Now that the holidays are nearly over, I pause to reflect on many of the treats and meals I've fixed. I love to cook and I love to experiment in the kitchen. I figure most of the recipes I use were, at some point, experiments that worked out pretty well. But there are just some recipes that you don't mess with. I prefer to call them the "Champion Recipes", provided by top-notch cooks in the area.
I have a fetish for cookbooks, especially community books. I love thumbing through local cookbooks, even if they're not from my community. I've come to recognize the wonderful cooks in all the cookbooks if I didn't know beforehand. In my own community, however, I know which recipes to trust to the utmost.
You can tell which cookbooks are my favorite simply by their tattered and torn covers. There are two Edison cookbooks that are fondly referred to as the "green book" and the "orange book" by those who own them. We know of which book we're talking about. I've long lost the green and orange covers of these two books, but I know exactly which is which. I love one of the recipes in the green book submitted by Lillie Anderson. It's not so much the recipe as how it's written. It's how to make chicken dressing. It reads, "Roast one fat hen until tender." Then it goes on to tell how to make the dressing from the broth just secured from said fat hen. The dressing is marvelous!
Corky Golding has a cookie recipe in one of the books that says to use a 15-cent Butterfinger candy bar. It's a bit challenging today knowing what size of Butterfinger candy bar that is, thus the experimenting. Same with a number 303 can of beans, vegetables, etc. But it's all good.
I'm sure each of you have your favorite "cooks" who have submitted recipes in your local cookbooks. Here are a few of mine that are definitely "no-fail" cooks: Corky Golding, Mable Keller, Margaret Gieck, Marge Anderson, Shirley Eichman, Shirley Eichman (yes, there are two of them), Pearlie Geist, Juanita Rasner, Etta Jenkins, Ellen Tanner, Corinna Sullivan, Irene Keller, Peggy Bennett, Penny Book, Janell Reid, Patsy Tompkins, Jody Gieck...well, heck, that's practically all of the green and orange books.
Mike Kenney submitted a champion Peanut Brittle recipe (along with Vada Harmon, Mary Golding, and Marge Anderson) that I use every year for my holiday brittle. Jake eats the brittle out of the container and I usually have to make about six batches.
In addition to the community cookbooks, I also own Margaret Gieck's book, two by Patsy Tompkins, a Falcon Fire Department book that's almost seen its better days, a Tri-County Fire Department book that's super, a wonderful Simla cookbook (Lorene Florey, Alberta McKim Moreland, Linda Maranville, Mary Ann McKim, May Ann Allen...just to name a few of the wonderful cooks).
Well, all this talk about cooking is about to make me hungry. I might have to break out one of the books and create something new and different for dinner tonight. How about a recipe from "Tried & True", recipes from Colorado's Cattle Country, which includes submissions from the Cage Ranch at Wild Horse, my good friend Jerilyn Vick from Boyero, Janell Reid, Jean Reid...the list goes on. I figure I can't go wrong if the recipes are used to feed hungry cowboys during big spring brandings!
I will share the peanut brittle recipe with you, just because it's still the holiday season and I'm in a sharing mood: 1 c. sugar, 1/2 c. white corn syrup, 1/2 c. water, 1 c. raw peanuts, 1 tsp. oleo, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. soda. Cook sugar, water, and syrup to soft ball stage. Add peanuts and continue cooking until syrup is light brown in color and gives a hard crack test. Remove from fire and add vanilla, butter, and soda. Mix well. Pour onto buttered platter. When cool and hard, break into pieces.