Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Things You Can Always Find At A Thrift Store #8: Crazy For Cookbooks

Hello! Although it can be tedious at times, I do enjoy cooking and baking. So I freely admit that I never visit a thrift store without checking out the cookbooks. 

There are often a few dozen on display at any given time, but I'm fussy about them since I have a good-sized collection at home already. It's not hard to pass up outdated microwave cookbooks and I don't go for complicated, gourmet-style recipes either. I also reject those cookbooks that look like they were cheaply and sloppily produced - I often wonder how such things got published. 

I've been fortunately lately, though, in finding some nice cookbooks at thrift stores, and here's what I've purchased:

From the top: 

1. Hot Chocolate by Fred Thompson. I knew I had to get this when, while flipping through its pages, I saw a recipe called "Nun's Revenge" (an Italian-style hot chocolate). My grade school teachers were nuns, and I'm half Italian, so that was good enough for me. My only regret is that I didn't have this cookbook at the beginning of February; might have helped get me through those record-cold days we had then. Still, I've made "Nun's Revenge" twice now - and even though I've used low-fat milk instead of the specified half and half, it's still very good! 

2. Morning Food - Cafe Beaujolais by Margaret S. Fox and John Bear.  Under Fox's name on the bright yellow cover is the notation: "Owner-Chef of Cafe Beaujolais, a small Mendocino restaurant with a national reputation". And that little blurb is true since I'd heard of this place even though I've never been to Mendocino, CA. The recipes are broad-ranging in spite of the book's title - there's more than just muffins and omelettes here. A quick glance showed that Fox writes amusingly about her experiences in running the restaurant, so it'll be a good read.

3. A Love Affair With Southern Cooking by Jean Anderson. My personal experience with traditional Southern food has been limited to an old-style tea room in Atlanta. Nevertheless, I enjoy reading about that cuisine, perhaps because of the traditional nature of many of the recipes. Anderson has a fun story to go along with practically every recipe, so I enjoyed skimming through this lengthy tome, and many recipes caught my eye. Thus far I've made "Hot 'N's", an excellent biscuit recipe, to go along with soups. (Like the "Nun's Revenge" hot chocolate, a piping-hot biscuit will go far in dispelling the harshness of snow and extreme cold!)I have my eye on the pecan pie recipe as well. Maybe I'll make it in honor of Pi Day (3/14).

4. Great Cakes by Carole Walter. Okay, so I need another baking book like I need another hole in the head. Still, I'd once checked another baking book from Walter out of the library and had liked it - she is a cooking teacher and so has meticulous directions and insider tips. 

5. Gooseberry Patch Homestyle Family Favorites (no real author; the recipes were contributed by customers and staff of the Gooseberry Patch company). This volume is a more "upscale" version of the numerous GP cookbooks: hardcover format and color photos versus spiral binding and line drawings. But like their less-expensive cookbooks, this one has the usual GP emphasis on homey but rather fattening foods. Still a fun read, and I got a kick out of the cutesy tips scattered throughout (also a given with this company's books): "Wake up the family with a rise & shine omelet buffet! Set out a variety of cheeses, vegetables and meats. Everyone can layer their favorite ingredients in a mini pie plate and get just what they want." Gee - just like at Embassy Suites! 

Or: "Get out the tiki torches and grass skirts when serving Polynesian Chicken! Play Hawaiian music, make paper flower leis and make it a family dinner to remember." Sigh - I never did any of this, so I guess I didn't make family dinners that would be remembered. But that wasn't all my fault - I didn't have that Polynesian Chicken recipe until late last week.

Yes, every day can be a celebration with Gooseberry Patch cookbooks - but I celebrated finding those other cookbooks as well! The only thing I'm not celebrating is finding a place for them on my kitchen shelves. Guess it's time to weed out a few I don't use anymore. 

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