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.

Mimsy Review: The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, May 23, 2001

“What should we prepare for Joseph? Something that a simple man would understand, such as unleavened brown bread cakes.” I picked this book up on the discount table at the Borders in San Francisco.

AuthorJeff Smith
PublisherWilliam Morrow and Company Inc.
Length297 pages
Book Rating7

I have to admit to having mixed feelings about the Frugal Gourmet. On the one hand, he can be extremely condescending, especially when talking about the people who are the origins of ethnic dishes. On the other hand, he presents recipes that are simple and interesting. The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas is absolutely full of wonderful Christmas recipes from many traditions.

The various recipes are presented as “food for...” a player or players in the birth of Jesus. So it starts with “a flower salad for Mary” and “milk and honey for Jesus”. Everyone present gets some food. There is even “honey cake with rose water for the Angels” and “grains with vegetables for the Roman troops”.

Jeff Smith is a theologian, and is a minister at Christ Church in Tacoma. “I love theology more than food,” he says, which is why he wrote this book. It is as much a sermon on the season as it is a cookbook. And while I tend not to like cookbooks that have more yakking than food, and his writing style remains sermonesque, the tales themselves are inherently interesting and their inherent worth comes through his writing style.

The recipes themselves, of course, are the star of the book. If you love baking during the Christmas season, you are unlikely to be disappointed. I can hardly wait until Christmas to try out the Christmas puddings! He has a collection of five Christmas puddings and cakes, some of which actually look great, and most of which are extremely easy. I let my duty fall in 1996, but I fully expect to terrorize my friends with a dreaded pudding come Christmas 1997.

There is also a recipe for mincemeat from scratch and mincemeat pie. Mincemeat is indeed made from meat: four quarts of mincemeat filling takes two and a half pounds of beef and three quarters pound of beef suet. Yum! It looks awfully good in the picture, however, and the pie looks even better. I remember liking the mincemeat pies at Christmas parties when I was very young, but the tradition fell by the wayside very quickly. I’m looking forward to reviving it myself in the next year.

For another very theological Jeff Smith cookbook, look for “The Frugal Gourmet Cooks With Wine” and The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast.

Figgy Pudding

  • 1 stick butter,
  • 2 eggs,
  • 1 cup molasses,
  • 2 cups dried figs,
  • ½ tsp grated lemon peel,
  • 1 cup buttermilk,
  • ½ cup walnuts,
  • 2½ cups flour,
  • ½ tsp baking soda,
  • 2 tsp baking powder,
  • 1 tsp salt,
  • ½ tsp cinnamon,
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg,
  • whipped cream.
  1. Cream butter until fluffy.
  2. Beat in eggs and molasses.
  3. Add dried figs, lemon peel, buttermilk, and walnuts. Blend one minute.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Blend until incorporated.
  5. Pour into a greased/floured 8x4 soufflé dish and bake 1 hour at 325°.
  6. Garnish with whipped cream.

The Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas

Jeff Smith

My cost: $8.00

Recommendation: Purchase

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For more about Jeff Smith, you might also be interested in The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast.

For more about William Morrow and Company Inc., you might also be interested in The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast.