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.

Ice cream from your home freezer—Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

One of the amazing things about reading old cookbooks is learning completely different recipes for making common foods. I used to think ice cream either required going to the store, or buying yet another single-purpose appliance to do the churning. I grew up in the seventies, and when we made ice cream it was with a time-consuming hand-churned ice cream maker, filled with salty ice. We had to crank it outside, because the salty ice turned to water and was released through a drain hole about, as I recall, halfway up the side.

But as I wrote in Revolutionary Refrigeration, recipes immediately after the introduction of the home freezer make ice cream by just sticking it in the freezer and letting it freeze. Maybe taking it out once to whip it. A lot of these recipes show up under different names in other cookbooks. Many a mousse or parfait is indistinguishable from ice cream once it’s been frozen.

I’ve divided these recipes up into those that use whole eggs, those that use egg yolks, those that use egg whites, and those that use gelatin. The basic idea is the same in each case: make a syrup-like mixture, either a custard or a meringue or a gelatin, and fold in whipped cream. Add flavoring to either the sugar mixture or fold the flavoring in with the cream. And freeze it.

These are all very good ice creams. If you’re looking for something quick, look at the toasted ice cream made with egg whites. If you’re looking for something rich, look at the egg yolk recipes.

A full three of these recipes come from the Southern Living Desserts Cookbook. The entire Southern Living Library is a great collection, and the Desserts book is one of the best. That may be partially because I have a sweet tooth, but I definitely recommend this book, and, in fact, all of the books I stole these ice creams from.

Whole eggs

This maple ice cream from the 1942 Montgomery Ward Cold Cooking cookbook is one of the easiest of the egg-based recipes. There’s no separating the eggs or even folding the cream into the syrup or eggs.

A Decade of Jell-O Joys: 1963-1973—Wednesday, May 18th, 2022
Cranberry Squares

These gelatin—whipped cream squares are a better-than-cheesecake cheesecake.

One of the joys of old cookbooks is watching food change over the years. At the October New Braunfels Library Book Sale, I found a copy of the 1973 New Joys of Jell-O; on a quick browse it did not appear to be merely a copy of the old, circa 1963, Joys of Jell-O so I bought it.

As it turns out, I was wrong. There are many duplicate recipes; what changed were how they were presented and even their names. The Peach and Banana Mold has become the Peach-Banana Dessert. Everything is the same except it uses twice as much peach and it’s not a mold: it’s put in dessert cups.

Molds are still used in some recipes, but they’re not as universal in 1973 as they were in 1963.

The Under-the-Sea Pear Salad is displayed as a simple loaf instead of an ornate 1-quart mold. The recipe itself hasn’t changed, only the shape, and even that not much: while the first shape suggested is an 8x4 loaf pan, the second is a 4-cup mold. I chose to split the difference and make it in a less towering ring mold.

There’s more of an emphasis on convenience in the new book. If I had made it as a loaf, it would have tasted the same but would have been styled differently. It would also have been easier to unfold. The new Peach-Banana Dessert doesn’t even need to be unmolded—it’s eaten from the dessert cup it’s made in. You can take servings from the refrigerator as needed.

The Missing Index for the Southern Living Cookbook Library—Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

The very nicest gifts are those we prepare ourself.

That’s in the Holiday volume of the Southern Living Cookbook Library. Well. Here is my Springtime gift to you: a combined index of the twenty-two volumes of the Southern Living Cookbook Library. I made this index for myself, but hope that other people find it useful, too.

There are no recipes in the index, just recipe titles and contributor names for searching. As the seventies move into vintagehood, some of the recipes will appear on The Padgett Sunday Supper Club.

I indexed both the recipes and, where available, the contributors. Only some of the recipes list the contributor, except in the Soups and Stews volume and the Party Snacks volume where none do. When listed, every byline includes both the contributor’s name and the city and state they submitted from. This made it possible to create an index by state and city as well.

It’s available as a PDF (PDF File, 2.5 MB), so that you can search it on your computer or portable device, and it’s available in print in case, like me, you enjoy browsing through books. It’s already become very useful for looking up similar recipes, and while I haven’t used the city or state lists yet I have enjoyed imagining a San Antonio-style meal, or a Charlotte, Shreveport, or Raleigh-style meal.

Bicentennial Pie for Pi Day—Wednesday, March 9th, 2022
Pi Day 2022 banner

Are you ready for Pi Day? If not, here’s a great idea for a gelatin-whipped cream pie in a coconut crust. I’m calling it “bicentennial pie” because I pulled both parts from separate bicentennial cookbooks. It might more appropriately but less imaginatively be called creamy orange pie with macadamia nuts, or Hawaiian pie.

I picked up a couple of neat community cookbooks last year, dedicated to the bicentennial in 1976. The first is the Fruitport (Michigan) Bicentennial Cook Book from the Ladies Auxiliary of the Fruitport, Michigan, VFW and the second is the Garvin County (Oklahoma) Extension Homemakers Bicentennial Recipe Book. They’re both really nice cookbooks. I’m especially fond of the bread-and-butter pickles from the Fruitport book and the herb crackers from the Garvin County book.

Pickles, however, despite the first two letters of their name, are not the subject of Pi Day. Pie is the subject, and I combined two very simple recipes in these books to make a great orange-coconut-macadamia pie. It takes a coconut pie crust from Garvin County, a fluffy orange “salad” from Fruitport, with macadamia nuts sprinkled over the top. I featured this pie in my 2021 Year in Food. It was one of the highlights—food-wise—of the year. I’m a sucker for light, whipped pie fillings.

