Keep the Home Fires Burning

imageThe word “Nostalgia” in the title is a good hook for a cookbook collector who concentrates mostly on vintage.  When I first picked up The Nostalgic Cook Book by Bill Habets, I had hoped for a good bibliography.  Sadly, there isn’t one.  Still, the book is a treasure-trove of interesting information and recipes.

It concentrates primarily on the war and post-war years in Great Britain.  Rationing had a huge effect on the nation and continued long after the war was over — like nine years after the war was over.  I had no idea.  This little book tries to bring back a little of the creativity required to endure food scarcity.  According to the book, a  typical weekly ration for one person during most of this time included the following deprivations:  6 ounces of meat, 1 egg, 4 ounces of Fat (butter margarine, lard), 4 ounces of cheese, 4 ounces of Bacon, 12 ounces sugar (later 8 ounces), 2 ounces of tea, and 2 ounces of sweets.  Again, that’s a weekly allowance.

As I said in the last post, I am interested in history, so I found myself, the big vintage cookbook collector once again relaxing my dating standards and picking up a 2009 publication.  Of course, foreign publications have a lot of interest for me too, so the historical angle and the fact that it was a British publication were major considerations for me so the book found its way into my cart.

There is a lot of information about wartime diets and nutrition and the tradeoffs people were forced to make.  There is mention of “national bread” or “national flour” — which they say is equivalent to whole wheat, but their inference is that it is not 100% equivalent, just close. Who knows what they were stretching it with, sawdust?

The book has a lot of really cool recipes and here is a small sampling.  In most cases, I’ve chosen recipes that show the character of the wartime recipes, or are typically British, or both.


I thought bacon turnovers was a nice twist.  Made me hungry just thinking of it because it has that one magic word:  BACON!!!!  In the southern US, we’d just call this a bacon biscuit but we usually just slice it and stick the bacon in.  I like the idea of baking it in.


And here we have Potato Jane?  Who the heck is Potato Jane?  I don’t know, but I have a feeling I’ll be meeting her very soon.   Seriously, this just looks like a take on scalloped potatoes.  I like it.


Mince in the Hole sounds so typically British I am amazed I’ve never heard of it.  It looks very unusual, meatballs cooked into a bread binding.  Sort of a meatball and dumplings concoction without the liquid.  This is another one I am likely going to try.

imageWe can’t consider a culinary trip to the British Isles as complete without having some Queen Cakes, can we?  I’m not sure what sort of royal connection the name implies, but these look delicious.

I think this is a handy cookbook to keep around in case you find a need to  ration yourself.  I’m talking about you survivalists out there.  If at some point you have to make the most of what you have, you might just need a little book like this.  It shows the ingenuity people employed during the war when many foodstuffs were in short supply.   I can see where the nostalgia comes in … nothing I have seen in this book speaks to deprivation, it speaks to survival and making do.  That’s a good thing.  I’m keeping this one handy.


Is That Kosher?

imageYou bet it is.  Jewish Cooking In America by Joan Nathan  is one of my rare recent cookbooks.  Hah.  Recent?  It was first published twenty years ago and as near as I can tell it is still in print.

Marvelous cookbook, but it is so much more.  It is a history of the various waves immigrations.   Okay, here’s a tidbit about me.  I have a degree in History.  Sure I love food, but I also love history.  History of Food?  I’m in heaven.  I’ve barely glanced at this, but I plan on reading it cover to cover.   There is way too much information to relate in any detail, but I’m not actually reviewing most of these books, just trying to give you a brief glimpse into why I found it collectible.

imageOdd things attract me.  For instance, I opened the cover and there was a greeting card stuck inside, a Mother’s Day card for a Grandmother that started “If they had a Grandma Hall of Fame You’d Be There …”  and the card completes the thought.

