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.

My year in food: 2022

Jerry Stratton, January 18, 2023

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.

Dr. Pepper Barbecue Ribs: Zakary Pelaccio’s Grilled Root Beer Pork Ribs, from the 2012 Food & Wine annual.; barbeque; barbecue, BBQ, grill; pork; Food & Wine Magazine; Dr. Pepper

Grilled ribs ready for Dr. Pepper sauce.

Sima (Lemon Mead): Sima (lemon-flavored mead) from the 1968 Foods of the World: The Cooking of Scandinavia.; wine; lemons; Time-Life; mead; Scandinavia

Finnish lemon mead!

Chocolate Torte Darling: Chocolate Torte Darling from Renny Darling’s 1976 The Joy of Eating.; chocolate; cocoa; cake; Renny Darling

I used a vanilla cream filling flavored with brandy for my Chocolate Torte Darling.

If you don’t have the Scandinavian volume, you can check out The Cooking of Scandinavia on the Internet Archive. I strongly recommend it.

Chocolate Torte Darling

Chocolate Torte Darling

Servings: 12
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Renny Darling
Review: The Joy of Eating (Jerry@Goodreads)

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2-½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa

Steps

  1. Whip eggs in blender for a few seconds. Add the sugar, nuts, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and cocoa in the order listed, and blend at high speed for 60 seconds.
  2. Pour the batter into a greased and dusted 10-inch cake pan with a removable bottom.
  3. Repeat if two layers are desired.
  4. Bake the layer(s) for about 20 minutes at 350°, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Fill (if two layers) and frost with your favorite vanilla or chocolate whipped cream frosting.

In February, I went to San Diego. The highlight of the trip was a wonderful meal at Bistro du Marché in La Jolla, and the dish that made the meal was their lobster bisque. But I also walked all over the city and was pleasantly surprised to find an upscale ice cream shop at the end of one long walk on a warm day, Eclipse Chocolate, and their gold-flecked chocolate-dipped ice cream cones.

On the return trip, I stopped off at Los Manjares de Pepe in Yuma. I pretty much always get their pozole, and it never disappoints.

Bistro Lobster Bisque: Lobster bisque from Bistro du Marché in La Jolla, California.; soups and stews; lobster; La Jolla, California

“We’ve got a blind date with Destiny… and it looks like she’s ordered the lobster.”

Golden Ice Cream Cone: Gold-flecked chocolate ice cream cone from Eclipse in Golden Hill, San Diego.; Golden Hill; ice cream

Gold-flecked chocolate-covered ice cream while walking home from a long walk.

Los Manjares de Pepe Posole: Red posole from Los Manjares de Pepe in Yuma.; Mexican; soups and stews; Yuma; posole

The best posole I’ve had from Texas to San Diego.

I found a great bicentennial cookbook on that trip, in Casa Grande, Arizona—not a surprising place to find a Michigan cookbook. It was a community cookbook from the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph chapter of “Squaws” Incorporated, spearheaded by the African Methodist Episcopal church of the same area.

I made a couple of cabbage recipes from it. My now-favorite Cole Slaw comes from this book: no mayonnaise, just sugar and vinegar and a few spices. And a cooked Cabbage in Cheese Sauce that’s pure comfort food, straight out of the seventies.

Cabbage in Cheese Sauce

Cabbage in Cheese Sauce

Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Betty Moore
Review: Bicentennial Cook Book (Jerry@Goodreads)

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cabbage
  • boiling salted water
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few grains pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1-½ cup grated sharp cheddar

Steps

  1. Shred the cabbage.
  2. Cover with boiling salted water.
  3. Cook about eight minutes until crisp-tender.
  4. Drain.
  5. Melt the butter in a saucepan and then blend in the flour, salt, and pepper.
  6. Slowly add the milk and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened.
  7. Add the cheese and stir until melted.
  8. Add the cabbage and mix well.

Also of note is a very interesting Rice Krispie Cookies—Baked, made with oatmeal, coconut, and crispy rice cereal. It’s a very different recipe from the Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies I compared late last year. Experimenting, I discovered that it makes a great brownie-style cookie by just patting the dough into an 8x8 pan.

Sugary Cole Slaw: Mary Houtz’s Cole Slaw, from the 1976 Squaws, Incorporated Bicentennial Cookbook of Benton Harbor, Michigan.; coleslaw

Coleslaw without mayonnaise or any cream, just vinegar, sugar, and whatever spicy veggies you want to add.

