Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘cookbooks

I enjoy cooking and baking, and I especially love trying new recipes. During the nine weeks of lockdown here in Spain, I’ve had plenty of time to go through my cookbooks and try recipes I haven’t made before. Needless to say, we’ve been eating very well. I’ve collected cookbooks since I was very young and have a wonderful assortment. Some have been gifts and others I have bought myself. I managed a chain of kitchen stores in the 1980s where we sold cookbooks, so I was privy to some of the best. I was thinking about my special cookbooks and why I like them so much. So I decided to share my favourite six with you.

Why do I keep going back to these six?

Classic Vegetarian Cooking from the Middle East & North Africa by Habeeb Salloum is my go-to cookbook. I use this one most of all. I visited the United Arab Emirates twenty years ago and fell in love with the food. When I returned from my trip, I looked for recipes from that part of the world. A friend worked in a bookstore and recommended this one. In fact, she bought it with her employee discount so it didn’t cost me as much. She has since passed away, so every time I use it I think of her and my amazing trip. The recipes are easy to follow and each one has a short explanation or story attached, which I love. As an aside, a few years ago one of my short stories was included in an anthology in which Habeeb Salloum was also featured. How cool is that!

The Vegetable Market Cookbook, Classic Recipes From Around the World by Robert Budwig, was given to me as a gift from a special cousin who knew I was a vegetarian and that I liked international recipes. The book is divided into Italian, French, Moroccan, Thai, Indian, Mexican & Guatemalan, and Californian recipes. The dishes are made from fresh fruits and vegetables you would buy at the market. Everything I’ve made from this book has been delicious and the drawings inside are delightful. This recipe book is a pleasure to sit and read over and over.

The Lighthearted Cookbook, by Anne Lindsay, is endorsed by the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. This was a book we sold in the kitchen stores. The recipes are low fat and heart-healthy, and also delicious. My hubby’s favourite stew comes from this book, which has a great assortment of meat, vegetable, dessert, and baked goods recipes. This one is used a lot in our house and has the stains to prove it!

New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, by The Moosewood Collective is another cookbook we sold in the kitchen stores and was very popular. In the early 1980s, vegetarianism was just starting to get popular and many people didn´t know how to make a veggie meal interesting. This cookbook proves that vegetables do not have to be boring. It has been updated many times since I bought this one. I love the whimsical photographs interspersed throughout. I have often given this book as a gift. It makes a perfect bridal shower or housewarming gift.

Company´s Coming series of cookbooks by Jean Paré were best sellers in my kitchen stores. I couldn’t keep them on the shelves. And no wonder; they are filled with simple, easy to make recipes using ingredients readily available. I have a number of these cookbooks, but the one I use the most is Muffins and More. So much so it is almost falling apart. When we feel a need for a snack, I whip up a batch of muffins, a loaf, or a coffee cake from this gem of a recipe book. It never disappoints. Because I sold her books in the stores I managed, I was invited to a reception celebrating the sale of 1 million books, where I got to meet this lovely lady who turned her down-home recipes into an empire! She has since sold over 30 million copies and she is as down to earth as her cookbooks!

The George Bernard Shaw Vegetarian Cookbook by Alice Laden & R. J. Minney was a gift from a dear friend who picked it up for me when she visited The Shaw Festival in Stratford, Ontario. I love this little book compiled by GBS’s cook/housekeeper who ensured the great playwright always had tasty vegetarian meals. GBS became a vegetarian at age twenty-five and remained extremely healthy until he passed away at age ninety-four. I often make the Nut and Rice Roast from this book for my Christmas dinner.

There is no love sincerer than the love of good food. – George Bernard Shaw

Of course, I have many other cookbooks, recipes clipped out of magazines and newspapers, some from my mother, and others scribbled on bits of paper.

I would love to hear about your favourite cookbooks.

A good friend suggested we attend a demonstration on making Welsh tea cakes at a local book store. You know how much I love book stores and good food, so it didn’t take me long to decide it was a good idea. We had a marvellous time.  Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks is a store devoted to cookbooks as well as books related to cooking or food. The warm, inviting store has an amazing collection of books, many filled with mouth watering photographs of culinary delights. One could spend hours browsing and it is difficult to leave without a purchase.

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The shop has a full kitchen which is used to demonstrate recipes as well as for holding cooking classes. To celebrate St. David’s Day, staff member Mark Holmes, a transplanted Welshman, demonstrated the art of making Welsh cakes in the shop kitchen. He even wore the traditional daffodil in his button hole to honour the occasion.

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Grating the fresh nutmeg

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Rolling out the dough on a counter lightly dusted with icing sugar

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Cutting out the cakes after chilling the dough

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Cooking in a frying pan at low to moderate heat

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Ready to eat!

Mark recalled stories of his grandmother making tea cakes at home in Wales, while we sampled the mouth watering finished product along with a lovely cup of tea. We learned some great tips as well. For instance, grating the cold butter into the flour mixture is much easier than cutting it into the mixture and has the same desired results. I can’t think of a better way to spend a chilly March 1 afternoon.

Life is full of coincidences and they no longer surprise me. Two days ago, Barbara, a dear blogging friend from England, wrote on her blog, March House Books about a vintage cookbook called   250 Recipes by Elizabeth Craig . She included  recipes from the book such as the following  for Welsh Cream Tea Cakes. This one is a bit different as it calls for baking the cakes in an oven, instead of the traditional method of cooking them on a bake-stone or griddle, like a pancake. Either way, they are delicious.

Welsh Cream Tea Cakes from 250 Recipes by Elizabeth Craig
1 lb flour
1/2 teaspoonful salt
1/4 lb currants
Grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoonfuls Borwich’s Baking Powder
1/4 lb butter
2 oz sugar
cream to mix
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a basin. Rub in butter, then mix in washed and dried currants, sugar, and a grated nutmeg to taste. Mix to a stiff batter with fresh cream, and foll out on a floured pastry boards. Cut into squares. Bake on a greased tin in a quick oven. Sometimes I make mixture a little thinner, and cook it in buttered muffin tins. Again, I fork out pieces of dough, and arrange them on tin, like rock cakes, without rolling mixture.
To see more recipes from this quaint book with unique paintings, visit Barbara’s blog:
Do you enjoy looking through cookbooks, new or vintage?

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