Awwww … then off to the estate sale as soon as you are gone.  I am always amazed that families get rid of things like this.  Maybe everybody already had a copy?  It’s a great book, really.   And Grandma kept the card!

imageOne of the really cool features is inside the front and back covers … a collage of ads in Hebrew.  Really interesting with a few identifiable products to those of us who don’t read Hebrew.

These ads complement some of the wonderful pictures inside the book, referencing past times and the origins of products and traditions and reflecting the history.  Yes, I’ll say it again. There is a lot of history in this book.  And there is a wonderful section with a lot of menus suggestions.


Here is one for an Eastern European Friday Night Supper.  What time should I show up?

I wish the wonderful interior pictures were of a quality that I could share, but I tried.  The cover photo is a good example, but most of the pictures in the book, although informative and a good supporting tool for the text, were grainy and did not work for this blog.  I guess you’ll have to buy the book.

My one other complaint, and this directly related to this blog mind you, it has nothing to do with the book, I mean, not really, is the fact that even the recipes have a great deal of historical lead-in.  The only recipes that don’t take a full page run over to the next page.  And most of the recipes are on the facing pages.  It makes it hard for me, your Crazy Cookbook Guy, to take a good picture of one of the recipes to share.  Small complaint.  I have the book to refer to.

Still, I managed to find a couple I could try to include but they may be hard to read in the photos I take.

imageJerusalem Hummus needs no introduction.  I mean, who doesn’t like Hummus?  Well some people, but I love it and it fit and it has a good leading story.  So, buy some chick peas, and some tahini and enjoy!

imageI picked the other recipe to help illustrate the depth and breadth of this book.  It covers the entirety of Jewish immigration.  I mean, who knew Sephardic Jews came to New Orleans via Jamaica in the 1860s?  I didn’t.

If you ever come across a copy of this delightful book, I hope you pick it up. The history and recipes weave a story of struggle and success and faith and family.  Even though I got it for a quarter, I think I would have picked it up in almost any used bookstore I frequent, it is that good.

Chili! That Crazy Cookbook Guy and A Bowl of Red

imageToday’s entry is not really a cookbook, but it is a fun read and an interesting addition to any cookbook collection.   A Bowl Of Red by Frank X. Tolbert is, as the subtitle says, “The Classic Natural History of Chili con Carne with Other Delectable Dishes of the Southwest.”

Understand this:  Frank X Tolbert pretty much invented Chili Cookoffs, along with the other legendary chili master Wick Fowler.

It was first printed in 1953 and this edition was from 1988. I already had a copy of this but picked this up primarily for the inscription.  I mean, it was a quarter, right?  I think a goodly number of these sale books are from estate buyouts.  If you have mementos and  keepsakes remember this: no one but you has the same sentimental value.

imageCheck out the inscription … this meant something to somebody.  Heck, if I won anything at any chili cookoff I’d think … wow, I won, and I’d cherish anything, even if it was just a book.  I hope he or she read it.

You should remember something else.  Since it is going to one day drop into my hands, please tell us what Chili CookOff and where it was?  Please?  Silly me, I actually spent an hour trying to look up chili cookoffs.  Sigh.

No recipes in this but it is chock full of deep and insightful historical fact and folklore.  I loved the stories and the country wit.  Many tales make my mouth water, like the one of Early Caldwell, legendary tamale maker in Athens TX,  How I wish I could have tasted even a bite of one of his tamales.

imageThe book goes through many stories like that, making it a quick read, albeit with breaks for the many meals it requires to get through.  It follows the culinary history of the southwest.  I love the quote in the “prologue.”  It is a good indicator that the source material fits the subject matter … at that point (probably in the 40s or early 50s) Cap Warren had been cooking for cowboys for fifty years.

In short, if you can enter a chili cookoff and win a copy of this book, please do.  If that seems a bit far-fetched, trust me, if you can find a copy by more normal means, it is a good read and you’ll be glad you read it.

