A friend of mine gave me a magazine the other day in which there was an article about the Joy of Cooking, and it's author Irma Rombauer. I've had this book ever since.....well....let's just say since before I can remember. It was the first book I used to bake French bread. I've relied on the conversion tables, and when I lived in New Mexico, the advice on cooking and baking at high altitudes. I didn't know much about it's author, Irma Rombauer. I wasn't aware, for instance, that her husband had committed suicide after the 1929 stock market crash, and that Irma turned to writing a cookbook as her way of coping with the loss. I'm not sure I ever realized that this book came out originally in the 1930s, and that it addressed the struggle of putting food on the table in economic hard times. I just used it as a reference book more than a cookbook, and for that purpose it worked very well.
The copy I've got was published in 1964 by Marion Rombauer Becker - Irma's daughter, and was "modernized" to include new sections called "The Foods We Eat" and "Know Your Ingredients". I absolutely adore the story with which she opens her section on the foods we eat. "We enjoy the cynical story of the old-fashioned doctor who insisted first on going straight to the kitchen of the afflicted household. Not until he had effusively thanked the cook for giving him a new patient did he dash upstairs to see how he could relieve the cook's victim."
Irma was apparently an excellent hostess. She could throw a party in a heartbeat and keep everyone entertained. The current edition of the book begins with how to set the table, and includes instruction for both formal and informal dining etiquette.
Her original edition also started with entertaining, and apparently began by extolling the virtues of cocktails. She declares that whatever mixtures you put together for your cocktail, you should keep the alcohol content of your drink up to 60% and never below half. It's pretty clear why she was such a successful hostess! She also admonishes us to remember that since cocktails are served before a meal, they should never be too sweet or overloaded with cream or egg. Their job is to stimulate the appetite, not to spoil it.
These days, there are many people struggling to put food on their tables. There are many more people trying to keep the roof over their heads so that they will have a place for that table. But the thing to remember is what the ancient wise men told the king when they were asked to sum up the wisdom of the world: And this too shall pass. Hard times call for an enterprising spirit. In other words, it's time to take those lemons that life just handed to you and make lemonade.
Well, I know that I'm one of the lucky ones because I still do have a roof over my head, and being self-employed means that I still have a job. So when one of my patients came in with a huge bag of lemons, I thought it wise to make lemonade. But wait! Why stop at lemonade? Why not put a twist on the old and create something new? Besides, I had some kaffir lime leaves leftover in the fridge, and I wanted to use them. So I came up with this and taste tested it. May I be the first to tell you that it was delicious?
I decided to start by making a simple syrup and flavoring it with the lime leaves. Basically equal parts sugar and water (or less water, depending upon your taste), heat to dissolve the sugar, and throw in a handful of lime leaves - probably at least 8 of them - then let them steep for at least an hour. Pull out the leaves and you can store this in a jar in the fridge.
For each Kaffir Lime Lemon Drop cocktail, you will need:
1 1/2 jiggers of vodka
3/4C simple syrup
3/4C lemon juice
Mix all the ingredients together and shake in a martini shaker. Strain into martini glasses and garnish with a lime leaf.
What's your favorite old fashioned cookbook on your shelf? Is there one you inherited from your mom or aunt, and you just can't let go if it's stained pages?
2 years ago