Monday, January 27, 2014

A Catalog of Cooking, or Streamlined eating in the Library

A page from Teen Cuisine, illustrated by Peter Max.

Yes, that's a page from one of the hundreds of cookbooks in my personal collection (although I did not take this photo). I can't say I find a late 60's teen party cookbook too Streamlined inspiring but man, the overall design makes it a great addition to any dinner party, room or rap session.

Yes, I've mentioned before about collecting cookbooks, some for their historic entertainment and others for actual cooking. And I do scour the web for inspiration. But I would be remiss in both my Retro and Streamlined Ska Librarian physiques to not talk about some great resources for recipes and menu planning available from libraries. 

Some resources are a little more esoteric, such as New York Public Library's great menu collection, for which you can help add metadata. (Crowdsource Delmonicos!)

But there's also a new beta site that I'd like to share: The OCLC Worldcat Cookbook Finder

Worldcat is a website that links up to thousands of library catalogs all over the world. It's a nice way to find out if a book is available in your area or if you can get it through inter-library loan.

The Cookbook Finder can be  searched by the usual terms, but also by ingredient, method and (be still my heart) Dewey Decimal Number. 

[I find those librarians that poo-poo DDC in favor of some more "popular" classification systems to be just missing out.But that another post for another time.]

And let's be honest; much as I love owning cookbooks, price and space does not always allow that personal library to grow. Thankfully, cookbooks are a big part of library collections. What if I really wanted to try some new eating plan and perusing the web just wasn't doing it, as it was too disparate and not easily self-contained? This, my friends, is the way to go.

So, I'm going to recommend a few items that have inspired me in my Streamlined Ska Librarian lifestyle. And by "inspired" I mean I enjoyed these ideas for recipes and promptly saw how I could fit them to my own style, technique and need. These are all from my own collection, but are also available in libraries. The following links are to the Worldcat pages.

The Gefilte Variations by Jayne Cohen.

This has some really nice variations of traditional Jewish foods (and the author's a librarian!) but oy gevalt! These recipes take time and equipment! Certainly not something always easy in a small NYC kitchen. The ingredients are simple (for example, the amazing potato-onion kugel is just potatoes, onions, oil, eggs, rosemary and salt) but they often require several pots, multiple preps stages and a LOT of space! Still, these are easily tweakable to inspire your own variations, with or without gefilte. 

Het grote kookboek : een culinaire ontdekkingsreis door meer dan 800 recepten

I know we often make fun of British food, but having worked with the Dutch for so long, those Brits ain't got nothing on bad food reps! Still, in order to better appreciate "echte Nederlandse keuken" (and help me get a better grip on the Dutch language), this book has come in handy. And while not all the ingredients are the same across the pond, it's nice to know it's not all bitterballen and stoempf. In fact, some of it is downright healthy! (gestoomde zalm met asperges, anyone?)

Crumbles & Tatins by Aude de Galard and Leslie Gogois.

I picked this book up in a Paris bookshop some years back. This is a perfect example of French food that is not overly fancy or very difficult to make. In fact, the recipes are remarkably simple. And they run the gamut of taste from those of us who like boudin noir to the more healthy variations of vegetables. However, it does use butter because, well, it is France. But you can still tweak it to make it to your liking and needs. 

Floyd on Britain & Ireland by Keith Floyd. 

What was I saying about the Brits? Well, there's also Keith Floyd. Before all the new, hip cuisine of Great Britain, there was this fabulous rather inebriated fellow who would appear on television and who knew how to cook. Again, the ingredients may not always match up to US products, but you can easily Americanize your groats and potted shrimp. What I do like about it is that these are recipes to really "get your hands dirty" using all partsof plants and animals. 

So, go browse, borrow and cook!



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