As Halloween weekend nears, the nation’s culinary eye will turn to candy, bat’s wings, and other holiday foods. Before that happens, however, UIP wants to offer a more respectful tribute to National Cookbook Month with a stack of books that not only tell us how to cook, but the stories behind the dishes.

From origins to recipes, from the far-spanning cuisine known as soul food to the encyclopedia world(s) of herbs and spices, these books ladle out ideas for your next meal alongside the ur-knowledge that can transform a rather obsessive but personal food hobby into the YouTube foodie stardom that you deserve.

bowerAfrican American Foodways: Explorations of History and Culture, edited by by Anne L. Bower
Ranging from seventeenth-century West African fare to contemporary fusion dishes using soul food ingredients, these essays introduce the interested to many aspects of African American foodways and provide a long-needed antidote to popular misconceptions about soul food. Examining the combination of African, Caribbean, and South American traditions, contributors offer lively insights from history, literature, sociology, anthropology, and African American studies to demonstrate how food’s material and symbolic values have contributed to African Americans’ identity for centuries. Individual chapters examine how African foodways survived the passage into slavery, cultural meanings associated with African American foodways, and the contents of African American cookbooks, both early and recent.

schumanFavorite Dishes: A Columbian Autograph Souvenir Cookery Book, complied by Carrie V. Shuman
Favorite Dishes is a celebrity cookbook of autographed recipes, accented by portraits of the distinguished contributors, that was compiled on the occasion of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It is a handsome sourcebook on nineteenth-century cookery as well as a testament to the desire of well-educated, well-placed women to use their position for social good. It is also a prime example of the genre of charitable cookbooks that began after the Civil War and extends to today’s Junior League community cookbooks.

The world’s fair in Chicago was the first event of its kind that offered women a conspicuous and responsible role. A Woman’s Building was designed by a woman architect, decorated with the statues and paintings of prominent women artists, and overseen by a Board of Lady Managers, comprised of 115 wives and daughters of prominent political and business leaders from every state and territory.

Carrie Shuman approached the president of this unprecedented body, Bertha Honoré Palmer, with the idea of producing a charitable cookbook, endorsed and autographed by the Lady Managers, of their prize recipes. The books would be offered to women of limited means—women who dreamed “longingly and hopelessly of the Exposition”—who could sell them to raise money to cover the expense of a visit to the fair.

rath and assmanJapanese Foodways, Past and Present, edited by Eric C. Rath and Stephanie Assmann
Spanning nearly six hundred years of Japanese food culture, Japanese Foodways, Past and Present considers the production, consumption, and circulation of Japanese foods from the mid-fifteenth century to the present day in contexts that are political, economic, cultural, social, and religious. Diverse contributors—including anthropologists, historians, sociologists, a tea master, and a chef—address a range of issues such as medieval banquet cuisine, the tea ceremony, table manners, cookbooks in modern times, food during the U.S. occupation period, eating and dining out during wartimes, the role of heirloom vegetables in the revitalization of rural areas, children’s lunches, and the gentrification of blue-collar foods.

allenThe Herbalist in the Kitchen, by Gary Allen
Both a cookbook and a supplement to other cookbooks, the The Herbalist in the Kitchen delves deep into the herbs, spices, leaves, and other plant materials we use—and can use–to add that delicious something to our meals. Truly encyclopedic in scope. the book provides detailed information about the uses, botany, toxicity, and flavor chemistry of herbs, as well as a listing for nearly every name that an ingredient is known by around the world.

Gary Allen organizes the archive into one hundred five sections, each consisting of a single botanical family. He also provides all the available information about the chemical compounds responsible for a plant’s characteristic taste and scent, which allows cooks to consider new subtleties and potential alternatives. Richly illustrated with fifty-six images from the Missouri Botanical Garden rare book collection, The Herbalist in the Kitchen promises to enlighten cooks of all levels, from beginning culinary artists to seasoned professional chefs.

welkerHolly Welker, author of Baring Witness, recently sat down for a radio interview with the National Public Radio affiliate in Phoenix. Want an enlightening look at the world of Mormon marriage from women’s point of view? Tune in for the in-depth discussion and have a read of the accompanying article.

