Bruce Von Stiers
I have been reviewing cookbooks off and on for quite a while. Most have a specific theme in mind. Some are for quick meals, while others dealt with natural ingredients. One cookbook that I recently had the opportunity to looks at is all about recipes with natural foods. The cookbook was written by Debra Stark and published by VanderWyk & Burnham. The title of this cookbook is If Kallimos Had a Chef.
The idea for this cookbook came from a book by William Thomas called Learning From Hannah: Secrets for a Life Worth Living. This book features a young girl named Hannah and the kind world that surrounds her. Debra has taken the theme of this book and incorporated it into her cookbook so that the recipes reflect a simple life where natural foods are the only nourishment that you would need. There are even excerpts from the Hannah book that are used as headers for each section of the cookbook.
There are twelve sections with recipes in them. There is also a section on measurements and another that introduces you to the methods and thoughts of how to cook naturally. This section has a chart on how long to cook grain and a couple of paragraphs on how to grease a pan. At the end of the book there is a message from Debra, tying it all up and a section for acknowledging all of the people who have helped her on this project or were her inspiration
The recipe sections in the book are Breakfasts, Appetizers, Breads, Soups, Salads and Bean and Grain Salads. There is also Pasta and Cheese Main Dishes, Bean and Grain Main Dishes, Poultry Main Dishes and Seafood Main Dishes. To finish it off is a section on Desserts and a Miscellaneous section.
In the Breakfast section I found a real interesting recipe. It is called Mexican Chile Waffles. The ingredients for this recipe include a pound of cheddar cheese, cornmeal, chili powder, tomatoes and eggs. Add these ingredients to milk, pastry flour, baking powder and some salsa and bake it in your waffle iron. Add some salsa on top after retrieving a waffle from the iron and chow down. This section also had recipes for things like Pumpkin Corncakes and Apple Toast.
Moving on to the Appetizers section finds recipes like Nori Rolls and Smoked Salmon Mousse. Salmon is kind of expensive to be using as the main ingredient for an appetizer, so these might need to very special guests that you serve these to. The Nori Rolls use Black Tai rice, pickled sushi ginger and a little bit of tahini. These ingredients are found at specialty stores.
Which brings up a point my wife made. I had her take a quick look at this book and give me her opinion. She is the resident expert on recipes and a wonderful cook to boot. Ruth told me that most of the recipes seemed good but some of them had ingredients that would have to be purchased at a specialty or health food store as you wouldn’t be able to pick them up at your local supermarket. I guess that this follows the theme of the book to have natural recipes for natural eating.
If you like both sunflowers and muffins, the Breads section has a recipe called Sunflower Spice Apple Muffins. The Soups section has a recipe for Corn Chowder that is similar to one that we use in our house. There are also recipes for Gazpacho and Lentil Soup in this section.
If you like English Cucumber, ripe tomatoes and bell peppers, then an Israeli Salad is easy to whip up and quite delicious. You will find the recipe in the Salads section along with others like Peppery Slaw and Tofu Antipasto Salad. I know, tofu. Yuck. But some people really like it.
It seems that a lot of cookbooks have a Tamale Pie recipe. There is one here too. This one gives you a choice of beans to use, has onions and a green pepper along with some garlic and olives. The crust uses corn grits and Pecorino Romano cheese.
For those of you who need to keep the vampires at bay, the Poultry Main Dishes section has a recipe called Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic. This recipe calls for 5 chicken thighs, 5 chicken breast halves and ,yes, 40 cloves of garlic. The introduction to the recipe talks of the aroma garlic spreading throughout the house. Isn’t that just a little too much garlic?
The best part of the book is, of course, Desserts. Here you will find recipes like Pecan Crust Cheesecake with Fresh Peaches. There is also Plum and Blueberry Crisp and something called Apple Brown Betty. This is basically an apple crumb bar.
The recipes in this book are for those people who want more natural ingredients for healthier eating. The recipes aren’t outlandish or too complicated. Some of them do require ingredients not found at the neighborhood grocery store, but might be well worth the extra effort to obtain.
For more information about this cookbook, visit the VanderWyk & Burnham web site at www.vandb.com or call them at 1-800-789-7916.
© 2002 Bruce E. Von Stiers