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Staebler, Edna.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, 1987. 292pp, cloth, $24.95. ISBN 0-7710-8296-7. CIP

Reviewed by Sharon A. McLennan McCue

Volume 16 Number 3
1988 May

Happiness, for those who are cookbook addicts and unashamed, is another Edna Staebler cookbook. Edna's cookbooks result not only in good eating but also, and some say more importantly, in good reading. In fact, with the late Madame Benoil, she probably shares the title as doyenne of fine Canadian cookbook writers.

She was encouraged to write this book by Jack McClelland: as a shrewd publisher, he was always encouraging her to write what would surely be another best seller. However, she took up the challenge because three whole chapters had been cut out of her last book. More Food That Really Schmecks, (McClelland and Stewart, 1979). This had left her with a sense of being unfinished, so she started with those three chapters and added more of the recipes she had collected from family, friends and fans. This is the result, and not bad it is.

This book does not have the same sense of history and tradition that Edna's friend Bevvy and her recipes brought to Food That Really Schmecks (McGraw, 1968). There are more chapters, like "Celiac Recipes" and "Kinderkochfest," which do not have that baked-in-the-woodstove hominess that we're used to. But that is not to say that the book is not worth your time or money. If the recipes were only half as good as usual, which is not the case, this book would still be worth buying for the anecdotes. I curled up in bed with this book and enjoyed it as much as a novel.

As always, Staebler's strength is in her baking. I tested a loaf cake, muffins, and a coffee cake—all were good and worth making again. To assure that the book had other strengths, though, I prepared her round steak cooked slowly in the oven with a rich beer-and-onion gravy. The steak was tender and succulent, and the gravy made ordinary mashed potatoes into a taste experience.

The story of the Great Cookie war, which Staebler originally wrote for Saturday Night, makes fascinating reading for those who are interested in what happens when a simple cookie recipe gets into the hands of big business and its high-priced legal help. Every cookbook collection should have Schmecks Appeal. Every cookbook addict should curl up with it.

Sharon A. McLennan McCue, Chisasibi, James Bay, Que.
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