Creamy Orange Salad

“Creamy Orange” describes this dish very well. “Salad” not so much, but I’m not complaining.

The crust is from Mrs. Ray Duncan of Erin Springs, Oklahoma. The creamy orange filling is from Jean Anderson of Coopersville, Michigan. It’s not meant as a filling, but as a “creamy orange salad”. My guess is that the salad is meant to be eaten with other fresh fruit. It’s certainly wonderful with strawberries, but it’s also wonderful, if decadent, on its own.

It was very much a recipe I wanted to make again, and soon. When I saw the very simple recipe for making a coconut pie crust in the Garvin County book, that was my excuse for making the recipe a second time. It seemed to me that a fluffy orange filling inside a coconut crust would make a great pie. That I had an opened bag of chopped macadamia nuts lying around was the literal topping on the idea.

My Year in Food: 2021—Wednesday, February 9th, 2022
2021: A Year in Food

This post is a little late for very good reasons: I had a great year in food. The hardest part of any writing is what gets cut, and it was difficult to cut everything down to fit a blog post. I considered breaking travel out from cooking, but that’s too many year in… posts. While I use personal experiences regularly to inform and inspire my blog posts, this is not a blog of personal experiences. It’s meant to be useful.

In truth, what is enticingly set before you is nothing other than ingredients and a recipe. And at one point in his life, the chap who cooked it for you could not have boiled an egg. — John Varnom (French Bistro Cooking)

I started my year with Amaretto Cheesecake. That’s a great way to start the year. Even better, it was a great way to get my New Year’s resolutions started. My first resolution was to make the Enchanted Broccoli Forest amaretto cheesecake for New Year’s Day. The more I use this book, the more I like it. I promise to bring you another recipe from it on Hallowe’en.

Almost immediately after my New Year’s Day cheesecake, I flew to Washington DC1, wandering from bookstore to restaurant. I didn’t find much in the way of books2 because many bookstores were long boarded up against the summer riots and shutdowns.

I did have some great food, however, starting with Atlantic oysters at King Street Oysters and ending with great Laotian food at Laos in Town.

King Street Oyster Bar

Oysters in DC.

Ladurée salmon croissant

A salmon croissant really takes the edge off of walking ten miles.

Tomato relish and tuna salad—Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021
Tomato relish

The relish is good spooned over just about anything that could use salsa or relish.

Today is National Sandwich Day. I’ve had sandwich day posts about bread and about the meat that goes in the bread for four years now. Today, I’d like to travel to Australia for a look at the relish that goes between the meat and the bread.

Every once in a while, I run into something unique at an antique store. I often wonder how they got there. How did this typewritten cookbook of the Royal Australian Air Force Women’s Association end up in an antique store in Fort Worth, Texas?

However it happened, I’m glad it did. One of the more intriguing recipes in it is today’s tomato relish. Whenever I buy a new cookbook, I make several test recipes before I decide if I’m going to keep the book. Often I’ll choose a recipe I wouldn’t normally make, and for this cookbook that was the tomato relish. I’m a big fan of dill relish; not so much of other kinds.

Because this is an Australian recipe, the tomatoes, onion, and sugar are all measured by weight, not volume. I’ve put approximations of what the volume should be after each of those ingredients, and there’s a lot of leeway anyway; you should be able to adjust the ingredients according to your own taste. That said, a kitchen scale is an invaluable cooking and baking tool, and decent digital ones are relatively inexpensive.

National Sandwich Day—Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021

National Sandwich Day is always November 3, whatever day of the week that happens to be. But that’s fine, because every day is a good day for a sandwich.

Why November 3? Because that’s the birthday of John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich, from whom popular etymology says we got the name for this wonderfully quick and tasty meal-in-one. Whether it’s a fresh sandwich, a cooked sandwich, or a combination (say, grilled cheese with tomatoes), the sandwich combines the great taste of good bread with the great taste of just about anything that can lay vaguely flat on a slice of bread.

Great bread, great fillings, great spreads. The sandwich doesn’t need anything else, although a good drink and something crunchy alongside is always a comfort.

Cream of coconut jack-o-lantern soup—Wednesday, October 20th, 2021
Jack-o-lantern pair

Double the pumpkins, double the body parts.

This is how cereal killers are born: baking the leftover body parts of my Hallowe’en jack-o-lantern worked so well in 2019 that I decided to carve two pumpkins in 2020.

That meant I had two one-cup (or half-pound) pumpkin recipes to try out. The first, a pumpkin cookie from the Better Homes & Gardens Homemade Cookies book, was fine but nothing to blog about. Partly it’s my own preferences—I prefer crispier or chewier cookies, and this was a standard sort of light, fluffy drop cookie. I was a little disappointed, though: this has otherwise been a very good cookbook.

My original plan was to use the other half of the pumpkin to make last year’s soup. I don’t buy pumpkin, normally, except for Hallowe’en, and I was looking forward to having this soup again. But while browsing through Carole Clements’s Gourmet Soup Book I saw a recipe for “Pumpkin and Coconut Soup”. It looked like a lot of work—it required milking and grating a fresh coconut—but the soup itself looked very, very good. This is a great book that I don’t use often enough, and this looked like an opportunity to try another recipe from it.

Being lazy, I heavily modified her recipe to use ingredients I already had on hand—including jettisoning the fresh coconut in favor of pre-shredded dry coconut and canned coconut milk from a local Indian supermarket. And then cut the recipe back to fit a half pound of pumpkin instead of the 1-¾ pounds her recipe requires. Instead of a bouquet garni, I just added the spices directly, even further simplifying it.

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