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What obscure recipe book do you have and love?

  • v

I think there is a skill to collecting cookbooks. I refer to them all the time, but over time I have learned that you really only need a handful that have uncomplicated recipes that work to have all you'll ever need in your culinary library. Some of my favorites are Marcella Hazan, Ina Garten, Mark Bittman. All pretty well known. I also have a cookbook that I think may be out of print that I absolutely adore. It's called "Cooking from Quilt Country" by Marcia Adams. She used to have a PBS series years ago and she recreates Amish and Mennonite recipes. The food in this book is simple and often plain. But God it's delicious. I feel like somehow I am preserving old passed down family recipes by having it. Do you have any cookbooks you feel are precious, that we might not know about?

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  1. I usually sneer at "affliated" cookbooks (you know: ones associated with a show, or a magazine, etc.) but probably the MOST used cookbook in my house, day after day, for years (out of over 300) is one published back int the 80s by Southern Living magazine, called Cooking Across the South. Although we've lived in Iowa for three decades, hubby and I are both southern born and bred, and cannot live without a good cook book of our childhood favorites. How can you not love a book that has several PAGES of corn bread recipes (at least 10, I think), for instance?

    13 Replies
    1. re: Beckyleach

      Oh, forgot to add: I have one of only five copies in existence <g> of an anecdotal cookbook my father wrote for the family about 15 years ago. Not only does it have most of my mother's famous recipes, it is filled with well-crafted stories (he was a journalist for a major newspaper) about his growing up during the Depression in New England, his WWII experiences in China and India, his culture shock upon falling in love with a rural Texas gal with a giant family, from the Rio Grande Valley, his civil rights work in the 60's, etc. PRECIOUS and full of great recipes.

      1. re: Beckyleach

        If someone in the family had it published (is your dad still with us?), it sounds like a best seller to me. I would love to read it!

        1. re: Beckyleach

          I agree with Caroline, that's a book I would definately buy. I'm a collector and love the old time church, organization type cookbooks. Full of tried and true recipes.

          1. re: othervoice

            He died about four years ago; my mother went 15 months before him. You know, I'd never considered that, but I already was kicking around the idea of trying to write "his" memoirs (as he never got around to it, himself). He was news editor of the Arkansas Gazette during the Central High School integration crisis (they won a Pulitzer for that) and later worked with ML King during some civil rights times in Louisville, Ky.

            His food stories might fit right in! Thanks for being so nice and encouraging. :-)

            1. re: Beckyleach


              a good friend from LR has a distant cousin sadly in the background of the photo of the crowd jeering the girl being escorted into Central (forget her name, but fab sunglasses and strength of will) my friend was in the first graduating class after it finally reopened years later.

              but to stay on topic, some great food in that region ("now eat your duck, Aunt Jane shot it herself")

              1. re: hill food

                Yep. I've lived in Iowa for over thirty years, now, but I still consider myself a Southerner when it comes to my tummy!

                1. re: Beckyleach

                  Beckyleach, you can leave but it never leaves you!

                  I love cookbooks that include prose. If you published that book, I'd buy it too. I mis Laurie Colwin and read Home Cooking all the time when I'm feeling hinky.

                  I have all my grandmother's church cookbooks. They're hilarious . "Bake til done."

                  My favorite one that's not well known is the Country Gourmet. Some people from Up North moved to NC and write about returning to the land.

          2. re: Beckyleach

            Yes, do publish this!
            (Or make blog-type cooking site from it?)

            1. re: blue room

              No blog..Cooks Source will just steal it..

                1. re: ITry

                  OK, point taken, but seriously, do you think you'll someday make this available to the public, maybe the less personal more culinary parts?

              1. re: Beckyleach

                Being from New England originally, I would love to read your Dad's book.

              2. re: Beckyleach

                The Carter Family Favorites Cookbook (meaning Jimmy Carter, Lillian, etc.) So cool!

              3. I have a paperback copy of a cookbook called Pizza Primer from Cole's Cooking Companion Series. It's less than 100 pages, and I paid $1.99 for it at a local discount outlet over a decade ago. It's one of two cookbooks I own, that I have made nearly every recipe in it,(the other being Ann Hodgman's Beat This) and every single recipe has been exceptional. My copy is pretty bedraggled at this point, but it's been out of print since 1995, so I hold on to it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: lunaburning

                  Just bought this from Amazon. Excited! Thanks for the recommendation.

                2. K.C. Baking Powder's The Cook's Book 1935
                  Great simple recipes for Biscuits, Pancakes and the like. and Awesome graphic design!

                  1. "The Joys of Jello" 1963 ed. it has some of the wildest recipes (cherry jello pork chops) - the best images- and amazing tips on using jello. It is surprising useful and being from a midwestern family it helped me to understand where the thinking for some of those family pot luck dishes came from.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: poached

                      I have this cookbook; it's one of my prized possessions.

                    2. the front cover is lost but I think it's called Food for Thought circa 1972-4. My first vegetarian cookbook and one that got me into cooking and got my mum to realize that being vegetarian could be fun and interesting and not just boiled vegetables. I still have it and the carrot cake and banana cakes are great from that book.

                      1. A few years ago, I got the Star Wars cookbook as a Christmas present from my son....

                        1. I absolutely love my Little House cookbook -- all the recipes from the food mentioned in the Little House books. It's a fascinating glimpse into the late-19th-century frontier kitchen, but not only that, the recipes actually WORK. I'll have to dig it out again!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: LauraGrace

                            I read those books. Actually, I ate those books up with a spoon, all of them. I never know about a Little House cookbook! ... what kinds of recipes? Could you share a favorite or two?

                              1. re: twilight goddess

                                I haven't cooked from it in a while but I recall the bread recipes being especially nice.

                                Basically, IIRC, it explains and gives a recipe for every food item mentioned in the entire series. So, the buckwheat pancakes that the Wilder boys made for Pa in The Long Winter, stewed rabbit and fried fish from Little House in the Big Woods, the sourdough biscuits that Ma made almost every day, the doughnuts that Mother Wilder made for Sunday breakfast in Farmer Boy, etc. Everything from Rye 'n' Injun to Laura's wedding cake! :) It really is terrific.

