Monday, August 23, 2010

Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook

Three years ago, TCU Press published Grace & Gumption: Stories of Fort Worth Women. We saw it as the first step in compiling a history of what women had accomplished for our city, a subject hitherto overlooked, though we had lots of masculine heroes and role models. There were wonderful women, and fourteen contributors attempted to bring their stories together in one volume. It was a hit and sold well. Now a project that I not so modestly admit that I initiated has come to publication: Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook.When we first talked about it, there was some discussion that if we wer trying to prove that women had roles outside the home, we were blindsiding ourselves with a cookbook. But we generally agreed that until recently cooking almost always fell to the woman, no matter what else she was doing outside the home. Some of the recipes reflect this tendency for women to cook in a hurry, using easy and fast recipes.
According to one review, it's a great mix of academic-style social history with a recipe book. There are recipes you won't want to try--the first in the book is how to cook a squirrel--but more contemporary recipes from Joe T. Garcia's restaurant or Jon Bonnell, whose grandmother was one of Fort Worth's best known philanthropists. The older recipes are more fun, but you'll want too cook some of the newer ones. I particularly like the "Texas Tingle Dip" that calls for 1 can RO*TEL tomatoes, 1 can mushroom soup, and 8 oz. cheddar cheese. I admit I scorched it the first time I tried to make it, but from now on I'll  use the double boiler. Then there's the recipe in my chapter for Hollandaise sauce that boggles my mind: 1/2 c. Hellman's mayonnaise, 1 tsp. French's yellow mustard, 1 tsp. soy sauce, 1/2 stick melted butter. Like no Hollandaise I've ever tasted!
I hosted a pot-luck happy hour tonight for the contributors to the two books--okay we lost two and added two new ones for the cookbook--but we have become a bonded group. We were each to bring something from our chapter. We teased Joyce Williams about bringing squirrel (she brought cornbread and a corn and pea mix),  and we praised Brenda Sanders-Wise for the pound cake she brought. My chapter--"Ranch Women, Cowgirls, and Wildcatters"--didn't offer much in the way of appetizers, but I figured Electra Waggoner Wharton probably served finger sandwiches, so that's what I did. I made a filling of mayo, cream cheese,  cayenne, grated sharp cheddar, and chopped, drained sun-dried tomatoes--not what Electra would have served (it was sort of pimiento cheese with sun-dried tomatoes instead of pimientos). I meant to also make finger sandwiches of cucumber, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and chives--but the cheese/tomato mixture made so many I abandoned that idea, and now I have finger sandwiches in the fridge, plus a whole cucumber and a lot of cream cheese. Sounds like good leftover eating to me.
Anway, it's a great book. Want a Christms gift for one or more friends? Try this. Want a speaker for a women's group? We're available--one or more of us. We love this book, and we want the world to know about it. Just holler at me at and let me know if you want some of us to show up for an event. I can't promised boiled squirrel, but hey!

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