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Texas Cooking Main > Texana: > Cookbook Reviews
Texas Country Reporter

Texas Country Reporter Cookbook

Book Review By Patricia Mitchell

A review copy of the Texas Country Reporter Cookbook came to me about three months ago. When I review a cookbook, I usually just sit down, read it and type up my review. But I had barely dipped into this one before it had me down in the kitchen trying out a recipe for Panama Style Empanadas (delicious little meat pies, I must say, and simple to make). Needless to say, this cookbook has remained in my kitchen during the ensuing months, and it has received a lot of use.

Texans love Texas so much that for the last thirty years they have welcomed into their homes a television show called Texas Country Reporter. Texas Country Reporter likes to go out to the little towns and poke around to find what's interesting. The reporter in question, Bob Phillips of Dallas, says in his introduction:

. . . we've learned about Texas food. We've tasted hot links in Pittsburg, kolaches in West, chili in Terlingua, and crawfish in Mauriceville. We found the "best" barbecue in a dozen or more places and the "best" chicken-fried steak in more than that. We learned that hamburgers should be all beef and not laced with pork or tofu. We don't much care for cattail crepes but have learned to appreciate people who do. I, personally, have tasted the best food and the worst food in Texas; and it must have been mostly the best, because I've gained twenty pounds since I started traveling the backroads. My expanding waistline must have tipped off the viewers because for years folks have sent me their favorite recipes. Somehow they knew I like to eat.

The folks at Texas Country Reporter put out a call to their viewers to send in their best recipes and, together with what they already had, they put together a wonderful cookbook.

The Texas Country Reporter Cookbook is quite complete, from Appetizers to Desserts (and, yes, Tex-Mex and Barbecue are represented). Each recipe donor is credited, and many of the recipes include charming vignettes about the donor or the history of the recipe. The recipes run from ABC simple to fairly complex, although all are manageable by anyone familiar with a kitchen. Some of the recipes date back over 100 years, and there are many that originated during the Depression Era when eggs and milk were dear. But these aren't your antique recipes. This is the way good cooks all over Texas are pleasing their families and friends.

But the food. Ah - the food. This is good plain cooking. Not that you wouldn't be able to impress anyone with these dishes, quite the contrary. The Meats section is divided among Beef, Lamb, Pork, Game and Sauces. The Desserts section is even larger with separate sub-sections for Cakes, Pies, Cobblers Puddings, Ice Cream, Assorted Desserts (this would be your Brandied Fruit, a first-prize-winning Cheesecake at the World's Fair in San Antonio and the Hunt County Fair, the venerable Chocolate Gravy and more, then Cookies and Candies. They have managed to pack a lot of good food into 255 pages.

Oh, all right, I'll give you one recipe - just one.

Peanut Butter Pie
Mary Lauderdale, Greenville, Texas

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half
  • 1 8-ounce carton whipped topping
  • 1 graham cracker crust
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese, peanut butter and powdered sugar together until smooth. Gradually add half-and-half, beating until well blended. Stir in whipped topping. Spoon into graham cracker crust. Whip cream, gradually adding powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Spoon or pipe around edge of pie. Freeze. Slice while frozen. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.

I see a lot of cookbooks, to the point of fancying myself qualified to review them. Some of the recipes in the Texas Country Reporter Cookbook will be new to you, but many will have familiar titles like Okra Gumbo, Bob's Tortilla Soup, Mexican Casserole, Son-of-a-Gun Stew, Chicken-Fried Steak with Gravy, Yeast Rolls, Chocolate Icebox Pie and Old-Timey Tea Cakes, to name only a few. So why should you have this cookbook? Because these particular recipes are the Real McCoy. They are first-rate versions of recipes that have become so popular that, unfortunately, they've been fiddled with and adulterated until unrecognizable in many cases. If you want to get back to the source of good home cooking, then Texas Country Reporter Cookbook will please you.

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