In the past, I have attempted to review several cookbooks in one fell swoop, with the idea that perhaps I can pass along information on some exceptional community cookbooks. There are, unquestionably, hundreds – perhaps thousands – of new cookbooks being published every year; no one can possibly keep up with all of them. What I have been doing in the past few months is putting together some short stacks of cookbooks I feel are too good to get lost in the shuffle. (and no one knows better than I how easily cookbooks can get lost in the shuffle!)
So, with this thought in mind, let me share some of my favorite cookbooks with you and maybe something in this presentation will kindle a spark with other like-minded cookbook collectors (rest assured; if you have more than a few dozen cookbooks, you are a collector). I remember when I had only 300 cookbooks and thought I was hopelessly addicted to cookbooks. That was a long time ago and now I have no idea how many cookbooks are in my collection now. Thousands—despite giving away boxes of cookbooks to some of my like-minded nieces.
The first book I want to write about is not a community cookbook per se, but it is a nicely spiral bound cookbook by a woman named Linda Burgett. The title of the book is MILD TO WILD Mexican Cookbook/ More than 400 Recipes to delight your imagination and tickle your taste buds. Linda comes by writing a cookbook honestly; her parents, Sharon McFall and father Gene McFall are the authors of BUSY WOMEN’S COOKBOOK, COOKING WITH WILL ROGERS, GET ME OUT OF THE KITCHEN and JUST AROUND THE CURVE COOKBOOK.
Linda lives in New Mexico (a State more and more responsible for producing cookbook authors) with her husband and son. Linda enjoys entertaining and collecting recipes at the many functions she attends. Her husband’s love of spicy Mexican food and her son’s desire for milder versions inspired her to write MILD TO WILD MEXICAN COOKBOOK.
This cookbook kicks off with a Wild Sauce and Kickin’ Ketchup plus a variety of salsa recipes. There are a number of easy to prepare recipes ranging from Green With Envy Salsa to Black Bean Salsa, Aloha Salsa and one of my favorites, Pico de Gallo Salsa, a Restaurant Style Salsa and many hot salsa recipes. There are many other salsas and dips from which to choose, including a Layered Dip similar to one that has made its way into many American homes since (I believe) the first one I ever saw in print was in a woman’s magazine around 1980—but there is an Avocado Layered Dip that I think would be a good change of pace.
But Mexican food is a great deal more than salsas and dips—I’ve been marking with post-its recipes for chicken enchiladas and chicken fajitas, Spanish Spinach Enchiladas and easy Cheese Enchiladas. There are over 400 recipes in MILD TO WILD, from tamales to burritos and dozens of mouth-watering recipes in between.
I found MILD TO WILD on Amazon.com, listed at $4.45 for a new copy or starting at $1.99 for a pre-owned copy. If you like Mexican food, you will love MILD TO WILD Mexican Cookbook **
For sheer attractiveness I’d have to give high marks to PUTTING ON THE GRITS presented by the Junior League of Columbia, South Carolina. The art-deco-ish design of the cover and throughout the book is sure to charm anyone who is partial to the art deco look (Personally, I love it. Whenever I am in Cincinnati, I love visiting the old train depot (now housing several museums) with its 1930s art deco designs). First published in 1985, Putting On the Grits has gone through five printings by 1993.
From Appetizers ranging from Spinach Cheese Squares to Spicy Chicken Tidbits, from the incredibly easy to prepare Hot Bacon Bits, to Marinated Shrimp, these and many other recipes will whet your appetite. There are a wide variety of soups, salads, breads, vegetables and side dishes from which to ooh and ah and dash off to the kitchen to try.
I am admittedly partial to southern recipes so a chapter titled Southern Classics certainly caught my eye. Whether it’s Buttermilk Biscuits or Hot Pepper Jelly (to put on the hot buttermilk biscuits!), Shrimp Pie or Crab Cakes, Southern Baked Grits or Sausage and grits Casserole, Fried Green Tomatoes or Blackberry Jam Cake—you will surely find a southern favorite to add to your culinary repertoire.
Putting On the Grits may be out of print but copies are still available. Amazon.com has the plastic comb cover, for $2.95, with 27 additional used and new copies ***
One of my favorite cookbooks to come from the Finger Lakes Region is titled THRU THE GRAPEVINE, and was compiled by the Junior League of Greater Elmira-Corning, Inc. and was published in 1994.
This is a big thick cookbook which had gone through seven printings as of February 1994 including a Southern Living Hall of Fame Edition). Over a thousand recipes were submitted by members of the Junior League of Greater Elmira-Corning. Inc. The 635 recipes contained in this book were tested and retested for quality, selected and edited for clarity by the Junior League members. Included with the many specially chosen recipes there are illustrations of famous sites such as Bluff Point ad Glen Iris Inn, Taughannock Falls and Watkins Glen Gorge—Watkins Glen Gorge!! I have been keen to return to upstate New York ever since my family visited it when I was 15 years old, and my brother was stationed at an air force base (no longer in existence) in the finger lakes region.
I can’t begin to do this cookbook justice; the sheer volume of recipes is overwhelming. There is something for everyone and you will spend weeks, if not months, working your way through the more than six hundred recipes. Amazon.com has this cookbook for $12.25, with more choices starting at $4.85 for preowned and new.
On this happy note, I will bring this post to a close for tonight. I hope one of these cookbooks piques your interest. All three are spectacular.