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Excerpt from Cookbook: Confessions of An Oenophile

Cookbook available for purchase through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Outskirts Press.

Phorward

This cookbook has been in the oven for over 100 years.

My family has a tradition of eating well no matter what.

My Grandma was born in June 1903.

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There are too many people for me to thank for everything. I’ll start with my Grandmothers, my mother who passed away in the 90’s, and my dad who died in his sleep in the 80’s. I’d also like to publicly thank my mother-in-law, too. Grandmother Baker raised five bright healthy children. Grandma Bruggner had eleven grandkids and Grandma Dailey had five of us. Special thanks to my daughter Anessa, older brother Dan, and sister Christine! Also, you know who you are in Healdsburg, California.

If you are shopping for recipes to barbeque or microwave, this is not the book for you.

If you have food allergies, I can appreciate those. Me, myself, and I am deathly allergic to nuts, mustard, and some strawberries. So these All-American recipes can be embellished with these ingredients if you wish. Just do not expect me to touch the nuts.

Thank heavens that few nuts are grown where I was born and raised in Indiana.

Unlike the Pottowatomie Indians, my school chums and I never ate tree nuts or grown acorns from oak trees. We spent more time playing in poison ivy.

I truly believe that eating American food is good for us. All that obesity talk is heavy. I used to weigh 328 pounds. In the three years since my gastric bypass surgery, I have lost 122 pounds. So eating is one of my problems. Thus a series of dinner parties and one “coast-to-coast virtual dinner was held on 9-1-07. Recipes from India, mushrooms, some strawberries and shrimp were some of my favorites but unfortunately I cannot digest some things without sad symptoms. So what I chose to eat is important principally because I must not overeat too much food, few fast foods or drink a lot of liquids.

Speaking of liquids, I highly recommend all kinds of wine! For over eleven months, I have immersed myself in the Northern California wine culture by living right in the center of it. Talking with chefs along the Wine Country. Learning from them, winemakers and specialists in wine tasting rooms. Gratitude is due to everyone I met along the wine roads of Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, and Monterey Counties in California. Prior to moving to Wine Country, I lived about 20 years in California’s beautiful San Mateo County and seven years in San Francisco. Personally, I remain a Hoosier but believe I am a Californian that you can trust your stomachs to.

Preface

 

This cookbook has been in the works for decades. As a “latchkey kid” long before the term was popularized, I was preparing meals for myself from age ten or so. I would like to be able to claim that I learned the kitchen basics at my mother’s elbow, but the truth is I found my way reading cookbooks and through trial-and-error.

 

When I inherited my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes on index cards, I took it upon myself to reconstruct my family’s kitchen legacy which had previously only been preserved in the hearts and memories of our family and friends.

 

Thus, a fair amount of contemporary thought and planning has gone into this cookbook, and it has been shaped by my own tastes and interests. For example, it has been my goal to put together a practical family cookbook using wine as an important ingredient in a wide variety of menus. I live in the wine country of northern California, where wine is an important influence in the whole culture. I have therefore taken our old family meals and embellished them accordingly.

 

I have also tended to focus on “comfort foods” which, though some people accuse this use of food as being inherently unhealthy, can be made increasingly beneficial if only the cook will think about how home-grown produce and local ingredients can be integrated and experiment with them. I therefore have included recipes which use those foods and ingredients that are available, not only to us in California, but in the Midwestern, Southern and the Atlantic states.

 

We are entering an era in which rising transportation costs and food safety concerns will likely change our ways with food.  These recipes limit the mandatory use of gourmet, exotic, and hard-to-find ingredients. I have, in fact, organized the book according to the seasons of the year when local ingredients are more likely to be “in season.”

 

I can recall during college that my dear future wife tried baking homemade wheat bread. Too bad she got confused between baking powder and baking soda; we ended up using the loaves as doorstops. Remember to have a sense of humor in the kitchen – no matter what may happen.

 

 

Fall 2007

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