                                1. re: LauraGrace

                                  I'll have to check this out, my Mother was capital C crazy over those books. she'd probably dig it. I'll have to scour her collection to make sure she doesn't already have it.

                              2. re: LauraGrace

                                The Little House Cookbook is great reading (I admit I have never cooked from it, but I'm glad to know the results are good). My mother gave me my copy as a gift when it came out, in 1979. I love that it has the illustrations by Garth Williams from the Harper & Row editions that most of us here grew up with. The author, Barbara Walker, set out to (re)create the dishes described in the Little House books as they would have been made in the time of the books. While few people will seek to make blackbird pie (must hunt starlings first!) or green pumpkin pie, there are also recipes that would be fun projects, like apple core vinegar, homemade cottage cheese, and taffy, as well as the simpler things LauraGrace mentions.

                              3. I love vintage cookbooks. I'm particularly proud of my Diet Shasta cookbook, though I also love my Good Housekeeping series, and one for Imperial Margarine that uses, you guessed it, Imperial margarine in every single recipe.

                                But I read those mostly for the pictures.

                                The (obscure) cookbook I use most was "published" in the 1970s, and is from a vegan commune that my friend lived on for a while as a kid. I didn't photocopy the front page, so I can't tell you the name. The recipes are much better than pretty much any other vegan recipes I've seen in other cookbooks.

                                1. I have a community group cookbook from Alaska featuring recipes like moose nose, pot roast of beaver and whale. it's a real hoot.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. Not obscure exactly but I love and constantly use Ruth Reichl's first book published in the '70's, entitled Mmmmm, a Feastiary. There is a section with family recipes in their original handwritten state. It also has a wonderful chapter devoted to lemons.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                      Hilarious that Reichl's cookbook contains family recipes! In her memoirs her mother's "cooking" is a source of many funny and./or awful stories. Her mother apparently used spoiled ingredients and mixed all kinds of things together that don't go together.


                                    2. What a great thread! One of my treasures is "the Romantic Vegetarian" by Judith Sharlin, I think it's from the mid-80s. A few wonderful recipes in there. It's falling apart and the pages are yellowing but it's got a permanent place on my shelf!

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: poptart

                                        OMG Judith Sharlin is the daughter of my parent's best friends. She included one of my recipes and attributed it to her father in the copy she gave my parents. I will let her know how much you enjoy it.

                                        1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                          How funny! Small world?
                                          Which recipe was yours?

                                          That was one of my first cookbook purchases after living on my own as a young adult. Always loved the hand-lettered pages, like the first Mollie Katzen books.

                                          1. re: poptart

                                            My recipe was the Szechuan Eggplant. Those first cookbooks mean so much to you since you are finally guiding your cooking by solely by your own taste.

                                            1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                              "Those first cookbooks mean so much to you"


                                              1. re: hill food

                                                True that. I still make lemon bars from the recipe in the "Peanuts cook book." (As in Charlie Brown, not the legume.) And when I pull that little teeny hot pink and green book out, it's like a slice '0 nostalgia.

                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                  I have that little book too! And it's my absolute favorite! Think I got it from those Scholastic book club flyers we got in elementary school. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Franklin's Jam Tarts (we used to call them Franklin's Jam FARTS, because we were kids and thought that was hilarious!). As a rushed and busy mom I now make them with my duaghter using pre-packaged pie dough. Not quite as flaky, but still great! Ahh, the memories!

                                                  1. re: ebkita

                                                    You just made a grain of sand find it's way into my eye, ebkita. I made those lil debbils for a bakesale at my local Presbyterian church when I was 12. Ahh, yes.

                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                      Funny, I was leafing through Molly O'Neill's "One Big Table" last night and early on in the book there's a recipe accompanied by a story about a gentleman from Utah who shares that he started cooking from the "Peanuts Cook Book" when he was in grade school!

                                                      I have this as well and was thinking I should dust it off and have a look through it!

                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                        The recipes contained therein are simple and classic and won't f*** you up.

                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          I had the Peanuts cookbook as well. I think it is probably at my mom's house still somewhere.

                                                      2. re: ebkita

                                                        heh, ebkita said 'fart'

                                                        heh (well you were trading childhood memories and there was nothing like a good fart joke then)

                                          2. Vincent and Mary Price's "Treasury of Great Recipes" (1965)

                                            I actually bought this on a Chowhound recommendation - what a fabulous book. Who knew Vincent Price was such a gourmand? It's like a snapshot in time with pictures of menus from famous restaurants all over the world - Harry's Bar in Venice, Tour d'Argent in Paris, The Ivy in London, Galatoire's in New Orleans, Sardi's in NYC, Locke-Ober in Boston (oyster stew $1.50 & filet mignon $6!). Wonderful authentic recipes from these same restaurants, covering their trips from France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, England, Scandinavia, Holland and the U.S.


                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              I have this cookbook; I love it. Dad gave it to me before he passed on; he most certainly got it as part of a cooking promotion he was hosting (he used to do promotional cooking demos for Tappan and I have some of those books, too). It certainly makes for fascinating reading and the recipes from all those famous places! My favorite part is the menus from all the places VP talked his way back into the kitchens of. Mine is a first printing (1965) with the original bookmark pricing it at $20 and the 2 bookplates still on the original paper.

                                              1. re: MartiniGenie

                                                $20 for a book in '65 was a LOT. I had this book and stupidly left it behind at some point, possibly even in Taipei, which is where I bought it (Caves Bookstore).

                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                  Sadly, that book is still pricy, perhaps as it appears to be somewhat of a collector's item.

                                            2. one I had, but didn't love or use, just found fascinating was from post WWI (I think the imprint was 1917) and it was on how to eat sensibly in an era of post-war rationing. recipes were fairly bleah, but seeing what was done in urban areas regarding foodstuffs before the era of the modern grocer was interesting.