Religipehlon has played a protean role in the lives of America’s workers. Matthew Pehl focuses on Detroit to examine the religious consciousness constructed by the city’s working-class Catholics, African American Protestants, and southern-born white evangelicals and Pentecostals between 1910 and 1969.

Pehl embarks on an integrative view of working-class faith that ranges across boundaries of class, race, denomination, and time. As he shows, workers in the 1910s and 1920s practiced beliefs characterized by emotional expressiveness, alliance with supernatural forces, and incorporation of mass culture’s secular diversions into the sacred. That gave way to the more pragmatic class-conscious religion cultures of the New Deal era and, from the late Thirties on, a quilt of secular working-class cultures that coexisted in competitive, though creative, tension. Finally, Pehl shows how the ideology of race eclipsed class in the 1950s and 1960s, and in so doing replaced the class-conscious with the race-conscious in religious cultures throughout the city.

This October marks the 104th anniversary of the debut of a pop culture titan. Born of woman, raised by apes, Tarzan swung into American consciousness via the pen of underemployed Oak Park salesman Edgar Rice Burroughs, a fan of the era’s pulp magazines. Later, from atop fame and fortune, he recalled thinking that “if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten.”

He was not kidding. Burroughs renders the modern-day reader helpless with his prose. But in the early 1900s he struck literary gold from just about the day his ape man found the light of publication. The novel Tarzan of the Apes launched a character that became a perennial in just about any entertainment media consumed by thrill-hungry Americans. Elmo Lincoln played Tarzan on screen in 1918 in the first of over 200 (!) Tarzan films. As time went on the ape-man conquered radio, television, cartoons, video games, the View-Master, and comics. Burroughs, meanwhile, made enough money to buy a California ranch in 1915. He christened it Tarzana and the Los Angeles neighborhood where it stood still bears that name.

Burroughs proved to be a pioneer in pop culture monetization. Almost from the go he oversaw Tarzan’s jump into other media and also made a fortune merchandising his creation. As for the books, Burroughs cranked out Tarzan adventures by the hatful while also—this is honestly incredible—writing two other classic, bestselling series: several books set in Pellucidar, “the world at the earth’s core,” and the tales of John Carter, Warlord of Mars. Not surprisingly, the savvy Burroughs mastered the art of the crossover, publishing Tarzan at the Earth’s Core in 1930. (Tarzan rides an airship into the hollow earth, if you’re wondering.) Late in life Burroughs parlayed his status as a national treasure into work as a World War Two war correspondent despite being almost 70 years old.

Fellow Oak Park alum Ernest Hemingway settled for making beer ads and winning the Nobel Prize. Burroughs, in the words of Ray Bradbury, topped him. “Edgar Rice Burroughs was, and is, the most influential writer, bar none, of our century,” Bradbury said.


mustakeemThe new UIP release Slavery at Sea examines the infamous Middle Passage in a new light. Sowande’ Mustakeem reveals for the first time how slavery took critical shape at sea. Expanding the gaze even more deeply, the book centers how the oceanic transport of human cargoes comprised a violently regulated process foundational to the institution of bondage.

Mustakeem goes inside the Atlantic slave trade to explore the social conditions and human costs embedded in the world of maritime slavery. Mining ship logs, records and personal documents, Mustakeem teases out the social histories produced between those on traveling ships: slaves, captains, sailors, and surgeons. As she shows, crewmen manufactured captives through enforced dependency, relentless cycles of physical, psychological terror, and pain that led to the the making—and unmaking—of enslaved Africans held and transported onboard slave ships. Mustakeem relates how this process, and related power struggles, played out not just for adult men, but also for women, children, teens, infants, nursing mothers, the elderly, diseased, ailing, and dying. Mustakeem offers provocative new insights into how gender, health, age, illness, and medical treatment intersected with trauma and violence transformed human beings into the world’s most commercially sought commodity for over four centuries.

clampittTonight Cynthia Clampitt continues her barnstorming book tour of the Midwest with a reading a book signing in Winfield, Illinois. (Seven p.m. at the Public Library.) To celebrate, the blog shares one of the recipes Clampitt collected in Midwest Maize, her popular history of corn and its countless products.