Baked rice krispie cookies: Jan Pintcke’s Rice Krispie Cookies—Baked, from the 1976 Squaws, Incorporated Bicentennial Cookbook.; cookies; cereal; granola

Rice krispie, oatmeal, and coconut cookies.

Cabbage in Cheese Sauce: Betty Moore’s Cabbage in Cheese Sauce, from the 1976 Squaws, Incorporated Bicentennial Cookbook.; cheese; cabbage; Benton Harbor, Michigan

Cabbage in cheese sauce from 1976.

Those aren’t the only Michigan recipes I tried this year. I acquired a fascinating 1893 cookbook, The Charlotte Cook Book, which, I have recently been informed, is pronounced CharLOTTE, making Charlotte Michigan entirely different from Charlotte North Carolina. Besides all sorts of recipes for salad dressings that last in the heat without refrigeration, there was an odd recipe for Grilled Almonds.

Blanch a cupful of almonds, dry thoroughly; boil a cupful of sugar and a quarter of a cupful of water until it hairs, then throw in the almonds, let them fry, as it were, in this syrup, stirring them occasionally. They will turn a faint yellow-brown before the sugar changes color; do not wait an instant after this change of color begins or they will lose flavor; remove them from the fire and stir until the syrup has turned back to sugar and clings to the nuts.

As far as I can tell, the recipe really is calling for making sure that the syrup grains back into sugar. I made these both using almonds, as the recipe calls for, and using cashews, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios. They’re all great, but I much prefer the cashews. Note that you don’t have to blanch the other nuts—you are, I am 99% certain, expected to remove the skins from the almonds after blanching them, and the other nuts don’t need skinning.

Seriously, this is a very easy sweet snack that can be made quickly. Which is a good thing, because they can be eaten quickly, too.

While traveling in Michigan I picked up a tome, a 1980 collection of Favorite Recipes “from active and retired Michigan Bell employees and friends”. This thing is giant, which is to be expected since its community technically covers the entire state. It’s filled with great Michigan recipes, but my favorite has to be the Chili. It’s made with unsweetened chocolate, and while the recipe calls for the bar kind, I discovered that using powdered makes for a remarkably thick and smoky chili.

Grilled Almonds: Mrs. F.G. Smith’s Grilled Almonds, from the 1893 Charlotte Cook Book, of Charlotte, Michigan.; candy; almonds

Sugar-frosted almonds.

Sugar-Frosted Cashews: Mrs. F.G. Smith’s Grilled Almonds, from the 1893 Charlotte Cook Book, of Charlotte, Michigan.; candy; cashews

Sugar-frosted cashews.

Cocoa Chili: Marge Sell’s Chili, from the 1981 Michigan Bell cookbook, Favorite Recipes: A Cookbook Tastefully Done.; chocolate; cocoa; chili

Michigan chili: made with cocoa powder and beans.

You should, of course, leave out the beans if you live south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Cocoa Chili

Cocoa Chili

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 2 hours
Marge Sell
Review: Favorite Recipes (A Cookbook Tastefully Done) (Jerry@Goodreads)

Ingredients

  • 4 medium onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp shortening
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 3-4 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 14 oz cans tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1-½ lb ground beef
  • canned red beans (optional)

Steps

  1. Chop the onion and garlic fine.
  2. Fry in shortening until limp.
  3. Mix the chili powder, flour, coriander, and oregano.
  4. Stir into the onion mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Pour in the tomatoes and water.
  6. Brown the beef and add to mixture.
  7. Cook very slowly for at least one hour.
  8. Add cocoa, sugar, and salt.
  9. Cook for 30 minutes more.
  10. Add the beans if desired.

After San Diego I drove down to San Antonio for their annual PTA book sale. I stopped off at Max & Louie’s New York Diner for breakfast and, in addition to a wonderful eggs benedict, I picked up a Linzer cookie to snack on while waiting in line for the book sale. This was so amazing that I decided to try the Peanut Butter and Concord Grape Sandwich Cookies from Claire Saffitz’s wonderful Dessert Person. That’s not a non-sequitur: Saffitz’s sandwich cookies are pretty much Linzer cookies. They not only taste great, they look great, as most of her recipes do.