A Nautical Look At Motor City

imageAt first I thought to myself, “yeah, right,” when I saw the title The Detroit Yacht Club Recipe Book.  It was published in 1978.  If you, like me, have never even been to Detroit, the idea of  a Detroit Yacht Club might seem a bit incongruous at first but when you think about it, Detroit is basically surrounded by water, just relatively short hops to both Lake Erie and Lake Huron.  As I quickly scanned it, I also realized that 1978 was still the heyday of big Detroit, the automotive capital of the world so I bought it.

It is a nice little cookbook, published via a commercial cookbook publisher, but it gives no indication that it was created as a fundraiser.  Not that it wasn’t, but it doesn’t say so.  Still that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a community project.  Some organizations put these sorts of cookbooks together for pure local enjoyment.

I looked it up.  The yacht club still exists and still has the same imposing building.  According to Wikipedia, it was built in 1924.  The club is located on an island that skirts the border with Canada, providing easy access to either of the two big lakes (plus other bodies of water).  Apparently it is a popular wedding venue.

imageAll the section dividers have original art and interesting sailing terms applied, like Dry Rot-appetizers, and Main Sheet-Meat Casseroles.  These are all trumped by my favorite … Gunkholing – Soups & Stews.  Ha!  Even funnier … gunkholing is in my spell checker.  Wow.

The recipes are pretty standard fare for 1978, but there are some fun items.  One of the most fun?  There was a freebie tucked inside for a “Strawberry Jelly Salad.”  Why is it fun?  This is an exact copy of one of our regular Thanksgiving family recipes.  Exact.  I’ve seen some close before, but not this one in just this form.  In fact, it is a Strawberry Jello Salad with bananas and strawberries mixed in, divided, and molded in two stages with a thick layer of sour cream between the layers.  Good stuff.  If you want to see this one, ask and I’ll post it in a comment.

Anyway, I picked four different other recipes to share … just showing some of the depth of the inclusions.

imagePeanut Blossom Cookies just sounded kind of fun.  Sort of a budget Reeses?  This looks like a good recipe.  Or maybe I’m just hungry.

imageNot sure I like the thought of Applesauce Meat Loaf, but it is unusual.  Might be good.  The applesauce mixture is placed in a ‘crater’ you make in the middle of the loaf.  Never seen anything quite like that before.  This was the first recipe in the “main sheet” section.

imageThe Eggplant Mediterranean is looks like a really nice vegetable casserole.  Just sounded good to me.

imageSame with Swiss Eggs.  Not sure what they mean by “coffee cream” — light cream?  Glad they gave a substitute.  I guess like “Hawaiian” meaning it’s sure to have pineapple, in this case, “Swiss” means it has to have Swiss Cheese.  I am fond of baked eggs, so I’ll probably make this sometime soon.

It is an interesting cookbook from an interesting place, certainly not your usual fundraiser but any community is a community I guess, even the Yacht Club community.

Who Knew?

imageEvery now and then I come across a book that I just know is rare.  The Fisherman’s Cook Book by Paul Lorck Eidem is one of those.

For one thing, the author is Norwegian and although it is an English edition, it was published by a Swedish publisher and printed in Norway.  Paul Lorck Eidem has some fame in Norway as a children’s author and he has also written non-fiction books about the Nazi occupation.  Go ahead, looking him up!

I know all of this because I was feverishly standing in the stacks trying to get enough of a cell signal to look the book up because, unfortunately, the Swedish publisher didn’t seem concerned at all with putting a date in the book.  You know something is rare when you have trouble finding a simple thing like publication date, even when you are driving the information superhighway.   Finally, I found an old entry from a vintage book dealer that listed it as 1975.  I had actually found a French edition with that same date listed so that is good enough for me.


I figure a guy who grew up on a Norwegian island had a good start on learning to fish and knowing how to cook what he catches.  The book is small, about 100 pages, but it is packed full of practical information about all kinds of fish, both saltwater and freshwater.  And it is a wonderful looking book as well.  The first thing that attracted me was the brown canvas along the binding, which seemed a quite fitting and rustic feature for a book about fishing and fishermen.  “Cool quality” I’d call it.  It is full of impressive color pictures …

image… and the food photography is engaging.  I’m getting hungry just looking through the book while writing this.


