Tag Archives: Vintage cookbooks

Omavore on Instagram

2 Mar

My newest obsession: Instagram. (I realize, everyone is obsessed with it.) Find me at SarahBakerHansen.

Some recent snaps: hot chocolate in my favorite vintage mug, vintage James Beard reading, vodka infusion at Taxi’s Bar and Grille, Lucky Buddha beer at Saigon, Amsterdam Falafel.


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.

Heritage Recipes

20 Oct

I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff come across my desk lately about “heritage recipes,” which are basically old recipes that have been recently rediscovered and updated for a new generation of at-home cooks. You already know this is right up my alley. This is the first of a few planned posts that I’ll write about c0okbooks featuring heritage recipes.

From our Grandmother’s Kitchens: a Treasury of Lost Recipes too Good to Forget came last week. It’s from the editors of Cook’s Country Magazine (which I have never read) which is run by America’s Test Kitchen (I have read and enjoyed the Test Kitchen’s other books.) The recipes in the book were submitted by actual readers, and then updated based on modern standards. When the Test Kitchen modified a recipe, it included a note outlining the changes with respect to the original.

Purists sometimes don’t like the modifications to vintage recipes, but I actually prefer it. I’ve tried to knit a hat using a vintage pattern before, and it was a struggle. The same goes with cooking, at least in my limited experience.

There are lots of good, old-school recipes in this book, but what I really like about is that before each recipe, there’s a story. A tomato butter recipe, near the back of the book, immediately intrigued me.  I wish I’d known how to make it this summer. It would have been a perfect use for the dozen or so tomatoes I was bringing in each day.

It comes from Susan Simonovich, who lives in North Wells, Penn. She says of the recipe:

Tomato Butter has been a staple in Pennsylvania Dutch pantries for generations, usually served as a condiment with roast pork and beef. You can sometimes find it for sale at farm stands in the Amish country near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This particular recipe (there are many) was handed down from my great-grandmother and has been made faithfully by each generation. My siblings and I continue the tradition, making several batches in early September when tomatoes are $5 a peck at local farm markets. Many of our friends have become addicted to the stuff over the years and some make their own. Those who don’t, wait anxiously for that special Christmas gift every year! It’s the perfect accompaniment to roast meats, especially pork. We also use it as a glaze for meatloaf and to give that je ne sais quoi to canned baked beans (along with ketchup and mustard) and stews. My sister is famous for her cheesesteaks (a Philly staple) because of her ‘secret’ sauce—equal parts ketchup and Tomato Butter!

Pork aside, I think it looks pretty great spread on that bread with some chevre.

Another recipe I thought looked great was one called Gnocchi alla Romana. I still wanted to eat it even though it didn’t look anything like any gnocchi I’d ever seen before.

It comes from Lily Julow, in Gainesville, Florida.

When most of us think of gnocchi, we think of the classic little dumplings made from potatoes. That’s why Lily’s recipe, made by shaping cooked grits into squares, shingling them in a gratin dish, and sprinkling them with cheese and baking, is such a revelation. “I brought the idea for this memorable dish back from a trip to Rome forty years ago, in the 1970s. Without a specific recipe to go on, I experimented until I came up with this close approximation. I always thought that gnocchi was the potato dumpling kind, but this was made of a grain similar to our grits.” The making of gnocchi in Italy goes back at least to the mid 1850s, and gnocchi was made not just from potatoes but from a variety of ingredients, including ricotta, bread, winter squash, and corn semolina (cornmeal), clearly what Lily had tried in Rome. Says Lily of her version: “It worked out so well, it’s passed along as a family treasured recipe.” This cheesy, starchy side dish would be perfect served with ham.

I don’t think I’d serve this with ham, but I do think it’s going to be a dish that I bring to a future Sunday Pot Luck.

Below, find the recipes for both dishes featured in this post. Enjoy!

Tomato Butter

Makes twelve 1‑cup jars

14        pounds tomatoes, washed and cored
9          cups sugar (4 pounds)
2          cups cider vinegar
1          tablespoon ground cinnamon
1          teaspoon ground cloves

1. Peel tomatoes, then remove seeds  and coarsely chop.

2. Bring tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves to boil in large Dutch oven, stirring occasionally. Reduce to simmer and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes break down and mixture thickens to jamlike consistency, about 4 hours.

3. Tomato butter can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to 1 month, or canned following Canning 101 steps on page 195. If canning, transfer hot tomato butter to 12 hot, sterilized 1‑cup jars and process. Processing times depend on your altitude: 5 minutes for up to 1,000 feet, 10 minutes for 1,001 to 6,000 feet, and 15 minutes for above 6,000 feet.

Notes from the Test Kitchen: Tasters discovered that this sweet, nicely spiced jam was fantastic in countless roles, from being a great match to both hard and soft cheeses (try ricotta or goat cheese) to serving as the “T” in BLTs. Susan’s recipe called for 12 to 14 pounds of tomatoes; we found we needed the full amount.

Gnocchi alla Romana

Serves 8 to 10

4          cups whole milk
2          tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for baking dish
1          cup old-fashioned white grits
1          teaspoon salt
1/4      teaspoon white pepper
2          ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
1          ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)

1. Line 13 by 9‑inch baking dish with foil lengthwise and widthwise, letting excess foil hang over edges. Grease foil.

2. Bring milk and butter to simmer in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to melt butter. Slowly pour grits into milk mixture, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture has thickened and all liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper.

2. Transfer grits to large bowl and beat with electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and creamy, about 5 minutes. Pour grits mixture into prepared baking dish and spread into even layer. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled and set, at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

3. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove cooled grits from baking dish using foil sling and cut into 18 rectangles. Grease baking dish with butter.

4. Shingle grits rectangles into prepared baking dish, then sprinkle with Gruyère and Parmesan. Bake until grits are heated through and cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipes and photos reprinted with permission.

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.