But the highlight of the San Antonio sale was an old tourist souvenir from Hawaii, The Hilo Woman’s Club Cook Book. The Macadamia-Coconut Cookies are your basic snowball cookies, one of the big favorites among my family in cold, cold, Michigan during the holidays. But making them using macadamia nuts and coconut brings them to an entirely new level.

In addition, I made coconut waffles and coconut cream pie.

Coconut Waffles: Coconut Waffles, from the 1967 Hilo Woman’s Club Cook Book.; waffles; coconut

Coconut waffles just smell like Hawaii.

Macadamia Snowballs: Coconut-Macadamia Cookies, from the 1967 Hilo Woman’s Club Cook Book.; cookies; coconut; macadamia nuts

Snowballs are great; macadamia snowballs are amazing.

Coconut Cream Pie: Coconut Cream Pie, from the 1967 Hilo Woman‘s Club Cook Book.; pie; coconut

Coconut cream pie!

The cookbook does not, in fact, contain only coconut-based recipes. While that seems to be what I liked best, the Lotus Root Pupu and the Macadamia Sauce for Fish were a hit, too.

Macadamia Snowballs

Macadamia-Coconut Snowballs

Servings: 48
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Mrs. Glenn Horiuchi
Review: The Hilo Woman’s Club Cook Book (Jerry@Goodreads)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2-½ cups flour
  • ¾ cup ground coconut
  • ½ cup chopped macadamias
  • powdered sugar

Steps

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Fold in the vanilla, flour, coconut, and nuts.
  3. Drop by teaspoons on an uncreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 15 minutes at 350°.
  5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while hot.

Later I went up to Temple for their biannual library book sale. I somehow managed to avoid buying any new cookbooks there, but I did have a nice meal at La Dalat. I recommend them if you’re in the Temple area—and they’re easily accessed from I-35 if you happen to be going through.

Max & Louie Linzer Cookie: A Linzer tart cookie from Max & Louie’s in San Antonio.; restaurants; cookies; San Antonio

Max & Louie’s Linzertart cookie while waiting for the San Antonio sale to open.

Peanut butter sandwich cookies: Peanut butter and Concord grape sandwich cookies from Claire Saffitz’s 2020 Dessert Person.; cookies; peanuts; Claire Saffitz

Claire Saffitz’s peanut butter cookie sandwiches, replacing the grape jam with jalapeño jam.

La Dalat Special: Special Noodles at La Dalat in Temple, Texas.; restaurants; soups and stews; Temple, TX; Temple

Relaxing after the Temple book sale with La Dalat’s special.

While I grew up in Michigan, I live in Texas, and I have a soft spot for old Texas cookbooks. Especially unique old Texas cookbooks. At our annual church yard sale, I found a ca. 1974 cookbook of the “Texas Peanut Producers Board”, Peanuts: Nature’s Masterpiece of Food Values.

It’s a cookbook with nothing but peanut recipes. Heaven! The Creamed Onion with Peanuts and the Peanut Butter Filling for Frankfurters were the highlights. But the Peanut Butterscotch Squares, with a lemon icing, were darn good.

Creamed Onions and Peanuts: Creamed Onions and Peanuts from the Texas Peanut Producers Board’s ca. 1974 Peanuts: Masterpieces of Food Values.; Casseroles; peanuts; onions

Creamed onions and peanuts.

Baked Mushroom Delight: Baked Mushroom Delight from the 1985 Austin area Joy of the Whole Table.; mushrooms; cheese; eggs; Casseroles; ham

A layered breakfast of eggs, ham, cheese, and mushrooms.

Peanut Butterscotch Squares: Peanut Butterscotch Squares, from the Texas Peanut Producers Board’s ca. 1974 Peanuts: Masterpiece of Food Values.; peanuts; brownies

Peanut butterscotch squares with lemon icing.

At the same sale I found a 1985 cookbook of the Austin-area First Unitarian Church. The Joy of the Whole Table is an odd church cookbook, because Unitarians, at least these, don’t really consider themselves a religion. Their church picnics must have been a blast, however, with food like this. Unsurprisingly, they have a great Crunchy Granola; but there’s also an extremely simple Cheese Spread (2:1 cheddar cheese:cream cheese, and a few cloves of garlic) and a Baked Mushroom Delight that is, basically, an omelette casserole with layers of mushroom cheese, ham, and… more cheese.

