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.

Years in Food

Jerry Stratton, February 3, 2021

January 31, 2024: My Year in Food: 2023

In My Year in Books I wrote that quite a few of the books I read this year were cookbooks. This may have been my most interesting year yet for cookbooks, vintage and modern. Besides the cookbooks I’ve acquired, I completed or began three projects in 2023 that were each fascinating in their own way.

Most importantly, in June, I published Tempt Them with Tastier Foods, a collection of recipes from Chicago-area chef Eddie Doucette, who was also the face of IGA groceries throughout the country. This was a fun project—especially testing some of the recipes Doucette encouraged people to try. He’s mostly forgotten today, and that’s a shame. He was a pioneer television chef in Chicago in the fifties, and went on to promote the fun of cooking around the country and around the world.

Crêpe with orange sauce: Crêpe Suzette, from Eddie Doucette’s 1954 television show, Home Cooking.; oranges; Eddie Doucette; crêpes

Eddie Doucette’s delicious and easy crèpe suzette.

Orange Nog Breakfast Eye Opener: Orange Nog Breakfast Eye Opener, from Tempt Them with Tastier Foods, the Recipes of Eddie Doucette.; breakfast; oranges; Eddie Doucette; egg nog; eggnog

His wonderful orange nog breakfast beverage.

I also went through a 1950 recipe calendar and began a survey of early refrigerator manual/cookbooks, each of which I’ve written about elsewhere.

It was definitely my most interesting year for travel. This is the first time I’ve been to a place that officially doesn’t speak English.1 I went to Italy, and it should come as no surprise that the food was amazing.

I began the trip in Venice, for an Adriatic cruise. Our group stayed at the Molino Stucky Hotel on Giudecca before sailing, and even the hotel food was amazing.

The food only got better after we set sail. In Kotor, Montenegro, a cookbook author and chef opened her home to us and we had a sit-down meal of local foods and local wines. A planned drive to an archaeological dig in Santorini was canceled, so I wandered about the island on foot catching the sights. One of the sights was a restaurant in the middle of nowhere at the top of a tall hill.

January 18, 2023: My year in food: 2022

January 1, 2022 was a Saturday, which is when our gaming group meets, so we decided to do a New Year’s meal for the game. Obviously, we had Hoppin’ John, but I also made one of my favorite barbecues, the Grilled Root Beer Pork Ribs from Food & Wine’s 2012 collection.1 This being Texas, and my preferring to save my root beer for drinking, I used Dr. Pepper.

I made a very quick chocolate cake from the classic Renny Darling collection, The Joy of Eating. This is one of those cookbooks that everyone seemed to have in the seventies and has mostly disappeared. That’s sad, because it really is a nice cookbook. The focus is on eating, not cooking. This dough is made in a blender, poured into the cake pan, and baked.

Gaming and great food is not a bad way to start off a new year.

I started fermenting beverages that first week in January. My first attempt—a balloon wine made with grape juice—probably worked exactly as it was supposed to, by making a simple alcoholic drink that didn’t taste particularly great but could easily be made in a dorm room or barracks.

My second attempt, however, was a Finnish Sima, or Lemon Mead, from the Scandinavian volume of Time-Life’s Foods of the World series. It creates a wonderful lemon beverage with a beautiful color and a delicate flavor.

February 9, 2022: My Year in Food: 2021
2021: A Year in Food: 2021: A Year in Food; food; cheesecake; 2021

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.

February 3, 2021: 2020 in Food
Miami Cubano: A great Cubano from Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop in Miami.; sandwiches; Cubano; Miami

A Cubano from Enriqueta’s in Miami is a great way to start the year.

I decided to break off the cookbooks from my Year in Books post because there were a lot of cookbooks this year—and a lot of food that isn’t book related.

When the year started, it was going to be a year of glorious travel—and glorious food. In early February I had a craving for a really good Cubano. So I texted a friend, used some airline points, and we went to Miami and Key West. The Cubano came from Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop. We also hit a lot of bakeries; this chocolate-filled pastry came from Rosetta Bakery.

It snowed in Texas while I was in the water at Miami Beach. So that worked out well.

Then, in March, I went to Raleigh for a business meeting and stayed on to try some new restaurants and visit some used bookstores; that’s when things started getting weird. The evening I arrived, walking back to the hotel after a very nice meal, I noticed a sign at a CVS:


It was like the slow descent into an end of the world movie, such as Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth.

The very nice meal I was walking back from was Bida Manda where I’d had crispy pork belly soup and stuffed Anaheim peppers. I had a lot of very good food in Raleigh, but that first meal was a standout.

Chocolate pastry: A chocolate-filled pastry from Rosetta Bakery in Miami, Florida.; chocolate; cocoa; bakery; pastries; Miami

A chocolate pastry from Rosetta Bakery in Miami is not a bad start to the year.

Crispy Pork Belly: Crispy pork belly soup from Bida Manda in Raleigh, North Carolina.; soups and stews; pork; Raleigh

Crispy pork belly soup at Bida Manda in Raleigh. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful trip.

I was supposed to be traveling in September to Italy and France. Since I couldn’t, I pulled down a French-language cookbook, Ma Cuisine du Soleil that I bought years ago at San Diego’s Adams Avenue Book Fair1—in the last century, in fact. When prepping for the recipe, I just went through the list of ingredients and steps and made a rough mental translation. Salmon, basil, lemon juice, olive oil, fried in pan. So I had everything I needed, but I was surprised, when it came to actually making it, that nowhere did it say how to cook the salmon. A closer examination: the salmon does not get cooked. It’s basically a ceviche, with lemon, basil, and oil on the salmon.

The frying was for the salmon skin, of which Roger Vergé exhorts us:

Do not throw away the skin of the salmon. Cut it into strips the width of your little finger. Season with salt, pan-dry without any fat, pepper generously and serve as an aperitif, or on the side, with the salmon cutlets.

Unsurprisingly, salmon ceviche with fried salmon skin on the side was phenomenally good.

  1. <- Nitty Gritty Bread Machine
  2. West Bend 47413 ->