                                              1. My most treasured cook book is a first edition of the revised version of "Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management," published in 1869 with only "slight" revisions made by her husband seven years after her original was published, and shortly after her death. It is a treasure, with hand tipped "Coloured Cookery Plates" guarded and preserved by bound India paper overlays. Poor darling is showing its 141 years, most likely the result of living with me. It came to me from London as a gift in 1979 when friends flew to join us for Christmas our last year living in Del Mar. From California we moved to the Chihuahua dessert, and now half a decade in the Dallas area seection of "Tornado Alley" have not been kind to its system. I'm grateful for the on-line version (MrsBeeton.com) because electronic copies are not nearly so fragile. For those of us who are scratch cooks, some of the recipes are still quite viable and many sound surprisingly modern. I just lack a bona fide scullery maid to clean up after me... '-)

                                                I'm also exploring electronic cook books. My favorite to date is "Many Ways to Cook Eggs" by Sarah Tyson Heston Rorer, originally published long ago, but not quite as long ago as Mrs. Beeton. You can download it free here: http://tinyurl.com/2dmzus4 Who knew there are THAT many ways to cook eggs! If you're interested, you can also get a free Kindle app at the website for Macs, PCs, and cells phones, among others. Or you can just buy a kindle. Mine is only 8 ounces! They have a lot of cook books, some free, some not. And electronic cook books are also available from sites such as Project Gutenberg. Several major universities have online archives of cook books too. It's still a new technology and for me the biggest problem is that the ingredients for recipes all too often collapse into paragraph format and there's rarely a way to manually correct it. And some of the cookbooks -- free and fee -- are simply material for electronic mulching via the delete button. To the best of my knowledge, Larousse Gastronomique is not (yet?) available on line. <sigh> Pity!

                                                16 Replies
                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  How on earth can you cook from a Kindle? I bought (and quickly deleted) a couple of recipe books, but you couldn't read all the ingredients at once--had to page through them--which made me crazy. Do people really use the cook books they download, or are they just for fun reading?

                                                  1. re: Isolda

                                                    I'm waiting to see if the idea of the Kindle was better than the reality. It's nice to have for reading in bed. Stupidly arthritic hands make even Reader's Digest difficult, but the Kindle makes Tolstoy possible. 1,500 books weighing in at 8 ounces ain't too shabby! The cook books are fun reading. I have copied out one recipe (so far) that I intend to make but it requires muffin rings...I am SOOOoooOOOoOOoooo ticked off at the modern canning industry I can hardly speak... write... whatever. Idiots! Those round bottomed aluminum tuna and pineapple cans that can only be opened on one side have completely obliterated my source of free and perfect sized muffin rings! So a pox on the canning industry, and as soon as I remember to BUY some muffin rings, I'll be making the muffins in the eggs Benedict recipe in the egg book I mentioned. But I don't think I'll be adding black truffles to the eggs Benedict, as her recipes dictates. Well.... Maybe some day. '-)

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      Caroline1 -- a bit off topic from OP, but I've found water chestnut cans can be opened top and bottom.

                                                      1. re: nemo

                                                        TaDAAA...! Thanks! Never thought of them.

                                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                                        Caroline, you need this:
                                                        It opens any end of any can because it takes the whole thing right off. As a can opener, it is not the best, so don't throw out whatever you have now, but if you're patient and work at it, you can remove both ends. (Or you can have a friend, whose hands are not arthritic, open the cans for you...or you can just go buy the d@mn muffin rings. Never mind, that's what I'd do.......

                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                          Yeah, I think I need to break down and buy some. Or I could use the nested biscuit cutters I have and make shrinking sized muffins I could stack like a wedding cake! Diet muffins go on top. '-)

                                                      3. re: Isolda

                                                        I have previewed cookbooks but not purchased to my Kindle. The setup is a real pain. I don't like reading magazines in Kindle format either.

                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                          There are a lot of free Kindle cookbooks.

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            Oh I recognize that, C1. Lots of free Kindle d/l's of all sorts. But I was addressing and agreeing with the lousy setup on the device. I use a mini PC for recipes and see the entire full page in one screen which I much prefer with no need to waste paper.

                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                              You're right. I can take my notetbook pc into the kitchen too, but I have NEVER taken a printed recipe into the kitchen and not had it splashed with at least three ingredients by the time I'm through cooking. If there was some sort of guarantee I'd only splash the screen instead of the keyboard, I'd probably go for it. hmmmm... I wonder if I could rinse off the Kindle under running water with no harm done...? '-)

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                try it! and let us know!

                                                                actually there's maybe a niche market for a sleeve if any plastics manufacturer is lurking out there

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  Okay, my pc has a hook off the back that allows me to hang it up on another conveniently placed hook off the counter. I bought the hook set at Radio Shack and it solves the possibility of pc "spillage" beautifully.

                                                                  My Kindle on the over hand is never in the kitchen, always in my bag when not in need of a charge.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    so you're kneading dough and need to scroll back up to make sure you used the right amount of something or set the oven right ...

                                                                    wait! do I put the baking powder in first? or after?

                                                                    sticky fingers leave prints etc..

                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                      not an issue at all hill food, I'm looking at the entire recipe on one screen shot. Unlike the Kindle which required several, which I mentioned upthread. The mini PC works for me, the Kindle did not when it comes to following a recipe.

                                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                                        But my Kindle fits nicely into a zip lock bag, then I can scroll forward, backward, drop it in some batter, all with impunity and just rinse it off. I'm good to go! '-)

                                                      4. My copy of the Tewksbury Garden Club cookbook. It's one of those group cookbooks. My mother in law helped put it together in the 70' and bought extra copies for her sons future wives. Its full of candy, cookie, pie and cake recipes , it's stained and falling apart but I love it

                                                        1. One of my faves is a book called "Stones Spells for Magical Feasts", a cookbook from a restaurant called Stones that used to be next to the Avebury Stone Circle in England. It's a bit precious, with its talk about 'kitchen witchery' and such, but the recipes are gems.

                                                          Another one to seek out -- I see it on eBay sometimes -- is the "Tested Crisco Recipes" cookbook from 1912, published by P&G. It's a fascinating piece of history, because they distributed it to chefs to promote Crisco as being "kosher lard" as well as a "clean and healthy" alternative to the fats of the time. It's more or less responsible for Crisco's popularity back then. It's got all kinds of odd recipes such as a "Crisco sandwich" (peanut butter, Crisco, and lettuce on toast).