The information is concise and informative.  Look at this little page on smoking fish.  The book is full of interesting and factual tidbits.  It does have recipes. but I would say it is more about techniques than recipes …


… but here is one … who can think of Norwegian fisherman without thinking of Pickled Herring?

Not commercial prepared pickled herring,  dear readers, you can actually pickle your own herring!   My stomach growled at the picture … and I’m not even sure I have ever even eaten pickled herring.

This one is going on the “good” shelf.  Well, one of them, anyway.

Is it a Magazine or a Book? 1000 Recipe Cook Book

imageThis was a rare find.  I’ve been collecting for years and had never heard of the 1000 Recipe Cook Book before, but when I saw two of these on my recent trip to Virginia I knew they were something special.  The pictured version was published in 1953.  Information was scarce on these publications, but apparently they extended back to the mid-forties.  These were Dell publications and I assume they were likely sold at grocery stores, perhaps early examples of checkout line display publications.  Given the magazine format, it is not surprising that they are so rare — they were cheaply printed on low-quality paper.   However, I found that they were surprisingly comprehensive cookbooks.  I don’t know if they actually have 1000 recipes, but they certainly are pretty close to the mark.  They also have short articles on cooking and the recipes range from very interesting to pretty strange.  They were a perfect fit for me and my collection.


The 1953 version simply oozes fifties-style sensibilities.  Look at the June Cleaver-esque mother figure!

The person who had this magazine/book took good care of it.  Well, sort of.  They punched holes in it, I guess, so they could put them in a binder.  It is surprising that this particular one ended up in such good condition.

imageAnd there are a few wonderful ads, like this one from the back cover.  “Banana Scallops?”   Gotta love the fifties.

imageHere’s a zoom of the trademark “Chiquita” — I had no idea she dated back that far.  I remember her dancing across the TV screen in the sixties, but early fifties?  Interesting.

There are so many recipes it was hard to choose, so I just picked a couple to highlight some of the extremes and trends they tried to represent.  Like I said, there are hundreds and hundreds of recipes.  Hopefully a thousand!


These are on the offbeat end of the scale, yet, although offbeat they do actually sound pretty refreshing.  The apricot drink is more akin to a shake and the orange drink seems like the grandfather of your average smoothie.


I chose Cantonese Stew because it represented an entire class of recipes in this book … international recipes but in this case, more like foreign sounding recipes.  I think this is Cantonese simply because it has soy sauce, the way you can predict with 97 percent certainty if  a recipe has Hawaiian in the title, it contains pineapple.


Now we proceed into the bizarre.  I had to think, Baked Deviled Eggs?  I don’t have a set process for these blog entries.  Each one is an adventure.  I shot the picture for this based on the title alone.  “That’s interesting,” I thought to myself.  All I could say when I started to read this recipe so I could comment here was “Ewwwwwww.”  I read it again.  Then again to make sure I was reading it okay.  Now, I’ve never in fact tried to bake a hard cooked egg before, but … well, 20-25 minutes?

I have used recipes that actually tasted delicious that looked awful.  I’m not sure I want to even try this one.  But hey, it was the fifties.  Most of the people lived, right?

Still, the book is a fascinating read.  It is a perfect example of why I love publications from this era.  We think we live in an age of sophisticated cooking.  It had been primitive and uninteresting for years, decades, centuries.  Of so we think  But these people were at least trying.  They made the mistakes so Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay didn’t have to.  And there are good recipes from that era, believe me.

That Crazy Cookbook Guy Takes a Field Trip

imageI keep mentioning the twenty-five cent sale where I get a lot of my cookbooks.  This past weekend was a sale weekend so I took a few photos of the place to just show you what I am talking about.  As you can see from the sign, everything about the place is low budget. I guess you would call it a warehouse store.

