Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Book Reviews: From political histories to bad comics, to bad comics of political histories. And the occasional rant about fiction and writing.

The Thrifty Peanut in Shreveport

Jerry Stratton, November 10, 2021

Shreveport, Louisiana, is a great place to stop for a rest and walkabout while driving east or west on I-20. And if you’re a fan of used bookstores, you should definitely make time to browse The Thrifty Peanut while you’re there.

The first time I browsed The Thrifty Peanut, I had Robert Aickman on my want list. I found two of his short story collections, Cold Hand in Mine and Painted Devils on the Peanut’s shelves. Aickman is a very subtle horror writer, and these were elegant hardcover editions with covers by Edward Gorey. The stories are about hauntings that aren’t quite there, slightly twisted realities seen obliquely. Things just on the edge of remembrance, jus tout of reach of the senses.

I have often noticed in life that we never really learn anything—learn for the first time, I mean. We know everything already, everything that we, as individuals, are capable of knowing, or fit to know; all that other people do for us, at best, is to remind us, to give our brains a little twist from one set of preoccupations to a slightly different set.

On my second trip, William Sloane’s The Edge of Running Water was on my list; it had been recommended to me in an offline forum so I didn’t know what to expect. Sloane turns out to have strong similarities to Aickman. He blurs genre as much as he blurs reality and the supernatural. The Edge of Running Water is a ghost story with science fiction elements (vaguely similar to the much later Hell House), or perhaps science fiction with horror elements a la Lovecraft.

Thrifty Peanut shelves

Both of these authors are worth reading.

The Thrifty Peanut also has a couple of shelves of church and community cookbooks in good shape, if you’re interested in that sort of thing. I didn’t pick up any of them, but I did find a fascinating collection of sweetened condensed milk recipes from Borden’s Eagle Brand, with a great sixties cover, on the main cookbook shelf. Borden praises sweetened condensed milk as a sort of miracle ingredient, and frankly it really is.

I had already started using sweetened condensed milk based on a recipe in another community cookbook, The Artist in the Kitchen from the Friends of the Saint Louis Art Museum. That recipe uses sweetened condensed milk, no flour or eggs, and somehow manages to come together with that cookie/cake texture required for brownies. It really did seem like a miracle ingredient. I wanted to improve my repertoire of recipes using it, so I bought this cookbook. The great sixties cover didn’t hurt, either.

The macadamia nut squares in The Dessert Lovers’ Handbook are literally just a matter of laying down a crumb layer and scattering, in order, nuts, chocolate chips, and coconut over the top. After those layers, the sweetened condensed milk is poured over the top. No mixing, just lay down the layers in the pan and bake.

Another recipe in a different Borden book I picked up elsewhere in Shreveport just rolls together cookie crumbs, nuts, and dried fruit with the sweetened condensed milk. Let it sit, and you’ve got some great fruit-nut rounds.

I also bought the beautiful, tome-like, Treasury of Great Recipes from Mary and Vincent Price on this visit. It is a huge, padding-bound book. The Prices collected their favorite recipes from chefs of great restaurants around the world and wrote about each restaurant and their chefs and managers. It’s fascinating reading about those great old places, many of which are gone, and the recipes that came from them.

The photos are beautiful, both of the restaurants and the Price’s dinner spreads.

The Thrifty Peanut is a wonderful place to browse and relax in the middle of a long road trip.

The Thrifty Peanut
7600 Youree Drive
Shreveport, Louisiana

June 22, 2021

The Dessert Lovers’ Handbook $0.99 cookbook
The Edge of Running Water William Sloane $1.99 mass market paperback
A Treasury of Great Recipes Mary Price, Vincent Price $8.99 cookbook

June 27, 2018

The Tombs of Atuan Ursula K. Le Guin $2.99 mass market paperback
The Bread Machine Cookbook V Donna Rathmell German $2.99 cookbook
Cold Hand in Mine Robert Aickman $4.99 hardcover
Painted Devils Robert Aickman $4.99 hardcover
Shreveport 2021 haul

I didn’t buy much during this trip, but what I bought was amazing.

While you’re there, Shreveport also has some nice antique stores and restaurants. That other Borden cookbook with the dried fruit and nut roll came from Timeline Antiques and Collectibles. 70 Magic Recipes shares a lot of the same recipes as the Dessert Lovers Handbook I bought at The Thrifty Peanut. I went to Timeline first, because the Thrifty Peanut was open later. Had I gone to Timeline second, I would already have bought the 1969 Dessert Lovers’ Handbook and would have passed up the 1952 70 Magic Recipes. The cover on the newer Dessert Lovers’ Handbook is just so much cooler than the cover on the older 70 Magic Recipes, which is why I bought the newer one despite having already purchased the older one an hour earlier.

I’m glad I didn’t pass up either of them! That dried fruit and nut roll isn’t in the newer book. Nor are the fudge oatmeal cookies or the Spanish cream. These are all recipes worth making many times. The fudge oatmeal cookies are like no-bake cookies, but easier and glossier. The Spanish cream layers itself automatically into a rice-like layer and a pudding-like layer.

I’ll be visiting Timeline Antiques every time I pass through Shreveport now, too.

Timeline Antiques
3323 Line Avenue
Shreveport, Louisiana

June 22, 2021

Borden’s Eagle Brand 70 Magic Recipes $2.00 cookbook

There are, as I recall, three antique stores on that block: Timeline and two others. I didn’t buy anything at the other two, but I do remember being at one, getting into my car to map out the next one, and realizing it was the next building over.

Lebanese fish

The Lebanese fish at Athena’s. Yum!

Magic Coconut Squares

These coconut squares are indeed magic, especially with macadamia nuts.

Uncooked Spanish cream

This Spanish Cream was very easy to make, and very, very creamy.

Shreveport also has restaurants worth eating at after you’ve covered yourself in old book and antique dust. Just before leaving for Monroe, I ate great Lebanese fish at Athena’s Greek & Lebanese Grill, finishing it off with some of their wonderful chocolate baklava.

In response to The bookstores less traveled: These aren’t the bookstores people travel across the country to visit. But if you’re already traveling across the country, you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunity to visit them.

  1. <- New Braunfels Library sale