Peter Pauper Press Cookbooks

Simple New England Cookery cover Peter Pauper PressThis morning I read this piece about writers and their book collecting habits, content in the knowledge that aside from a few dozen dictionaries I don’t really collect books.

Today is Thanksgiving and as I’ve been “helping” in the kitchen, I noticed my wife’s collection of Peter Pauper Press cookbooks, which appeared from the 1950s through the 1980s. Unlike dictionaries, these are small volumes, 5 x 7 and less than 80 pages each. And they are full of art, doggerel, and great recipes. Simple New England Cookery, for example, has this turkey recipe:

Clean and dress turkey. Rub insides with salt and pepper. Stuff neck cavity. Fasten with metal pins. Fill body cavity loosely with stuffing. Rub with butter or make a paste of ½ cup butter , ¾ cup flour; spread over all parts of turkey.

You know the rest: roast uncovered at 300-325 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes per pound. Turn the turkey midway. It’s done when “the meat pulls away from the leg bone.”

PeterPauperPress_Cooking-to-KillCheck out Simple American Cookery for a pumpkin pie recipe (and illustrations featuring regional quilt patterns). For doggerel, check out Simple Continental Cookery, which introduced international cuisines to American home cooks. This volume (as with the others) begins with poetry:

It’s a continental weakness,
To dote on fancy food,
So we offer you some recipes,
That are ravishingly good.

Here’s a bibliography of Peter Pauper Press cookbooks. The only little book that worries me is Cooking to Kill! The Poison Cookbook, which is billed as “The cookbook to end all cooks.” Ulp.

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels will be released by Oxford University Press in March of 2020.
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One Response to Peter Pauper Press Cookbooks

  1. Maureen Battistella says:

    Ed, you kill me!

    The link to the book collecting habits of several well known writers is interesting, but there’s lots out there on this that I like much better. For example, Overbooked in Arizona is about a book seller hunting for books – the insane, maniac compulsions that propel book sellers – and book collectors. It’s about being anywhere and knowing with absolute certainty that there’s a treasure of firsts just outside your ken, a bit out of reach, just waiting for you to discover. For Gottlieb and his like, the casual perusal of garage sales, estate sales, thrift shops or bin boxes does not exist. It’s a frantic, pressured, insistent dive into an alternate reality where the only thing that matters is the object of desire. It’s an exquiste treatise on collecting, written as fiction, but to any collector of anything, more true than any non-fiction you’ll read.

    Here’s an interview with Sam Gottlieb on how he came to write Overbooked in Arizona.

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