Show Us Your Most Treasured Cookbook-The Roundup and a plea!

Treasured Cake

It’s time for the roundup for the Show Us Your Most Treasure Cookbook and let me begin to say that even though there are far from as many entries as the other Show Us Your…, this is the one I like the most! The stories and the cookbooks that we are shown are wonderful and I when I did, I realized that I want more of this, I want to read more stories and see more cookbooks so I have decided to give it another month with the hope that there are more of you who want to show your most treasured cookbook and share the stories with us. Please do it, do it for me! I find the stories behind so moving and above all so human and vivid that I wish I could read on forever, wouldn’t it be nice to make a book out of it? Who knows, maybe one day so until then I’d love to keep on collecting here. So send me your stories about your most treasured cookbook(s) and if you want, cook your favourite recipe from it, blog about it or send me (luculliandelights AT gmail DOT com) the link or a text and maybe a photo if you don’t have a blog and I post it here in the roundup. End of March is the next deadline, I really hope you will participate! And you who don’t want to, please comment on the stories you will read here.

Now it is time to head over to the roundup, this will be long one because I have had three entrie from readers without a blog. The first to send me her entry was Megan whose favourite cookbook is an Italian one and her story is profoundly moving:

“Favorite cookbook – what an idea! To me, cookbooks are infinite potential, and just looking at the rows and rows of brightly colored cookbooks makes me happy. So many enticing dishes are captured in these old friends that have travelled with me from the East coast to the West coast, and back again.
That being said, a few cookbooks do stand out in the crowd. Some are the go-to cookbooks, plain and simple. But a few pack an emotional wallop: a cookbook with a dish from childhood, or a cookbook from a loved one.
For me the biggest standout is VENETIAN COOKING: 200 AUTHENTIC RECIPES ADAPTED FOR AMERICAN COOKS by HE Bruning Jr. and Cav. Umberto Bullo. I spent many summers as a child in Venice. On the cheap, flying Freddie Laker and living in sublets of all shapes and sizes, but Venice nonetheless. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with spaghetti, Venice, and all things Italian.
Beyond being Venetian, the cookbook was a Christmas gift to our family from my sister, who also adored Venice and lived there for a time studying art during high school. When she died a few years later, the cookbook became irreplaceable. Fortunately it has found its way to my collection, and sometimes I open it simply to read again her inscription in Italian, to look again at her handwriting. And it tickles me that the cover photo is of the vegetable boat in the neighborhood our family loved best – perhaps this was why she picked this particular Venetian cookbook! (For those who follow such things, this same boat appeared in the scene in SUMMERTIME when Katherine Hepburn fell into the canal.)
But the recipes stand up, too. One in particular is a fast favorite: Spagheti Col Ton, in Venetian dialect. Presented as a classic “emergency” pantry dish, it is quick – dinner on the table in the time it takes to cook spaghetti! And so easy you make it once, and never look at the recipe again. Except I did look at the recipe again, recently, only to realize I’d somehow simplified it even further over the years! As a shortcut to the comfort food it has become, I suppose.
However it’s made, it’s one of the most satisfying sauces I’ve ever had, especially on a cold winter night. It’s won over many a doubting friend – hot tuna sauce? really? – and never fails to set me right. Feel free to share as well the poignant Venetian proverb from the author’s foreword: A tavola non s’invecchia mai, or, At the table one never grows old.

SPAGHETI COL TON

4 quarts water
2 _ TBS salt
_ lb spaghetti
3 oz butter
5 oz canned tuna, packed in olive oil
3 TBS tomato sauce (p 218*, or diluted tomato paste in a pinch)
3 TBS dry white wine
Salt and pepper
(grated Parmesan cheese)

1. Bring the salted water to a boil. Start the pasta to cook as described above. (To paraphrase, don’t overcook the pasta, and start the sauce before adding the pasta if using thin spaghetti, or afterwards if using regular spaghetti.)
2. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a low to medium flame. Break the tuna into small pieces and add it, along with the oil in which it was packed, to the butter. Add the tomato sauce, wine if you wish, and some salt and pepper. Cook for 5 or 6 minutes, mixing the ingredients thoroughly.
3. Drain the pasta and dress it with the sauce. Serve in warmed spaghetti dishes. A tablespoonful or two of grated Parmesan cheese may be added at the table.