                                                          1. My favorite obscure cookbook, and one that I use regularly is "Mary's Bread Basket and Soup Kettle" (1974) by the owner of the bakery/restaurant of that same name that was here in Tulsa, OK. It has a very conversational style, talks about the business, and the recipes are creative. This is the book that finally got me to make my own sourdough bread and to keep two types of starters in the fridge at all times. Looks like it is out of print, but still available used on Amazon. The reviews there are even more gushing than mine. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0960...

                                                            1. I have several fairly obscure cookbooks that I have used and loved over the years. One is called How to Cook a Pig & Other Back-to-the-Farm Recipes written by Betty Talmadge, the wife of the former governor of Georgia. My pecan tassies recipe comes from this book. Another is Homemade Bread by the editors of the Farm Journal, which was my first bread cookbook. Along with that is Fleischmann's Bake-it-Easy Yeast Book that I have used for several loaves. Also Mimi Sheraton's Visions of Sugarplums, and around the world holiday baking book, as well as The Art of French Cooking by Fernande Garvin, which I believe was once part of a boxed set of international cuisines, and from which I cooked my first "Beef Bourguignon."

                                                              1. One of my favorite bookshelf artifacts is a Sunset Magazine cookbook from the 1950's. Reading it is like taking a time trip. For instance, there are seven different recipes for tamale pie. Last time I looked, Amazon didn't have it.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Sharuf

                                                                  seven? how many seriously different versions of tamale pie can there be?

                                                                  1. re: Sharuf

                                                                    you might check out abe books, especially if you have the ISBN. I did not see a 1950's Sunset Magazine cookbook, but there was one listed from the 1940's.

                                                                  2. http://www.alibris.com/booksearch.det...
                                                                    In another CH thread the River Road cookbooks came up and I have enjoyed the entire series for years. A real treasure of tried and true Louisiana cuisine recipes.

                                                                    Another treasure in my collection is a cookbook entitled, The American Country Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook by Kitty and Lucian Maynard 1987. I've cooked through my fav parts of the book several times over and visited about 1/3 of the Inns. If you love brunch, breakfast and country style hosting, it's a keeper. The lastest edition in paperback can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/American-Countr...

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      Is that the cookbook with the recipe for shallot butter in it? If it is, could you possibly post or email me the recipe? I'd be so grateful.

                                                                    2. IMy favorite obscure cookbook is the one my grandparents typed together (on a typewriter), in 1985, two years before my grandmother died. They made a copy for each of their 6 granddaughters, but not for the grandsons. It is full of wonderful old Southern family recipes, full of errors, lard, and sometimes spiteful commentary.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                                          I love spiteful commentary. (maybe this is why I've been deleted a lot lately)

                                                                        2. I dunno how obscure but...

                                                                          The Impoverished Student's Book of Cookery, Drinkery and Housekeepery from Reed College
                                                                          The first Cafe Beaujolais Cookbook; kudos to Margaret Fox
                                                                          and an old pre-WW II cookbook from Spry shortening with b&w photos of Aunt Jenny (their version of Betty Crocker) and my mom's favorite recipe for Swiss steak and rice. Found another copy of it thanks to Nach Waxman and his gang at Kitchen A&L.

                                                                          1. I collect vintage cookbooks, and I love any Farm Journal cookbook edited by Nell B. Nichols are my favorites. Those farm women really knew how to cook! I just picked up another one yesterday at my library's used book sale called "Cooking for Company" for $1....I probably own about 10 of them and they are all gems.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: momskitchen

                                                                              I have that one! I got it from my grandmother. I treasure it for several reasons: 1) it has her prune cake recipe in it and 2) she made notes in the margins on some recipes that I remember her making. It's falling apart, but it sits in my kitchen hutch next to my other grandmother's wooden recipe box containing her handwritten recipes.

                                                                              1. re: momskitchen

                                                                                Oh, yeah! I've got a couple of general Farm Journal cookbooks--mainly from the '50's; it amuses me to see all the talk of "feeding the Men Folks". And a recent acquisition, all on PIES!

                                                                              2. My favorite obscure cookbook is David Letterman's Mom's cookbook, aptly called, "Cooking with Dave's Mom!" It's a real midwestern cookbook, so a few of the recipes I had never seen before (I'm a Southern NYer through and through!). She has some adorable commentary and pics throughout the book, and the recipes are delcious: beef roulades, hot chicken salad, cheese straws, French lemon bars, Coca-Cola Cake, strawberry pie...now I'm getting hungry. :o)

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                                                                  Huh, I have a copy of that from my husband's bachelor days. I've never cooked from it or even looked at it. Maybe I should!


                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    TDQ - just like your husband, I had this book from my single days as well! Give it a try! It's good food -- and fun! And she's got a foolproof pie crust recipe too!

                                                                                2. We have a really massive used bookstore here with a big and varied cookbook section that changes weekly. This thread has inspired me to drop by today and see what goodies I can find. Thanks for posting this thread and reminding me how much I enjoy reading the older books.

                                                                                  1. Two come to mind:

                                                                                    Numero uno is Past Perfect, by Anna Del Conte. I think it's out of print, but you can find it on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Pasta-Perfect-C.... Every recipe is a gem. It's the kind of old school pasta recipes that you'd expect to see in a restaurant that hasn't changed the menu in 30 years.

                                                                                    The second is Into The Vietnamese Kitchen, by Andrea Nguyen. I guess it's not THAT obscure, but I found it in my college library (when I was still in college), so it seemed pretty random to me. Every single recipe is unexpectedly excellent. And if you have a good Chinatown or a good Vietnamese market in your town or city, this book will change your life. Make the beef pho recipe (no shortcuts), and you'll never be able to order another restaurant bowl again. Seriously.

                                                                                    Also, Andrea Nguyen's book Asian Dumplings is similarly excellent -- although I find the recipes for the buns (steamed, baked, and fried) come out the best.

                                                                                    1. I have a book called "Sumptuous Indulgence on a Shoestring," by David Yeadon, published in 1975. I can't even remember where I got it--probably at a used bookstore. It keeps surviving weedouts of my cookbook shelf, because it contains a few of my standbys (broiled fish with deviled cheese, for example) and because it's got a nice variety of recipes from several different ethnicities. It's got a chapter of recipes using leftovers, as well, and a section of suggested menus. It's the kind of book I turn to when I'm having guests and need to look for inspiration. And everything I've made from it has been good.