It is daring to print a cornbread recipe because, as most of us know, a lot of cooks and restaurants manage to screw up cornbread. Conceived long ago as the People’s Food, i.e. filling but not expensive, and fairly simple to make, cornbread nonetheless vexes many amateur and pro bakers alike. Finding a good recipe, or a good location for buying it, remains a grail.

Crescent Dragonwagon, author of The Cornbread Gospels, shared one of her go-to recipes in Midwest Maize and we present it not only with pride, but as a public service to cornbread fans everywhere.

Gold and White Tasty Cornbread

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup unbleached white flour
1 1/2 cups stone-ground white cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
3 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/2 cup canned cream corn

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with oil, and set aside.

2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

3. Break the egg into a second medium bowl, and whisk it well. Whisk in the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and creamed corn

4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients with as few strokes as possible, and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

The Beatles catalog, not including various remixes and bootlegs and all the other whatnot of beloved musical outfits, comes in at 217 songs, about ten hours of music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, on the other hand, is about to drop a boxed set so massive it makes the Fab Four look like Martha and the Muffins.

Of course, Mozart’s career as a child prodigy gives him a head start, but it’s still a statistically boggling release: 200 CDs holding over 4,000 tracks that come to 240 hours of music. The classical colossus will appear on October 28 to celebrate the wondrous Austrian’s 225th birthday. Today, UIP honors WAM in anticipation of his big day, knowing that 225 years old is just a blip for a first ballot immortal.

sollers mozartMysterious Mozart, by Philippe Sollers, translated and with an introduction by Armine Kotin Mortimer
Last seen writing on Casanova, Philippe Sollers brought his idiosyncratic melding of biography and self-portrait to bear on Mozart. Alternately oblique and searingly, Mysterious Mozart is Sollers’s interpretation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s oeuvre and lasting mystique, audaciously reformulated for the postmodern age.

With a mix of slang, abstractions, quotations, first- and third-person narratives, and blunt opinion, French writer and critic Philippe Sollers taps into Mozart’s playful correspondence and the lesser-known pieces of his enormous repertoire to analyze the popularity and public perceptions of his music. Detailing Mozart’s drive to continue producing masterpieces even when saddled with debt and riddled with illness and anxiety, Sollers powerfully and meticulously analyzes Mozart’s seven last great operas using a psychoanalytical approach to the characters’ relationships.

kindermanThe Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtág, by William Kinderman
In this fascinating study, William Kinderman opens the door to the composer’s workshop, investigating not just the final outcome but the process of creative endeavor in music. Focusing on the stages of composition, Kinderman maintains that the most rigorous basis for the study of artistic creativity comes not from anecdotal or autobiographical reports, but from original handwritten sketches, drafts, revised manuscripts, and corrected proof sheets. He explores works of major composers from the eighteenth century to the present, from Mozart’s piano music and Beethoven’s Piano Trio in F to Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments and Hommage à R. Sch. Other chapters examine Robert Schumann’s Fantasie in C, Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, and Bartók’s Dance Suite.

Kinderman’s analysis takes the form of “genetic criticism,” tracing the genesis of these cultural works, exploring their aesthetic meaning, and mapping the continuity of a central European tradition that has displayed remarkable vitality for over two centuries, as accumulated legacies assumed importance for later generations. Revealing the diversity of sources, rejected passages and movements, fragmentary unfinished works, and aborted projects that were absorbed into finished compositions, The Creative Process in Music from Mozart to Kurtág illustrates the wealth of insight that can be gained through studying how creators create.

shabazzA geographic study of race and gender, Spatializing Blackness casts light upon the ubiquitous—and ordinary—ways carceral power functions in places where African Americans live. Moving from the kitchenette to the prison cell, and mining forgotten facts from sources as diverse as maps and memoirs, Rashad Shabazz explores the myriad architectures of confinement, policing, surveillance, urban planning, and incarceration. Below we present a glimpse inside the book with four quotes taken from the text.

