Monday, June 1, 2009

On the Patio Slab

Now that it is June, we are finally having weather that sends us outside. Yesterday I walked six miles on the Military Ridge State Trail. This afternoon I spent an hour sitting on the slab that the condo builders decreed was sufficient as an outdoor space. No humidity-induced discomfort, few insects, a bit of breeze. A cloudy day provided little sunshine. Very good.

I watched the gophers and chipmunks scampering among the boulders of their in-ground condo that hold up the terrain between our condo buildings. A few gopher holes are near my patio, so we are providing underground housing for the new generation. Rabbits live in our yard, as do birds.

While I was enjoying the local wildlife, I was looking through one of my four editions of The Joy of Cooking. Today’s selection, a revision of the 1931 edition, was published in 1952. In 1952 people cooked with real food. The real food included a section about many kinds of sauces made with real ingredients, and a small selection of sauces made from canned ingredients. I decided to try an orange sauce on the chicken I planned to have tonight. This part of the chapter went on to present recipes for fruits with meats. I must admit that I haven’t spent my life trying apples stuffed with sauerkraut, baked cranberries made with fresh cranberries, fried bananas, or boiled kumquats.

Then I looked at salads. It began with a commentary about a scene in a medieval play, and a quote from Willa Cather’s Death Comes to the Archbishop, both about salad, but more about salad culture than about how to make salad. Author Rombauer lamented the acceptance of “ready-made salad dressing.” After a page and a half of commentary, she got to the business of making salad. Some of us remember commercial salad dressings even in 1952.

There is a lot more in The Joy of Cooking, and it has changed over the years. I still love the old cookbooks. Somehow the activity of small rodents and the fun of reading an old cookbook went together on the patio. Rachael Ray, eat your heart out.

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