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Friday, May 6, 2016

Gray Matter: Recalling those kitchen 'treasures'

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I just finished lunch, so I promise not to get hungry and leave you in the lurch again until I finish writing of my Cookbook Collection.

First, though, I must tell you something  I'm just beginning to realize.  Twenty years ago I could not have written these pieces for a mixed audience.  Men just didn't cook.   Now I'm learning that's all changing.  I'm told many guys are really into it.  That's good to know, otherwise I would be worrying about boring a sizable share of you readers.

But back to the Cookbooks -- The most used, following those described last time, are the various Church and Community ones. I have quite a few, and as you well know, some of the tastiest recipes of all can be found between those colorful covers.

Next comes another section, many of which were gifts. (Some, I must admit, were gifts I gave myself.)  Here's one that's a real "oldie". "How to Eat Better for Less" by James Beard and Sam Aaron, still has the price mark of $2.98 inside the front cover!  From there, we must travel a bit. " Tastes and Tales from Texas" is followed by "Cooking from Quilt Country -- Hearty Recipes from Amish and Mennonite Kitchens" by Marcia Adams.  That accompanied a TV Cooking Show, as I recall.  Mary Emmerlings picks up in a similar vein, taking us well beyond the Upper Midwest with  "American Country Cooking -- Recipes and Menus from Family and Friends Across America".

Next are several that zero in on special locations.  "Taste of Terrace Hill", a wonderful sampling of Iowa-related treats, was collected and edited by Billie Ray, then wife of the governor.  That too, has been around awhile.  I see, though, that recipe collecting is still alive and well in state government circles.  Just last year "Recipes from the House" was given me by my granddaughter,  who is administrative assistant to the House Speaker at the capitol in Des Moines.  It is full of  further evidence that men and women are both interested in culinary matters. Submissions from  representatives, secretaries and staff are quite equally divided between the sexes --  unheard of a generation earlier in Ray's book. 

On from Iowa, "The Summer Book " by Susan Branch takes us to New England.  Finally we're headed back to Texas as I must tell you about the source of some of my finest  recipes. It is "The Peach Tree Tea Room Cookbook" by Cynthia Collins Pedregon.  She and her husband, Hector, who owned the legendary Tea  Room in Fredericksburg, were such nice people.  I've been saddened to learn that  health problems have caused them to turn the management over to their son and daughter, but heartened to know that The Peachtree Tea Room will remain in good hands for yet another generation.

Now for one last cookbook that is also something of a "star" on my cupboard shelf.  It is "Microwave Gourmet" by Barbara Kafka.  This thorough, wise and wonderful work covers all the ins and outs of this newer kind of food preparation.  It took a while (guess I was too busy with the contents) before I read  Kafka's loving dedication to the memory of her  father, James Beard -- the very same man who co-authored my $2.98 book from so long ago. 

These books,  neither antiques nor collectibles, are a series of volumes I truly treasure.