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: 2023

Jerry Stratton, January 31, 2024

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.

New England Ham and Apple Pie: New England Ham and Apple Pie, from Eddie Doucette’s “Cooking Can Be Fun” at the New York State Exposition.; pie; ham; apples; Eddie Doucette

And his New England ham and apple pie.

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.

They opened at noon, so at noon I walked back there and had a most amazing meal with a great view of the island at the Argo. Mojito, escargot, a gyro with fries2, and an orange soufflé.

Molino Stucky breakfast: Breakfast at the Molino Stucky on Giudecca in Venice.; breakfast; Italy

I normally avoid hotel breakfasts. Not here.

Argo mojito: A mojito in Santorini, at the Argo restaurant.; restaurants; Greece; beverages; drinks

I don’t think there’s a better place to relax and enjoy the view on Santorini.

Vlasta Mandić’s meal: A meal from Vlasta Mandić’s in Kotor, Montenegro.; Montenegro

A Montenegran meal—and music—from Vlasta Mandić in Kotor.

Even better, at dinner that night we discovered that the ship’s chef had brought in some carpaccio from the island.

When the cruise was over, I used Venice as a jumping off point for Padua, Florence, and Treviso. In Padua, I ate Tartare Tonnata at Antonio Ferrari’s. In Florence I had Salsicce di Maiale alla Griglia con fagioli all’olio—a long name for a very simple dish—at Ristorante del Fagioli. At del Fagioli I ended the meal with a dolce of biscotti in sweet wine.

Antonio Ferrari Tartare Tonata: The tartare tonnata—and everything else—at Antonio Ferrari in Padova was wonderful.; restaurants; Italy; tuna

A great start to lunch in Padova.

Biscotti in sweet wine: Ristorante del Fagioli’s biscotti dipped in sweet wine.; restaurants; Italy; sweets

A wonderful light sweet to end a meal on a hot day in Florence.

Le Beccherie tiramisù: Tiramisu at Le Beccherie in Treviso.; restaurants; Italy; dessert

The first tiramisù?

And being in Treviso, I couldn’t resist trying tiramisù at the supposed birthplace of the dish, Le Beccherie. They also had some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches toasted panini I’ve ever tasted!

While I was in Treviso, I wandered their bookstores and saw a book called Cucina Vintage. Vintage Italian food was impossible to resist, especially because the thirties was pretty much all Cucina Futurista, a book I had on my short list of excuses to wander used Italian bookstores.

It was a wonderful trip, and back in America I continued on the international food front by running through a couple of newly-acquired volumes in the Foods of the World series: The Cooking of India, The Cooking of Spain and Portugal, and Russian Cooking. This continues to be a fascinating collection, the rare combination of great food with great travel photos.

Indian cardamom chicken: Cardamom Chicken, from Santha Rama Rau’s 1975 Cooking of India.; India; Time-Life; Foods of the World; chicken

Very flavorful cardamom chicken from India.

Italian orange punch: Ponce di Arancio from Maria Teresa Di Marco’s 2015 Cucina Vintage.; Italy; oranges; beverages; drinks

A very strong ponce di arancio from Italy’s 1910s.

Portuguese romescu: Almond and hot pepper sauce from Peter S. Feibleman’s 1971 Cooking of Spain and Portugal.; Time-Life; Foods of the World; Portugal

A Portuguese almond and red pepper sauce, great for sandwiches or salads.

The Cooking of India was especially wonderful. Santha Rama Rau provides insight into the strange caste system of India that goes well beyond what the other authors in this series did for their topics. Her father was from southern India, her mother from the north. Their cultures were so different that they spoke different languages. The only reason they could be married is that they were both of the same caste and subcaste.

Even when she discusses the foods of the Christian region of India, her friends there are Christians of Brahmin descent. It was so fantastical it resembled a fantasy world ala Eddison or Tolkien as much as a cookbook. It’s a culture completely alien to someone who grew up in the United States where the main caste was who plays football and who doesn’t.

George and Helen Papashvily produced something very different in the Russian Cooking volume. George Papashvily was born in the Republic of Georgia, and often goes right up to the point of describing the horrors of socialism and then stops. Food was abundant, yet queues were ubiquitous.

Bread, or the lack of it—that is what makes history. — Helen Papashvily (Russian Cooking)

It’s called Russian Cooking, but in fact it’s Soviet Union cooking, spanning from the Baltic down through Ukraine and Armenia and into Central Asia, which made it moderately more interesting in our curse of interesting times.

My cookbook finds this year also spanned United States cuisine, from California through Texas to Vermont. I’m stilling picking up the occasional Bicentennial cookbook, and Potter County, Texas had a wonderful one. There was a great Hawaiian fudge, with crushed pineapple, and, a sesame fried chicken; the leftover seasoned flour made a great batch of hush puppies, too!

In Saint Louis, I found a community cookbook from California Winemakers, the 1965 Adventures in Wine Cookery. It’s a fascinating look at the California wine industry before the era—depicted in the movie Bottle Shock—when California wines became famous. There appears to have been a real community spanning (what would become) large and small California wineries.

The book’s “Sophisticated Strawberry Shake” will eventually make it into one of my Breakfast Beverages posts. It’s a great excuse to have wine for breakfast. Keep an eye out for it.

