Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cookbook #1: Joy of Cooking


Adapted from Cookbook #1: The Joy of Cooking (my edition is 1997, originally published 1931)

Recipe: Greek Salad

I thought I would begin the year with the old workhorse. A friend of mine remarked, "You can't start with that cookbook. Everything in it is canned or boxed." Lucky for me 210 was in the salads section.

I think the only thing that makes this Greek is the fact that it has olives, anchovies, and feta on it. Nonetheless, the lemon dressing was good and the salad was yummy in the midst of winter. I did leave the red onions off because, well, I don't like them.

Joy of Cooking is one of those books that gets passed down, generation after generation. It's one of those cookbooks with a history. So many of us have dog-eared pages, gravy spills, and marginalia with ways to cut fat or add flavor. It's one of those cookbooks that remind us all the cooking is not about adding ingredients together but about something much larger: from confession to communion, from resentment to denial, from community to celebration.

Another friend has directed me to an article on our workhorse, and oh how I love knowing all of this now: Irma, my fellow midwesterner, an "artist of life," one who opens with the "virtues of cocktails." How could I go wrong? Well, maybe if the ingredients called for condensed cream of mushroom soup, but I am happy to have opened the year with an old friend, who in the past has taught me how to make slump and grunt (terms for a rustic English steamed pudding), offers one of the best potato salads (secret ingredient: pickle juice), and has never failed me with quick breads (pumpkin bread clearly equals autumn). Irma feels like a quirky aunt, steeped in German-Midwestern fare. Maybe it's just that it feels as if she could be my quirky aunt, steeped in German-Midwestern heritage. So I am glad to have opened her book to begin the year.

The epigraph of the book is "Joy's soul lies in the doing" from Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. Indeed. Let the doing and the joy begin.


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Yield:

4-6 servings

Ingredients:
2 large heads of Boston, romaine, or iceberg (!) lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
8 cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
6 thin slices of red onions
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
8 Kalamata olives, pitted
3/4 cups celery, thinly sliced
4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 firm radishes, sliced
One two-ounce can anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry and halved lengthwise.
6 to 7 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Instructions:
1. Combine lettuce through anchovies in a salad bowl.

2. Whisk together the remaining ingredients to make dressing.

3.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.  Serve immediately.

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