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 Deplorable Index

Jerry Stratton, October 12, 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.

And of course at least two rhubarb recipes, always the sign of greatness in a cookbook—but also a sign that this is a down-to-earth book by people who use their own recipes.

And many more. One of the things I like about this book is that the recipes are unique: they’ve been designed and modified by a very eclectic bunch of people so that even recipes that are based on or look similar to the standard recipes in such a collection have their own unique twist to them.

I strongly recommend buying it.

And to help convince you to buy it, here’s my index of the recipes (PDF File, 221.8 KB). You can download it for your computer or mobile device, and you can print it to store with your cookbooks. It’s designed for standard 8-½ by 11 sheets but it also prints great at 7x10 to match the cookbook. As with most of my indexes, I’ve indexed the recipes not just by recipe name but also by chapter and author, so that it’s almost as useful printed out as an ebook. It’s in PDF format, so you should be able to read it—and, more importantly, search it—anywhere.

Full disclosure: I have a couple of recipes in this book. My garlic eggplant and pork was specifically demanded for it. One of the marks of a good community cookbook is that the editors know what recipes to demand. The best of these books is a combination of curated and unrefined. For the latter, I submitted my Black bean and cilantro salsa.

Quotes come from the blog. Be warned, it can get racy. As lurker Victor Davis Hanson told an interviewer, “Oddball sites… I like Ace of Spades, I mean he’s really cruel to people but whoever Ace is I have a lot of admiration for his eccentricity…”

Eccentric and cruel. All the best chefs are. And the best cookbooks.

And to further entice you, here is my variation on the wonderful beery brittle in the book.

Lone Star Peanut Brittle

Lone Star Peanut Brittle

Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • ½ tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp butter, diced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup Lone Star beer
  • ¼ tsp red pepper powder

Steps

  1. Butter a large baking tray and set aside.
  2. Mix the peanuts, salt, baking soda, and butter and set aside.
  3. Butter the sides of a tall saucepan or stockpot.
  4. Mix the beer, sugar, corn syrup, and red pepper in prepared pot.
  5. Bring to a boil over moderate heat and cook to 300°.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut mixture.
  7. Quickly spread on the prepared baking tray.
  8. Let cool.

In response to The missing indexes: Whoever decided that cookbooks don’t need indexes was never stuck hungry at one o’clock in the morning with nothing but a pepper, a tomato, and a couple of cloves of garlic, and a craving for brownies.

  1. <- Southern Living index