Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

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Mimsy Review: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, January 25, 1997

Review of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, with a recipe for Ham Casserole Country Style.

AuthorsFannie Merritt Farmer, Marion Cunningham
PublisherAlfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Length874 pages
Book Rating7

Fannie Merritt Farmer’s classic Fannie Farmer Cookbook has been updated by Marion Cunningham “for the nineties”. (Marion Cunningham… wasn’t she Richie’s mom in Happy Days?) It has a nice cover which ought to be 3-D if you stare at it long enough. I haven’t quite managed that myself. This is the thirteenth edition; the reason I got it so cheap is presumably because they want to get the newest edition out.

This is a huge book, with 800 pages of recipes. The originals are almost invariably solid, normal recipes. You’ll find Vegetable Soup, Roast Turkey, Ham and Noodle Casserole… and, among the originals, additional recipes such as Quick-Fried Squid and Tuscan Bean and Tuna Salad. New recipes are marked with their titles in orange. Many of them seem to be modified versions of James Beard’s recipes.

Other additions include a section on Microwave Cooking and an Outdoor Cooking chapter. Vegetarian recipes are marked as such—and, a fine departure from standard bullshit, baked goods and desserts are not marked as vegetarian just because they don’t happen to have meat in them.

She has also gone through each recipe, and replaced fats with oils, when “the quality of a dish isn’t compromised.” In some cases, the amount of fats called for has been reduced.

This is the best general cooking cookbook I have seen. It has a good glossary of food items; and information about what kinds of kitchen equipment you’ll want to get, and how you’ll use them. Cooking terms are also presented in a glossary.

Here are the kinds of recipes you’ll be getting: Appetizers; Soups; Fish & Shellfish; Meat; Poultry & Game Birds; Outdoor Cooking; Sauces, Marinades & Stuffings; Sandwiches, Pizza & Tacos; Cereals, Rice, Beans & Pasta; Eggs & Cheese; Some Vegetarian Dishes; Vegetables; Microwave Cooking; Salads; Yeast Breads; Quick Breads; Cakes; Frostings & Fillings; Cookies, Cake Squares & Bars; Pies & Pastries; Desserts & Dessert Sauces; Fruits & Fruit Desserts; Candies & Confections; Preserves, Pickles, Relishes & Canned Fruits & Vegetables; Frozen Foods; Beverages.

Under cornmeal, you’ll get the following recipes, as examples: Cornmeal Mush, Fried Cornmeal Mush, Spoon Bread (new), Light Spoon Bread, Basic Polenta, Polenta with Sausage, Polenta with Spinach and Fish (new), Hominy Grits, Fried Grits, Hominy Grits Casserole, Alace’s Grits Spoon Bread.

The vegetable section discusses basic methods for cooking various vegetables before going into the recipes themselves, a good idea. New for this edition is Bok Choy. Fannie Farmer had no recipes for it, Cunningham adds one. Children will not like it, as it comes alphabetically right between beets and broccoli.

Ham Casserole Country Style

  • 2 cups potatoes, sliced thin,
  • salt,
  • freshly ground pepper,
  • large onion, sliced thin,
  • 2 tsp thyme, crumbled,
  • 1 thick ham slice, trimmed (1.5-2 lbs),
  • 2 cups milk.
  1. Cover the bottom of buttered 1.5 quart covered casserole with potatoes.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spread onions on top.
  4. Scatter with thyme.
  5. Lay ham slice over onions.
  6. Pour on milk.
  7. Cover, and bake at 350F for one hour.

The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

Fannie Merritt Farmer, Marion Cunningham

My cost: $7.95

Recommendation: Great general cookbook