It used to be in a storefront on 5th Street, so I guess they just kept the name when they moved.  Now it is on US Highway 70 between the small towns of Mebane and Haw River in NC.  If you’re speeding by you might just miss it.

I think the owner buys in such quantity he found himself warehousing his overstock and moving books took so much time it made more sense to warehouse and shelve the books in one place.

imageWhen I say “warehouse,” I mean it.  It is just a big dusty old warehouse (well it isn’t really dusty).  As you can see, there is nothing special out front – it is a budget operation.  That helps keep the prices low.

All the books are 99 cents, except on the sale weekends (I think small children’s books might have cheaper regular prices).  They sell all kinds of books and  have CDs and DVDs too, but, of course, we all  know what I shop for.

imageInside, what you see is a bookstore.  Since it is a warehouse, it is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.  For some of the lighting, the store depends on skylights and if it is bright outside sometimes it is tough to see the top shelf.  They are ‘way-up-there’ top shelves.

Cookbooks are one of the biggest categories after general fiction.  They have tons of fiction, both hardbacks and paperbacks.  The three shelf units of cookbooks are where I spend most of my time:


The cookbooks are pretty much shelved where they find empty space.  That means, your humble crazy cookbook guy has to pretty much go through every unit every time he comes there.  Some of the books never sell — I see them time and time again.

There is one problem — although there is a general organization scheme, within categories there is almost no organization.  They are constantly shelving books and just don’t have time to break them down. In paperbacks, they try to alphabetize by author but it is impossible to keep it up.   In short, if you don’t like to browse, it is not the place for you.

For me, a trip to this bookstore is a commitment of several hours.  These are tall shelves.  In some of the photos, you can see people standing next to them.  I think they just use stock eight-foot sections of lumber.  .  They have two step-stools in this place and if you are lucky you can snag one for a while to give the high places more scrutiny.  Luckily they often put things like Southern Living annual editions on sections of the cookbook top shelves. That helps me at least — been there done that.  If I can, I flip through books one at a time.  That is how you find the really good ones.  It is not unusual to see me on my hands and knees looking at the bottom shelves.

imageIn a few spots, they have huge bins of books.  I think the owner found that people like to dig.  The first thing you see when you come in is a section of children’s books in bins and there are always people digging in those.  The bins in the picture of in front of the counter … those are paperback shelves behind them.  Exclusively paperback shelves are made out of two-by-fours, and the other shelves are made from two-by-sixes.  That’s lumber talk.  They are sturdy.   Some have backs, but most are just open back-to-back shelves so sometimes books fall through to the other side.

The sales run Thursday to Saturday on weekends after the third Thursday of the month.  This was an early month because the first of October fell on a Thursday.  Whew, I almost forgot to check.  I think other people missed it too because it was not as busy as it usually is.

imageBeyond the counter space, is what I call their triage area, where they unload the huge packing crates of books.  Those are sometimes somewhat categorized but are often just marked paperbacks or trade books, something like that.  That’s Ron — he is usually in charge on the weekends.  He and the owner sometimes let me come back and go through the cookbooks before they are shelved.  Each one of those stacks of books are  waiting to be shelved.  In the background, you can see cartons of books stacked up that haven’t been processed yet.

Being a regular has perks.  Ron brought me a book he found he thought I’d like.  He was right.  It went right into my basket.

Like I said, the place is already a bargain.  Everything is 99 cents all the time — except on sale weekends.  These sales are truly incredible.  I think I got like 16 cookbooks this weekend.  Four bucks.  Find me ONE cookbook for four bucks.  I had the stack of books in my last short post.  In fact, I think I forgot one.

Pictures don’t do the place justice, but here are a few more:


Next sale weekend is November 17 — if you are looking for bargains, this is the place!  It is on the south side of US Highway 70, about midway between Mebane and Haw River in North Carolina.  I’ll apologize now, in case I shove you out of my way.

Roswell — The UFO Cookbook?