1. For Black Chicagoans kitchenettes were not represented as modern, convenient, or libratory. Experientially, kitchenettes were forms of containment. Black migrants moved into kitchenettes for three reasons: they were restricted with regard to where they could live; kitchenettes were the only affordable housing option; and kitchenettes were heavily marketed toward Blacks. . . . For Black migrants the kitchenette was a return to antiquated forms of housing that in many cases was no better than the conditions they experienced in the South during and after slavery. The kitchenette was a form of punishment for moving North, what [Richard] Wright called the “royal road to a slum community.” Black life in the kitchenette was hard. They were filthy, decrepit, diseased, packed full, overpriced, and full of tension that sometimes erupted in male violence.

2. The spatial containment of Black men is nothing new. Indeed, it was a central part of their experience in this country. Read as licentious, criminal, violent, and rapacious, Black men have historically produced fear among whites, which has led to calls for their regulation, discipline, and dispersal. . . . Fears of Black men in Chicago during the early twentieth century produced demands for their regulation and led to the shuttering of the interzones. But more than containment, carceral power in Chicago played a role in shaping how Black men understood and performed masculinity. Segregation, policing, and containment informed the landscape on which generations of Black boys and young men learned gender. This is most vividly expressed in the rise of Black gangs in Chicago.

3. The revolving door between Black Chicago and the IDOC is an example of what sociologist Todd Clear calls “coercive mobility,” where sizable portions of the population cycle between the community and prison. In the process of this back-and-forth, the community becomes destabilized and disorganized.

Some Black communities in Chicago experience this corrosive mobility on a large scale. Each year, Illinois releases 35,000 prisoners from its state institutions (the figure is 700,000 nationally). More than 60 percent return to just fifteen zip codes located on the West and South Sides of Chicago.

4. Urban agriculture can also help offset the detrimental effects of living in a food desert and also provide social, physical, and mental health benefits to the community. Growing food on small plots of land positively influences dietary habits and the culinary diversity in the place where that food is grown. When communities have access to whole foods, they also develop skills to turn that raw food into cooked food. And locally grown food is also more economical. Every dollar spent on a community garden generates six dollars’ worth of food. This makes it possible for people who have little or no flexibility in their food budgets to purchase healthy foods.

On October 18, 1924, a streak of fire and breath of flame named Harold “Red” Grange had a game for the ages, scoring six touchdowns against a University of Michigan defense thought to be among the best in the nation. The Galloping Ghost put up extravagant numbers against the Wolverines and, indeed, most everyone else, before turning pro a day after the season finale against Ohio State. Though born in Pennsylvania, Grange moved to Wheaton at age five. He earned sixteen high school letters and three track & field state championships while working himself into even better shape with a job humping ice. His 75 prep touchdowns impressed everyone but Grange. As legend has it, he only chose football over careers in basketball and track due to pressure and paddling by his fraternity brothers.

Grange partnered with Champaign businessman C. C. Pyle, owner of the Virginia Theater, when he went pro. Pyle brought in a stack of commercial endorsements and negotiated his client’s deal with famously stingy Chicago Bears owner George Halas. A brutal two month, 19-game barnstorming tour brought Grange $3,000 per game plus a share of the gate. He returned home not only in triumph but wearing a fur coat of luxurious raccoon. Not long after, Grange tried and failed to buy into the young National Football League. He started a league of his own. When it folded, he returned to the Bears. A 1927 knee injury cost him the following season and his explosiveness, but he remained a solid pro player at defensive back. He retired in 1934.

The most atypical of bluegrass artists, Bill Clifton has enjoyed a long career as a recording artist, performer, and champion of old-time music. Bill C. Malone pens the story of Clifton’s eclectic life and influential career.

Born intomalone bill clifton a prominent Maryland family, Clifton connected with old-time music as a boy. Clifton made records around earning a Master’s degree, fifteen years in the British folk scene, and stints in the Peace Corps and Marines. Yet that was just the beginning. Closely allied with the Carter Family, Woody Guthrie, Mike Seeger, and others, Clifton altered our very perceptions of the music—organizing one of the first outdoor bluegrass festivals, publishing a book of folk and gospel standards that became a cornerstone of the folk revival, and introducing both traditional and progressive bluegrass around the world. As Malone shows, Clifton clothed the music of working-class people in the vestments of romance, celebrating the log cabin as a refuge from modernism that rang with the timeless music of Appalachia.

An entertaining account by an eminent music historian, Bill Clifton clarifies the myths and illuminates the paradoxes of an amazing musical life.