I spent a lot of metaphorical time in Vermont as well. I started with A Vermont Cook Book, from 1958, with a lot of recipes for apples, for maple syrup, and for cream. It’s filled with very rich dishes, but the one that really takes the cake, so to speak, is the eggs in cream over rice. The eggs are poached in cream, and the whites just soak the cream right up. The so-called “Bridge Triumph” is peanut butter-maple syrup ice cream, and those are the only three ingredients: peanut butter, maple syrup, and cream. Whip them together, freeze them in the freezer, and Bob’s your uncle, as they probably don’t say in Vermont.

Potter County Sesame Fried Chicken: Mrs. Gwen Roof’s sesame fried chicken, from the Potter County Bicentennial Cook Book.; fried chicken; sesame; America’s Bicentennial

A really nice bicentennial fried chicken from the Texas panhandle.

Sophisticated Strawberry Shake: Gertrude Harrah’s sophisticated strawberry shake, from the 1965 Adventures in Wine Cookery.; California; wine; strawberries; milk shake

Strawberries and wine made into a milk shake. Add bacon and all major food groups accounted for!

Owlbear Boiled Cider Cream Pie: Boiled cider cream pie, from Vrest Orton’s 1973 American Cider Book.; pie; Vermont; boiled cider; Mildred and Vrest Orton

Yes, that’s an owlbear on this boiled cider pie. I made it for our monthly game session.

While researching last year’s El Molino Mills, I discovered Ellen and Vrest Orton’s 1951 Cooking with Wholegrains, which led to Vrest Orton’s 1973 American Cider Book. The Ortons, also, hail from Vermont, and I discovered something from the cider book that I’d missed or misunderstood in A Vermont Cook Book: boiled cider.

Don’t make cooking a science. Adapt it as an art. — Vrest Orton (Cooking with Wholegrains)

Apparently, boiled cider is a Northeast thing, but it’s easy enough to make. Just boil some cider until it reaches maple syrup consistency. It appears to be used mainly for making pie, which it excels at. I suspect it’s a great replacement for maple syrup in other recipes, too.

Domestic travel took me to San Diego yet again. An Old-Fashioned at Marisi on Valentine’s Day may well have benefited from the occasion, but it was a great way to start the evening.

Maui comfort stew with cornbread: Maui comfort stew with Mexican cornbread.; soups and stews; Hawaii; cornbread

A friend of mine made Maui comfort stew; I made the Mexican cornbread to go along with it.

U.S.S. Midway POW-MIA table: A meal set for POWs and MIAs on the U.S.S. Midway.; navy; remembrance

If you’re in San Diego, the U.S.S. Midway is a must-see. This is the POW-MIA table.

Newman Bakery assortment: An assortment of kolaches and pastries from Newman Bakery in Bellville, Texas.; Texas; bakery; cookies; kolaches

Newman’s Bakery in Bellville, Texas, is a great place to wait for the antique stores to open.

Domestic travel also, in the form of a short drive to Bellville Texas for a burger and antiquing, meant stopping at Newman’s Bakery for some amazing cookies and kolache.

A great year—and I’m looking forward to trying out more recipes from these cookbooks in 2024. With that, I offer you this simple recipe for happiness in the New Year: Pellegrino Artusi’s Ponce di Arancio:

Ponce di arancio (orange punch)

Ponce di Arancio (Orange Punch)

Servings: 25
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Pellegrino Artusi
Review: Cucina Vintage (Jerry@Goodreads)


  • 1-½ liter rum
  • 1 liter vodka
  • 1 liter water
  • 1 kg sugar
  • juice of three oranges
  • grated zest of 1 lemon


  1. Steep the lemon zest in 100 ml of the vodka for three days.
  2. Bring the water and sugar to a boil and boil for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Cool.
  4. Strain the lemon rind infusion through a fine sieve or muslin.
  5. Mix the rum, remaining 900 ml vodka, orange juice, and lemon infusion into the syrup.
  6. Bottle.
  7. “It is normally served in small glasses, aflame.”
  8. Can also be served mixed, with sparkling water.
Cornfield afternoon: Michigan cornfield in the sun.; Michigan; corn; farming; agriculture

A beautiful day on my brother’s farm in Michigan. I’d like to say that this is where all of my cornmeal comes from.

Italian beer with Umberto Eco: An Italian beer with Umberto Eco’s L’isola del giorno prima.; books; Italy; beer; Umberto Eco

There’s really nothing better waiting for your meal than an Italian beer and Umberto Eco.

Peohe’s Fire Shrimp: Peohe’s fire shrimp, from the 2006 San Diego Restaurant Cookbook.; restaurants; San Diego; shrimp

The San Diego Restaurant Cookbook included this tasty contribution from Peohe’s in Coronado.

Food always tastes good when you’ve got sand between your toes. — Anthony Bourdain (A Cook’s Tour)

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. I’ve also been to Birmingham, England, which technically does.

  2. I did feel weird ordering a gyro at a pricey restaurant, but it looked so good in the description. And it turned out to be very different from what I see as a gyro in Greek restaurants in San Diego.

  1. <- 2022 in food