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A few more cookbooks from my bookshelves ūüôā

Native

Hopi Cookery, by Juanita Tiger Kavena. ‘A compendium of more than 100 authentic recipes of the peace-loving Hopis’ says the book cover.¬† Recipes include Pinto Beans with Watermelon Seeds, Blue Corn Dumplings-and Piki-, the famous tissue-thin cornbread of the Hopiit.

Colonial

Old New Orleans Cooking (I’m researching the identity of the author)- This modest 60 page volume from the first half of the 1900s contains ‘hundreds of secret recipes that helped this historic city to establish its fame.¬† I received a photo-copy of the fragile volume in 16 double-sided pages.¬† From Jambalaya and Crayfish Bisque, to 3 kinds of Pralines, you had better believe this is authentic, old-school N’awlins cooking.

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book (1846), Catharine E. Beecher.  By an American writer, suffragist,  anti-slavery activist, proponent of Kindergarten education and a member of one of the most prominent families of the era.  An authoritative volume of early American cookery, with no index or illustrations.

Classic American

Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook (Revised, Enlarged Edition), by the Food Editors of the Farm Journal, ed. Nell B. Nichols.¬† When you think about old-fashion American country food, this is one of the sources you would be well-advised to seek.¬† It can often be found in a good used-bookstore for a pittance, and it will turn out a rich selection of history and know-how.

Comprehensive Cuisine

The Jewish-American Kitchen, Raymond Sokolov.  I have pored over this beautiful and interesting recipe book- and I have referred to it elsewhere on this blog- namely when I overcame my fear of making Chopped Liver.  It is almost a coffee table book, with big, beautiful photos, clear writing, and amusing style.

Vegetarian

the vegetarian epicure, by anna thomas.¬† The title and author may appear in modest, lower-case letters, but this is a collection of 262 recipes that made itself known in CAPITAL LETTERS, since it appeared in the early 1970s.¬†¬† It’s smart, sophisticated, down-home and international all at the same time.

Baking

World Sourdoughs from Antiquity, by Ed Wood.  This is  a history of cuisine and an actual cookbook.  Lots of amazing recipes, as well as a culinary reconstruction of  both ancient and early modern bread making techniques.

World Food

The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller.¬† Craig Claiborne, a famed restaurant critic and gastronomic writer for the New York Times, said of this book, “A labor of Love…Should be treasured by anyone with a serious interest in the Chinese cuisine.”¬† He’s right.¬† True Bird’s Nest Soup?¬† Ten Precious Rice?¬† Braised Porkballs & Lilly Buds?¬† It’s all here.¬† I used to live in China for a half-year, and I did manage to learn some cooking techniques and recipes- but that was merely scratching the surface.

Reference

Wild Plant Family Cookbook, by Particia K. Armstrong.   This book seems to be 1/2 reference, 1/2 actual cookbook; and it is a staggering achievement.  It features and highlights wild foods from the Midwest of the United States- foods that have been consumed here by Native Peoples for thousands of years before colonization.

Desserts

Biscuits & Slices; and a bonus volume:¬† The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits, from the Australian Women’s Weekly Home Library.¬† These large sturdy paperback editions reflect an aspect of- and love for sweets that are unique to English sensibilities- these cookies and bars are appropriate for High Tea, after-school and midnight snacks.¬† Some metric measurements (see below).

Food Writers

Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain.¬† This book became a literal and literary overnight sensation.¬† And anyone who has watched Chef Bourdain’s TV series (No Reservations) will see that this nearly world-weary, brilliant funny foodie is a formidable figure in world food consciousness.¬†

