Monday, August 30, 2010

Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook

Here it is. Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook.

It is a follow up to Grace & Gumption, Stories of Fort Worth Women, our history of women in Fort Worth.

That I have edited and contributed to a cookbook will amaze and astonish some people, particularly my family and friends. Certainly anyone who knows me can tell you I am a much better story teller than I am a cook! My husband is the one who earns stars in that category. Luckily, Judy Alter -- who is a fabulous and fearless cook -- agreed to be the food editor, because I have no business editing recipes.

All the contributors to the original G&G had more stories to tell about fabulous Fort Worth women, so we had been tossing about a lot of ideas about how to do that. And we did this tossing of ideas mostly over food, because we are a group who likes to eat.

Judy is the one who came up with the idea for a cookbook. I admit I was a bit dubious at first, but I have enough faith in Judy's judgment that I was willing to try it. And soon it became clear that working on a cookbook gave us a fun way to look at the more intimate homey parts of women's lives.

A couple of contributors who worked on the first G&G couldn't work on this book, so we had the added pleasure of having Brenda Sanders-Wise and Joy Donovan join our ranks. It has been fun to get to know both of them better.

And guess what? Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook is listed as one of 8 Hot New Releases in the West Regional Cookbooks by It's also available from PBS store online under the same category. Of course, the Library of Congress will have it, and the Austin Public Library has ordered it. Some book dealers have it under cookbook and biography.

Here's what the TCU Press said about it:

TCU Press publishes Grace and Gumption: The Cookbook

TCU Press announces the release of Grace and Gumption: The Cookbook, the follow-up book to Grace and Gumption: Stories of Fort Worth Women. The book’s fourteen talented and engaging authors have once again mined the personal papers of women in Fort Worth to create a fresh look at life in Cowtown, says Rebecca Sharpless of Texas Christian University. Readers will gain glimpses of pantries, kitchens, and dining rooms of the past and learn about the women who presided over them.

Grace and Gumption: The Cookbook combines the history of Fort Worth and the city’s brilliant, innovative women with their recipes. For some of the women cooking was a joy, for others it was just one more chore to complete so they could get on to more interesting things, which means that some of the women didn’t leave cooking trails. The contributors have been inventive in finding “related” recipes—some of them wonderful, some so complex you may not want to try. Some attempt was made to standardize the recipes but it was not possible in all cases—they would have lost their charm, says editor and one of the authors Katie Sherrod.

In Grace and Gumption: The Cookbook, we learn a great deal about what the people of Fort Worth have eaten over the past century and a half, and so we discern much about what the people have been about. The cookbook takes a new approach to American culinary studies, recording the lives of Fort Worth Women as well as discussing the food that they prepared and ate. Sharpless says, in her forward to the book, that while many American women, particularly Anglos, remained within their homes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Grace and Gumption tells us about women who set aside those boundaries and spent their energies in works charitable and for profit. These women taught about food, and they cooked to create businesses of their very own, some of which, like Pulido's Restaurant and Mrs. Baird's Bread, endure.

Grace and Gumption: The Cookbook is a book to cook from and to read for pleasure, although there are some recipes that Sherrod recommends readers not try at home. This book provides a window into the lives of Fort Worth women that will engage readers and explore an even more intimate aspect of the lives of these outstanding women.
The contents include:
“Cooking on the Frontier,” by Joyce M. Williams
“Cooking at Our Lady of Victory,” by Brenda Taylor Matthews
“The Modern Woman,” by Ruth Karbach
“Ranch Women, Cowgirls, and Wildcatters,” by Judy Alter
“Pig in a Pit, Stagecoach Kisses and Eating Heaven: Food and Philanthropy in Fort Worth,” by Ruth McAdams
“Serving the Children,” by Sherrie S. McLeRoy
“Cooking in the Barrio,” by Sandra Guerra-Cline
“Let My People Eat,” by Hollace Ava Weiner
“Colorful Palettes Make Colorful Palates,” by Joy Donovan
“Stirred In with Lots of Love, a Little Drama, and Duncan Hines™” by Jan Jones
“Regal Women in the Garden of Eden,” by Brenda Sanders-Wise
“Braving the Smoke—in the Back Room and in the Kitchen,” by Cindy C. Smolovik
“Cooking for a Living—Lucille Bishop Smith,” by Carol Roark
“Balancing Facts and Food in the Newsroom,” by Katie Sherrod


And here's what a reviewer for the local magazine 360 West said:

Book for Cooks

TCU Press had a nice little hit a couple of years ago with its book Grace & Gumption, Stories of Fort Worth Women. Here's a smart idea for a follow-up, Grace & Gumption: The Cookbook. Editor Katie Sherrod and food editor Judy Alter have compiled essays from 14 local authors about women and food cultures throughout Fort Worth history. The story goes way back: You'll read about pioneers making coffee out of acorns when Cowtown was still more fort than city, and the first recipe here is for squirrel, dipped in buttermilk and cornmeal, then fried -- not every recipe is destined for your kitchen.

Indeed, the book is as much academic-style history as recipe book, although most recipes are appealing. There are excellent ones from contemporary cooks like Jon Bonnell (whose mother and grandmother, philanthropist Mary D. Walsh, were prominent local women with grace and gumption), but the older stuff is arguably more fun, and no slice of life was forgotten, from Thistle Hill to the barrio: There are recipes here for schmaltz and matso balls from Jewish women's Passover tables, tortilla soup from the Lancarte family of Joe T. Garcia's fame, as well as Edna Gladney's own "reducing mixture," a diet drink that combines grapefruit and lemon juices, cream of Tartar and several spoonfuls of Epsom salts ("do not try this at home," we're told). But you'll see why Gladney needed that if you make her family's recipes for Uncooked Fudge or German Hot Potato Salad. Grace and Gumption: The Cookbook will be released in late May: paperback, $19.95; -- Marilyn Bailey.

And here's a note from Ruth Karbach, one of the contributors:

"Just for fun, I looked up the original Grace & Gumption on WorldCat and am thrilled to see it at Harvard University (two libraries there), the Bibliotheque de l'Universite Loval in Quebec and The British Library in London. We can celebrate that Grace&Gumption is in 109 libraries in New England, the Mid-West, the South, the Southwest and the West. "

So enjoy the reading and the eating -- we certainly have.


Unknown said...

We will be adding this to our cooking library. I say we...I'm not the cook in our household...but I don't mind purchasing books for the cook! Congrats and looking forward to it.


VERY cool!!

judyalter said...

Great post, Katie. Many thanks.You captured the fun we've had doing these projects. I suppose we could run it into the ground, but I can't think of another topic! Something else will come up for these talented contributors.