Baked mushroom square

Baked Mushroom Delight

Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Rebecca Walter
Review: Joy of the Whole Table (Jerry@Goodreads)

Ingredients

  • ½ lb sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 6 oz chopped ham
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar
  • 8 beaten eggs
  • salt and pepper

Steps

  1. Sauté the mushrooms in butter.
  2. Place them on the bottom of a well-greased 8x8 baking dish.
  3. Top with chopped ham and then the shredded cheese.
  4. Add salt and pepper to the eggs and pour over the top.
  5. Bake at 275° for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.

I assuaged my collector’s mentality when I found the Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2014 at a thrift store in Chicago, for twenty cents. That, along with the 2005 volume I bought at a Salvation Army Family Store in Chicago the same day, completes my collection of Food & Wine annuals. I didn’t know it at the time, but 2014 was the final year with Grace Parisi at the helm. She had been the F&W Test Kitchen senior editor from 1996 through part of 2014.

Of my three favorite recipes from the 2014 volume, two were Parisi recipes. The Chocolate Amaretti Cookies are a variant on biscotti con pignoli that adds chocolate and amaretti to the pine nuts, which is hard to top. But her Ranch Dust Popcorn has become my most commonly-made popcorn flavorings. It relies on powdered buttermilk, something I’ve been keeping on hand in the refrigerator for those rare times when I need buttermilk for a recipe. Now, it’s not so rare.

Kristen Kish’s Honey-and-Thyme Custards were a unique taste. I attempted to grow thyme in my backyard kitchen garden, and it mostly worked, until the recent freeze. I may try again using a windowsill planter, just because of recipes like this. I, of course, overloaded mine with Christmas tree cookies (in May!) and grapes.

Chocolate Amaretti Pignoli: Grace Parisi’s Chocolate-Amaretti Cookies, from the 2014 Food & Wine annual.; chocolate; cocoa; cookies; Food & Wine Magazine; almonds; pine nuts; Grace Parisi

Chocolate amaretti cookies with pine nuts.

Honey-Thyme Custard: Kristen Kish’s Honey-and-Thyme Custards, from the 2014 Food & Wine annual.; Food & Wine Magazine; honey; thyme; custard

Honey-thyme custard with grapes and Swedish Christmas cookies.

Ranch Dusted Popcorn: Grace Parisi’s Ranch Dust for Popcorn, from the 2014 Food & Wine annual.; popcorn; Food & Wine Magazine; buttermilk; Grace Parisi

Popcorn seasoned with buttermilk powder and other spices.

My plan is that this completes my Food & Wine annuals collection. But, I have to be honest, if I see the 2015 volume for twenty cents, I’ll be hard-pressed not to buy that, too.

Chocolate Amaretti Cookies

Chocolate-Amaretti Cookies

Servings: 42
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Grace Parisi
Review: Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2014 (Jerry@Goodreads)

Ingredients

  • 7 oz almond paste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • pine nuts

Steps

  1. Combine the almond paste, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor and process until the almond paste is very finely chopped.
  2. Add the egg whites and process until smooth.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and pulse just until lightly chopped and incorporated.
  4. Use a pastry bag with a ½ inch plain tip to pipe the batter about an inch in diameter and two inches apart on parchment-covered baking sheets.
  5. Generously sprinkle the cookies with pine nuts.
  6. Bake at 375° for 13-14 minutes until risen and lightly cracked but still soft. (Shift pans, once, from top to bottom if using two sheets.)
  7. Slide the paper onto cooling racks and let cookies cool completely.
  8. Invert the parchment and peel it off of the cookies.
  9. Cookies may be baked in multiple stages, but be sure to let the pans cool completely between batches.

My final non-family-related travel this year was to New Orleans. Someone at an online in-person gathering recommended Casamento’s for oysters, and they did not disappoint. But of course I visited Loretta’s for beignets and cookies. Loretta Harrison has sadly passed on, but her family appears to be carrying on the tradition well. Loretta’s remains a friendly place to start a long walk through New Orleans.

While I was in New Orleans I visited the World War II Museum, which on its own is a fascinating experience. But the American Sector Restaurant & Bar is worth a visit on its own. The shrimp and grits were amazing, and Bob Hope’s Lemon Pie was a treat.

Casamento Oysters: Oysters on the half-shell at Casamento’s in New Orleans.; restaurants; New Orleans; oysters

Oysters on the half-shell, at Casamento’s in New Orleans.

