The Readerís Digest is like an old friend that most of us grew up with and which still presents a most welcome style of reading for many. Off and on over the years they have also published cookbooks. Secrets of Better Cooking: A Treasury of Time-Tested Methods of Good Cooking (© 1973, The Readerís Digest Association, Inc.) is so well thought out itís usable for both novice cooks and those far more accomplished in the kitchen. There is a wealth of information with definitions, descriptions of ingredients and methods as well as the actual cooking directions. Some of the instructions are not written in typical recipe style, but more like a conversation between the author and the reader/cook. The following recipes are taken from the chapter titled ďBe Kind To Vegetables.Ē
Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Peel 6-8 sweet potatoes. Cut into quarters. Boil in salted water for about 15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain. Add a big lump of butter; a pinch each of ground cinnamon, ground cloves and crushed cardamom, and 2 tablespoons heavy cream, orange juice or brandy. Beat to a fluff. Serve. Makes 6-8 servings.
Fry four slices of bacon until crisp. Crumble into small pieces. Combine with four cups leftover or fresh-mashed potatoes and two beaten eggs. Sift one cup flour, two teaspoons baking powder and one teaspoon salt into the potato mixture. Blend well. Heat fat in a deep pan to 385 degrees Fahrenheit. The fat should be about two inches deep. Drop the potato mixture by tablespoons into the hot fat. Fry for 3-5 minutes or until brown. Excellent with roast beef. Makes about 8 servings.
One-half pound fresh mushrooms
Four tablespoons olive oil
Two tablespoons cider or wine vinegar
One-half teaspoon salt
One-eighth teaspoon pepper
Two green onions, minced
Chop the stems and caps of the mushrooms very fine. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix together and let stand for 1 hour before using. You can sprinkle them on salad greens instead of dressing; use as a dressing for cold chicken, lobster or shrimp; use as a filling for small sandwiches or place on unbuttered rounds of French bread or toast and serve as appetizers.
Chefís Glazed Carrots
One bunch of carrots, about a pound
One tablespoon salad oil
Two tablespoons butter
One-third cup boiling water
One-half teaspoon salt
One-half teaspoon sugar
Cut carrots slantwise into long ovals. Heat the oil and butter in a heavy frying pan with a good cover. Add carrots and stir-fry over high heat for 2 minutes, until the carrots are shiny and have a deep, rich color. Stir constantly. Add boiling water, salt and sugar. Stir and cover tightly. Keep over low heat for 7-10 minutes. By that time most of the water should be evaporated and the carrots will be beautifully glazed. If too much liquid remains, simply remove the cover and cook over high heat, stirring gently. In a short time you will have only buttery carrots left. Makes 6-8 servings.
Readerís Digest has done a smashing job of providing a comprehensive book which Iím sure was a go-to source in its day. It still will be when I need detailed information on a spice or an herb or how to fix turnips in a traditional manner.
And...thatís all she wrote.
Sandy Olson can be reached via email at email@example.com