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NOOK Cookin'

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I can't believe that I - a stubborn advocate of the physical book - am admitting this, but here it is...I'm in love with my NOOK. At first I was just in like . But that was before I discovered the treasure-trove of antique and out of print books I can download for free. Hundreds and hundreds of books that have been hiding on shelves in university libraries like Harvard, Radcliffe, & Stanford. Most of them were published in the late 19th century and early 20th. Some are much older. If you could find them on the rare book market, they would likely cost a fortune. And most are simply unavailable to purchase for any price in their physical form.

Thanks to the GoogleBooks, you can find hundreds of thousands of listings on NOOK for free. Type in $0.00 and a few search words and presto.

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I've downloaded more than 100 so far, and I'm just getting warmed up! Books about things I'm specifically interested in...travel, food, beverages & wine, cooking.

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Books many people have heard of, like Annie Lemira Gillette's famous "White House Cookbook".

And forgotten books like the 500+ page 1886 publication entitled "The Unrivalled Cook-Book and Housekeeper's Guide" by Mrs. Washington (pseud.)

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One of my immediate favorite discoveries is the 1922 offering from C. Mac Sheridan - "The Stag Cook Book: A Man's Cook Book for Men" (Seen above is the actual scanned front cover of the book with Radcliffe College's inventory bar code visable.)

The book is a compilation of favorite recipes from famous men of the day. Men as dissimilar as President Warren G. Harding, Harry Houdini, Booth Tarkington, John Philip Sousa & Henry Van Dyke. Ninty-eight contributors in all. Some of them taking the task seriously, offering recipes I actually plan to try. Others with their tongues obviously planted firmly in their cheeks.

As you might expect, one of the contributors with his tongue in his cheek was cartoonist Rube Goldberg. Here is his recipe for Hash.

All joking aside, my favorite dish is hash.

I have never actually been in the kitchen to see hash pass through the various stages of its epicurean development, but I imagine hash is manufactured something like this:

First the father must eat a big lunch, the mother must fill herself up on cake in the afternoon and the children must have spoiled stomachs. This condition of affairs ruins the evening meal completely anhd there is plenty of meat left over for has the next day.

The cook takes the beef or veal or whatever it is and throws it into the electric fan. The flying bits of meat are caught on ping pong rackets by experts and knocked back into a pot that contains a large quantity of mashed potatoes.

then the fire is lighted and the cook can go out to an afternoon movie.

The beauty of hash is that, no matter how it tastes, you think it is all right. There is no standard flavor for hash. Hash is fundamentally accidental, so it has no traditions to live up to.

- R. L. (Rube) Goldberg

One, who seemed to take his recipe seriously was Hudson Maxim, the inventor of smokeless gunpowder. Here's his recipe for Spaghetti. I can't even imagine how vile this must be and I'm sure I would have preferred to eat the gunpowder.

Take one package of vermicelli or spaghetti, and put it into a saucepan, crushing it in the hand, then put in hot water, and salt a little more than will suit the taste, and boil for an hour.

While the vermicelli or spaghetti is cooking, take a quart of milk and heat three-quarters-or 24 ounces- of it until it boils. Then stir into the eight ounces of cold milk a level cupful of flower, or two tablespoonfuls of flour, pretty well heaped, and then stir the thickened milk into the boiling milk and cook slowly for ten minutes.

Then add three-quarters of a pound of good, ripe, old American cheese, and about half a pound of butter. Then drain the water off the vermicelli or spaghetti and put in from one and one half pints or a quart of canned tomatoes. Heat the vermicelli or spaghetti to the boiling point; and while the mixture of cheese, butter, milk and flour is still hot, stir the two together, then keep hot and serve hot. Do not boil any more, because further boiling would tend to cause the tomatoes to coagulate the milk in the mixture. I prefer to use a mixture of spaghetti and vermicelli instead of all spaghetti or all vermicelli. - Hudson Maxim

Here are a few of the recipes I plan to try:

Actor, Guy Bates Post's Lamb Curry a la "Omar, The Tentmaker"
William Jennings Bryan's French-Fried Onions
Author John A. Moroso's Spaghetti-For-The-Gang
Actor Richard Barthelmess' Spiced Grapes
And especially...Artist W. T. Benda's Barshck With Ushka -- which is a Polish beet soup with what can best be described as Polish meat-filled tortelinni.

Perhaps I'm going to have to start a completely new blog in which I Cook from my Nook. What do you think?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 9, 2010 10:30 AM.

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