Loretta’s King Cake Cookie: King cake cookie at Loretta’s Authentic Pralines in New Orleans.; restaurants; New Orleans; cookies; Loretta’s Authentic Pralines

King cake cookie at Loretta’s Authentic Pralines.

American Sector Shrimp and Grits: Shrimp and grits at the American Sector Bar and Grill in the National World War II Museum of New Orleans.; restaurants; New Orleans; shrimp; grits

Shrimp and grits at the American Sector Bar and Grill.

Now that I’m back into traveling, especially by car, I’ve started paying more attention to the kind of regional snacks available in gas station convenience stores. The impetus behind this was finding ooey gooey butter cake from Prairie City Bakery of Vernon Hills, Illinois in a gas station just outside of St. Louis. St. Louis is famous for that very pastry—it’s often called St. Louis Ooey Gooey Butter Cake. It is a surprisingly accurate version of OGBC.2 Judging from their web site, Prairie City Bakery is very focused on a small number of products. Which may be why their products are so good.

On the same trip I found an interesting line of crispy rice bars from Best Maid of River Falls, Wisconsin.3 Judging from the ingredient list on the back, they’re doing something even official Rice Krispies™ crispy rice bars don’t: they’re using real breakfast cereal, not pre-fortified crispy rice. Their “crisp rice” is further broken down into not just rice, sugar, salt, etc., but into several other vitamins and minerals. In other words, nutritional additives beyond just B6.

Regardless, their basic Marshmallow Crispy Bar, their Peanut Butter Crispy Bar, and their Chocolate Marshmallow Crispy Bar are all very good road snacks. The peanut butter one is a lot like a light halvah. Most commercial crispy rice bars are nowhere near as good as homemade. These come very close.

More weirdly, I’m not a big fan of pork rinds. They seem flavorless and dry to me. But I was in a North Texas convenience store a few months ago on a road trip and saw something called “Country Style Fried Pork Cracklins” from Lee’s Pig Skins. They did not look like your average pork rind. And their expiration date was a month away, not a year away; it could, of course, just mean they weren’t selling quickly, but it might instead mean that they have a shorter shelf life due to being less dry.

They were amazing, probably about as close to crispy pork belly as a bagged snack can be. When I saw a more standard pork rind further north, from Southern Recipe, I figured, I’ll try it and compare. After all, it said “Be Big Be Bold Be Adventurous” right on the front!

I guess I’m a sucker for advertising. They were exactly what I remembered pork finds being: flavorless and dry. So when I got to my destination, I looked up Lee’s Pig Skins. I was surprised to find, not only the good “Country Style” on their “how to find us” site, but the Southern Recipe brand as well.

It turns out that both brands are “a product of Rudolph Foods Company Inc.” of Lima, Ohio.

Ooey Gooey Butter Cake: Ooey Gooey Butter Cake from Prairie City Bakery.; road food; Ooey Gooey Butter Cake

St. Louis ooey gooey butter cake snacks.

Best Maid Crispy Bars: Peanut Butter Crispy Bar and Chocolate Marshmallow Crispy Bar from the Best Maid Cookie Company.; chocolate; cocoa; cookies; cereal; granola; peanuts; road food; marshmallows

Crispy rice marshmallow bars for the road.

Lee’s Pig Skins Cracklins: Country style fried pork “seasoned dipper” cracklins from Lee’s Pig Skins.; salty snacks; pork; road food

The good kind of pork snacks.

Rudolph Foods owns five brands besides their own; all six are basically pork snack brands. They’ve built a pork empire out of what I’m guessing were regional pork fiefdoms. That’s a vision I can get behind!

On a personal front, I’ve added a recipe archive to the Padgett Sunday Supper Club. You can now see and search previously featured recipes. Keep visiting, or subscribe to the site, because I’ve got some great recipes lined up for 2023.

Happy New Year!

In response to Years in Food: Almost as important as the Year in Books is the Year in Food. Both feed the soul as well as the body.

  1. Since it’s their 2012 collection, the recipes are from 2011.

  2. The lava cake versions I tried from a different location were not at all ooey or gooey or even buttery.

  3. It looks like they’ve changed their name to Rise Bakery, or been bought out, just as I write this. Hopefully that doesn’t change their quality or reduce their distribution.

  1. <- 2021 in food