Yes, more cookbooks by mail (and all free from publishers). And this time, I have grouped them together because each of them focuses on a single food item made in a variety of ways or which can be an ingredient in many things. Each is a delightful book, though I am unlikely to use at least one of these (You can guess which one at the end.) And yes, I do love single topic books; and I have written about this general theme before. But these are different single topics. Paradoxically, that of course means they are multiple topics. But hey. This time it is lard, corn and ribs. Hmmm. I wonder what happens when you google that combination? Here's the first thing that comes up. If you try the same thing in epicurious, you get five recipes. And they all look good, especially the green mole. . .
Anyway, this is all about cookbooks, right? And yes, there is a wikipedia entry for cookbooks. Here it is. Wowzers. everything is in wikpedia, right. (No, there is no entry for bibliochef. So maybe not everything. Not yet anyway.)
So: let's start with lard. Lard, if you do not know it, is pig fat. And we all know I love pig fat if it comes in the form of bacon. But lard, of course, is not bacon. It is lard. (And yes, there is a wikipedia entry. And no, I have no idea why I am on and on about wikipedia today. Hmmmm.) So, the cookbook? 100% Natural LARD: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother's Secret Ingredient comes from the editors of Grit Magazine. What is Grit Magazine? I had no idea until I saw this book. Here's their site. Seems to be a magazine about rural living, and has (according to the back of my book) been publishing every other week (or maybe bimonthly) since 1882. And all the recipes in this cookbook (all 150 of them) come from the magazine.
I admit it. The idea of lard kind of grosses me out. But: I do know pie crusts are flakier made with lard. So, I read around in the book. Here's what I think:
First: there is a limited bit at the start of the book on lard.This was actually my favorite part of the book, learning that lard was the lubricant of chocie before the petroleum business took off. As it says, early on in the book, lard lubricated the machines that first brought fossil fuel to the surface. Who knew?
As a side note, this book indicates that the corn industry (see below) is part of what pushed lard out of our pantries. Turns out, the book claims, some of the health scare tactics were just that -- tactics. And highly exaggerated ones at that. So, several pages are devoted to the healthy aspects of lard.
And then, 15 recipes, ranging across all possible parts of the meal, including desserts.
The second of the single topic cookbooks focuses on ribs. Its title? You guessed it. America's Best Ribs by Ardie A Davis PhB (which I think refers to expertise in barbecue) and Chef Paul Kirk CWC, PhB, BSAS (which I assume all refer to expertises of some sort). Kirk has a barbecue school; see this site. And a blog. And can be seen on youtube. Wowzers. Ardie Davis, it turns out, has a wikipedia entry. Who knew? And even more, who knew that barbecue judges could be famous? (Ok, I have received rib-related books in the mail before so I actually did know this.) He actually founded something called Greasehouse UNiversity which awards the PhB. Who knew? (Check this site out for further info.) And yes, these guys are into kansas city style barbecue and ribs, whatever that means.
Finally: to corn. I remember, in my youth, going with my father to buy corn from stalls along roads I cannot remember. Summers meant corn (and fried tomatoes in his style). And corn. I can remember what it means to eat corn with dentures and how hard that was for the folks I knew. And butter dripping down chins. So: a corn cookbook seems just right (even though sometimes corn does not seem like corn any more and on occasion I find it indigestible).
But. somehow I have misplaced the corn book in the house, so that one we'll have to discuss later! SOmeting to look forward to, unless it is a big advertisement for the monoculture of . . . corn. I am hoping it is more like my memory of my father and corn. We'll have to see.
Now, my really favorite kind of single topic book is not actually a cookbook; I have seen many single topic cookbooks (from bacon to ribs to . . . .) but the monographs on spice or salt or. . . well, those are my real faves. And you?