Handwritten Recipes: A Bookseller’s Collection of Curious and Wonderful Recipes Forgotten Between the Pages by Micahel Popek (Pedigee Hardcover, $20)
Michael Popek works in his family’s used-book store in Oneonta, New York. In his previous book, “Forgotten Bookmarks,” he shared weird objects he had discovered while entertaining himself among the stacks of the store. These included valentines, ticket stubs, old photographs, and even a love note or two. In this collection, he serves up recipes saved in the pages of used books. These are more than mere recipes since they are nothing less than culinary time capsules from American kitchens.
According to Popek, more than 70,000 books and 3,000 cookbooks are currently in stock with thousands more that have passed through the store’s inventory. During the time he has worked there, he has recovered nearly 500 recipes, many of them handwritten. The more interesting ones he has posted on his blogs, Handwritten Recipes and Forgotten Bookmarks. His website is www.forgottenbookmarks.com.
This is the type of cookbook that is fun to read, like an intriguing novel. For example, one wonders about the man or woman who tucked a Sour Cream Coffee Cake recipe in the pages of Bret Easton Ellis’ “Less Than Zero,” or the story behind the Fudge Cake Recipe that found its way inside a copy of “Lost Lady” by Jude Deveraux.
Some of the recipes are perfectly clean and complete, others missing crucial elements such as cooking times or ingredients. Regardless, all are incredibly entertaining.
RED PEPPER QUICHE
Handwritten recipe found in copy of “It Came From Schenectady” by Barry B. Longyear
1 (9-inch) piecrust, partially baked (15 minutes) on quiche plate
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons oleo
2 red sweet peppers, diced
1 12 lb good sharp cheddar or Gruyere cheese
½ pint heavy cream or evaporated milk
½ cup milk
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
Sprinkling of parsley and thyme
Saute onion, set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oleo. Add peppers. Saute quickly. Fill crust with peppers, onions, cream, and cheese. Whip eggs and milk. Pour over pepper mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Test with knife – if it comes out clean, it’s done.
Serve with a lusty green salad, and you’ll have happy palates.