October 09, 2011

Mom's Best Country Recipes by Les Blair

I picked up this little cookbook in a gift shop and have been nothing but pleased with it. Les Blair published and organized this little book and spiced it up with country sayings (as it says on the cover). This isn't a cookbook for beginners though, unless they are reading it just for fun. This book makes you figure things out while cooking. The food is mostly down home cooking with a tiny bit of southern thrown in. To date I've tried about 37 of 231 recipes in this book.

The first chapter was drinks/appetizers. Mostly punches and shakes on the drink side and dips for the appetizers, but I did get a chance to make the sausage balls. They were ok but definitely could have used more sauce.

Soups and Salads is the next chapter in the book. There are many varied salads and soups and for soup I did try the Potato soup which was kind of plain but could be spiced up a bit. Salads had your variety of fruit salads and mayo based. I did try the Layer Salad which was fantastic. The Taco Salad and Marinated Cucumbers were a little less wonderful though.

Main N' Side Dishes is the 3rd chapter. This had a wide variety because it had breakfasts, lunches, dinners and everything included in it making the chapter quite large. The Pork Chops with sauce produced a nice tender pork chop, but the sauce was less than desirable. The Meat Loaf on the other hand was delicious as were the Chicken Croquettes (first time I ever had a croquette as well). The best thing in the chapter was the Skillet Potatoes and Peas. Something to note about that particular recipe is that it calls for salad dressing but doesn't really specify. I used ranch before I realized they were probably talking about mayo but it was still fantastic. The Chuckwagon beans were merely satisfactory and for casseroles, the Chicken Noodle Casserole was ok but a bit watery and the same applied to the Company Egg Bake. Getting into breakfast I really enjoyed the Brown Sugar Pancakes. I don't even like pancakes and I thought these were fantastic. In the lunch section the only recipe I tried was the Sloppy Joes which was good but definitely needed more sauce. As said before, this was a huge and varied chapter.

Wild Game came next and I'm ashamed to say I didn't make anything out of this one due to not having any of the meats readily available. But there are recipes for quail, duck, turkey, and then going further, raccoon and venison. Because you've always wanted to know how to barbecue a raccoon.

Bread n Rolls is just like it sounds. There are biscuits, muffins, and other types of rolls in here. I made the Tomato Onion Bread and while it could have been good but it tasted way too strong of molasses.

Sourdough Cookin is a section I would have loved to try, but alas, don't have a good spot to store a starter right now. But the chapter gives plenty of options for using one including doughnuts and cake.

Which brings us to our next chapter, Sweet breads, doughnuts, and fritters. I loved this chapter as it involved a lot of fried things. A recipe for Quick Cinnamon Rolls turned out to be more a recipe for a cinnamon cookie, but it still tasted ok. The Sour Cream Muffins although they sounded strange were delicious. Moving on to fritters there are a ton of different kinds in here and of the pineapple and two different types of apple I made, all were successful and relatively easy to make. The Apple Nut Bread and Zucchini bread were good enough to make them the recipes worth buying this book for. The Oatmeal and Banana bread however, were just average.

Cakes n Frostins are probably a favorite chapter for many. The Chocolate Cake (moist according to the recipe) was actually not that moist but still pretty good, especially paired with the cream cheese frosting. The applesauce cake though was a bit of work to make and the Raw Apple Cake turned out terrible. There are also recipes for other types of cake and it present a wide variety. Cheesecake is included here too, but the resident cheesecake expert wasn't thrilled with it.

Pies n' Cobblers is the next chapter. There are a couple different crust recipes in here but I wasn't thrilled with any of them. They both turned out sort of stiff despite gentle handling. The pies in here are standard country pies involving tree fruit and cobblers. The Strawberry Pie was very interesting and involve3d jello and while good, only made enough for 1 pie instead of the two it said it would. The Banana Cream pie (meringue) was also fantastic but time consuming.

There is a Desserts section as well filled with dessert puddings and dumplings. They also have a few ice cream recipes in this chapters as well.

Cookies n' Candies is a great chapter with a lot of interesting cookie recipes. The Fresh Apple were very good and they make you feel healthy while eating them. The Cheesecake cookies weren't too bad either. For candy such options are offered as brittles and popcorn balls.

Miscellanus Good Stuff is the last chapter in the book and it has what you'd expect, doughs for pizza, sauces, relishes and pickles. I tried a couple of the bbq sauces and while they were easy to make, they didn't taste all that great.

So you're probably wondering why with all these fantastic sounding recipes I rated the book only 3 stars. The answer is because some of the tastes and makings are just average. In addition, as said before, this was not a book for beginning cooks. A lot of the recipes have limited instructions and this can make things hard. For example, had I made one of the recipes precisely how it called for in the book I would have been serving raw meatballs with sauce. You have to have a little know-how when proceeding through this book.

This is a good little cookbook for just flipping through as a novelty. For cooking it has some good points but they are interspersed with not so good. The cute little country sayings at the bottom of the pages are fun as well. For the price, its definitely not too bad of an investment.

Mom's Best Country Recipes
Copyright 1990/94 depending on the edition
63 pages

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