Secrets of good cooking from the Writing Studio and Bait Shop

Posted on December 14, 2010


Smashing Squashes

I stopped at King’s for apples and admired the squash.  Laura pounced.  Would you like some of that nice Hubbard squash?  she asked. 

Well, no.  I love squash, but I have a hard time whacking a great big one like that in two so I can cook it.  Laura’s eyes lit up.  Betsy has a technique, she assured me.  She lifts it up and smashes it down on the floor.  It breaks up into big chunks.  

OK, now my eyes were lighting up.  Permission to play with my food!  I purchased a nice big Hubbard.  Laura helped me load it into the car, although she declined to ride along with me to carry it up the front steps.   She also confided that there is a contest to see who can sell the most Hubbards.  She’s winning.  I am not surprised.

Pleased with my newfound squash wisdom, I wanted to share.  On Sunday I went to Chris and Sonny’s for breakfast and told Chris I had a great tip from Betsy King for getting squash ready to cook.  Throw it on the floor said Chris matter-of-factly.  I was crestfallen.  Does everyone else know about this?  Where was I when the memo went out?

OK, so now you want to see the smashed squash, right?  The things I do for you.  It crossed my mind to wonder if Betsy and Laura and Chris were all teasing me.  I contemplated my large, handsome Hubbard squash.  I thought what a mess it could make if I splattered it all over the kitchen.  I put it in a nice clean trash bag and took it out on the deck.  Lifting the bag high in the air, I brought it down on the snowy deck.  The squash cracked open in a very satisfactory manner. 

I recommend this method. It is a tremendous stress reliever. I’m pretty sure Betsy has more Hubbard squash, too, up at King Orchards. She also has apples and jam and cherry concentrate, should you need to ship excellent treats to friends and family for the holidays.

Cookbooks full of stories

So there I was at Chris and Sonny’s for breakfast, a tad late on account of having to put on so many layers before venturing out.  Chris gave me one of her experimental potato pancakes anyway.  (No picture.  I ate it right up.  It was very good, and I’m campaigning to add it to the regular breakfast menu.) 

I don’t know if she found that particular recipe in it, but Chris had this cookbook out.  It must weigh 20 pounds.  She bought it at a garage sale a long time ago. 

Chris collects cookbooks and has shelves of them, but the Mary Margaret McBride Encyclopedia of Cooking is her go-to reference and guide.  It covers practically everything about the known culinary world, circa 1959–which makes it a bible of comfort food for Boomers.  Chris bought her copy at a garage sale when she was a young mom.  It had been around the block a time or two then, and its pasteboard covers had been replaced with wooden ones made by Cub Scout Howard Cousineau for his mom.  It says so inside the cover. 

Kathleen and Chris rummaged through it looking for childhood favorites and marveled at the cocktails of the Fifties.  Kathleen said her mother’s favorite recipes came from the Good Housekeeping Cookbook.  She consulted it so often that she had to patch it together with duct tape.  I took pictures and savored my potato pancake.  I trust a cookbook with ratty covers and a binding reinforced with duct tape.

Special Notes:  Mary Margaret McBride was a national radio talk show host from 1934-1954, pretty much the Oprah of her day.  After she retired she continued to broadcast locally from her home in the Catskills, near Kingston, New York.  As it happened, we lived in the Kingston area for a time too.  I’ll bet my mother listened to Mary Margaret on the radio. 

I thought you’d like to know what the Encyclopedia of Cooking contains: ABC’s for Cooks – Appetizers and Snacks for Parties and Meals – Bean Bakes for Parties and Meals – Beverage Book – Breads, Biscuits and Rolls Cookbook – Buffet Meals – Cake and Torte Book – Candy Book – Carving Guide – Casserole Cookery – Cheese Cookbook – Chinese Cookbook – Cookie Book – Dessert Book – Dessert Sauce Book – Egg Cookery – Electric Blender Cookery – Fish and Shellfish Cookery – Freezing Guide and Frozen Food Cookery – Frostings and Fillings Book – Frozen Dessert Book – Fruit and Fruit Dessert Cookbook – Game Cookbook – Hamburger Cookbook – High Altitude Cookery – Home Bartender’s Guide – Infant and Child Feeding – Jiffy Cooking – Leftover Cookbook – Lunch Boxes – Macaroni, Spaghetti and Noodle Cookbook – Meal Planning and Nutrition – Meals for Two Cookbook – Meat Cookbook – Older Folks’ Food Guide – Outdoor Cookery – Pastry and Pie Cookbook – Pickling, Preserving and Canning Book – Potato and Sweet Potato Cookbook – Poultry Cookbook – Pressure Cookery – Quantity Cooking – Refrigerator Dessert Book – Rice and Other Cereal Cookery – Salad Book – Salad Dressings – Sandwich Book – Sauce and Gravy Cookbook – Souffle Manual – Soups and Chowders – Special Diet Book – Stuffings and Dumplings – Table Setting and Decorating Manual – Vegetable Cookery – Weight Control through Proper Diet – Wine Cookery for the Gourmet – Wines, How to Buy, Store and Serve – Young People’s Cookbook – Dictionary of Culinary Terms – Food Saver’s Guide – Herb and Spice Cookery – Kitchen Utensils and Equipment – All-in-One Oven Meals – Rotisserie Cookery – Chafing Dish Cookery – Spots and Stains – General Index – The World’s Best Recipes of All Nations for American Families – American Regional Cooking.  Not one single word about microwaves or food processors.  🙂

I swear, if you can’t find something on that list you want to read up on, you’d better check your pulse.