                                                                                      1. My favorite is "American Charcouterie". published in Berkley and made up of recipes from a shop called Pig by the Tail which used to be just across the street from Chez Pannise.

                                                                                        I'm also lucky enough to possess a complete set of the Time/Life "Cooking Around the World" series.

                                                                                        As mentioned above the Vincent Price book is a treasure.

                                                                                        1. Mary Meade's Magic Recipes For The Electric Blender, 1952.

                                                                                          From back when blenders for the home kitchen were still a pretty newfangled convenience.
                                                                                          Some real gems in there, including my all-time favorite BBQ sauce.

                                                                                          1. http://www.cookbookery.com/

                                                                                            If you're out there looking for a reliable and amazingly inexpensive resource to buy many of the recommendations shared here, visit cook bookery!

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                              One of my favorites is the original Brown Derby Restaurant Cookbook, circa late 1940's. Full of tidbits of what all the stars of that era ordered--just delightful! But some of the recipes are my tried-and-trues: chicken cacciatore, beef stew, pot roast, french dressing, etc. When I die, I'll be glad I'm not around to see my children fight over who gets it!!!!

                                                                                              1. re: mothrpoet

                                                                                                Oh mothrpoet, don't make them fight over it :)
                                                                                                Share while you can! These treasures should be shared asap.

                                                                                                1. re: mothrpoet


                                                                                                  Hmmm....at nearly $200 per, you might want to start saving so as to eliminate the sibling rivalry. ;-)

                                                                                                  1. re: mothrpoet

                                                                                                    This sounds wonderful! I am fascinated by both the Brown Derby and by old (I call them 'heritage') recipes.

                                                                                                2. "Muffins A to Z" by Marie Simmons. It's a cute little hardback that I bought years ago as a selection from a cooking and crafting book-of-the-month club. It's still available, albeit oddly priced, on amazon.com. It shows up there as "four new from $43.99, 18 used from $2.62." I don't know if I'd pay $43.99 for it but I definitely wouldn't sell it for $2.62. I use it at least once a week when I'm in full baking mode.


                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: mandycat


                                                                                                    How funny! I have a copy of Puddings A to Z; rec'd as a gift and it is one of the most borrowed cookbookson the shelf.

                                                                                                  2. I have a small paperback spiral-bound book called "Cheap Eats" by 2 Bon Appetit editors, published in 1993. It's divided into seasonal menus and the premise is that you can make each meal for 4 for under ten dollars. While I could never keep the costs down that low (not in 1993 in Manhattan and most definitely not now), it's great little collection of recipes and menus that really WORK. I can pull out that book, pick a menu, and probably make a complete meal (even for company) in an hour. A great find!!

                                                                                                    1. Judy Gorman's Breads of New England (1988) which is a cookbook which I have been using as a reference for many years, and Season to Taste by (1988) Jeannette Ferrary and Louise Fiszer.

                                                                                                      1. "No Time For Cooking" by Arlene Francis (of "What's My Line?" fame, known as a hostess-with-the-mostest type lady)
                                                                                                        It's actually a book-long ad for processed meats--it states that 1947 brought the first vacuum packaging to us.
                                                                                                        "Arrange a six-ounce package Luxury Loaf in a pie plate..."
                                                                                                        Actually some of the basic ideas are just fine, but I wonder what Bonton Loaf was, and how it differed from Brunch Loaf and Luxury Loaf.

                                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                          the world may never know, does it mention the processor for Bonton Loaf? 'cause I'm gonna lose sleep now. I tried googling it, but came up with nothing.

                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                            On ebay, there's a vintage wooden box for something called Bon-Ton Brand Sandwich Loaf Cheese...has possibilities.

                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                              hill food, the back cover says

                                                                                                              Orange Band
                                                                                                              Luncheon Meats"

                                                                                                              In the book, a page about "Flex-Pac" see-through vacuum packaging -- but there is no other brand name mentioned--only ingredients. As well as bonton loaf, luxury loaf, and brunch loaf, I found chicken loaf, tavern loaf, hamette, old fasioned loaf. Also more familiar stuff like Canadian bacon, ham, smoked sliced beef, frankfurters, bologna.
                                                                                                              This sentence near the front of book:
                                                                                                              "For our convenience, ease, and well-being, we have three adoring full-time godfathers: the scientist, the dietician, and the manufacturer."

                                                                                                              1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                Ah, give me some of that hamette, please. A dainty viand.

                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                  I like a good hamette myself from time to time...

                                                                                                          2. washoku -- recipes from the japanese home (obscure to most homes, maybe not those represented here!) is amazing and has opened my (and my family's) eyes up to amazing japanese food.

                                                                                                            i recently found a california heritage cookbook (jr. league of pasadena) and, though i've only made a few things from it (all good), everything in it looks amazing and it's majorly tagged up now.

                                                                                                            finally, my grandmother's Hancock County Historical Foundation Cookbook, circa 1969. what i love most about this book are the handwritten notes within (mainly on timing -- what time she put the pound cake in the oven, etc.)

                                                                                                            1. The most obscure cookbook I have is "Cooking with Collette," which was written for kids.


                                                                                                              My older brother and I took a cooking class with her in the 70s, in western New York, at a state park facility called Artpark, where the 70s ran free -- cooking classes, pottery classes, artists-in-residence dressing trees.

                                                                                                              There are actually great simple recipes in there for some French classics, and the meatloaf is still my go-to recipe. Also, I was the kid on the cover, so I kept it for that reason, but do use the recipes.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: lsmutko

                                                                                                                I have an obscure cookbook that was given to me by a friend about 20 years ago. It's called Favorite Southern Recipes of the Duchess of Windsor and is supposedly Wallace Simpson's recipes from her life in the South of the U.S.

                                                                                                                Since she married the next in line for the British throne, thus rendering him unsuitable for Kinghood, her being common and all.

                                                                                                                I just can't see her slaving over a hot stove.

