…Or if your upper-body strength is more modest, carpe drumstick. The first round of Peter Pauper Press's vintage e-cookbook series is up, right in time for that bastion of culinary classics, Thanksgiving. To help you plan your T-day meal, we're offering Kindle versions of a few titles for free in the next week. Click the cover images to download them from Amazon.com!
This weekend (November 17-18) and from the day before Thanksgiving to Black Friday (November 21-23), we're giving away:
*The ABC of Barbecue will be free Nov. 17-18 and 21 only.
Several of these well-seasoned volumes offer prime Thanksgiving meal inspiration, with recipes that have stood the test of time. If you're still searching for that perfect side dish or ideal complement to the main avian event, allow me to serve a few other Thanksgiving recommendations, with mostly-topical, hopefully helpful comments:
Try your hand at classic dishes from Thanksgiving's birthplace! Perhaps it's because I've a soft spot for the region, being a Boston (well, Newton, anyway) girl by naissance, but this is one of my favorites. And I really do recommend listening to "Cape Cod Girls" as you cook. It's a New England shanty about the world's most resourceful cod aficionados. Codfish-ionados?
Conjure a mist-shrouded morning on Maine’s rocky coast as you prepare these New England classics! Hum “Cape Cod Girls” or “Haul Away, Joe!” as you break the crust on savory Sea Song Pies. Bake Cinnamon Apples with your hand-picked orchard haul. Marry the fruits of land and sea with Corn Oysters. Buttery Harvard Beets should prove edifying. Mop up rich brown gravy with classic Popovers. Omitting Pumpkin Pie would be positively negligent, and compiler Edna Beilenson comes through with a stellar rendition. From blazing fall foliage to briny green deep, and colleges to cornfields, this little primer offers a quintessential taste of New England.
This fun compendium dates to 1957, at which time I gather cooking with spices was something of a novelty. What better season for a book that revels in seasonings than autumn, heyday of the pumpkin spice latte and its ilk? I recommend this one because it compiles recipes with (per my gustatory sensibilities) a particularly autumnal bent well-suited to Thanksgiving fare.
A pinch here, a dash there, a judicious sprinkling all around—spice is, well, the spice of life. (The jury’s still out on what the herb of life is.) Add a little joie de vivre to your culinary life with this well-seasoned 1950s cooking compendium. Give everyone’s favorite magenta vegetable a kick with Spiced Beets. Add zing to your dough with Herb Dumplings, and pizzazz to your bread (not to mention your breath) with Julio’s Onion Bread. Douse your desserts in a cinnamon-and-nutmeg river of Hard Sauce. Piquant spice-themed verses and accompanying illustrations pepper pages with humor and verve.
While this one contains several commendable suggestions for main-feast inclusion, I think its true worth bears out in the post-Thanksgiving days, when one's Tupperware runneth over with cranberry sauce and there's just. So. Much. Turkey. Contained here are several useful suggestions for repurposing your leftovers, casserole-style, thereby hopefully prolonging your enjoyment of them and putting off your turkey saturation point. (Don't tell me you've never stared down a refrigerated container of stuffing with rising dread.)
Whipping up a casserole is easy as 1-2-3, per this vintage A to Z compendium. Satisfy your palate on the quick with Eggs and Scallops, Ham and Sweet Potatoes, or Chicken-Spaghetti. Pop a London Fish Soufflé into the oven. Give dinner-remnants renewed pizazz with a “Family Leftovers” casserole, and end a busy day on a delicious note with a Quickie Jumble Casserole or a Week-Day Casserole. Travel back in time to a 1950s kitchen and cook with style and ease, aided by this humorously decorated and witty cookbook.
This book is a trip. (Back in time at least, and perhaps in additional senses of the word if you don't err on the side of dilution for some recipes.) If the grown-up diners at your Thanksgiving table like a pre-meal apéritif, or perhaps something a bit more substantial, and especially if old-school imbibers number among your guests, I recommend it highly. Herein lie classics, including a complement of warmly autumnal preparations. I like the sound of the apple brandy–based Jack Rose, Valencia, and Pink Lady recipes. I also find the ABC series's hallmark little accompanying verses and illustrations particularly entertaining in this volume. The humor takes a slightly dark turn from time to time, but if that doesn't bother you, you'll get a kick out of Edna Beilenson's and Ruth McCrea's colorful rhyming commentary.
I might advise low-tolerance drinkers to adjust the cocktail proportions in favor of non-alcoholic ingredients. But stoic author Edna dismisses those espousing such views as "amateurs and maiden aunts," so what do I know :)?
Conclude your day (and possibly your ability to see straight) gloriously with a cocktail from the heyday of the three-martini lunch. Sip a Gin and It in your smoking jacket, engage in philosophical discussion over Absinthe Frappés, or bask in the rosy glow bestowed by a Brandy Alexander. Wry verses and illustrations illuminate this A to Z compendium of 1950s full-strength cocktails (with suggested dilutions for “amateurs and maiden aunts”). Featuring two parts time-tested mixology, one part refined taste, and a judicious splash of wit, this book will infuse your libations with high retro style.
That's it for now! If you try recipes from any of these titles, whether on Thanksgiving Thursday or some random Tuesday, we'd love to hear from you. To the chefs among you: Good luck roasting, chopping, baking, mashing, basting, and stuffing. May you conquer each cooking stage with aplomb! To everyone, regardless of culinary bent: have a really splendid holiday.