Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekend Cooking-Clara's Kitchen

I went to the library today after my 75-minute yoga class.  I only went in to browse the new cookbook section and I found 3 good ones to bring home.  It has been nice here, which makes me hopeful for Spring, but snow is on it's way tonight so I thought a few new cookbooks would help my Winter depression. 

Clara's Cookbook (2009)  is a small book with big ideas.  Clara shares her family's  Great Depression stories with recipes scattered throughout.   I've had a great time reading her thoughts and I've already concocted one of her easy recipes.  

Here's what I made:

Bay Leaf Tea
Here's an old Sicilian remedy right from the garden that takes care of sore throats, stomachaches, and the flu...

You will need

Hot Water
2 dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp sugar

Boil the water in a pan [I used my kettle]with the bay leaves.  After it boils, remove from heat and pour it in a mug, leaves and all.  Add the sugar and drink it slowly. [130]
My tea cup is next to me-well, tea cup is a bit of an exaggeration.  It is a heavy Harry Potter coffee mug but all the same the tea is delicious.  Just what my ticklish throat needed and it made lovely, earthy smell in the kitchen as it was steaming. 

Spread throughout the book are little sidebar quotes from Clara entitled "Take it from me" and I have to share a few of these wisdoms:

*If you run out of oil, just add a little water to your pan.  It will keep food from sticking-and it's free. [78]

*If you're adding meat to your sauce, don't add olive oil or basil.  There will be enough oil from the meat, and you shouldn't eat basil with meat.  Use a stalk of fresh rosemary instead. [95]

and I love this piece of advice from a bread recipe:

From "Ma's Sunday Bread":  With your hands, knead the ingredients together, adding more water as you go to make the mass more doughy.  In all, you'll be adding about 31/2 cups of warm water.  This should take about 20 minutes of continuous kneading.  (Pretend you're mad at someone.  This will help the time go faster.) [46-47]

I love kneading bread and this quote made me laugh.

This marvelous little book is broken up into six chapters:  Goods from the Garden and "found" foods, Bread, the Magic Filler, It's a Hot Meal-Stop Complaining,  Pasta...Again, A Chicken in Every Other Pot and Sweet Rewards.  There are many recipes without meat (good for my family) but the recipe for roast chicken looks especially appealing so I know I'm going to take notes for the next time we have a local chicken in our hands. 

In the opening, Clara talks about how this book and her You Tube videos came to be thanks to her grandson, Christopher Cannucciari.  Of course, I had to check-out the videos and I found she has quite a few.  I share with you her video for couscous:

My tea is done.  I'm going to make her pasta with beans for dinner.  I hope you're cooking up delicious things today .  Has everyone else already heard about dear Clara?   This post is linked to Beth Fish Read's Weekend Cooking.  She shares how to make Lora Brody's Focaccia with Greens.  Happy Cooking!


Chinoiseries said...

This book sounds like an inspiring read. Never thought that bay leaf could be made into tea? Hmm, will give this a try soon! Thanks for the recipe.

Beth F said...

I *have* heard of her before and I saw one of her videos -- not this couscous one but a different one. I think she is really interesting and I really should track down her book and look for more videos.

What a great post.

Col (Col Reads) said...

This is a new one to me, but I'm going to take a look for it. My dad always talks about his mom making the best dinners -- with scarce ingredients -- during the depression. Thanks for sharing!

serendipity_viv said...

What a marvellous find. I love these books that show the recipes from long ago.

JoAnn said...

This looks like a great book! I've been using the library for 'testing' new cookbooks quite a bit lately, too.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I'm sorry you are expecting snow again...we've had temps in the 70's and 80's for the last week or so and I know I'll have a very difficult time with the next cold snap I'm sure we will have :(
I'd like to look at this cookbook many times I find that simple is better, don't you?