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.

Baker’s Dozen Coconut Oatmeal Cookies—Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

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A PDF of The Baker’s Dozen.

I said in the first installment that I’d have more recipes later from The Baker’s Dozen (PDF File, 3.3 MB). Here’s the first. I’m a huge fan of oatmeal cookies, so I couldn’t resist trying this recipe. They’re a wonderfully chewy-crunchy oatmeal cookie that flattens naturally into even rounds. The coconut enhances the chewiness without harming the crunchiness. If you sprinkle coconut on the cookies before baking, there’s a wonderful rush of toasted coconut flavor; if you don’t, the coconut flavor is much more subtle but the coconut chewiness remains upfront.

They’re great either way.

Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Baker’s Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

Servings: 48
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
The Baker’s Dozen (PDF File, 3.3 MB)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp Calumet Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut

Steps

  1. Sift flour with baking powder, salt, and soda.
  2. Cream butter.
  3. Gradually add sugars; cream until light and fluffy.
  4. Add egg and vanilla; beat well.
  5. Add flour mixture in 4 parts, beating just until smooth after each addition.
  6. Mix in rolled oats and coconut.
  7. Drop by teaspoonfuls (½ oz) onto ungreased baking sheets.
  8. Top each cookie with additional coconut if desired.
  9. Bake at 375° for 9 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.
Bread and butter pickles for National Sandwich Day—Wednesday, October 26th, 2022
Fruitport Pickles

If there’s one ingredient that makes almost any sandwich taste better, it is pickles. Ham sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, fish sandwiches, and chicken or tuna salad sandwiches, they all benefit from several slices of good pickles. The more the tastier!

One of my favorite bars is the Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, and that’s partly because you get to assemble your own burger. Which means I get as many pickles on the burger as I can fit.

I usually prefer dill pickles, but every once in a while I get a craving for bread & butter pickles. They’re especially good with fish sandwiches, especially the salmon burgers from Trader Joe’s. No chicken melt or tuna melt is complete without pickles, and bread & butter pickles are a special treat on any chicken or tuna salad sandwich, melt or not.

National Sandwich Day is on Thursday of next week. Normally, I’d be posting my Sandwich Day recipe on the Wednesday before, but this recipe takes three days to make. I know you’re probably focused on Hallowe’en right now, but take some time out to pick up whatever ingredients you need for pickles and start them tomorrow, or over the weekend. If you like bread and butter pickles, you won’t be disappointed.

Even if you don’t like bread and butter pickles, you might try this one. These homemade bread and butter pickles outshine anything I’ve had from a store. They are very easy to make. They do not require any canning, just a half-gallon jar. All you need to do is mix everything together and put them in the refrigerator for a few days. The original recipe made them a gallon at a time. If you have a larger family, or if the only suitable jar you have is a gallon jar, double the recipe for the original full gallon.

Billy Goat Tavern burger

Hamburger the way I make them: pickles top and bottom.

These pickles keep getting better past the three-day mark, which is probably why some recipes call for waiting up to seven days. They are, however, ready to eat and already amazing after sitting three days.

They last for a long time in the refrigerator. I don’t know how long, because I’ve never had any left over after a few weeks. And when they’re gone, mix up a new batch and you’re three days from a fresh jar! If you’ve never done any pickling before, and aren’t yet comfortable with canning, this is a great starter recipe to show what wonders are possible when you’re comfortable making preserved foods.

Pumpkin rarebit soup—Wednesday, October 19th, 2022
Comedy/tragedy pumpkins

They gave their lives for rarebit stew.

In my continuing quest to find uses for the body parts I collect in the runup to Hallowe’en, last year I made Mollie Katzen’s pumpkin rarebit soup from her Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

Since starting this annual series, I’ve taken to carving two Hallowe’en pumpkins just so I have more body parts left over. The way I cut a pumpkin, two of them provide about four cups of meat. This recipe uses it all.

You can, of course, very easily half this recipe. You’re going to be drinking some of the beer anyway, so why not drink more? And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with buying pumpkin in a can or jar, or buying fresh pumpkins just to make the soup. It’s less grisly that way.

If I have pumpkin left over, I’ll bake it within a few days of carving, then freeze it in a plastic bag in the until I’m ready to use it.

This is a very comfort-food soup. It has all the flavors of a good old-fashioned soup, simmered together: beer, cheddar cheese, and even a touch of that once-ubiquitous outdoor flavoring, Worcestershire sauce.