*prepared with chopped tomatoes, garlic, onion, carrot, celery and fresh basil.

My adaptations have been to use plain olive oil in place of butter, stick with the tomato paste shortcut (tomato paste in a tube really comes in handy here), and omit the wine. Though, as one who cooks with wine routinely, I feel sure that I simply forgot along the way that wine had been an ingredient and will rectify this immediately!”

Next out was Britt-Arnhild of Britt-Arnhild’s House in the Woods who has created her own recipe book over the years, 30 to be exact and I can imagine all the memories that are hidden between those pages, the traces of good times and maybe not so good times! It reminds me of my favourite short story by the Swedish author August Strindberg, Ett Halvt Ark Papper ( I could just find it in Swedish, maybe someone know if there is an English translation available online?) where the short annotations on a piece of paper make the main character’s remember his life over the past two years. Read it if you don’t know it already, it is very short but beautiful.

I am very happy to include two of my fellow Babes in this roundup, first we have Gretchen of Canela and Comino who remembers her grandmother who recently passed away through her collection of cookbooks. It is interesting how many people’s lives, especially women, are connected with their cookbooks, I for my part, felt that it was very important to me to keep my parents cookbooks and Gretchen pays a touching homage to her grandmother through her cokbooks.

Anna wrote to me about her most treasured cookbooks, both in the kitchens where they were used and I was happy to read that we share the same memory cake, Solskenskaka ! and the same cookbook, it shows what an important that single cookbook, Sju Sorters Kakor (Swedish Cakes and Cookies) have played in the lives for generations of Swedes:

“I can’t send a photo of my treasured cookbooks because they’re not with me at the moment; they’re still in the kitchens they were originally used, even though my mother and grandmother are no longer with us to cook from them. These books are falling to pieces, just like the one you show, and I would probably throw them away when it eventually comes to emptying these kitchens, although after this post I might think otherwise.

And it’s funny you should choose solskenskaka, because that’d be one of my memory cakes, from one of these books (but I would never accept it without almonds – unless cooking for someone allergic – the almonds is what makes the difference between a solskenskaka and a plain sockerkaka in my view). The book was once publicity for a Marabu baking powder which no longer exists. And it’s from there I take the recipe for sandkaka at Christmas. A cake I didn’t like as a child, now cherish, despite the endless beating of eggs and butter and the fact that it always comes out a bit soggy. It calls for brandy, but of course as a citizen of Porto I use portwine these days.
The memory book from my grandmother’s kitchen would be an old copy of Sju sorters kaker, don’t know which edition. That’s where last summer I found a recipe for Sacher torte which uses only hazelnuts, eggs, sugar, chocolate and apricot jam. It might not be the original one, but it’ll be the one I use from now on, as it’s gluten free and full of healthy nutty fats. Well, it’s delicious too, of course.
My own cookbooks are not old enough to fall to pieces yet, but clearly you can judge from the stains which are the ones I really use: Annas mat and Sju sorters kakor.”

Katie of Thyme for Cooking is another of my fellow Babes who shares her most treasured cookbook and I was happy to see a children’s cookbook because one of my other treasured cookbooks is just that (but obviously another one than Katie’s, I’ll blog about that next month), I think that many of us have been dreaming over cookbooks as children, reading and tasting the recipes in the mind, and I do recognize the feelings that Katie is talking about in her post! It also seems to me that you do share at least a cookbook author with Gretchen, if not the same cookbook, is that right Katie?

There is nothing that says a treasured cookbook has to be old and tattered, no it is enough that it is… treasured and Simona’s of Bricoles cookbook is a confirmation of this! Her most treasured cookbook is the first one she bought for herself and her new life. You will learn a lot of Italian when you read her post and there are also some lovely quotations but that is typical of her blog, you don’t only get food to eat there but also food for the mind.

