbook and use it a decent amount relative to how infrequently I eat Italian food.

Regional cuisine: Mexican

Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz (1976 edition)

Here’s another book from the library that I liked a lot. The authorship is somewhat suspect, as she’s a rich diplomat’s wife spending her time in another country learning to cook from the help, and having them make fun of her for wanting to do this herself. But despite that annoyance, this is actually a good cookbook that has gotten me several steps closer to authentic-tasting food. Which is fairly impressive. I love how different it is from what I grew up calling Mexican food. I use this cookbook in fits and starts because most of the recipes I have tried have been pretty heavy and required washing a lot more dishes than usual (i.e. required using a food processor or blender). Still – yay!

Regional Cuisine: Middle East

The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos

Includes: Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, the Gulf States (Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman), Yemen, Egypt, Iran, and Afghanstan. This one is also hard to use as a reference because even though this is a thick book rather full of recipes, I keep feeling as though there should be more. That said, it does a nice job of showing (perhaps too simplistically, but it acknowledges the problem) how these different countries treat similar foods without creating too much duplication of similar recipes. This book really makes me want to make egg and lemon soup someday. It’s also a library book.

Things I have left out

Note: I have left out both translations of Apicius because I have reviewed them before, and I have left out the books about booze (Mr. Bostons, a scotch book, and a new cocktails book) because I haven’t used them much

What I did with my summer weekend – failed whole wheat banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Read books
Element of Fire by Martha Wells

I really liked this book, but I spent the entire time I was reading it wishing it were Science Fiction instead of Fantasy. See, one of the things I like most about some of this author’s other writing is that she writes science fiction that is believably otherworldly where I am neither pointing the the earth culture some author blatantly ripped off nor am I wincing at the implausible technobabble. Her stuff is the closest to good hard sci fi that I have read in a while. So I went into this book looking for that itch to be scratched, and I got fantasy.

Still, there’s wonderful political intrigue, and an amazingly understated and limiting system of magic that feels wonderfully plausible. Every single character has dimensions and motivations and regrets. I ended up wanting to spend a good deal more time in this world.

The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells

Luckily, I already had another book set in the same world as Element of Fire. Only this one – is set in the future of the other book – possibly a steampunk future. So there’s that rich texture of fantasy, but the magic has faded a bit in the way of technology and there are whizzing gadgets and whamframits and legacies of wizards and the ways different cultures have been shaped by developing in a world with magic. It’s almost an anthropological study, but it’s also swashbuckling and quirkiness. There are so many elements in this world, but they are all clearly defined and interesting and I need to go buy the next two books in the trilogy right away.

Watched movies

There were times when I was grinning uncontrollably, thinking, “Awwww… Neil Gaiman, your message is showing.” Geek boy makes good! People love you, even if you’re different! Overconfidence will do you in every time. N’awww!

But aside from that, totally aside from Neil Gaiman’s input, this was an awesome movie. The visuals were stunning! The acting was wonderful – there was just the right balance of scenery chewing and subtlety. And I have never seen costuming and special effects work together so well before – with the way they did the witch’s magic, her incredibly awkward dress totally worked because it matched the smokey magic effect and made it looks like she was trailing off into vapours at the edges – and both were enhanced by the other. I loved that the pretty pretty princess looked like a real person, and beautiful. I loved that one of the essential parts of becoming a hero was acquiring Keanu Reeve’s hair – I had never understood before. Robert De Niro was great, but I really wanted to squish his first mate’s cheeks – who was he? OH! – well, this movie really suited him.

Kiss of the Spider Woman

This movie has been available for me to watch ever since it was released and we had a copy on Beta. Finally got around to it.

First off. I hate William Hurt. Far too many times, I have gone into a movie really excited that it will have John Hurt in it, only to be tricked into having to watch William Hurt, instead. Not a fair substitution, I tell you! I think he managed to single-handedly ruin the last third of History of Violence, which would have been one of my favorite movies, if only they had cast someone other than William Hurt. I don’t like his voice, his mannerisms, the way he manages to be smugly modest, and he has stupid hair. Or I might just be projecting that all because I am bitter that he isn’t John Hurt.

