Cleora's Kitchen: The Memoir of a Cook & Eight Decades of Great American Food
When Barbara Haber, curator of Radcliffe College's 4000-volume cookbook library, was asked by The Boston Globe to name her favorite book in that famous collection, she picked Cleora's Kitchens by Cleora Butler. Why? "Because, " Ms. Haber said, "it expresses, through food, joy . . . you have the connection of food being celebratory in truly meaningful ways. Just wonderful stuff."
Starting with a freedman's wagon ride out of Texas, Cleora Butler takes us from the beaten biscuits of her childhood, baked in a wood-burning stove, to fricasseed quail she later prepared as a caterer. Rich with stories and turn-of-the-century recipes impossible to find -- possum grape wine, mother's hickory nut cake, hot water cornbread, and burnt sugar ice cream -- Cleora's Kitchens also provides a glimpse of changing twentieth-century tastes. More than 400 recipes are arranged by the decades in which she first cooked and served them, from grandpa's sausage in the early days to the first avocado anyone in Oklahoma had ever seen, to duckling pati and pine nut pilaf. Through stories, menus, and recipes, Cleora recreates the flavor of her own remarkable history -- and ours.
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