And to conclude we have Sonny’s most treasured cookbook, the one his mother used and that really is one of those historical and sociological monuments of a time that is no more, read his lovely story:

“Ica-Kuriren’s Det godaste jag vet [The Tastiest I Know], published in 1973, is my most treasured cookbook – a mix between traditional swedish recipes and recipes from other countries adapted to swedish taste. The preface says that it was the readers of Ica-Kuriren that write and tell; “…what’s the tastiest thing they know”.
My mother was born in Mauritius – a multicultural society influenced by hindus, chinese, european and creoles. As a child I ate exotic dishes every day – Indian Masala Dosa, Chinese Beef Szechuan and Coq au Vin. But when we were entertaining my mother always cooked and served Swedish food. She learned about Swedish food through the weekly magazine Ica-Kuriren, who has published the book Det godaste jag vet.
I can still see it in front of me – it’s the early 70s and my mother is making the Smörgåstårta from Det godaste jag vet – our guests are soon to arrive and my mother is very nervous – though she lived most of her life, close to 50 years, in Sweden, as far as I know, she felt never mastered the art of Swedish cooking – so it is with perfectionists. I, myself know that I have had a culinary childhood vouchsafed not many.
Today, I get great pleasure reading the recipes from the book with an authentic chronicle and make a trip back to my childhood. The simplicity in all recipes strikes me, of course, first and foremost, the contributors they were all amateur cooks, but also the availability of ingredients and certainly living standards. With an eye and with a bit of philosophy, the book shows that we have come amazingly far in these 37 years since it was printed in 1973.
As a curiosity I must mention – typical of the times – among the 90 recipes are three Russian inspired dishes. For example Russian Pancakes (vodka in the ingredient list) with Swedish Herring Filling. I have chosen two recipes typical of the period Lemon Chicken in Clay Pot and Brown Sugar Glazed Bananas with Sour Creme Sauce.

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THE RECIPES

Lemon Chicken In Clay Pot
Lars Segemark, Lidingö, is cooking as a hobby and has sent in a recipe for Lemon Chicken in a Clay Pot. He writes that he likes that it is cheap, good slimming diet, very tasty and easy to make.

1 fresh chicken
1 small lemon
2 big sprigs of parsley
_ – 1 tsp salt
_ tsp pepper
1 tsp dried or fresh basil
4-5 big champignon
Olive oil for greasing the pot

Dry the chicken inside and outside, prick the lemon with a sharp fork and put the whole lemon into the chicken. Rinse and cut the champignon into pieces and stuff it into the chicken together with the parsley. Brush the chicken with oil and add salt and pepper. Put the chicken in an oven safe pot for example a Römertopf. If you use a Römertopf don’t forget to moist it in water about an hour before. Put the chicken into a cold owen. Heat the owen to 250°C and cook for 1_ to 1_ hour.


Brown Sugar Glazed Bananas with Sour Creme Sauce
Sometimes you can buy a big bunch of bananas ‘for a penny’. They are nice to eat as they are but occasionally you want to make something special. Elisabeth Levin, Storvik has sent in this recipe for a tasty banana dessert. Warm bananas glazed in sugar and with a cold sour cream sauce.

Butter
4-5 bananas
2-3 tsp dark brown sugar
Juice from _ to 1 lemon

Sour cream sauce
2-3 dl sour crème
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1-2 tbsp ground cinnamon

Heat a little butter in a frying pan. Add the peeled bananas and fry them on very low heat. Strew in sugar and turn the bananas so they glaze all the way around. Pull in a little lemon juice. Serve the bananas warm with cold sour crème sauce made from sour crème, vanilla sugar and ground cinnamon.”

A big Thank You to all of you for letting us see a glimpse of your lives, I really appreciate your generosity and I hope that many others will follow in your foot steps and send me more stories and cookbooks! Love and Peace to you!

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