Madison County Cookbook Reviews
From the Des Moines Register's Iowa Boy
"The result is a wonderful, colorful, 512-page "Madison County Cookbook with Stories & Traditions" ... You'll love the book's recipes from Madison County people, like the ones for pie and pudding from parishioners Shirley and Bud Bittinger, who happen to make pies for the North Side Cafe in Winterset; apple receipts from sisters Elma and Irenee Tracy and their brother Dick Tracy, who own the farm south of Winterset where Quaker farmer Jesse Hiatt developed the Delicious apple; and instructions on how to cook Madison County rattlesnake by Ed Jensen, who used to hunt them here.
From the Los Angeles Times
It's a delightful collection, rich in warmth and tradition. You step for a moment into other people's lives as you read, "Grandma always made fudge for Christmas" or "My mother made sugar kuchen often, but it was a must at Christmas time" or "I triple this recipe for my family every holiday. I even have to hid these [butterhorn rolls] in order to have them for dinner!"
From the Chicago Tribune by William Rice
Long before Meryl Streep put on an apron for her role in the film "The Bridges of Madison County" Iowa farm women were making food for family and festivals. A rich sampling of the regional cuisine, more the 500 recipes, along with "a patchwork of anecdotes, stories and traditions."
From the Chicago Sun Times by Sharon Sanders
The book is well peppered with "recollections" of holidays, amcedotes and community happenings. Perhaps the most wistful is Martha Street's essay recalling the childhood excitement of cooking for threshing days. "A farm wife's reputation as a good cook depended upon this (threshing day) meal! There was competion among the wives in the threshing ring, and any wife who had not been able to help with a meal was given a detailed report from her husband of what others served."
From Orange County(California) Register by Amy Wilson
I have had the distinct experience of eating in Madison County, Iowa. And no, it wasn't the stuff that Clint brought in from Des Moines for the movie crew. No, I have eaten at the Northside Cafe where Robert Kinkaid dine among the morally confined I have supped mightily at the bowling alley and bar. And yes, I have wished for a 7-Eleven burrito as I sat in front of the farmhouse where Kinkaid and Francesca Johnson did the adulterous deed.
That is not to say I wouldn't have minded splitting a fried chicken dinner under a bridge with the weathered Kinkdaid. It is rather to indicate that a cookbook or two out of Madison County did not come with high expectations.
Not that the cookbooks had to move me to tears and make me want to leave my children a revelatory letter to be opened after I die. I just wanted the cookbooks to be real. "The Madison County Cookbook," compiled by members of the St. Joseph Catholic Church of Winterset--a kind of amalgamation of potluck supper recipes and sweet stories plainly told--meets the test. Except for the opening note and recipe from Georgia Waller, wife of the author who wrought all this in this place, the book is glorious free of literary references, fictitious liaisons and adjectives out of control.
Instead, it is like every church cookbook you ever owned--filled with recipes for Apple-Bacon Salad, Lime Pickles and Norm's Cake. But this one is sprinkled with remembrances from people who live in and love Madison County, not because it is famous but because it is home.
Here, you'll find out that Winterset and the county in which it rests is also the home of the Delicious apple and John Wayne, and how the people there are more proud of the former than the latter. Here, you've got somone writing about her youth in an orphanage, someone else telling about Sparky the Christmas Dog and an exclamation-point happy someone else joyfully reliving the time a Japanese television crew won the Skillet Throwing Contest in Macksburg.
The recipes are delightful, if not as imaginative. What they lack in precision- "bake until done"--they make up for in sheer unpretentiousness--when was the last time you cooked with oleo?....