                                                                                                              2. This has got to be one of my favorite threads. I love the obscure and have quite a few.
                                                                                                                Some of my favorites are from restaurants-
                                                                                                                Miss Aimee B's in St. Charles Mo
                                                                                                                Elsah Landing originally in Elsah Il. but sadly gone
                                                                                                                The Oxbow Restaurant in St. Francisville, LA lot's of notes about technique.
                                                                                                                I got lucky this AM and someone just gave me a box of cookbooks from the 40s and 50s.
                                                                                                                One is about what the Roosevelt's served at the White House.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                  I was fortunate to have a cool history teacher in STL and she took a class over to Alton and we ate at the original Elsah's Landing. but they did open a branch in Plaza Frontenac or Clayton, no? granted not the same.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                    There was one in Plaza Frontenac. They also moved the one from Elsah to Grafton in the basement of what is now the Mississippi Half Step. It was a B&B. It wasn't the same either. Their pies were the best. I am lucky enough to have all three of their books and they have most of the recipes for the food they served.

                                                                                                                    1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                      yeah I liked the feel of the tiny original with no menu just the chalkboard. and the windows.

                                                                                                                2. "Cooking Between the Recipes", by Leslie Land (pub 1987). She used to have a syndicated food column that the SF Examiner carried - it was very good. Has been a gardening columnist for the NYT as well (I read her articles even though a pot on the windowsill was a stretch as far as gardening was concerned at the time). Most engaging, down-to-earth style, great recipes, one of the first cookbooks to be seasonally-oriented that I know of. Her Modern Country Cook is very good too.
                                                                                                                  Just found this...http://leslieland.com/

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                    Thanks for the Leslie Land link, buttertart! I always *forget* about Land until I find her "Yankee New England Cookbook" (1992) in my hands yet again. Also a seasonally-oriented book. The prose is wonderful, the recipes solid.

                                                                                                                  2. I have a set of "International Party Series" books published by Buzza Books (Anaheim, CA) around 1970-1. They're small format (4 1/4" x 6") single signature hardbound books that each focus on throwing a particular "kind of party", i.e., the South American Dinner Party, The Japanese Hibachi Party, The Coffee Party, etc. They're treasures! Many of the recipes are often a little lacking, relying as they do on American supermarket ingredients commonly available at the time, but that's not where the worth lies. These books are a charming little insight into the period's Dinner Party Entertaining Mindset. In addition to recipes and menus with the dishes listed in native languages (all the better to impress your guests), the books include instructions for making your dinner party invitations from cleverly folded construction paper (A Hibachi invitation with a paper fold out grate! A fringed South American poncho as a festive invitation!), wardrobe instructions for the hosts' mood-setting endeavors ('flat sombreros' and tall black boots for the gents, a rose behind the ear and a festive flowing skirt for the hostess of the Spanish dinner party!) and admonitions to the prospective party-thrower that *YOU* set the tone for your party. The illustrations are very campy and charming, and the whole lot of the books is so sincere, one can't help but enjoy them. I've never been able to find out too much about the publisher, but I've been a little lazy in looking. If one enjoys late 60s/early 70s retro, these books are little gems. I always wish I had more retro-oriented dinner guests, as staying to the 'script' of one of these books would make for a hoot of a party.

                                                                                                                    I also have unreasonable numbers of cooking pamphlets picked up from garage sales, most of which deal with the many forms of "gel-cookery." Exceptionally entertaining reading!


                                                                                                                    1. "mmmmm: a Feastiary" by Ruth Reichl
                                                                                                                      before she was a foodie fashionista, ruth was a semi-hippie who published this very cherished book in my collection. in fact, this book may have even started my obsession with all cookbooks!

                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: jmogosh

                                                                                                                        "Real Food" by Marian Tracy. She was a famous cookbook author of about the 1940s- 1960s. This book is sheer delight and several of my favorite dishes originated here. She arranges this book by theme -- one chapter on lemon-related recipes, one on nuts -- for example. I also have her famous "Casserole Cookery" spiral bound cookbook, which is more retro seeming, but fun to browse.

                                                                                                                          1. re: jmogosh

                                                                                                                            I would pay dearly to have that book. Not just for the recipes, and not even for the social history, but as a sign of the times: Berkeley, Back in the Day before Alice Got Ahold of it and Wrecked It.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                              It's funny, we lived in Berkeley from 1974-1987, and I don't remember that book making much of a stir at all then. And I was as interested in food then as I am now. NOT a Reichl fan then or now. The one I do remember being talked about was by Mrs. Todd Gitlin, then a sociology prof at UCB. Included a recipe for enhanced brownies...
                                                                                                                              Alice didn't ruin it, she cleaned it up and scraped it off - I don't like her as a personality but give her credit for her effect on the food world. The first meal we had in Berkeley was at Chez Panisse and the one the night before we moved was in the café (which we preferred to the restaurant).

                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                Fair's fair, bt, and your point's well-taken. She does deserve her due for her influence on food. I was referencing the fact that in a sense, she took that food out of the mouth of the commoners living in the flatlands - the people she said she wanted to cook for in the first place, but she priced herself out of that game.
                                                                                                                                All that aside, I've eaten at both venues and much, much prefer the cafe because it doesn't pretend to be something it's not.

                                                                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                  In the mid-70's it was within most people's budgets to eat there (even grad stidents'). Got pricier as time went on. Love the café.

                                                                                                                          2. 'Words Worth Eating' - local grocery store cookbook, from maybe the early 80's. When I first got married, I cooked a lot from this cookbook, and really everything was decent home cooking. It's southern style home cooking, full of canned soup, sour cream, and loaded with cheese.

                                                                                                                            1. Any cookbook by Betty Groff - she just bespeaks the essence of the food and the Amish way of life.
                                                                                                                              T'aam Tov cookbook by the Sisterhood@St. Paul Temple of Aaron, MN, which I especially love for the irony; it contains great recipes for old-country baking and one or two truly traditional Jewish dishes, and the rest are for Ambrosia, Tuna Casserole and other completely non-traditional dishes in a cookbook that advertises itself as "The Best in Kosher Cooking." ;-)

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                That (Betty Groff) is a name I haven't heard in a long time. Didn't they have a restaurant in PA Dutch country? Seems to me I remember James Beard writing about her.

