Monday, December 21, 2009

Comfort and Joy

In our place, you are never more than ten feet away from a cookbook.  It helps that our place is only 1200 square feet, but you get my drift.  Grant Achatz, Thomas Keller, Julia Child, Lidia Bastianich are all within arms reach to dispense their culinary secrets.  Yet, whose cookbook do I grab for first when cooking something new, a widowed homemaker from Saint Louis.  To top that, she self published her first edition.  Well, now there is a ninth edition and some 18 million copies of it have graced kitchens around the globe.  I am referring to Irma Rombauer and "The Joy of Cooking".

Irma published the first edition in 1931 as a way to support her family.  I'm sure she had no inkling that the book would still be relevant over 75 years later.  Its friendly tone and encyclopedic coverage of the culinary world, "Braised bear anyone?", have made it indispensable to the kitchen novice and master alike.

So when E requested mac and cheese for dinner, I knew exactly where to turn.  "The Joy" had to have a recipe.  It most certainly did.  It was the classic recipe with a bit of a twist.  Make a bechamel sauce, make some pasta, melt some cheese in the bechamel, etc.  The twist came in assembling the dish for baking.  Put half the pasta and cheese sauce mixture in your baking dish.  Put some shredded cheese over that layer.  The extra cheese is then topped with the other half of the cheesy pasta goodness.  Cover with browned bread crumbs and bake.  Well, that extra step added different texture and more concentrated cheese flavor to the dish that I really liked.

I purposely only included enough of the recipe to tease you all into breaking open your own copy of "The Joy of Cooking" or to seek it out.  I'm sure you know someone who has a copy.  The book, or maybe it should be referred to as "The Book" has  added a great deal of comfort and joy to my life.  My first paperback edition literally fell apart from years of use, each stained page telling a tale.  Certainly try out the mac and cheese recipe, it will bring you much comfort and will be a joy to make and eat.


Fresh Local and Best said...

The Joy of Cooking is a cookbook staple in many kitchens across America. This is one that I need to add to my collection. Thanks for sharing!

Tasty Trix said...

My "Joy of Cooking" is right next to "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and "The New York Cookbook!"

Fresh Local and Best said...

Just popping in to wish you a Merry Christmas!