Quirks

Metric Cooking for Beginners, Binevera Barta.  Liters, mL, grams, kilograms and Celsius in your recipes bumming you out?  I found this instruction guide-cum-recipe manual from the 1970s  for a dollar at a used bookstore.  I do have a combination kitchen weight scale that I use, and some of my measuring implements also show metric gradations.  If you use international recipe sources at all, some are strictly metric.  You can always get yourself a metric calculator too- that might actually be easier, but it can set you back US$40 (cf http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FONJN6?ie=UTF8&tag=sciencemadesimpl&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000FONJN6 )

image courtesy of http://www.clipartof.com/details/clipart/229985.html

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For the past month or so, the weather seemed unable to make a firm decision- was Minnesota in the autumn, summer or spring category? ¬†Sometimes it was warm enough for tshirts and shorts, sometimes it was hard frost, and finally we had a two-day long, Class II Hurricane. ¬†At any rate that’s how the TV weather people characterized it. ¬† And today, we suddenly discover we are in the path of a major winter storm -warning with a big snow predicted for tonight!

What does this have to do with Squash Cake. ¬†Well I received a gift of 2 gorgeous squashes, and a beautiful bottle of maple syrup, so I decided to make good use of them. ¬†Squash cake is a warming, spicy and good-for-you treat. ¬† I think one of the squashes is a kabocha, and I’m guessing that this brilliant orange fruit is an Ambercup.¬† You can see a good pictoral guide at this web-address: ¬†http://whatscookingamerica.net/squash.htm

This is basically the same as pumpkin cake- I use any winter squashes interchangeably:  Pumpkins, Acorn, Turbans, Hubbards, Butternut- you name it.  Some are lighter, some are meatier, some have a pronounced flavor.  I split one small squash, seeded it,

cut it into slender wedges and baked it on a tray covered with foil at 350F for about 45 minutes, and then allowed it to cool.  That makes it easier to remove the skin and mash it with a fork.  Canned or frozen pumpkin makes a perfectly good substitute, and it is less labor intenstive.

Prepare a 10-inch tube-cake pan or bundt-cake pan by greasing and flouring it well.  I have an old-fashion Kugelhopf pan, which makes a pretty cake, and  I like to use butter for the flavor.  Preheat your oven to 350F.

Ingredients:

2 cups refined or turbinado sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground allspice (I grind this one fresh)

2 cups squash or pumpkin puree

Beat sugar and eggs until light, using medium/medium-high speed with an electric mixer.  Add oil and incorporate thoroughly.  Sift all the dry ingredients together and add to the batter beating for about a minute, followed by blending in the squash puree.  That is truly how simple this recipe is.

Pour into the tube pan and bake at 350F for 1 hour, and do not open the oven door or disturb it for the first 20 minutes. ¬†The cake will pull slightly away from the sides, and you can test it at the hour-mark with a wooden toothpick or wooden skewer. ¬†Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing to¬† a cooling rack.¬† Allow to cool completely before putting on a plate- and this cake is good either with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or cream cheese frosting. ¬†You can also probably bake this very successfully in a 9″ X 13″ cake pan, or 2 round cake pans (I’d recommend 9″ pans). ¬†In this case, adjust your baking time, but I suggest keeping the temperature at 350F.

The season has changed and the local farmers markets are winding down. Fortunately I was able to find some fine vegetables on both of the past 2 weekends.  National trends are indicating a focus on healthy neighborhoods, so this bodes well for our cities.

If you want to oven roast some fall vegetables like the ones in the photo, this is what I used (with apologies for the blurry pic.  *A perennial  reminder to double click on the pic any time you want to see things POV):

2 medium sized, fresh rutabagas, unwaxed

2 small carrots

a medium butternut squash

about 2 cups of very small brussels sprouts

a pound of scrubbed and trimmed baby beets

a small root of celeriac

Dice everything to approximately one inch cubes and toss with 1/3 cup of olive oil, along with a generous tsp of grey salt and a full tsp of freshly ground black pepper, in a shallow 9 x 13 baking pan.

Cover all with foil (remember to recycle the foil, if your county supports it) and bake at 400F for a good 3/4 hour.¬† You could add some sliced fingerling potatoes, onions, a few whole cloves of garlic, and some sprigs of¬† fresh or dried thyme –or bay leaves.¬† This is one of the reasons I love Fall.