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Damn The Tournedos!
by Pat Barclay

It's full speed ahead with these delectable enticements to culinary indulgence ONCE THERE WERE only two kinds of cookbook: the righteously health?conscious and those that damned the tournedos and charged calorifically ahead. Today, though, variations in the genre are increasing at the speed of a microwaved mushroom. Maybe this is because cooking is one creative activity where new developments in science and technology can he used to enhance, rather than outmode, traditional ideas and techniques. Whatever the reason, this year's Christmas crop of cookbooks is a richly varied lot. Best of the hunch are probably the 12 convenient mini?books of recipes gleaned from the earlier books on Mennonite cooking by Edna Staebler (Food That Really Schmecks, More Food That Really Schmecks, etc.). Gathered under such titles as Sweets, Sours and Drinks with Schmecks Appeal and Soups and Salads with Schmecks Appeal (McClelland & Stewart, 92 and 87 pages respectively, $9.95 each, paper), Staebler's recipes combine obvious taste appeal with her own cheerfully incorrigible asides, such as this comment on "Fluffy Pumpkin Pie": "I often ... [have] two healthy wedges for lunch. After all, pumpkin is a vegetable." And any book that can make a star out of a novice cook, as Staebler's Pies and Tarts did for my daughter recently, deserves ones awed respect. Then there's From Mom With Love: Real Home Cooking (Doubleday, 346 pages, $29.95 cloth), by Kay Spicer, who is one of Canada's best?known food writers (Canadian Living, Chatelaine) and co?author of the Choice Cooking series published by the Canadian Diabetes Association. From Mom With Love is a basic book about such basic foods as macaroni and cheese, split pea soup, and "the best brownies in the world." Spicer's included some useful extras (e.g., a "Cooktionary" of kitchen terms), but the book's bulky size and lavish margins make it awkward to handle and expensive on a cost?per?recipe basis. No one's made a bigger impact on the Canadian cookbook scene than Jean Pare, the former caterer from Vermilion, Alberta, whose coil?ringed Company's Coming series takes an encyclopedic approach to food, one area at a time. Starting with 150 Delicious Squares in (can it be only?) 1981, Pare's produced 13 volumes of specialized recipes (Casseroles, Muffins & More, Salads, etc.) that are now distributed "throughout Canada and the United States plus numerous overseas markets." The current volume, Cakes (Company's Coming, 156 pages, $9.95 paper), includes everything from humble "Tomato Soup Cake" to "Lady Baltimore ... a three?layered beauty ... not as rich as Lady Baltimore's husband." Clearly a smart cookie, Pare has also added some helpful cake?cutting diagrams and a "spe cial offer" that encourages readers to order her cookbooks by mail. Another down?home?style book is Rose Murray's Canadian Christmas Cooking: Traditional Recipes Especially for the Festive Season (Ryerson, 160 pages, $9.95 paper). Resolutely multicultural, this collection covers the gastronomic bases from "Black Bun" (Scottish fruit cake enclosed in pastry) to "Makivnyk" (Ukrainian poppyseed bread), and suggests menus for such special holiday feasts as "Reveillon, a French?Canadian Christmas Eve Supper" and "Christmas Dinner from Earlier Times." As might he expected, the recipes here are rich and not simple. This makes Canadian Christmas Cooking a suitable choice, not only for those who enjoy cooking up a storm, but also for those who'll be spending Christmas alone and would prefer to do their heavy eating vicariously. Speaking of vicarious eating: if you've never tried it, then Barbara Mercer's A Week at Galecliff (Breakwater, 94 pages, $14.95 paper) is a good place to start. Galecliff is a four?year?old bed?and?breakfast house in Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland; and though you may never be there to sample the fare, Mercer's style manages to convey a real taste of the place. "Don't adhere to any recipe to the most minute detail, it will drive you crazy," she writes, or, "Folklore has it that a herring has 365 bones, but I don't know who in the world ever counted them." Recipes are classified under "Breakfast," "Lunch," and "Dinner" and are accompanied by frequent editorial notes ("The Secret of Wonderful Soup") and asides ("A Tribute to my Grandparents"). Vicarious eaters are especially referred to Mercer's instructions for "Newfoundland Linguini" and "Tipsy Parson" dessert. Jean Hoare, who ran her own restaurant for nearly 20 years in the foothills of Alberta, and who wrote so exuberantly about it in Best Little Cookbook in the West (Deadwood, 1983), has since been on a "bean stalk" around the world and now offers the results in Jean's Beans (Spirit of Cooking, 124 pages, $10.95 paper). A pleasantly readable blend of ingenuity, research, and good burnout, Jeans Beans tackles everything from beans for dessert to the problem of flatulence (strain off the soaking water and use it on your plants!). The book also proves, in recipes such as "Here Today, Gone to Maui" and "Mock Pecan Pie," that the humble bean can be made interesting. For enterprising humility, though, it's joy Gallagher Douglas who really takes the cake. Douglas is the founder of "Kitchen Klutzes United," that hapless band of clueless cooks who gain the strength to go on burning their salads, confusing Plaster of Paris with four, and thawing frozen beer in the oven because they know that somewhere out there, other Kitchen Klutzes are goofing up too. For them (and us), Douglas has produced her second manual, More No?More? Than?4 Ingredient Recipes: The Kitchen Klutzes' Cookbook (Doubleday, 213 pages, $14.95 paper). With cartoons by Lynn Johnston and an encouraging text, this would make a welcome addition to most kitchens. The same goes for Pete Luckett's Complete Guide to Fresh Fruit & Vegetables, by Kathleen Robinson with Pete Luckett (Goose Lane, 272 pages, $18.95 paper). "Pete's Frootique" has become an institution in Saint John, New Brunswick. Now Pete's inimitable cookbook is here to explain the mysteries of unfamiliar produce and to ring new changes on old standbys ("Parsnip French Fries," "Zucchini Ginger Jain"). Recommended reading; the tips on storage alone will ,soon save you the price of the book. Bright Ideas: Microwave and Micro?Convention Cooking, by the home economist Emily Bright (Centax, 108 pages, $9.95 paper), should appeal to persons in the fast lane who pine to dine on slow cooking. Bright's ploy is to adapt traditional recipes for time?conscious kitchens, and to judge by her "30 to 60 minute" barbecued spareribs, she's been successful. Fast?laners might also want to check out Light & Easy For Two!: Smart Eating For Life (Centax, 174 pages, $14?95 paper), by the dietitians Lee Harvey and Helen Chambers. It includes standard and metric measurements, traditional and microwave methods, sample menus, calorie counts, a host of tips on good nutrition, and de?fatted versions of popular recipes (meat pie, eggs Benedict, home fries). More Choice: The Canadian Diabetes Microwave Cookbook (Macmillan, 238 pages, $19.95 paper), by Catha McMaster and Charlotte Empringham, also offers microwave versions of low?sugar, lowtat recipe,. Finally, the American teacher?chef Terry Joyce Blonder, who used to Wonder, while cooking in a health spa, "whether it was really necessary to choose between being a martyr ... or living the shortened life of a ... hedonist," shares her experience in For Goodness Sake: An Eating Well Guide to Creative Low?Fat Cooking (Firefly, 192 pages, $16.95 paper). Blonder Counsels counting grains of fat, not calories, And urges her readers to eschew artificial sweeteners and cream. Though her approach borders on the doctrinaire, her recipes are exciting ("Chicken Baked in Mustard,'' "Surprising Strawberries," home?made herb tea). Better save them for that post?hedonist period after Christmas.

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