                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                  You're so right!! He's the man who put the place on the map! She was a real Amish Farmwife, and she and her husband first opened their home (Groff Farms) to guests for dinner and then expanded the restaurant for fuller capacity so they could afford to stay open. At any rate, she is a treasury of information about smoking, canning, and just great, simple ideas plus a first-rate historian and a decent writer. I've never had a written recipe not turn out, and the relishes and pickles and sauces for the "Seven Sweets and Seven Sours" Tradition are lovely.
                                                                                                                                  An interesting aside: They were in the habit of starting the meal with a small portion of cracker pudding and chocolate cake so that people wouldn't fill up too much on all the good food and have to skip it altogether. I loved this detail, and according to her book, it made Mr. Beard really happy too.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                    I remembered that about the restaurant too - dessert first sounds like a fine idea to me!

                                                                                                                              2. I adore cookbooks as a snapshot of the time and era they were published. Have a pretty decent collection now but there is one i would not function without. Five Roses flour "La Cuisiniere", traditional canadian food. It was first published in 1915, it has been in my family ever since. I have the 25th edition. It is my go to for basics.
                                                                                                                                Cuine traditionnelle d'un Quebec oublie(traditional cuisine of a forgotten Quebec) by Suzette Couillard and Roseline Normand. This one is just fun to use, old, old recipes, even has one for potato brandy...

                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: GenevieveCa

                                                                                                                                  yeah I look at them as more of a time capsule and sociological resource than a cooking guide (although occasionally)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                    totally agree - and I read them like prose. or poetry.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                      one does find interesting things just mentioned offhand that you wouldn't even consider today. why I like the early versions of Joy of Cooking, not too many explanations of how to remove the scent glands from a squirrel carcass out there these days...or muskrat.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                        Or Mrs. Beeton, who'd stop in the middle of instructions for defatting to remind the housewife to save all that fat for homeade lye soap.

                                                                                                                                2. My go-to favorite ever cookbook- I'm not sure how obscure it is- I got it in the '80s and use it for many many things- Fannie Farmer's Baking Book. I had her Cookbook, and it was ok, but the Baking Book is amazing. Great Cinnamon Roll recipe- and an amazing fruitcake recipe. Mine no longer has a cover(which I won't throw away, it's got the Hershey's Collector Cocoa Cake recipe on it), and is stiff and stuck together, but I do love the thing.

                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Carpe

                                                                                                                                    I've been blathering on about that book for the longest, it is GREAT and anyone who likes to bake MUST get it. Techniques brilliantly explicated, recipes clear and in some cases quite unusual, results delicious. Marion Cunningham's books are all excellent.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                      I had (and lost in a house fire) MC's book on....did she call it supper? Did she call it dinner? I forget, but I really loved that book and if I wasn't so damn lazy I suppose I could find out.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                        The Supper Book - also the Breakfast Book - both great. There's a recipe for a roast beef/potato/dill pickle salad in the Supper Book I make a lot.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                          And that's why you're my hero, bt, and it was that exact salad that was the first recipe I made from....The Supper Book. Ta Da! Ask and I shall receive!!

                                                                                                                                  2. I have "Inquire Within", 1858, a mixture of recipes and household hints (how to clean kerosene lamps, Dyeing the Hair, how to propose marriage, calculating the capacity of your well, etc). In the midst of all this archaic information, the best advice I know of: Always keep an hour ahead of your work, and the best recipe for carrots I have ever found: Heat cooked carrots in butter, brown sugar, and curry powder.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. The Romagnolis' Table, published in 1974/1975. The couple, actually had a show on PBS,
                                                                                                                                      I never saw it, but it was an offshoot of a popular show they had in Boston. I bought this book
                                                                                                                                      for my Dad, whose cooking was his passion and was somewhat legendary among his peers in Philadelphia. He really didn't need a cookbook, but used to love to read them. I should
                                                                                                                                      actually use the book more often. I have the hardcover which looks more like a novel than
                                                                                                                                      a cookbook, and I saw on Amazon that there was a "new" Romagnolis' Table published in 1988 in paperback. I will always treasure this book, it takes an amost conversational approach to each recipe.

                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: KayMae

                                                                                                                                        I love that book too. The show was great fun.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: KayMae

                                                                                                                                            I LOVE Romagnoli's Table and -- here is the kicker -- so does my mom. My mom, the Abruzzese cook extraordinaire, peasant food snob who gave me my most beloved of cookbooks -- The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. She didn't think much of Marcella's book, but she still refers to Romagnoli's Table now and then. That's saying something...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: vvv03

                                                                                                                                              It's a keeper. It's very 'approachable'. Maybe I'll order the later paperback version to see what they added. This is a really good thread...thanks! I'm learning a lot. (I miss my parents, and the endless, ridiculously huge holiday feasts.)
                                                                                                                                              I also have Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni, 1969. Huge hardcover book. Not too approachable for me, but wonderful to have and look at.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: KayMae

                                                                                                                                                I also have the Ada Boni.....looking through it makes me so hungry. But I have yet to cook from it.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: poptart

                                                                                                                                                  I cooked from the Ada Boni extensively when I first got it -- in the 1970s! It is a great cookbook. The only Italian cookbook that my mother had was her Talisman Cookbook, which was so tattered that my mother wound up making a book cover for it from the wallpaper from our Kitchen. I still have it too.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                    The kitchen wallpaper cover kills me, a treasure.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                      Oh yes! I have the Talisman too. Good stuff.

                                                                                                                                            2. I have the complete set of Miriam Loo's cookbooks, mostly published in the 70's. She used to be the owner of Current. The cookbooks are all spiral bound, and pretty tattered, but once in a while I still go back to them. It' all comfort food now.

                                                                                                                                              1. I have quite a number of those product sponsored recipe booklets that I started collecting as a kid and I love looking through those and remembering some of the first dishes I ever made using Jello, Crisco, Eagle Brand Condensed Milk, etc. To that collection I've added some really great vintage and antique booklets that I love to read as well.

                                                                                                                                                All that said, the book I love the most is a very old, tattered and stained Be-Ro recipe book that's been passed down to me. That book is full of family-favourites and, tons of memories.

