I love cookbooks.
Libraries, bookstores, yard sales, mail-order catalogs,
grocery stores, the Antique Mall, flea markets, the
Internet and private collections have supplied me with
cookbooks to amuse myself.
A favorite cookbook was
purchased at a flea market. The book was a wreck, pages
missing, covers replaced with plexi-glass and duct tape.
Someone had valued that book! I bought it for 10 cents;
now Iím looking for a good copy of it.
I suspect that "The
New Settlement Cookbook" was printed around World
War II. The copy I have explains how to clean a dining
room and kitchen. How to prepare milk and foods for
infants, and what should be fed to invalids. Obviously
infants and invalids ate better then. Nothing came from
a can of chemical soup.
Not having the cover or
the first pages of the book, I suspect it was written
for first-time householders. There was little reliable
refrigeration at the time the book was written. Butter,
possibly to keep it from spoiling, is applied to almost
every sandwich. Of course the book explains what to put
between two slices of bread!
At age six I knew there
was more to cooking than my perfect open-faced
concoctions of cinnamon and sugar on butter bread, and
Mom was willing to teach me. She found a cookbook
written for children. Iíve forgotten its title, but
"South of the Border Hamburger" was the recipe
we picked from it. I learned a lot from that recipe! We
created the dish twice to make sure we were doing it
right. Twice I ate one of the most disgusting dishes Iíve
ever put together.
I learned I had to eat my
mistakes unless they were likely to cause illness or
death. More importantly I learned to read a recipe. If
there are flavors or ingredients I detest, I try to
substitute something enjoyable. This juggling may have
caused some recipes to be less than desirable, but itís
saved me from having to eat dishes I know to be
From the shelves of the
Emmitsburg branch of the FCPL, I recently pulled
"THE BEST AMERICAN RECIPES 1999". Iíve
learned not to call any recipe "BEST," but
what do I know about upscale eateries?
Still the book is worth a
hard look. I love roast duck and page 92 has a recipe Iím
drooling to try: One duck, salt and pepper to taste. Two
tablespoons of chopped garlic and a small handful of
fresh thyme sprigs.
Preheat the oven to 300
F. Remove giblets from the thawed duck along with any
loose chunks of fat. Rinse with cold water, shake off
the excess. Sprinkle the larger cavity with salt, pepper
and garlic. Smear the seasonings around the insides.
Place the thyme in the cavity and make dozens of small
slits in the skin with a paring knife. Be careful not to
cut into the meat.
Place a cake rack inside
a jellyroll-type pan and set the duck, breast side up,
on the rack. Place everything on the middle rack in the
oven. Every hour for 4 hours take the bird out,
pierce the skin with a knife and turn it over. After 4
hours raise the temperature to 350 degrees, drain the
pan, salt and pepper the skin, and roast for another
hour until the skin is crisp and brown. Remove from
oven, let rest 20 minutes before tearing the bird apart.
Save the fat in the fridge for sautťing taters or
Dark meat lovers should
consume the bird in private. Thereís seldom enough for
me let alone Wanda and Jack. Fortunately they donít
care for duck. Wanda gets mad at me for eating the skin,
then bellyaching for days after about indigestion.
Other Articles by Jack Deatherage, Jr.