And the movie starts off with William Hurt’s voice talking painfully slowly he’s really savouring his own nasal tone, and I almost turned it off right there. But my mother has been trying to get me to watch this movie for years, so I kept going.

I sure was glad that my closest neighbors have moved because I was a bit embarrassed at times to have, “Faggot,” shouted out through my windows so frequently – not a polite movie.

But it was a good movie. I liked how the characters developed and didn’t compromise. I liked how the story was built up in layers that seemed superficial but weren’t.

I have an urge to rewrite bits of it. On the other hand, I like that I have to fight the text at that point.

Baked… badly
Saga of the whole wheat banana peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

It all started with overripe bananas. And I was going to make banana bread, but I always make banana bread. So I looked through my cookbooks for something new to bake with bananas.

I have checked out from the library a cookbook for Clueless Bakers, and it had a recipe for whole wheat banana peanut butter cookies. What could go wrong?

So I started off following the recipe exactly, and the recipe said that throwing in chocolate chips would cause nothing but good things, so I did that.

The result? Lumpy, grainy, yucky cookies of blech!

I thought back to the best peanut butter cookies I have ever had, and they had been made from a fairly thin batter with melted chocolate drops on top. So I went to the store to buy Hershey’s Kisses, and I set out to thin the batter.

I looked in my fridge and decided that the small cup of vanilla yogurt would be the perfect choice, after all I was planning to put yogurt (plain) in the banana bread, if I made it, and a bit of vanilla would do wonders for the taste. I also decided that a teaspoon of powdered ginger would also do wonders for the taste, so I added that.

The batter was thin and spread out just the way I wanted, but it didn’t get crispy at all. The outside was cooked, but the inside was still mushy – and they were thin now!

Apparently, yogurt was the wrong choice. When I called my mother to whine about my cookies, she said that I should have used an egg but that a dairy product would trap too much moisture.

The Hershey’s Kisses were also not as charming as the chocolate drops made special for the other recipe because they didn’t melt – the just got a bit droopy around the edges but maintained their shape perfectly even after baking. Creepy. Possibly, I should have been tipped off by the paper tags under the foil that said, “Oops,” and, “I hate Mondays!”

At least the dough was tasty. If it weren’t for cultural indoctrination against salmonella, I’d prefer to eat most cookies as dough.

Nevermind, I packed up the entire lot of them and left them in the staff room for people to try.

I’m good at savoury food, but for some reason I am bizarrely incompetent at baked goods.

ETA: The free cookies at work were not tempting enough at all – at the end of the day, I ended up throwing out half of them.

My eyes!

So the library recently accepted two huge cookbook collections on donation, and this is a source of joy for me. Some of them are more fun to mock, however, than to actually use.

Case in point: James Beard’s Casserole Cookbook

The back cover says:

Remember — cooking casseroles is an ego trip. Broil a fine steak and people say, “What a good steak!” Whip up a scrumptious casserole and people say, “What a great cook!” And they are right.

But what is even better is that each recipe has a little blurb/quip to match it

  • Veal Roast in Casserole – tender and juicy
  • Calf’s Heart – something of interest
  • Pork Steak in Casserole – catch that aroma!
  • Veal Surprise – savory and flavory
  • Beef Casserole with Olives – exotic touch
  • Boeuf a l’Ail – for adventures
  • Tripes a la Nicoise – ever try tripe?
  • Quick Beefsteak Pie – after a steak
  • Corned Beef Hash in Casserole – real eye opener
  • Pork Chops with Sauerkraut – stag-night special
  • Braised Short Ribs with Mushrooms – educated ribs
  • Liver Loaf – good for everything
  • Browned Chicken Casserole – plenty of garnish
  • Chicken Goulash – for grand affairs
  • Chicken Hash Mornay – glamor added
  • Chicken Mexican – this will keep
  • Turkey-Olive Casserole – interesting combination
  • Roast Turkey Sesamine – really exotic
  • Lobster au Gratin – for royalty only
  • Broccoli Souffle – pretty special
  • Cream Succotash – for company
  • Plaza Succotash – rich potpourri
  • Stuffed Tomatoes – can’t go wrong
  • Savory Stuffed Tomatoes – anchovy added!
  • Baked Cauliflower – glamorized favorite