                                                                                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                  I have the Pillsbury Bake-off pamphlet from the year I was born. That's a fun one.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                    I was helping a friend clean out her Nana's attic and we came across a trove of pamphlets and booklets, but the one I wanted and got was a thread-bound pamphlet called "Cooking with Jello" (?) illustrated by Rose O'Neill (the originial Kewpie doll illustrator.) Mr. was concerned, since I love to "deconstruct" so much, that I'd deconstruct that booklet and frame the pix and strongly discouraged me from doing so.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                      What fun! Would make great kitchen decorations.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                        Seriously, framed Jello illustrations from a past era would be a nice culinary decor touch.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                          Seriously, ladies, I thought about it since my kitchen's already a trove of memorabilia, old fruit crate pictures, seed packets, Goines posters, and antique-or-at-least-campy kitchenware and utensils. I received a very serious lecture on the folly of taking the booklet apart though. Guess I'll have to wait till he dies. ; )
                                                                                                                                                          What I love about the Jello book are the little stories by a small girl whose mother depends daily on the wonders of Jello. "Mama let me set the luncheon table for her tea-club. She served Aspic with canned crab in mayonnaise and green grapes, olives and hot parkerhouse rolls, hot coffee and mints." It reads like a Betty Crocker Menu for Ladies' Lunch c. 1935-45.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                          Dude or Dudette, that's the one!! OMG!! Isn't it great?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                            The thing about those old pamphlets and books I've learned is that folks are willing to pay quite a bit for them so, my thinking is, get a great photocopy of the pix you like made, frame those and sell the original books/pamphlets on ebay to fund the purchase of newer books. I haven't done this yet but, its on my to-do list!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                              that's a good idea Bc, tip for similar minds: set your scanner to a ridiculously high dpi (300 or so - find a friend with photoshop and you can tweak it into anything after that, suitable for a 2x2 inch thumbnail or the side of a house) and never save as a jpg until you're done fussing with color/contrast/rotate/crop whatever.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                Breadcrumbs, that's a great idea. I won't do it in the interest of selling the original, because someday I may need Jello re-ci-pes ;-) ok, actually I just want to keep it for my very own. But I would like to have backup photos. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                Adorable! The same artist did the original Campbell's kids, I think.
                                                                                                                                                                "The way to do it is called a 're-ci-pe.' " Love it!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                  bt, sho' you right. I knew I'd seen her work in places other than Kewpie-doll books.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                  Dudette, I guess, though more accurately "Doddering old used-to-be Sandra Dee wannabe". Sad, I know. :)

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: blue room

                                                                                                                                                                    Um, somehow I doubt that accurately describes you; at least, not the doddering part.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Digging around and found Clementine Paddleford's "How America Eats." I know I got it at a garage sale for a quarter, put it in the backstack and forgot about it. So glad I was snooping around in my own bookshelf today.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook. Originally published in 1965, I bought a copy in 1970, lost it somewhere along the way, and found it again on eBay just a few years ago. It's got numerous recipes for fruit pies, custard pies, savory pies (and not just of the cottage pie or steak-and-kidney pie type, either). Looking for a recipe your family has lost? Or for something you've never thought to put in a pie? This book's probably got it.

                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                                                              That is a fantastic pie cookbook. Their Country Fair book is also excellent.

                                                                                                                                                            2. The L.A. Gourmet: Favorite Recipes from Favorite Los Angeles Restaurants. Published in 1971 and written by Jeanne Voltz and Burks Hamner. She was a former editor of the L.A. Times food section and he was a publicist. The book contains recipes for some of the best known dishes served at L.A.’s best known restaurants of that era including Chasen’s, Scandia, the Brown Derby, Perino’s, Musso & Frank’s and many more.

                                                                                                                                                              The recipe for Chicken Picasso from Café Four Oaks alone was worth the price of the book.

                                                                                                                                                              1. I have a 1st addition of Julia Child's 1968 "The French Chef."

                                                                                                                                                                1. My Grandmother grew up in the late 19th century in a town then part of Hungary, now part of Romania, on the slopes of the Carpathian Mountains. My dad has a book about Transylvanian Cooking, and my favorite recipe is the one for Bear Paw Soup. I assumed the bear paw in question was an analogy, the way some pastries are called bear claws. But the recipe begins, "Boil one bear claw until the hair falls off." I plan to make some next time I see bear claws at Safeway.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. George The Housewife... I found it at a thrift store - a self published...treatise on life, food, politics, health, culture and incidentally, recipes - that is an indescribably compelling read.

                                                                                                                                                                    Complete with wonderful period b/w photography including National Geographic era slyly inserted topless images of African tribal women, under the guise of extolling their healthy habits to his long suffering wife outside of various trendy at the time NYC restaurants... it's an absolute wonder of sincere all-american mid-century hubris.

                                                                                                                                                                    His unfettered certainty is both amusing and addictive... watch him soundly critique a World's Fair fare... watch him lay waste to culinary lions in New York, watch him tell you that not emptying ashtrays and cleaning up yesterday's newspapers are the main cause of "nervous disorders" in housewives, while offering tips on hunting and gathering and fashion... So very wrong on so many accounts, yet wildly oddly entertaining at the same time.


                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dearcallie

                                                                                                                                                                      oooooh... that's a FIND. I'm chuckling just imagining it.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dearcallie

                                                                                                                                                                        I HAVE to read that book, I just have to.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                          Oh, me too. I just love that review at amazon, and dearcallie's as well. According to amazon's author page, he wrote a few other "professional" books. This sounds like a true gem.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. My favorite is called "The Sentinel Jewish Cook Book" from 1936. It was swiped from my bubbe's house. Ignoring the sketchy instructions ("bake in a moderate oven until done") and useless index (divided into categories, rather than straight ABC order by main ingredient) it is a treasure trove of yummy recipes. First, everything in it is kosher, so I don't have to think about substitutions. But also, it is remarkably international, certainly for what I would have thought was common in the 1930s. They have recipes for sausage (not pork, obviously), omelets, cafe au lait, chinese stir fries, risotto, creole dishes, etc. How my bubbe and mother could spend their lives serving shoe leather brisket and tuna casseroles with this in their possession is beyond me.

                                                                                                                                                                        PS - I, too, love spiteful commentary. :)