Monday, February 02, 2009

"No One Hipped Me To It, Dude."

Part III

Several months ago Joe was asked to pick up a cook book that represented the local flavor of the Memphis food scene. We went to a thrift shop thinking that would be a good place to start, but stuck out. Then, while driving down a main artery close to State Line Road we ran across a Goodwill Book Store! The Cookbook section was over flowing with possibilities. I pulled up a foot stool and began to run through all the titles to find the hidden jewels.

Tucked in between the SouthBeach books, the LowFat Cooking books, the ubiquitous Joy of Cooking and Betty Crocker's are the regional Women Club offerings,locally published paperbacks with spines of gripping plastic teeth sporting names like, "The First Baptist Church of Lucky Hollow Women's Recipes", "Women's Exchange Cook Book Volume I", "St Jude's Special BBQ Edition" and "Best of the Best from Tennessee" does one choose just one?

Well, one doesn't. On every return visit since, I have made a side trip to pick up another cook book. And at $2.99 - $3.99, it's difficult to limit myself to just one. The temptation is overwhelming with recipes sporting names like "Oysters Broussard", "Gregnon-Bonne Femme", "Potato Cressonniere", "Scallops St. Jacques", and "Creole Chicken" which gets your mouth watering and stomach clamoring and your hands itching.

My Cook book assemblage began years ago when presented with my first "Women's
Collection". My boyfriends Mother gave it me when she realized I was clueless and soaking up her cooking expertise like a sponge. (Who knew you could put half a pear on a lettuce leaf and flavor with shredded cheddar cheese?! Who knew?)

My Mom added The Shaker Cookbook in honor of the summer I spent there and subsequently the five pounds I picked up when I discovered Cornbread! and Eggplant casserole! And Yellow squash souffle! Oh that summer was marvelous and educational in so many ways!

But the Bible and linchpin of my cooking education is The Prudence Penny cookbook (dated 1938) that I found in an old abandoned barn. This single book has guided me to many an excellent endeavor by pointing out the basics that most cook books just take for granted. Such as which veggies to salt the water and which to not. Did you know that you only boil fresh corn for four minutes? I didn't until Prudence hipped me to it, Dude.


Lisa :-] said...

You are all about food these days, aren't you?

You'd better get work soon or you and Joe won't be able to get out the front door of your house! :D
Well, spring is coming, and then you can get outside and start digging in the dirt...

Beth said...

I'm a sucker for cookbooks, too, and have to really watch myself. A couple of my favorites are Amish cookbooks that were published locally. Some good, basic homestyle food in there.

Chris said...

You made me right back.

Chris said...


I have seventeen cookbooks, including Joy of Cooking (the much hated 1997 edition that I happen to love).

But my favorite is a 4 inch binder that is filled with recipes that I have printed and used.

Nelle said...

We actually put up a little cabinet in our garage to hold our cookbooks and magazines with recipes. Our local grocery store, Wegmans puts out an amazing magazine four times a year. I found a new cornbread recipe that is SOOO good I will email you the recipe. It's a twist with corn kernels in it and very moist. Great with soup or chili.