Katzen removed from this soup from the “new, improved” version of the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, replacing it with an Arizona Pumpkin Soup that, while superficially similar, gets rid of the beer, the cheese, and the Worcestershire sauce.

Pumpkin Rarebit Soup

In other words, all the good stuff. There are few flavors that better enhance squash than lots of butter or cheese, especially with some pepper added in.

In honor of that bowdlerization, I’m calling for Lone Star beer in the ingredients to make this a Texas Pumpkin Soup. But honestly, you can use any beer. The original recipe calls for light beer, which I can’t recommend, for the simple reason that I never have any on hand and so haven’t tried it. I use Lone Star most of the time, and if I don’t, I use Peroni. I should experiment with some darker beers—I expect a good porter would be great—but Hallowe’en only comes once a year.

We have so little time in our lives to revel in the body parts of the vanquished squash!

Try topping with croutons, corn chips, or toasted nuts if you have them. Something crunchy and salty should be perfect. But I’ve even topped it with an over-easy egg.

The Deplorable Index—Wednesday, October 12th, 2022
The Deplorable Gourmet

This is definitely not a cookbook that uses stock images from the publisher.

As I go through my library of cookbooks deciding whether I really need this particular book I haven’t used in ages, I’m also discovering which cookbooks are indispensable. Many of the indispensable cookbooks, I still don’t use as often as I’d like because they were made by people who love cooking, but who are not professional book designers. The biggest tell is that these books lack useful indices.

That was why I started my Missing Indexes section of the blog, for my hometown cookbooks. I’ve since extended it to all of the community cookbooks I own, and I plan on making the best publicly available; I haven’t decided exactly how. In some cases the interesting parts are the names and places that contributed to the cookbook—some communities are small towns, some are entire states.

But The Deplorable Gourmet is an obvious place to start. The Deplorable Gourmet is the community cookbook of the Ace of Spades HQ commenters. I bought it for the camaraderie of taking part but I keep it because of the great recipes. It’s quickly become one of my favorite community cookbooks. It has an index by author, which is great when I’m looking up my own recipes, but not so great when I want, say, an amazing biscotti con pignoli or that wonderfully spicy chili peanut brittle. Beery peanut brittle is a great hot pepper peanut brittle made with beer and chipotle powder.

Beery Peanut Brittle

Oggi’s great peanut brittle, made with Lone Star and substituting red pepper for the chipotle powder, with a little chocolate embellishment on my part.

There are also some simple but great drink mixes—the unique metropolitan in this book has become my go-to Friday night or Sunday afternoon relaxation drink.

Aiko’s noodles are a great quick lunch.

The peppermint chocolate brownies are a great way to use candy canes after the Christmas tree comes down.

Granola, the ultimate breakfast—Wednesday, September 28th, 2022
Granola: The Ultimate Breakfast

I love breakfast cereal. My favorite breakfast cereal is granola. And my favorite granola is home-made.

Homemade granola is both more versatile than store-bought and less expensive. You can put what you want in it, and leave out what you don’t want. Prefer cranberries to raisins? Dates to either? When you make it yourself, it’s entirely up to you.

Always add raisins or cranberries after baking. Otherwise they expand and burn in the oven. A long time ago, when I pulled recipes off of the nascent Internet instead of from old cookbooks, I used a recipe that added the raisins before baking. They expanded and burned in the oven, even with copious mixing during baking. I’d suggest that if you run across such a recipe and still want to try it, hold the dried fruit until after baking, then mix it in when the rest of the ingredients are done.

Burnt raisins can turn you off of home-made cereal very quickly and for a long time. There doesn’t appear to be much of a caramelization middle-ground between “not burnt” and “charred to a distasteful crisp”.

Cooking for Consciousness is possibly the best hippie cookbook I have, despite coming from a questionable source1. The recipe as I’ve presented it here is much more precise than the recipe in the book, which basically consists of, mix some oatmeal, honey, salt, and oil, then consider adding some of these other things. Vanilla, walnuts, cinnamon, and cranberries are among my favorite “other things”.

Vanilla-walnut granola

Ethereal Cereal

Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Review: Cooking for Consciousness (Jerry@Goodreads)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp salad oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup dried cranberries

Steps

  1. Combine the oil, honey, and vanilla in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Combine the oatmeal, walnuts, salt, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  4. Roast in a shallow pan at 250° for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Add dried cranberries and cool.
Popcorn is a many-splendored thing—Wednesday, September 14th, 2022
Buttered popcorn

Is there any more perfect snack than popcorn? Quickly popped on the stove, drenched in melted butter (six tablespoons per half cup of unpopped), and salted to taste, popcorn is easy to make and very, very easy to eat.

