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Don’t Miss This Recipe For Hard Cooked Egg Cobbler That’s Yummy Or Yucky Depending On Your Tastes Since I Realize That While I Find It Repellent, Apparently Others Considered It Quite Tasty

June 10, 2010

For Tuesday, June 8, 2010

As life’s pleasures go, food is second only to sex. Except for salami and eggs. Now that’s better than sex, but only if the salami is thickly sliced. • Alan King

The kinds of books we read sometimes depend on what’s happening in our lives. Sometimes they’re school-related or work-related or project-related. Some reading passions are ongoing, though, and cookbooks are one of mine. Once upon a time, I wrote a twice-weekly cooking column in the newspaper and I’m still a sucker for collections of recipes.

Although I enjoy looking for cooking instructions online when I know what I want to make, when I read cookbooks, I find recipes for things I’d never considered making. Since we like eating at home, both my husband and I look for recipes we think we’ll enjoy trying. We Post-It® or print or bookmark these possibilities. And I find Collectory stuff among them.

I just bought a new cookbook, Kay West’s (2007) Around the Opry Table: A Feast of Recipes and Stories from the Grand Ole Opry®. I couldn’t resist the $2.49 price tag, especially when I found it full of so many things I wanted to remember. This is one of the ways I decide whether or not to buy a book after it passes the cost test. If there is just one thing I want from the book, I copy it down. Two, and I copy them down. Perhaps even with three. But once I pass the three mark and the book’s affordable, I figure I should just buy it. I found multiple things I want in West’s book.

The first I’ll share is a recipe I’ll use in two Collectorys: Food of the Clods and Yuckology. Bless her heart, it’s country singer Kitty Wells’ recipe for “Hard-Cooked Egg Cobbler” and it repels me just to read about it. Perhaps you will not feel the same way and will want to try it, so here it is, direct from p. 79:

Hard-Cooked Egg Cobbler

12 whole eggs

2 cups sugar

½ cup (1 stick) butter

Fresh grated nutmeg

2 pastry shells

Hard cook 12 whole eggs. (I’ll skip the directions for doing this). After draining them and immersing in cold water, immediately remove the shells and slice the eggs directly into a pastry-lined shallow casserole dish (8-by-12-inch is fine.)

Sprinkle two cups sugar over the eggs, [this is where the recipe went south for me—hardboiled eggs sprinkled with two cups of sugar just sounds disgusting] dot this with 1 stick of butter and sprinkle generously with nutmeg. Have ready 2 cups of boiling water and pour this over the egg, butter, and sugar combination. Place a top pastry over all and place in a medium-hot over (400 degrees) and cook until the top crust is nicely browned and the syrup formed has bubbled up around the edges. Serve warm or set aside and serve cold. It’s good either way.

I learn as I read about Miss Wells that “she was known among family, friends, and colleagues for her skills in the kitchen” (p. 77) and that she wrote The Kitty Wells Country Kitchen Cookbook (1964). I also learn something that I’ll add to my music Collectory, the one where I save band names: although Wells’ 1952 recording of “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” (written by J.D. Miller) was a number one Billboard hit, it was banned by the NBC radio network and Wells wasn’t allowed to perform it on the Opry. Its raciness seems quaint by today’s much, much looser standards.

But wait there’s more. I have a candy Collectory too, and West’s book reveals how “GooGoo Clusters” got their name. The clusters were created in 1912 by Howell Campbell and were the first candy bar with multiple ingredients. At first unnamed, the candy got its name during a conversation Campbell had with a schoolteacher who said that it was “so good, people would ask for it from birth.” Campbell then named the candy after the sound his newborn son made: GooGoo (p. 20).

One of my friends calls cookbooks pornography for dieters. I suppose they are. But they’re also pieces of history that show social and cultural changes over time. The exploration of food histories is a species of autoethnographic research that can reveal many aspects of familial and personal history.

What’s your favorite recipe or favorite food?

I’ve decided life is too fragile to finish a book I dislike just because it cost $16.95 and everyone else loved it. Or eat a fried egg with a broken yolk (which I hate) when the dog would leap over the St. Louis Arch for it. • Erma Bombeck (And I am delighted to include a quotation that I already loved that includes books and eggs, not easy to find!)

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