New Castle News

December 15, 2012

Culinary Conversation: Cookbooks are gifts that keep on giving

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Some of my favorite Christmas gifts have been cookbooks.

Friends and family know I’m always happy to add another book of recipes to the long shelf in my kitchen. When I look through them, I’m reminded of the thoughtful persons who selected something they knew I would enjoy.

There are cookbooks from famous chefs such as Julia Child, Food Network stars including Emeril Lagasse, Giada DiLaurentis and the Barefoot Contessa — Ina Garten — and entertainment guru-ess Martha Stewart.

Specialty volumes are tucked in there, too — Mediterranean cookbooks, ones on just chicken and nothing but chicken, pasta, vegetables and cookies.

Recipes from old faithfuls like the Betty Crocker volumes have never failed me.

And all the ones I’ve collected through the years from various local organizations such as New Castle Business and Professional Women, Jameson Hospital Junior Guild, and lots and lots of churches are usually the ones I turn to most often. Area cooks and bakers are the best, and many times the contributors are including recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Christmas is less than two weeks away.

If you’re a last-minute shopper and scrambling for gift ideas, it shouldn’t be too difficult when there’s a cook on your list.

If a group you know has a cookbook for sale, grab it — the recipient will certainly enjoy the choice.

Meanwhile, I scanned through a long list of cookbooks out this year and discovered that crockpot and slow cooker editions are making a comeback. There were also quite a few for Christmas entertaining and Christmas cookies, and ones on a year of vegetarian-friendly holiday feasts, eating well in a hurry and those from Websites such as

Today’s selections are from a cookbook a college roommate gave me one year as a gift. It’s cherished, although the cover has been torn off and pages are starting to curl up. It’s been used more times than I can remember.

Be sure to tell us what cookbooks are your favorites. We’ll share them at Culinary Conversation.

Happy gifting, happy eating and happy holidays.

Festive Beef

Place roast, bay leaf and 1 cup water in large saucepan. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove bay leaf, add remaining ingredients. Simmer on low heat 8 hours or until tender. Remove roast. Simmer until liquid thickens. Pour over meat to serve.

Zucchini Casserole

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp. butter or margarine

2 tbsps. buttered bread crumbs

Cook zucchini in 2 cups boiling water until just tender. Drain. Combine next six ingredients in large bowl. Add zucchini. Pour into greased 112-qt. baking dish. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Lemon Bars

214 cups all-purpose flour

Mix 2 cups flour and 12 cup powdered sugar. Cut in margarine until crumbly. Press into well-greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Combine eggs, sugar and 14 cup flour in mixer bowl; mix well with electric mixer. Add lemon juice. Pour over crust. Bake 25 minutes longer or until light golden color. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar. Cool before cutting.

Peach Upside-Down Pie

Line 9-inch pie plate with 12-inch square of foil, letting excess hang over edge. Spread with 2 tbsps. butter. Press almonds and 18 cup (firmly packed) brown sugar into butter. Fix bottom crust into pie pan over nuts and brown sugar. Combine sliced peaches, lemon juice, sugar, 14 cup (firmly packed) brown sugar, tapioca, nutmeg, cinnamon and almond extract. Pour into pie shell. Cover with top crust. Seal, flute and prick with a fork. Brush lightly with milk. Bake in preheated 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375. Bake 35 to 40 minutes longer. Cool thoroughly. Turn upside down on serving plate. Remove foil.