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 Index for the Southern Living Cookbook Library

Jerry Stratton, March 30, 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.

One of the features I have used, and use regularly, is the list of what to do with extra egg whites or egg yolks. Had some great cashew ice cream using the Peach mousse recipe from the Desserts volume. It’s a meringue and whipped cream frozen dessert, and is amazingly, as a friend of mine remarked, cloud-like. It’s one of two great Peach Mousse recipes in Southern Living Desserts.

Toasted cashew mousse

Fruit or Cashew Mousse (meringue)

Servings: 6
Preparation Time: 7 hours

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup unroasted cashews or 1 cup fruit
  • 2 egg whites
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Steps

  1. Chop the cashews very fine, or chop the fruit.
  2. Stir cashews until medium brown over medium heat, if using. Set aside to cool.
  3. Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff.
  4. Slowly add sugar while beating.
  5. Whip the cream to soft peaks.
  6. Fold the cream and cooled nuts or fruit into the meringue.
  7. Freeze overnight.
Toasted cashew mousse

The Peach Mousse recipe, replacing peach with one-third cup of toasted cashews.

Texas, probably due to our population, handily beats out every other state for number of recipes in all but four of the books. Two of the four are obvious: the Creole book and the Deep South book are regional collections and Texas isn’t in that region. Even so, Texas tied with Louisiana in the Creole book; we do border on the gulf, after all.

More interestingly, Mississippi beat Texas in the Canning and Preserving book and North Carolina barely eked out a win in the Pies and Pastries book, 33 to 32. That’s fascinating to me, and I’ve no idea why North Carolinians would be especially prolific pie makers. They beat out Texans in the fruit pie and cream pie chapters, as well as the tarts chapter, tied in the chiffon pie chapter, and lost to Texas in the custard pie chapter.

Florida was running comfortably ahead of Texas in the Seafood book, and I expected them to win, right up to the penultimate chapter. That chapter was “Casseroles”. Florida never had a chance.

Florida did win the Deep South, however. Oddly, even though Arkansas is not one of the Deep South states (at least according to the Deep South Cookbook), it handily beats Texas in that book. More Marylanders contributed from Texas, but more Georgians, Floridians, and gulf staters moved to Arkansas, along with Kentuckians and Tennesseans.

Neither Texas nor Arkansas appear in the top 10, which are Florida, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Not a surprising list, at least to this northern transplant, except that Arkansas at number 11 beats the Deep South states of both Maryland (12) and West Virginia (14, after Texas).

Here are the top three states for each book in the series:

BreadsTexasNorth CarolinaSouth Carolina
Canning and PreservingMississippiTexasAlabama
CasserolesTexasFloridaAlabama
Cookies and CandyTexasNorth CarolinaAlabama
CreoleLouisianaTexasFlorida
Deep SouthFloridaVirginiaAlabama
DessertsTexasAlabamaTennessee
Fondue and BuffetTexasAlabamaTennessee
Ground BeefTexasAlabamaTennessee
HolidayTexasAlabamaFlorida
Low-CostTexasAlabamaNorth Carolina
MeatsTexasAlabamaNorth Carolina
OutdoorTexasAlabamaVirginia
Pies and PastriesNorth CarolinaTexasAlabama
PoultryTexasFloridaNorth Carolina
Quick and EasyTexasFloridaVirginia
SaladsTexasFloridaTennessee
SeafoodTexasFloridaAlabama
SouthwesternTexasArkansasOklahoma
VegetablesTexasNorth CarolinaAlabama

The top ten words in recipe titles throughout the collection are chicken, salad, casserole, pie, soup, cheese, sauce, beef, cream, and bread. To be honest, I’m not sure this means much; since this is a thematic collection, recipes don’t necessarily need to include their main ingredient in the title.

More interesting is how the titles, and the books themselves, are presented. Every book in the collection consist of exactly 188 pages before the index. Every book except the last two: the Party Snacks book and the Soups and Stews books, both from 1979. Every other book was published by 1977. In the previous twenty books, only the Meats book has real accented characters in the titles, and then only two: Poêlon and Basilé. The Poultry book makes one attempt at an accented final “e” in Egalite by putting an apostrophe after the word. But the two 1979 books used accented characters much more freely.

They also removed the contributor list: the format of the recipes was exactly the same, including the space for contributors that is sometimes used to say where the photograph is. But no contributors were listed. Obviously, there were different editorial policies for those two books.

Perhaps because I’m a transplant, I didn’t notice practically any notable contributors. Few of the names sounded familiar, and those that did turned out to be someone else—in a collection of 8,860 recipes of which 6,356 list contributors, even uncommon names aren’t totally uncommon.

I did, however, see Mrs. Barry Goldwater of Scottsdale, Arizona in the Southwestern volume. She contributed Ranch-Style Frijoles.

This is a great collection, and this index has helped me use it even more effectively. As the editors wrote in the Party Snacks book, Pull up a chair, relax on your deck, and reach for something to nibble on.

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.

  1. <- St. Mary Cookbooks