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childs joy of cooking

Spending 8 hours organizing a 4×5 pantry seems excessive. But I did, and more really nice plastic containers and dark wicker baskets came out than you’d imagine. Also out were dozens of small cookbooks, some never used. Most never used, really. At the time of acquisition, there were high hopes if not solid plans.

I did keep three. First, Joy of Cooking. My first copy came from my former band leader, Homer Anderson. He was a larger-than-life figure well known throughout Texas. For context, he was directing at the high school when my mother was there. As time went by, the cookbook became, well, what’s the best word? Oily? I finally bought the 1997 version. There were a couple dozen earlier ones. The history includes contentious episodes between the writer(s) and the publisher(s). The original version was chatty in that process was necessary for product. Irma Bombauer began the book to cope with her husband’s death; her daughter and then son continued the legacy. Occasionally, a favorite recipe will have the designation “Cockaigne.” It’s an odd word, the name of her country home (ah, to have that) that means a mythical land of luxury and laziness. (The German word is even better—Schlarafferland: Land of Lazy Monkeys.) Joy is officially America’s most popular cookbook. And Julia Child’s.

The next was a favorite of my husband’s family. Helen Corbitt moved to Texas from New York. She ran tea rooms at the University of Texas and then various clubs before arriving at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas. Her food was quite the rage, excellent food made from fresh ingredients, but luscious. Her universally famous poppy seed dressing can’t be matched; the recipe makes a lot. My husband made her Lemon Velvet Ice Cream for many years, at great expense, to take to work. It has no parallel. After he died, one of his work mates sent condolences then asked if by any chance I would share the recipe. Of course.

Lemon Velvet Ice Cream

1 qt. plus 1 1/3 c. whipping cream

1 qt. plus 1 1/3 c. milk

Juice of 8 lemons

4 c. sugar

2 t. lemon extract

1 T. grated lemon rind

Mix thoroughly and freeze according to directions for ice cream maker. Makes 1 gallon.

Her cornbread recipe is the only one I make. No sugar, which is the correct way. But mostly used for dressing/stuffing a turkey.

Finally, an obscure selection now out of print is The Flavor-Principle Cookbook. Its premise is simple: each cuisine has its own set of spices and cooking techniques (principles) which make it identifiable. So, it’s not that Mexican food is tacos and enchiladas. Instead, the principle of tomato-cumin-chili is the basis for flavoring them. There are only 12 given that can yield dozens of recipes. The first they discuss is Soy+. If to soy sauce you add garlic, brown sugar, and sesame seed, the result is the basis for much Korean food. With 7 +s, you would have the principles for most of Asia. It’s fascinating the diversity that results. I once made a delicious curried turkey. Not with the aforementioned dressing, but a tender and delicious result all the same.

How often do I use these 3 beloved cookbooks? Pretty much never. The cornbread recipe is on a particularly oily page and opens right to it. That happens once a year. The others? Nope.

What is everyone doing? Googling the top recipe for…anything. After comparing several, I’m ready to go. Sometimes a recipe catches my eye like the infamous self-rising flour and ice cream bread. Inedible. Disappointing loss of ice cream

Most sites have long, uninteresting commentary but allow readers to “Jump to Recipe.” There’s even a discontinued podcast with that title.

“Jump” is a word that we use. We’re always jumping into something—the shower, a project, conclusions. The middle of something we shouldn’t be in at all. A tutorial here. A memory from childhood here (Teddy bear, Teddy bear..)

Mostly I have no jumping other than to the recipe. That’s okay, I guess. If we have lots of time during the post-apocalypse evenings, cooking with words will probably come back into fashion. That would involve learning how to cook with an actual fire. I predict lots of salads.

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