Thursday, September 17, 2009

Finding Inspiration from Old Cookbooks

I think old cookbooks are fascinating to look at, but I have a confession – I don’t cook much! Most of the things I make are simple and straight-forward: baked chicken, turkey burgers-- mostly things that don’t require a cookbook. I hardly ever cook something that needs a recipe.

My fictional characters seem to do the same, mostly eating simpler meals or enjoying everyday favorites.

In my middle-grade mystery, Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery, besides sleuthing, friends Sam and Lita seem to eat a lot, as kids often do. Their favorite? Ice cream. But given the book’s warm weather setting and the fact that this is their last few days off before heading back to school, ice cream seems like the perfect snack.

This cookbook, The Southern Heritage Celebrations Cookbook (1983), proved to be an inspiration instead for my "miniature" baking - making foods with polymer clay. Less baking time, no calories, no clean-up! haa! You can see some miniature foods I've made at my website miniatures gallery (click swaps.)

The cookbook cover features the Fourth of July Stars and Stripes Menu. Here’s one of the recipes:

Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup commercial sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 (6 oz.) package semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped pecans

Cream butter; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla, beating well. Combine flour, soda and salt; add to creamed mixture, blend well. Stir in chocolate morsels and pecans.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheet; remove to wire racks, and let cool completely. Yield: about 2½ dozen.

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