The Small Kitchen Cookbook: Page Eight

My first foray into The Small Kitchen Cookbook was the super-straightforward Cucumber Dip.

Let’s break it down.

The cucumber part wasn’t hard, because we had a bumper crop in our home garden this year. In fact, other than potatoes and parsley, it was the only bumper crop we had. Did anyone else have this problem this year?

Starting with one large cucumber — per instructions — I peeled, sliced, and minced. The draining (of “ALL the liquid,” mind you) proved to be trickier. I placed them in a colander at first, but resorted to blotting the pieces with paper towels when that proved less-than-effective in making the cukes any less juicy. If I make this recipe again, I might roast the veggies first.

Next it was on to combining sour cream, sugar, dill (from the garden again), salt, and white pepper — one of the more popular ingredients in the entire book, I’ve found. Second only to parsley.

After mixing in the cucumbers it’s suggested, if the dip is too watery, to add two tablespoons of cream cheese. Don’t ponder this suggestion; just add it right in to the recipe. The dip is going to be watery (seriously, what is the trick to de-liquifying cucumber?) and the cream cheese is just the right antidote.

We chowed this dip with Wheat Thins ( it said to serve with favorite crackers, so), and since we were also charged with presenting it in a “small serving bowl,” we went with one of our beloved Paul Anthony stoneware pieces.

Herein, I debut our Recipe Rating System for The Small Kitchen Cookbook. I give this recipe three out of five jaunty bunches of cherries.

Introducing: The Small Kitchen Cookbook, page-by-page

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/412t0sCA-NL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgA whole decade ago, I blogged about visiting the Whatley Antiquarian Book Center and the books I picked up — among them The Small Kitchen Cookbook by Nina Mortellito (published 1964).

Sadly, the Book Center closed it doors in March of this year, after 25 years in business. But a few of the vintage titles from its shelves live on in my kitchen, including Mortellito’s guide for small kitchen owners.  

Perhaps ironically, my kitchen is now (even) smaller than the one I had when I bought the book, so it’s not just a cool antique, but a helpful resource. And, it has actually lived on in other ways too, most recently as a resource for another book: The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook  by Judy Gelman and Peter Zheutlin.

This fall, I’ve decided to do a little page-by-page experimentation with the ideas and recipes in The Small Kitchen Cookbook, mostly just to see how they turn out. Having gone through the book a few times already in preparation for this project, I can tell you I’m fairly confident I’m going to learn some new space- and time-saving tricks, but it’s also going to present a few challenges for the modern cook.

The product “Kitchen Bouquet,” for instance… I don’t know what that is or if it’s even still a thing.

I’ll try to honor the original recipe whenever possible, though, and while I don’t intend to necessarily go in order, I will start as the book does, with an inventory of all of the tools Mortellito suggested the 1964 small kitchen should contain.  At first glance, it looks like we have a fairly good handle on the basics, but might come up short on some of the specifics, such as string-bean slicers and fruit-ball cutters.

Stay tuned and let me know if you’ve seen this book, cooked from it, or know of other similar cookbooks!

HVAC Trading Cards? Sure, Why Not?

HVAC doesn’t sound like the most exciting topic to write about, but it’s actually pretty interesting.

The industry has long been a leader in energy efficiency, for instance. New technologies are always being applied to the development of products, and in the U.S., the “Made in USA” logo truly means something — creating not just exemplary products but jobs and expanding opportunities for those of us who live here.

It’s also an industry that has welcomed new forms of communication as social- and public relations continue to bloom. Part of the reason why is that there’s always new information to share in the HVAC biz, and even better, we have myriad places through which to share that content.

These guiding principles were behind a recent writing assignment I took on in tandem with Winstanley Partners for the KN Series of hydronic, cast-iron boilers. Starting with the idea of a technical brochure that would extol the benefits of the product to its key audiences, we took the assignment a step further, creating pieces of ‘mini-content’ that were even more targeted to core audiences.

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We didn’t negate that first idea of a one-sheet technical brochure, but rather created it to include components that could stand alone, and therefore speak directly to engineers, architects, builders, managers, and others.

As the copy and design started to coalesce, we soon noticed that the end-result was not unlike a set of trading cards.

HVAC trading cards? Well sure, why not? They’re shareable, printable, scale-able, and (yes) trade-able. That’s what we want when it comes to sharing information about a decidedly niche product. Plus, there are plenty of uses for such a thing – from social media content to trade-show giveaways.

These one-hit wonders were designed by Victoria Fiorini — copy by moi.

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Truckin’ at Wahconah Park

With a Memorial Day forecast that left a lot to be desired, we didn’t have particularly high hopes for our outdoor-itinerary this weekend. But the clouds parted around lunchtime on Saturday, so we jetted down to historic Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass. for their First Annual Food Truck Feastival and gathered some tastes, sights, and sounds to share.

There were a few familiar trucks on the grounds, but also some new trucks and a great breadth of choices, from Asian to Mexican to American and back again. Several musical acts were scheduled throughout the day — enough that we heard three different acts in a two-hour period — and plenty of arts, crafts, clothing, and vendors of other sundries that I think add to a food-truck fest as long as they don’t overtake the food.

I also really love this park. We’ve attended games and other events here before and it’s a family-friendly destination with a chill vibe and a lot of cool things to see and do, no matter what the occasion. It’s one of the last ballparks in the U.S with a wooden grandstand, more than 200 “Pittsfield Players” have gone on to play in the Major Leagues, and it’s surrounded by decidedly historic looking signage, service buildings, and snack stands.

On to the food, though: because she had a “big girl” breakfast and lunch, Juli was able to start off with a super-fancy French vanilla sundae from the Krispy Cones soft-serve truck.

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Kid ate just about the whole thing, then went on to share Ben’s hand-cut fries and pulled-pork sandwich from The Chuck Wagon.

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I went off in search of something new while they were noshing, and ordered some fried beef gyota from the aptly named Nom Nom Hut, and a local brew (“brown“) from Bright Ideas Brewing.

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Let me know if you hear of any food truck fests in New England this summer that we might want to hit up!