I’d like for you to meet one of my favorite cookbooks. (And I have a lot of cookbooks.) Dining with Pioneers, affectionately and incorrectly known in my family as the Pioneer Cookbook. This is one of the only cookbooks that my mother actually uses (she has a whole shelf of cookbooks, and uses three cookbooks only).
This is my go-to cookbook for at least three scenarios:
1. If I have a certain selection of ingredients on hand for a certain recipe, and I need to locate a recipe for those ingredients. For example, there are eight recipes for banana pudding. You can pick the one that fits your ingredients, or you can mix them up, or do whatever! And you’ll always (assuming that you use common sense) end up with a very nice banana pudding.
2. I need chocolate mousse. It’s on page 385, circled and dog-eared and beloved. And it serves 12. And Julian always insists that we make a full batch, even if there will only be four people eating it. (We had to take some extra over to the Lipscomb faculty to get rid of it once.) I’ll post the recipe soon, for any poor unfortunates not in possession of this treasure.
3. I have now forgotten #3. (I should have written my outline ahead of time.)
The nice thing about this cookbook is that it’s one of those fine Southern things to which everyone submitted recipes. Since people don’t want to be embarrassed, they (usually) don’t submit bad recipes. And this makes for a good cookbook. They’re all usable ingredients –and there aren’t thirty ingredients per recipe. Always a plus.
The only drawback to this cookbook is that it has a really pitiful index. One day, I’ll write a new one. Once I gain some spare time. In the meantime, just crease your pages for your favorite recipes.
If you’re fortunate enough to own this cookbook (yes, I’m speaking to you, Tiffany and Gabby), here’s a few of my favorites:
- Quiche Lorraine, p. 188, made with cheddar cheese and bacon. You’ll want to change the recipe to use two shallow pie crusts. And you’ll probably want to double it. The leftovers are amazing for breakfast.
- Easy Beef Stroganoff, p. 140. It’s worth cutting up the round steak by hand.
- Zucchini Bread, 1st recipe on page 233 (there are 10 zucchini bread variations in this book).
- Baklava, p. 376. My brother Julian likes to make this, and it’s fantastic.
The best place to find it — if you can — is a library book sale or an estate sale or auction. If all else fails, you can order a new copy here (and the Telephone Pioneers have never heard of me, and I’ve never ordered from them, but I think they’re cheaper than you can find it used online).