By Anna Dantoni –
The first thing I really like about the Gooseberry Patch Keepsake Cookbook is that it’s organized in a sturdy loose leaf binder that stands upright on the counter so that the home cook can use it conveniently. Better yet, it has index tabs (in color) that take you right to categories such as Fast Family Supper, Savory Sides, Company’s Coming, Bountiful Breads, and many others. Pick your mood or immediate culinary situation and go directly to the place where you’ll find inspiration and recipes – 200 of them submitted to the book from ordinary home cooks (the recipes are signed) who have some outstanding American favorites in their heirloom recipes boxes. At the end of the book are 50 blank pages so you can add your personal favorites to this compilation.
The recipes in this book aren’t fancy, they are the kind you discover when the local Junior League or a friends-of-the-library group or a women’s church club decides to put together a cookbook. Consequently, you’ll find standards such as chicken pot pie, red velvet cake, crab cakes, meat loaf, orange-maple glazed carrots and, yes, of course, classic mac and cheese.
But there are a few regional surprises such as Southwestern layered salad, roasted corn with rosemary butter, chicken and sausage etouffee, or lime and ginger grilled salmon. With each recipe comes tips on what to serve with it. The authors also tell you if the recipe is easy to make, a crowd-pleaser, suitable to take to a potluck dinner, even if it’s kid friendly. There are color photos of most of the recipes. Additionally, there is a section of the book that offers recipes that make welcome gifts from the kitchen – dips, sauces, fancy butters, cookies and candies that can be packaged creatively (the cooks tell you how) for original and delicious holiday presents.
This Gooseberry Patch Keepsake Cookbook would probably please experienced home cooks (who aren’t looking for the gourmet experience) but I think it’s an especially useful recipe book to present to someone just beginning an independent life as a home cook, whether that person is single or about to cook for more than one. The collection of easy American recipes, most of them budged conscious, could be a confidence-builder and might truly end up being a reliable book that someone keeps for decades to come, adding recipes and filling in the blank pages as that person creates a personal history in the kitchen.
Get started with Jammin’ Jambalaya, a simplified slow-cooker Cajun recipe from Valarie Dennard of Palatka, Florida.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced
28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound frozen cooked shrimp, thawed and tails removed
Place chicken and next 6 ingredients in a 5-quart sow cooker. Stir in seasoning; mix well. Cover and cook on high setting one hour. Reduce heat to low and cook 6 hours. Add shrimp during final 30 minutes of cooking.
Serve over cooked rice. Makes 11 cups.
(Gooseberry Patch Keepsake Cookbook, Jo Ann Martin and Vickie Hutchins. Oxmoor House, publisher. $27.95).