I have never understood the appeal of microwave popcorn at home. It’s easier to pop corn on the stovetop than to pop it in a microwave. On the stove, you pop it until it stops popping. In the microwave, you pop it and walk away, come back and realize it was burnt, throw it out, and put in another one realizing that using the microwave doesn’t mean not staying with it until it’s ready.

In a hotel room, microwave popcorn has its place. Most hotel rooms have microwaves, but do not have stovetops.

There are many, many ways to spice popcorn up besides—or in addition to—butter and salt. Among my favorites is to add curry powder. Probably any curry powder will do, but homemade makes it easy to adjust the spices perfectly for whatever use you have—including putting it on popcorn along with the salt and butter.

Mushroom curry

Curry Powder

Servings: 24
Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 4 tsp fenugreek
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder

Steps

  1. Process spices to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder.

You can add this to popcorn microwaved in your hotel room, too. This is by far the way I eat popcorn most—even more than butter and salt, which is probably second.

Probably second, because I also have a sweet tooth. And popcorn isn’t just the perfect snack, it’s also the perfect candy.

Three from the Baker’s Dozen—Wednesday, August 31st, 2022

I recently found a General Foods pamphlet in another cookbook that I bought. The pamphlet is a 1976 Baker’s Coconut promotion called “The Baker’s Dozen”. My copy originally appeared in McCall’s, but I suspect it was an advertising pullout that appeared in multiple magazines. The few recipes I’ve tried have been very good—and very rich. There are only twelve recipes—it’s not a true baker’s dozen—but the three I’ve tried so far are some good ones.

The pamphlet advertises “exciting recipe book offers”, one of which is the Baker’s Chocolate and Coconut Favorites. Judging from the 1977 (sixth) edition of Baker’s Chocolate and Coconut Favorites on Michigan State University’s Little Cookbooks Collection, none of these recipes are in it. In fact, the 1977 edition of Favorites looks like a barely-updated version of the 1962 edition.

This is, as far as I can tell, an advertisement, not a book. It was bound into the magazine for easy removal and you were even expected to remove the coupon from the final page of the pamphlet. I’ve occasionally wondered about the recipes in the ads companies like Baker’s run. Do they pull them from their larger cookbooks, or make them up especially for the ad? In this case, it appears that they made them up just for the ad. Seems like a waste of great recipes, though it does make for interesting culinary archaeological expeditions.

Baker’s Dozen Magic Coconut Bars

Sweet, chewy coconut bars drizzled in chocolate. Magic!

Broil-on Coconut Topping Full

I could eat this for breakfast. It was so good I was spooning it out of the bowl.

Chocolate Cheese Pie

A nice slice of creamy Chocolate Cheese Pie, with Broil-On Coconut Topping.

Paprikás Burgonya (Potato Paprika Stew)—Wednesday, August 17th, 2022
Potato Paprika Stew

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Clearly, paprika is an ingredient that has to be well understood for best results… Pseudo-knowledge is widespread and increases with the distance from Budapest. — Joseph Wechsberg (The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire)

The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire is the first of the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbooks I discovered. That was back in 1999, at the San Diego (Adams Avenue) Book Fair, for $0.25. It was a beat-up copy. I ended up buying a lot more books from this series than I should have, because Joseph Wechsberg’s writing about Vienna, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia are so interesting, the photos are wonderful, and the recipes are great. This is one of the better books in the series; many don’t live up to this one.

The very first recipe I tried from his book was Paprikás Burgonya. It is a great recipe for a Friday-falling National Potato Day. Start it in the morning in the crock-pot and eat it at night. Or whip it up quickly on the stove-top.

One of the things that made this stew so good when I first made it is that a friend of mine had brought me some “pimentón de la vera” from Spain. I had no idea what that meant, other than that it was paprika. But it was so much better than normal paprika I despaired of ever making any paprika-based dishes after this ran out. Eventually, with the onset of Internet search engines, I discovered that “pimentón de la vera” is a smoked paprika, and is easily, if not universally, available at grocery stores in the United States as smoked paprika. It may not be up to the level of smoked paprika from Spain, but it still vastly improves just about any dish that calls for paprika.

If you don’t have smoked paprika, just use sweet paprika—it’s what the original calls for, though of course the original calls for Hungarian sweet paprika.

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