18 April 2009

A Kitchen Manual

Every year Saveur does and issue called "The Saveur 100", which lists 100 things the editors like. It is my favorite issue they publish each year.

In 2008, Number 42 on their list was Sheila Hibben. Hibben spent 30 years writing "Marketing and Menus" for The New Yorker. Her article entitled, "Eating American" eschewed "instant" food.

Her cookbook, A Kitchen Manual, is unique in cookbook writing as it offers few recipes, but a wealth of cooking information. In her foreword, Hibben states:

"This is not a cook book, no volume of facts and recipes conscious of calories. It will of course be called a cook book by the undiscriminating, and letters will come to its publishers complaining that it has no index, gives no clue as to how many raisins go into a Lady Baltimore cake and is dark with prejudices deep and personal."

Wow, if only more cook books were "deep and personal." To give you an idea of Hibben's style in this cook book, NOT, here is her "recipe" for cooking quail.


Whatever differences of opinion may be held in regard to the length of time other game should be hung, all connoisseurs are agreed that quail must be eaten fresh-the fresher the better. Roasting of broiling are the most satisfactory methods of cooking this most delicate of all wild birds. As the flesh is inclined to be dry, a generous quantity of butter is needed in basting, and when dressed for roasting the body cavity has a spoonful of butter inserted in it after the bird has been rubbed inside and out with salt and pepper. The roasting oven should be fairly hot (400 F.), and the quail cooked well done and served with its own basting gravy poured over it.
Of course, Sheila Hibben has that "deep and personal" aspect for me. She is from Alabama!

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