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.

The missing indexes

Jerry Stratton, May 23, 2020

October 12, 2022: The Deplorable Index
The Deplorable Gourmet: Cover from the AOSHQ moron horde’s The Deplorable Gourmet cookbook.; cookbooks; Ace of Spades

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.

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.

March 30, 2022: The Missing Index for the Southern Living Cookbook Library

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.

May 23, 2020: St. Mary’s Altar Society Cookbooks

Update 2: The index is now available on Amazon, and it looks great.

Update: I’ve added an index by book, in case you only have one or two of the books.

I’ve been toying with making an index for a few of my index-less or basically index-less cookbooks for a while. Last week I decided these church spirals would be a good choice to try it out and see how much work it is, and whether it’s useful. One of them has no index, and the other two have indexes that are in page order rather than alphabetical.

St. Mary’s Missing Index (PDF File, 6.0 MB)

I came up with a system that helps me type recipe titles, pages, chapters, and authors quickly, but while the system for putting the index together is automated, the actual typing of recipe titles and author names was me, by hand. With thanks to Mrs. Bischoff. Her typing class was probably the most useful class I took in high school. The ability to type without looking at the keyboard—or even the screen—has been extraordinarily useful as a programmer.

I’ve tried to fix any obvious typos of mine, but scanning through pages and pages of names tends to dull the senses, and spellcheck doesn’t work well on names. If you see anything I ought to fix, let me know in the feedback, or in the comments of the social media site where you saw me post this link.

There are of course also typos that were in the original. I can, for example, make simple changes to people’s names that don’t harm the ability to find the recipe on the page. If it turns out that Delores Dougan and Dolores Dougan are the same person, I can change the incorrect spelling for the correct one in the source file.

As an aside, I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to put something like this together in the day before personal computers were easy to use. I used a combination of Perl, Python, and Nisus’s macro language to put this index together. The latest of these books were published three years before the first Macintosh came out!

This project is completely unofficial and independent of the Altar Society; I did it for myself, and am making it public in case others have use for it too. The index includes only three cookbooks; I’m not aware that the St. Mary’s Altar Society in our area did any others, and in any case these are the only ones I have.

  1. <- Frozen lemon pie
  2. Jack-o-Lantern soup ->