Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dad's Own Cookbook (1993) by Bob Sloan

At first glance, this comes across as a slightly more sexist (but possibly less obnoxious) version of "Cooking For Dummies". I hate being called a dummy. But by the time I started to dig into it, I was going "Hey! My mother never taught me most of this either! Why single out the guys? I want this too!"

Yes, it's a starter cookbook. But it's a starter cookbook that is simple and has nice friendly pictures (by Paul Hanson) that never talks down to you. It has pages to discuss ingredients in detail, it talks about tools and techniques, and gives shopping tips. There are also suggested menus for special occasions. And unlike some starter cookbooks, these are foods you *want* to eat.  Yes, he will tell you how to fry an egg and make a grilled cheese sandwich (nothing wrong with those). But he will also tell you how to make Pasta Puttanesca, Jambalaya and Grilled Swordfish. *And* give wine tips to help you decide what you want with them!

Bottom line -- while it's not a book I'm going to curl up with for a nice read, if you're looking for a good starter cookbook, whether you be Dad, Mom, or a starving college student, this is a good one.

Now, as I am not the target audience, I pestered my husband (a better cook than I am) into giving me a few words about it.

"The dad part is a little hokey, but it's a fine intro to cooking cookbook. Mix of base techniques (each veg or protein gets an intro and a quick how to broil, pan fry, steam, bake, etc. overview) along with recipes that look good but aren't too challenging skill wise.

I'm not big on how they organized some parts (e.g. section on Lunch while others are by food), but nothing bad.

So overall o.k. intro cook book."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Aquavit (2003) by Marcus Samuelsson

Ouch. Okay, first of all, let me apologize for the photo. I thought the worst thing about it was going to be the lighting. But since I have downloaded it onto my computer, every method by which I look at is has it oriented normally...except this. For some reason, it wants to stay rotated 90 degrees.  But enough of that.

So...Aquavit.  I like Marcus Samuelsson on TV, and I had the good fortune to eat at Aquavit here in Minneapolis a couple of times.  The food was delicious.  But I have to admit to not being a big fan of the coffee-table book cookbooks, with lots of expensive glossy photos and not a lot of text. So when our cookbook dinner group (every two months someone hosts and picks the cookbook) chose this as our cookbook for this month, I didn't have it and had to get it from the library.  It's big, it's beautiful, and I have to admit that the food was all quite good.

Our menu (if I remember everything): Cured Tenderloin of Beef with Mango Ketchup and Fruit and Berry Chutney
Gravlax Club Sandwiches
Swedish Meatballs
Honey-Glazed Pork Ribs
Roasted Caramelized Root Vegetables
Quick Pickled Cucumbers
Spicy Sauerkraut
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Blueberry Soup
Carrot Parsnip Cake

Delish. And while I love my mother's not-terribly-Swedish Swedish Meatballs recipe*, I thought these were great and could have made a whole meal out of the mashed potatoes and meatballs. Much better than Ikea. I haven't decided yet whether or not I'm going to buy us a copy of this cookbook (originally $45, but I think it's OP), but I'm definitely copying a few of the recipes for later use.

*I don't know the origins of my mother's meatball recipe, but I'd love to find out. Have any of you run across an all-beef meatball recipe that includes chopped up dill pickle? Let me know!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Attempting to turn my Facebook page into a proper shop, but it's slow. If you see anything you're interested in, just drop me a line there, here or

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Diners' Club Cookbook by Myra Waldo (1959)

The Diners' Club Card was the first independent credit card in the world, created in 1950. It started as a group that allowed patrons to charge a meal at a participating group of restaurants. It had 20,000 members by the end of 1950, and more than doubled in 1951. It wasn't until the late 1960's when the cards that would become VISA and MasterCard challenged its dominance.

It makes sense then that in 1959 they would come out with a Diners' Club Cookbook. Advertising and product both! Myra Waldo was an experienced cookbook author (her Pan American's Complete Round-The-World Cookbook had come out in 1954), and they pulled in recipes from Diners' Club restaurants all over the US.

As a cookbook...well, it really is a classic list-of-recipes cookbook. There is a long introduction from the Vice President of Diners' Club, Inc., and then a short author's note, and then the recipes. "Great Recipes from Great Restaurants."  They sound just fine. Myra Waldo did her job and made sure that they are laid out correctly and are easy to follow. But that's it.

Personally, I like cookbooks that give me a little more to chew on. The restaurants are credited -- what kind of restaurants were they? Why this recipe?  I can understand why the recipe that represents Pea Soup Andersen's is the Pea Soup, but why is Michael's in Minneapolis represented by Curried Shrimp?  This may be best as a history reference. I don't believe that the two restaurants mentioned as being in Minneapolis, Michael's and Country House, were still here when I arrived in 1987.  Searching online I can find a Michael's in *Rochester* that was old enough but closed in 2014. The only reference I can find to Country House is in a comment to an MPR News blog in 2011.

It's a nice little cookbook, and I might even try a recipe or two. But it doesn't have enough going for it for me to put it on a "Must Have" list.