Sorry to have been so tardy with my next post.  I’ve been taking a few days off to work around the house.  Like I said before, sometimes life intervenes.  This isn’t even the post I had planned on doing next, but Facebook reminded me today of an anniversary of sorts.  Two years ago yesterday, I found today’s cookbook and I posted it on FB two years ago today.  I find myself simply compelled to  honor the anniversary.


At first glance, Cooking Around The World – And At Home, seems fairly ho-hum.  It does have a rather drab and uninteresting cover and the cover has only one redeeming feature: “$1.00” … cheap.  Of course I got it for a quarter, but in context, a buck for a cookbook immediately tells me it is OLD.  I knew it was going in the basket.  There was no way I was leaving it.  As I recall I had some pretty stiff competition that day.  As you can imagine, I am not the only collector who haunts these quarter sales.  There was one woman nearby who had muscled past me and was grabbing a lot of precious goodies.

  Still, I couldn’t help but glance inside before I totally claimed my find.  There it was, the magic word “Roswell” then I saw the dates … “1947-1948” … and well, for one thing, a 1940’s community fundraiser is a must-buy.  But as the date sank in, I returned to the “Roswell” bit and immediately everything clicked into place.

I have to tell you, I giggled like a little girl.  I knew this was an unusually rare find that had historical interest.

Obviously, this Junior Women’s Club had a lot of members who had some worldly associations — back then the Air Force base at Roswell was basically the home to the US nuclear strike force.  It was an important base so they must have had people from all over.  Why else would a tiny place like Roswell even try to publish a cookbook with culturally diverse recipes?  There is another irony at work here.  When they put this together, they had no idea of the unlikely fame fate would foist upon their desert community.  They strove, as a gimmick, to add some depth of purpose in their attempt to raise money for the Roswell community.

And they do, even if they sort of miss the mark on some of the spelling.


“Jambalayah” is a case in point.  Yet it seems a passable attempt and given that it was 1947, I give them a B+ for effort.
I’d make this.  It looks good! Perhaps not 100% authentic but, well, it was post-war and I assume adjustments had to be made, especially in tiny Roswell.


The same can be said for “Raviola.”

It’s a solid recipe, perhaps from a war bride straight from Italy.  That is hard to tell, but with the stature of the air base and the fact that the war had only been over less that two years, I’d say it is a good bet.

This one looks pretty authentic to me.


Now, given the proximity to Mexico and the close Hispanic cultural ties that have long existed in New Mexico, we can’t be surprised to see a good Mexican food section, can we?

Fresh Masa Dough, from scratch?

I repeat:  from scratch?  I’d have bought the book just for that.  Seriously.

These look good as well … and authentic.

imageWe also have lots of ads … what is a good community cookbook without links to the community?  I miss this in most recent fundraisers.  Involve  your community, folks!  I always enjoy looking at the ads.  I saw a number of auto dealerships … two on this page alone.  Who knew?

This is a tiny cookbook, but it packs quite a punch.  Just the date alone made it a must-buy for me.  The Masa recipe?  Must-buy.  The ads?  Always welcome.  The quaint phonetic spelling of some cultural favorites?  Great stuff.

Any of those items would give this unassuming little book a place of honor on my shelf.

But … IT’S FROM FREAKING 1947 ROSWELL!!!!!  I mean OMG, OMG, OMG!!!!

I still can’t believe that snooty, grabby woman missed it.  And she DID miss it.

I could see the look on her face when I showed it to her. She knew what it was.  I still imagine she’s creeping like Gollum out in the bushes, conspiring ways to reclaim her precious.


Conspiracy Theory?

What the … ?  Is it a sandwich or ….

I had a record low number of blog views  yesterday in my post about the “Sandwich Manual”, 😓

I’m bogged down, still working on my next post, so today I’m  urging you to review yesterday’s post (A sandwich by any other name) to see why I thought this picture might be part of some hidden conspiracy.  

Enjoy, and have a great weekend!