"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

"Gather ye rose-buds while ye may." Robert Herrick

Hello Friends!

Friends, Romans, countrymen...y'all. Foodies, gardeners, artists and collectors - let's gather together to share and possibly learn a thing or two in the mix.

Donna Baker

Monday, October 28, 2013

Best of the Best

As Curator of Books for the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Barbara Haber developed one of the country's most important collections of cookbooks and books on food history - over 16,000 volumes - to accompany the papers of such food luminaries as M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child and Elizabeth David.  When the Boston Globe asked her favorite book in the collection, she named Cleora's Kitchens.

Cleora's Kitchens is a rare treat.  Not just recipes, but a history, told by Cleora, of her life growing up and learning to cook.  

Born in 1901, Cleora, an ancestor of slaves, traveled by wagon train with her family, from Texas to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) for a promise of free land.  Cleora learned to cook on a wood stove at the age of ten and ended up being somewhat of a celebrity cook herself.  She worked in Tulsa for oil barons and wealthy businessmen; she catered and cooked sometimes for 300 people and served them on a sixty foot table.  

She had a joyful life and spirit, and on the last day of her life, she flew to Dallas with her publisher, to an affair at Neiman Marcus.  They were going to do a fete to launch Cleora's book.  That night, Cleora died, the same day her first book came from the printer.

The recipes are all so original.  Besides Burnt Sugar Ice Cream (Cleora's favorite), the following recipe was one of her most requested and loved.


4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup broken pecans
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
4 rounded tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat eggs well; add sugar and butter and beat well again. Sift cocoa and flour together. Add broken pecans. Fold into sugar mixture.  Add vanilla.  Pour into 9x12 by 3inch pan. Set pan in a pan of hot water.  Bake in a 325 degree oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Fudge will have the consistency of firm custard and will be crusty on top. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

The following recipe is for an appetizer.


Wrap giant stuffed olives with strips of bacon.  Secure with a toothpick and fry in fat.  Powder (while still hot) with pulverized roasted peanuts.

Whether making home brew or Possum Grape Wine (Possum grapes are a type of wild grape), or baking Popovers or Orange Biscuits, Cleora's recipes sound divine.  I could go on and on, but then you'd get tired of reading this post. You'll just have to get a copy of this wonderful cookbook.


  1. I looked on Amazon. I want that cookbook. I have extreme cookbook love!
    Smiles, Dottie

  2. Ooh, I am smitten !
    I love old tried and true recipes, I'm off to look for this book ...
    What a grand lady.

  3. This book sounds wonderful! I will look for it to add to my collection. Thanks for sharing!

  4. It does sound interesting..Possum wine though?Pass:)

    How tragic she died the day came out from the printer!

    1. Hi Monique, Possum grapes are a kind of wild grape that grows in eastern Oklahoma. They are tiny but packed with flavor. I have made jam with them before. Cleora called her old friend, Pocohontas Greadington that night right before she had her stroke. "Oh Pokey, I really have been a queen for a day". She was so thrilled. I guess it was a good way to leave.

  5. OMG. I didn't think it could get any better than baked fudge. Then I saw baconed olives. Ecstasy.

  6. Both sound delicious! And such an interesting woman. Thanks for sharing a bit of her story and these recipes with us!

  7. OK … that fudge … I think I need to try to make that.
    I love the sound of this cookbook!
    I want to check it out!

  8. Cleora sounds like a talented dear and how good her recipes are available.

  9. Oh my...will have to look for this. In fact, just put it in my online cart for someone for Christmas. Can't wait to take a look myself. Hope you're enjoying November and had a lovely Halloween.

  10. Hi Donna... Stars twinkle because of turbulence in the atmosphere of the Earth. As the atmosphere churns, the light from the star is refracted in different directions. This causes the star's image to change slightly in brightness and position, hence "twinkle." This is one of the reasons the Hubble telescope is so successful: in space, there is no atmosphere to make the stars twinkle, allowing a much better image to be obtained.

    Planets do not twinkle the way stars do. In fact, this is a good way of figuring out if a particular object you see in the sky is a planet or a star. The reason is that stars are so far away that they are essentially points of light on the sky, while planets actually have finite size. The size of a planet on the sky in a sense "averages out" the turbulent effects of the atmosphere, presenting a relatively stable image to the eye

    I ordered that cook book from Amazon. It is wonderful. Dottie

  11. Baconed olives, yum. I have to find this!

  12. This cookbook sounds fantastic! I'm adding it to my Christmas wish list :)

  13. What an interesting life she lived. What a shame she missed out on the success of her book.. but here it is a century later and being recognized. I love old cookbooks, especially the ones that tell you how to go about lighting the fire in the cook stove!

  14. OH, by the way, Have fun making the corn husk dolls with your little gals!

  15. The baked fudge sounds amazing! Can you imagine being a curator of a collection of cookbooks....such an important piece of history!


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