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Cooks' Exchange: The perils of buying used cookbooks

Cooks' Exchange: The perils of buying used cookbooks

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Last year, while attending an outdoor celebration up north, I purchased five used cookbooks as part of a fundraiser. The following week, while paging through one of them, I noticed that a page was missing which prompted searching through the rest of the 300 pages discovering other pages had also been removed.

Wondering why anyone would consider doing something like that before donating their cookbooks for the event, I decided to bring it to the attention of those in charge, hoping they might mention it in the announcements and prevent it from happening again.

Then this fall, I attended a local fundraising festival and purchased another used cookbook only to discover later, that again, certain recipe pages were missing. Continuing to wonder why the person who donated the book couldn’t have jotted down the ingredients on index cards, I decided to avoid used book sections in the future. This is despite of the fact that I had fallen in love with the newly purchased old book, a 1994 edition of “The Madison County Cookbook,” a truly exceptional 500 page hardcover book featuring Winterset, Iowa, located in the heart of Madison County, Iowa. Compiled by members of St. Joseph’s Church, the book is a lovely “patchwork of history” with recipes, anecdotes, stories and traditions dedicated to the Rev. Frank Palmer in appreciation for his support where the simple values of faith, family, and friends have not been forgotten.

Included in the beginning is a very special thank you from The Cookbook Committee to Georgia Waller, who shared her family’s favorite recipe for sour cream raisin pie described as being her grandmother Wiedemeier’s sour cream raisin pie that had become a “holiday must” in the family.

Georgia Waller’s sour cream raisin pie

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 cup sour cream

1 cup sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ to 2 cups dark raisins (soak in water and check for stems)

Pie shell

Add vinegar to sour cream. Stir in sugar and beaten egg. Add spices and raisins. Put in a pie shell and bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour until it sets up. Waller lattices the top. To brown top, put under broiler for a few minutes.

Variation: Waller mentions that she’s been substituting Egg Beaters for the egg and using lite sour cream and admits that it tastes about the same, not quite as rich, but better for you.

Mary Grochala is listed in the book as being the sister of Rev. Palmer and many of her recipes leaned on being Italian favorites. Here is one that stirs my own interest because I happen to love braciole, though I spell it differently.

Brascioli-Italian Steak Rolls

1 ½ lbs. breakfast steak or minute steak

1 cup bread crumbs

¼ cup Romano grated cheese

2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped

1 slice bacon, chopped fine

1 egg

½ teaspoon sweet basil

1 teaspoon parsley, dried or fresh

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon garlic powder

Mix bread crumbs, cheese, chopped boiled eggs, and bacon. Add salt, pepper, basil, parsley and egg. Mix lightly. Place filling on each steak. Roll and tie loosely with string or secure with toothpicks. Brown in oil. Turn each steak until evenly browned. Cook in spaghetti sauce about 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Although eggnog season has somewhat ended, it’s still on my mind and I was happy to receive a response from Jan Jacobson-Johnson who shared an eggnog bread recipe she made during the holidays and enjoyed serving with a glaze topping at room temperature.

Eggnog bread

¾ cup sugar

½ cup butter

4 tablespoons light rum

2 eggs

1 cup eggnog

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cups cake flour

½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon mace

2 teaspoons baking powder

In mixer, beat sugar and butter on high speed until light. Add rum and egg, beating light again. Add eggnog and mix until blended. In another bowl, whisk together flours, salt, nutmeg, mace and baking powder. Add to eggnog mixture and mix on low, scraping bottom and sides, just until moistened. Bake in greased loaf pan in 350 degree oven 48-52 minutes, or until tests done in the center. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan. While still warm, ice the top of the loaf with the glaze. Cool completely.


1 cup sifted powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons eggnog

Whisk together until smooth.

Here is from a Martha Stewart collection for a sour-cream pound cake. Because my son, Mike, craves coconut flavors, try substituting coconut extract for the vanilla extract.

Sour cream pound cake

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for the pan

3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 ½ cups sugar

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch tube pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, then add vanilla; beat until well combined. With mixer on lowest speed, alternately add flour mixture and sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined. Spoon batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Tap pan on counter to let batter settle.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and cake is golden brown, 75 to 85 minutes. Let cool in pan 20 minutes. Run a metal spatula around the inner and outer edges of pan, then invert onto cooling rack and cool completely.

Serves 12

A reader recently asked for a simple bread recipe using maple syrup. While waiting for responses, here is one from the Wisconsin Maple Producers Council in Aniwa, claiming that “maple syrup is not just for pancakes anymore.”

Easy maple nut bread

½ cup sugar

1 egg

1 ¼ cups milk

3 cups prepared biscuit mix

1 cup chopped walnuts

½ cup maple syrup

Before making bread, chop walnuts and add to maple syrup. Let stand or soak overnight in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar, egg, milk, and biscuit mix. Beat at high speed for 30 seconds. Stir in nut mixture and pour into 2 well-greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool before slicing

Recent request: Another request has arrived for a Rennebohm chocolate pie described as being “a little salty” with rich, creamy, sweet and smooth chocolate topped with real whipped cream and a chocolate swirl on top. Does anyone out there have a recipe?

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at


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