Hello, and welcome to History Week! (Please read the previous sentence in Moviefone style. Pop open a Snapple. Feeeeeeeeel the nineties wash over you.) This is actually History Week Part the Third, and it has nothing at all to do with the nineties, that's just the decade where my brain resides and sometimes bits of it leak out. No, Cookbook #84: James Beard's American Cookery (James Beard, 1972) is pre-nineties and in fact pre-Erica, although such a world is pretty difficult to imagine.
Provenance: Mom. Previous recipes on this blog: none. Number of years I owned this volume before noticing that the cover illustration features a rooster harnessed to a wagon full of rooster-sized produce: at least ten.
|It's called "Rooster Express" and it will be mine.|
If you watch any food-oriented television, you have at least a vague idea of who James Beard was because people are always bragging about having won his award. His backstory is neither as hardcore as Fannie Farmer's nor as colorful as Charles H. Baker Jr.'s, but he did host the first televised cooking show and apparently "entered into ethically questionable endorsement deals," including for Old Crow Bourbon and something called Adolph's Meat Tenderizer. So he was, you know, well-rounded.
This is really a historical collection (our dear Fannie gets a hat tip in the beginning) and not necessarily a tome of James Beard recommendations, as evidenced by the several versions of "I don't care for this personally, but people seem to like it" I encountered.
There is an ample egg chapter.
I poached them in tomatoes and served them over asparagus and bacon, but it wasn't easy narrowing it down. I could see myself making almost every egg dish in this thing.
I figured the most old-timey American thing I could do was make protein and a side every night, thereby going against all of my one-pot instincts. Think of all the extra pots I washed (three)! For history!
|Pork Chops Creole with brown rice. Part of my continuing quest to convince Dan that he does in fact like pork chops.|
|Walnut-Breaded Fish, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon. This fish tasted very restaurant-y, probably because it was covered in walnuts and cooked in butter. I did not have to convince Dan that he liked it.|
|Florence Bingham's Easy Chicken with Pepper Slaw. This chicken was in fact easy and very good as leftovers. I didn't even try to convince the children that they liked the slaw.|
I also made Molasses Pie and WHOA BUDDY was it molassesful. Check out my meringue, though!
|Both girls ate this seriously, seriously strong-flavored pie. Lesson: people love pie.|
Verdict: This was really fun to comb through, and if I skipped the section on offal and figured out what a "veal knuckle" is, I could probably tackle about anything in it.
In conclusion, James Beard invented Meatza.
I think I might have to stop taking Ivy to my Weight Watchers meetings.
Maybe I can just shift her focus to perfecting her watercolor technique.