Its spine is missing and the front and back covers are duct-and-celophane taped together.
It is a prized possession.
It is as sacred as a Bible and its author revered.
Helen Corbitt’s “Cookbook” is the beloved food authority in my mother’s kitchen. “Cookbook” was published in 1957. Its pages are gravy and cream spattered. Using a pencil or pen, mom would rate each recipe with a “*,” two “**” or even “*** YUMMY.”
In her first-grade-schoolteacher penmanship, she would offer observations she had regarding measurements or ingredients. Often her note would read “add 30 minutes” to the recipe baking time. She would underline specific directions which make replicating the French veal stew recipe on page 134 easy.
The recipe was given one “* Yummy” and one should note the 4 cups of water called for in Corbitt’s recipe is amended to read “2 H2O 2 white wine.”
Visit any grocery store, bookstore, library or search the Internet. Cookbooks, recipes and diet tips abound. We write about, blog about and in our family, talk about food almost all of the time. Before we finish lunch, the discussion regarding the dinner menu is hashed over.
Michael Pollan’s “Cooked” is one of the top 10 New York Times hardcover sellers; in the miscellaneous and how to hardcover/paperback top 10, titles include Jorge Cruise’s “The 100;” “WheatBelly” by William Davis M.D.; “Eat to Live” by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.; actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” and “Shred” by Hank Smith M.D.
In Corbitt’s “Cookbook” chapter titled “Parties,” “Sunday morning brunch” is underlined as “an ideal way to entertain.” Corbitt’s menu, smudged, appears as:
Honey dew melon wedges with thin slices of cold boiled or baked ham, scrambled eggs with snappy cheese and lots of fresh tomatoes, cut in the last few seconds of cooking, English muffins, buttered and spread with a tart marmalade and toasted, hot coffee, or iced for those who prefer it, with a dash of chocolate ice cream added.
French veal stew
4 cups water (see mom’s note, above)
2 pounds veal stew meat cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/4 cup sliced carrots
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt (the 2 is underlined)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Simmer first seven ingredients at low heat, skimming off scum that appears. When meat is tender, remove bay leaf and peppercorns.
Sauté mushrooms in the butter, add flour and lemon juice, and add to meat and cook until thick. Serve from a hot platter, parsley sprinkled over, with boiled little white onions, new potatoes, and peas. A little white wine added will not hurt it a bit.
I like to cook veal stew as I do fricassee of chicken and serve it over hot biscuits, and with a hot spiced peach or apricot.