Latest News

Cookbook comforts

Having trouble sleeping? Try reading a good cookbook.

I'm serious. I've done this for years. My cookbook of choice is "Cooks from Ole Brook," the cookbook that for decades was the go-to source for many of my hometown’s homemakers. A fundraising product of the Junior Auxiliary of Brookhaven, it went through several editions over the years; the first was in 1958. I received mine as a college graduation present. It was as ubiquitous as the miniature Lane cedar chests (great for storing pencils and secret letters) every high school senior girl could pick up as a gift at Perkins Furniture. What Arthur Court pewter is to most brides-to-be, the JA cookbook was to us Brookhaven girls.

Today, I still use some of the recipes, but the cookbook’s true power rests in the name at the bottom of each entry. I am from a small town, so I am familiar with most of the women who contributed. Some were my mother's age, many were older. Most of them identify themselves through their husbands (Mrs. John Smith), sometimes by their own first names but adding their pedigree for further valuable information (Mrs. Beatrice Babbington Smith). I know that these recipes can be trusted because these ladies’ reputations were invested here. Inclusion was like their own Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Here's an example, courtesy of Mrs. Harold Samuels. When I see Mrs. Samuels' name, I have to smile, as she always had a big smile for me. I can also vouch that this is a mighty tasty as well as easy dish.


1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Dash paprika

1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry

1 1/2 cups milk

3 tablespoons ketchup

1/4 cup Sherry

2 1/2 cups cleaned (and already cooked) shrimp

Rice (3 cups cooked)

Blend butter, flour and seasonings. Gradually stir in milk. Cook until thick and smooth, stirring constantly. Add ketchup, Sherry and shrimp. Heat through. Serve over hot rice. Serves about 6 to 8.