Squee!!!!! I’m so excited at what’s just appeared!

Squee! So excited I just had to share!

I was sitting here at my desk minding my own business when guess what landed in my lap!

An autographed, perfect first edition of Spoonbread! So perfect, so lovely, so exciting I think a little bit of wee came out!

Really this has made my day. Although I do feel really bad that for $33 including shipping to australia this little baby is mine! Seriously, have you seen what they’re going for on amazon????? Some unsuspecting soul in Massachusetts only got $13 plus shipping from me- and I now a perfect, autographed copy (dust jacket and all)!

Very excited! Next stop, procure a jello mold! I feel like Christmas has come early!

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions….

I used to be indecisive, now I’m not so sure…. I feel like that’s the theme of the day.  Seriously, I can’t decide what to cook.  I’m tossing up whether to make a dessert- and whether to do Eggnog pie or chocolate chip cake.  I can’t decide on a main course either- seafood casserole, crab meatloaf or roast pork?  The only thing I have decided on is Ginger Ale Salad- which is weirder than it sounds.  Really I only want to make it because it involves using The Mom’s 1980s vintage Tupperware Jello moulds—yup the ones with interchangeable heart, Christmas tree, tulip and star tops that probably haven’t been used since 1988.  Plus, any recipe involving mayonnaise, fruit, and ginger ale is either going to be disgusting or disgustingly tasty!  I’m not sure which! Roast pork seems a bit boring- pot roast, isn’t overly thrilling as well.  But is crab meatloaf a step too far?

 

So you see, I’m a bit stuck.  And a bit indecisive as well. 

But I think I’m going to bite the bullet—the menu for tonight, The Mom’s favourite Mac and Cheese, Seafood Casserole , and Ginger Ale Salad. 

And in more good news, I found the book for $13—well $33 once they ship it to Sydney but rest assured, I will have my very own copy soon…  The Mom  won’t have to search my bags when I leave… or at least not for the book.

Spoonbread- The DC Edition

SO being at home with The Mom, who really deserves a better nickname than The Mom, is fantastic.  Really, it’s like holding up a mirror into the future because she and I are a lot alike.  It’s quite funny.  I’ve actually been spending the day looking at photos in the basement and there are quite a few photos where I’m under 2 and already starting to mimic my mother’s gestures and actions.  It’s funny, people who knew my Dad, used to tell me that I reminded them of him, people who know my Mom, tend to think I’m her clone.  The weird thing is, I see it too.

Anyway, aside from our love of entertaining- and The Runner will attest that I like cooking but I LOVE entertaining- my Mom and I share a love of kitchen utensils.  Seriously, neither of us have ever met a kitchen gadget that we wouldn’t buy- cherry pitter- she has one, butter cutter- yep one of those too, milk frother- got it, vacuum wine sealer- check, melon baller- don’t make me laugh- of course she has one!  So if you can imagine being a small child growing up in the land of 1,000 kitchen accessories, it does shape your outlook on life- in a great way.  The Mom is literally the only person I know with more kitchen stuff than I do.  I’m a total girl- I like shoes and handbags and make up and jewellery, but I salivate- sal-i-vate over Williams-Sonoma……Mmmmmmmm.  It’s not normal, I know, but I’ve come by it honestly.  So I’m really excited to do a He Runs, I Cook from The Mom’s House—although I feel like I should do a 12 course, butter cutting, melon balling extravaganza while I’m here—and I probably would have if Thanksgiving weren’t last week.  Instead, I’ll be cooking from THE MOST EXPENSIVE COOKBOOK I’VE EVER COOKED FROM….(not that I’ve gotten my grubby mitts on lots of expensive cookbooks), “Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine.”

I wrote a little about it in my previous post, but I actually sat down last night and read it—that’s right read it from start to finish.  The book itself isn’t just a book of recipes, it actually tells the story of each family member from grandparents to parents to aunts and uncles, and possibly even a few others.  It’s written by two sisters who were living in New York and seriously, what a gem!   I started off looking for a recipe but by the end, I was enthralled by the family history.  It’s seriously, such a great idea and I can’t think of another cookbook that I own that does the same.  It’s small enough to read as a novel, yet the recipes are simple and sound tasty enough to use as a cookbook.  I’m sold!  Not quite sold enough to cough up $350 for a new one on Amazon.com, but I am bidding on one on Ebay at the moment so fingers crossed.  It’s only new, and the opening bid was $5… I’m not overly optimistic!

Anyway, this book is fantastic- and not just because the first chapter based on the Grandfather is all about making homemade wine……yessssssssssssss!  Unfortunately, I don’t have the facilities or the patience to make wine, and thanks to our lovely friends in the Hunter Valley, The Runner and I have a seemingly endless supply of fantastic wine.  If we didn’t, the idea of testing out a recipe for strawberry wine is vaguely appealing, but I am extremely thankful that we live in the 21st century where liquor stores are ubiquitous and you can order wine over the internet.  The book also has recipes for canning, jamming, and making marmalades.  None of which do I have any interest in.  What’s the point of buying 3 pounds of tomatoes and spending hours coring, blanching, peeling and boiling them when you can buy Canned tomatoes in the store for 99 cents.  Anyway, wine making and tomato canning are things I’ll do One Day….as in One Day/Some day/Never! 

