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Small town Sunday

5 Mar

Yesterday I went to my good friend Cara’s hometown, Brainard, Neb., for the town’s annual Community Fund Drive. Basically, it’s a giant sale in the town’s firehall that includes boxes of random items for $1, $2 and $3, a bake sale, a silent auction, lunch and then a live auction. I think the most expensive item that sold at the live auction was around $30.

Brainard is about an hour outside of Omaha, and it was fun to get on the road early and head out of town. Once I arrived, the first order of business was the bake sale. Cara loves rosettes, which are fried cookies covered with rainbow sugar, and I never turn down the chance for a kolache. The baked goods sell out within minutes, but we got what we were after. The rosettes are the brightly colored cookies in the photo below. They’re really good. Cara’s mom is responsible for making that beautiful pie right in the center.

After breakfast, it was time to start digging for stuff in the auction.

I scored, among other things, a box of vintage holiday signs, two vintage Nebraska coffee mugs and a pretty cool measuring spoon all in the same box for a buck. This bentwood side table, also only a dollar, is now living in my house.

This cookbook was part of a silent auction and ended up being pretty expensive — by expensive, I mean $10 or something — but I enjoyed looking at it. I love old church cookbooks.

We decided to pass on Tang and instead got two polish dogs with sauerkraut and two iced teas.

Many hours later, after all the bidding was done, we headed across the street to the town bar. I left the live auction with two giant stock pots and a box of vintage mason jars, many of which are green glass, that I plan to use on our deck this summer. Total spent: $10. I can’t even recount all the stuff the group bought, but one highlight was a vintage cabbage slicer that Cara took home.

No, we didn’t try the Queso “Tantalizers,” though I tried my best to convince Cara. Instead we consumed a couple of pitchers of red beer, ate some cheese balls and discussed all our awesome finds. Until next year.

Vintage Cookbooks: The Sheldon Gallery Cookbook

21 Feb

Before I returned to journalism and started this blog, I worked at the Sheldon Museum of Art. I’ve always loved the graceful Philip Johnson-designed building on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus.

If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend checking it out the next time you’re in Lincoln. It’s free. One current exhibition includes a collection of Andy Warhol’s Polaroid photographs, and another focuses on the tumultuous nature of artist’s relationships (and includes work from Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Arthur Dove, Edward Hopper, and Robert Henri.)  The museum also has a lovely store that sells lots of beautiful items, and also loads of books, including the gem I’m writing about today.

The Sheldon Art Association (then called the Nebraska Art Association) published the book in 1978. It includes recipes from board members, but also from artists.

I would like to try Keith Jacobshagen’s chili and Robert Motherwell’s Late Supper.

Of course, Runzas.

A list of glamorous-sounding party meals (and one for 200 diners!)

Norman Geske, former director of Sheldon, loves a Negroni. In fact, the museum served them at his 95th birthday party, which happened while I worked there.

The best thing of all, though, is that the Sheldon Gallery cookbook is still available for purchase in the Sheldon Museum Store. To get your own copy, visit the museum or call 402-472-2461.

Top image courtesy of the Sheldon Museum of Art. All other images courtesy the Sheldon Gallery Cookbook.

Vintage Cookbooks: The New York Times Cookbook, 1961

13 Oct

I have a thing for vintage cookbooks. I have quite a few in my own collection — mostly church cookbooks handed down from my mom — and others picked up in thrift stores and used bookstores and garage sales.

I love reading them. I first started reading a non-vintage cookbook, Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.” It taught me so much, and plus, it was interesting. It’s laid out more like a giant, regular-sized book instead of a “cookbook” that has photos on every page and not a lot of text. Sometimes, photo heavy cookbooks, while pretty, make me feel intimidated. No pictures takes away the pressure.

For me, the easiest way to learn about cooking outside of doing it is reading about it. So this is the first post of many that I’ll write about my collection of vintage cookbooks.

 I found this  book last weekend, at one of my favorite thrift stores in Lincoln. As you can see, it’s been well-loved. I think it was totally worth the $2.98 I paid. In fact, it introduced this food novice to the late, great Craig Claiborne, a great food critic and writer who was the first man to be an editor of the New York Times food page (therefore breaking the gender bias in food) and came up with the four-star system that the New York Times still uses today. I can’t wait to read more of his books.

I took some photos of the interior of this book, because it is truly fun to read. It transports the reader to some fabulous places and calls out, of all authors, Marcel Proust. (Click the photos to make them larger.)

It also has some great writing that uses some vintage turns of phrase that I really love.

It also includes a cake that I must make.

And things with ingredients that I probably won’t ever cook with but like to read about. (That’s a “specialty cut,” to be sure.)

At the back, it has chapters on wine, cocktails and spices. I’ll be reading these without a doubt. In fact, I think the beginning two paragraphs on wine are brilliant.

As I’ve only been looking at this book a few days, I know there’s much more to discover as I read it more. Do any of you have this book? I’m looking forward to cooking some of the things I find in the book, and if you have a favorite recipe to share from this book, let me know.

I’m quite excited, as an aside, to find the review Claiborne wrote of his famous $4,000 dinner. I’m so glad I found this book — I don’t think I could have found it at a better time.