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A Great Old Seattle Cookbook

May 16, 2017

Last week’s plucky Portland cookbooks left me eager for more from the Pacific Northwest.  So here’s the first of several books, published between 1896 and 1944, that offer a small taste of early Seattle. Keep in mind that when Clever Cooking was first published in 1896, white settlements were less than 50 years old. 

Old cookbooks often show traces of their former owners. But I’ve rarely seen a cookbook as personal as this copy of Clever Cooking, which Mary Packard has written all over. 

Here’s a sweet, economically-minded detail: 

This rice pudding cream pie (of sorts) looks delicious: 

And then the book itself. Here’s a beautiful omelette recipe:

Chop 4 dozen truffles.. Perhaps to be serve alongside the definitively titled…

I find Mrs. Bone’s Kentucky Roll so confusing I almost have to try it:

And last, the original vegan gelatin: sea moss farine was made of the seaweed known as Irish moss or carrageenen.

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Gift Guide: For Cookbook Collectors

December 13, 2016




If someone on your list is a collector of unusual cookbooks, here’s a suggestion. New York’s great cookbook store, Kitchen Arts and Letters, stocks every current cookbook and food magazine, along with a fine array of food history and out of print books. They also scour the world for unusual foreign cookbooks which are available nowhere else in this country.

At the moment I’m taken with this series, which they import directly from Singapore, about the great ethnic cuisines of that country.  The Peranakan recipes are from the descendants of the early Chinese migrants who settled in Singapore and intermarried, creating an original (and utterly delicious) cuisine with names like otak otak and gado gado.

The Hokkien recipes are from the Fujianese people who came to Singapore from southeastern China.  The book contains a number of fascinating recipes, including one for kong pak bau – braised pork belly buns with lettuce..

The South Indian recipes offers dishes like vinegar chicken, stuffed squid in black ink gravy and tomatoes in yogurt.  There’s also a great recipe for vaduvam, the exotic spice that swept Paris a few years ago. A little bottle of vaduvam, come to think of it, would also make a great gift.

Should these not be unusual enough, you might want to consider this rather mad volume:


Nobody planning a trip to Shanghai should consider leaving home without it.

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More From the Supermarket Cookbook

July 1, 2016

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As promised, a few more promising recipes from this book, celebrating the silver jubilee of the supermarket. With the exception of the Sandwich Loaf (an old idea well-worth reviving, although perhaps with more enticing fillings), these other two strike me as worth trying. Those tomatoes, for instance, are a variation on a Pomiane recipe I really love.

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A Few Interesting Recipes From A Most Beautiful Book

June 22, 2016

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I can’t stop turning the pages of this beautiful book by the fascinating Merle Armitage.  It’s filled with so many interesting recipes (including about a dozen ways to cook kidneys).  Some are clearly absurd, but I find a lot of them very enticing.

Leafing through the recipes by famous folk, I was very taken by these from Aline Bernstein (the costume designer).  Never seen anything quite like them.

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And then, these rather madly appealing recipes from the great man himself…

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Can-Opener Cookbook

February 5, 2016

FullSizeRender-3Remember when can openers were dangerous?  The cover of my mother’s favorite cookbook reminded me how scary these ancient objects used to be.

My mother treasured Poppy Cannon’s Can Opener Cookbook, which was first published in 1951.  Mom bragged that she could “have dinner on the table in less than ten minutes.” No wonder, with dishes like this one.


Poppy Cannon, incidentally, was a fascinating character.  I’m amazed that nobody’s done a movie about her life. Born Lillian Gruskin in South Africa, she was constantly reinventing herself. She had a long affair with Walter White, head of the NAACP, and when they finally married the interracial union was considered so scandalous he tried to resign from his job.