The book also has some delicious ice cream recipes—and if there’s one thing that The Mom and I have in common—ice cream is our favourite food.  Legend has it that The Mom had ice cream sundaes every single day that she was pregnant with me, and I don’t doubt it’s true—I LOVE Ice Cream.  No, really.  I LOVE it.  Seriously, I’m like Cookie Monster’s long lost human twin, Ice Cream Monster.  Love it, love it, love it, love it.  Always have, always will.  In high school, I used to have a bowl of ice cream every day after school- mint chocolate chip or cookies and cream.  It’s actually a miracle that I’m not morbidly obese…. (and yes, Ben and Jerry’s Mint Chocolate Cookie is pretty much the best thing ever).  Anyway, another vote for Spoonbread being awesome, it has awesome ice cream recipes.

So to recap, the book has recipes for two of my three favourite things- Ice cream and wine.  I think I might increase my Ebay bid.  I understand why it caused a phenomena in the 70s.  It’s causing a slight moral dilemma for me, I really want to quietly and secretly slip the book back to Sydney so I can delight in its yummy-ness on a longer term basis.  I know it’s wrong because The Mom loves The Book, but would she miss it?  Yes.  And she reads the blog…..hmmmm, let’s increase the Ebay bid.

Anyway, aside from all this, it does have some really amazing recipes-  Peach gingerbread upside down cake, made with fresh, homemade gingerbread, baked steaks, white potato and cheese casserole, like 8 different ways to make sweet potatoes, southern fried corn, pineapple upside down cupcakes, eggnog pie.  The list goes on…. Of course, there are some low points like scrambled brains- and yes, they mean actual brains not eggs, and of course squirrel, rabbit, opossum and other road kill delights- but that’s only one part of one chapter.  The hardest thing is that I don’t know what to make for dinner tonight- and I made a list of possibilities.  Do I make The Mom’s favourite macaroni and cheese or crab meatloaf or a classic fried chicken?  Do I go out on a limb with Ginger Ale Salad or Chicken in the Pot or Tipsy Cake?  Is it more of a Stuffed Eggplant occasion?  Whatever it is, the recipes all seem to be really simple with pretty simple ingredients and they sound pretty tasty…..  Overall, this cookbook is a winner.  No, I don’t know first hand, but The Mom and her friends can’t possibly be wrong!

 

What’s the most expensive cookbook you own? The DC Edition

Trust me, it’s not what you think. Or maybe it is. I’m not sure what mine is, and my mom wasn’t sure what hers was until….

Let me give you a bit of backstory, and I hope it helps to explain why I am a little bit excited about doing He Runs, I Cook from my moms house.

When I started He Runs, one of my “aunts” suggested that I cook from a cookbook called “Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine”, she suggested this because for my mom and her friends apparently this was THE cookbook to own. It came out in 1978 and apparently every educated black woman had to have it because it was essentially the first black, southern soul food cookbook. It is a cookbook I remember from my childhood, and yes I do remember it being used, I can’t remember for what exactly but my mom and auntie swear that there are some gems in there. Well, I thought this was a phenomenal idea so off I went to amazon.com to order a copy.

Cue tires screeching, jaw dropping, me falling off chair, followed by email to mother and aunt.

Why? You ask? Well, the cheapest copy amazon had was about $300. Yes, that’s right, the cheapest copy. And this book isn’t an encyclopedia and it doesn’t weigh a ton, its about the same size as a small novel and it doesn’t come with any actual food. Which is why I was shocked to see copies going for over $1,000! Seriously.

If I had been smarter or slightly more devious, I would have calmly asked my mother to forward across her copy and then hired security guards to transport it, however with the excitement and shock, I spilled the beans in an email and then a phone call, cue equally shocked mother.

As it turns out, the book is out of print, and a 1978 first edition is worth quite a bit. Unfortunately since my mom has used and abused hers over the years, it’s not in perfect condition, but it is well loved. I relayed the story to some of our guests at thanksgiving and there were a few groans around the table, apparently because the book was so common in the late 70s, post Shaft, black yuppie social set more than a few copies have been given away or thrown out without a second thought- including possibly my grandmother’s copy (yet to be confirmed).

Now that I’m at home, I can’t think of a better book to use this week. First of all, it’s unlikely that I will get my hands on one in Sydney and secondly, it would have been a favorite for my parents when I was born and I think my dad would get a kick of out of it.

I did have a look at the book, and some of the recipes are a bit questionable, they drift from yummy southern food like 20 different recipes for sweet potato towards icky soul food like chitlins- you do not want to know what they are, into disgusting backwood roadkill delights such as squirrel and opossum. And they also go into some home remedies that I’m not even going to dip my toe into and that I can nearly guarantee my mom and her friends flipped straight past. Seriously. No chance. Although they also have recipes for homemade wine, tempting but doubtful!

So it won’t be random this week- I am not winding up with deer brains with chitlins on the side, but it will be a surprise for you and for my mom and anyone else who happens by for dinner. A slightly different take on the he runs model, but, this week hasn’t quite been an ordinary week.