A clutch of cookbooks inspired by down-home fare

January 26, 1994|By Peter D. Franklin | Peter D. Franklin,Contributing Writer Universal Press Syndicate

C Farm recipes and country cooking are definitely in vogue, perhaps reflecting a national lifestyle shift to the basics. At the very least it's an extension of a trend in cookbooks that began about two years ago with an increased focus on American regional cooking.

The majority of the new "country" books I have received have a decided Midwest flavor. Even one called "The New American Farm Cookbook," by Linda and Fred Griffith (Viking Studio, $30), leans heavily toward the Midwest and particularly Ohio, where the authors live.

Ohio comes on strong in two other books: the delightful "John Hadamuscin's Down Home," by John Hadamuscin (Harmony, $30), and the oversized "Bountiful Ohio," by James Hope and Susan Failor (Gabriel's Horn, $29.95). Mr. Hadamuscin, an accomplished food writer and teacher, was raised on a farm in Willard, Ohio; Hope is a pen name for Dr. James H. Bissland, a journalism professor at Bowling Green State University; Ms. Failor is a home economist living in Dublin, Ohio.

Although "Bountiful Ohio" and the other cookbooks lack the eye-popping color photographs that fill Mr. Hadamuscin's work, it does have more in-depth stories "from where the Heartland begins." How pigs built a city, the start of the corn belt, the old-fashioned county fairs, the strength of the Amish community, and the creativity of A. W. Livingston, who is credited with developing today's garden tomato, are among the stories readers will find fascinating.

The 161 "down-home" recipes in "Bountiful Ohio" are easy to take, too.

"The New American Farm Cookbook," a well-written book made even more attractive by the illustrations by Stanka Kordic, offers more than 200 recipes from naturally and organically grown foods. The Griffiths searched out farmers who "are specialists in quality and taste and are directly involved in marketing what they grow."

Among the other country cookbooks worth visiting are:

"The Many Blessings Cookbook: A Celebration of Harvest, Home and Country Cooking," by Jane Watson Hopping (Villard, $21);

"Cooking From a Country Farmhouse," by Susan Wyler (HarperPerennial, $14 paper);

"Prairie Kitchen Sampler: Sixty-Six Years of a Midwestern Farm Kitchen," by E. Mae Fritz (Hyperion, $11.95 paper);

"Farm Recipes and Food Secrets From the Norse Cook: The Midwest's No. 1 Roadside Cafe," by Helen Myhre with Mona Vold (Crown, $24).

This recipe, from "Bountiful Ohio," won the first prize for Colum

bus Chef Charles Langstaff in the 1988 Ohio Pork Producers Taste of Elegance Contest.

Southern peach pork

Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

8 (3-ounce) boneless pork loin slices

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

2 cups peach slices (fresh or frozen)

1/4 cup peach brandy

1/2 cup whipping cream

Chopped fresh parsley

In a shallow dish, combine flour, salt and pepper; coat both sides of the pork slices with the mixture.

In a large skillet, brown pork slices in butter; continue cooking 5 minutes or until pork is slightly pink inside. Remove slices from skillet; keep warm.

Add 1 cup peach slices; cook 1 minute. Remove skillet from heat.

In a blender or food processor, puree remaining 1 cup peach slices; add to skillet with peach brandy. Return skillet to heat; bring to a boil. Add cream; continue cooking at low heat until sauce thickens. Serve peach sauce over pork; sprinkle with parsley.

*

"There are lots of corn pudding recipes around," writes Mr. Hadamuscin, "but I like this one best." He included it in his farmhouse Thanksgiving dinner.

Huron County corn pudding

Makes 10 to 12 servings

3 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons snipped chives

3 cups corn kernels (see note)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

2 cups light cream

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

generous pinch each of dried thyme, summer savory, and rubbed sage

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Generously butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. In a small skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter, then add the onion and chives. Saute until the onion is golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape into a large mixing bowl, getting all the butter.

Add remaining ingredients to the bowl and whisk well to blend. Pour mixture into baking dish and carefully place in oven. Bake until set and lightly browned around the edges, about 50 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: In season, fresh kernels scraped right off the ear are best, but out of season, frozen kernels are a good substitute. Place the thawed kernels in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them once or twice to give them that just-scraped texture and to provide a little corn "milk."

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