A true RVers’ cookbook, this collection combines delicious dishes with stories about the authors’ travel adventures.
Reviewed by K. Stephen Busick, F45180
When I first heard about Recipes From The Road, which was described as a combination cookbook and travelogue, I was intrigued. My wife, Linda, and I enjoy cooking together and, not surprisingly, since we have been FMCA members since 1982, we also enjoy visiting new places. I was promised that this book would please both of these avocations, and it did.
On the cover under the photo of authors Phyllis Hinz and Lamont Mackay, F175089, and their motorhome, is the proclamation “Not Just Another Cookbook.” So true.
The duo met in a writing class in 1975 at the University of British Columbia. In 1979 they formed a 16-year business partnership during which time they owned and operated several restaurants and a catering service. After retiring from the demands of day-to-day restaurant operation, “The Cooking Ladies” began second careers as food columnists and restaurant consultants. Then in 1998, they sold their houses and most of their belongings, bought a motorhome, and began the full-timing life.
Considering their writing and culinary backgrounds and love for travel, it seemed natural that they write this book. However, it is remarkable that they were able to find the time and energy to put their ideas on paper while traversing North America.
If anyone thinks that this is just another throw-canned-food-into-a-pot cookbook, a quick look will reveal otherwise. It is a well-written and beautifully photographed work. This will be especially evident to anyone who has attempted to photograph food. Further evidence of the thought that went into the production of the artwork is an acknowledgment given to friends who lent Phyllis and Lamont the dinnerware used in the food photographs.
The layout of this book is different but very practical. Each left-hand page contains a short anecdote about a place the authors have visited, while the opposite page features a recipe that coordinates with that location. Sometimes the recipes use ingredients from the area mentioned. For example, the story about the farmers’ markets in southern Florida is tied to a recipe for Papaya Marinade & Chutney, while the Cream Of Potato Soup faces a story about the Potato Museum on Prince Edward Island, Canada. Other times, the recipe matches the story, such as a jambalaya dish paired with notes about Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cuisine.
An especially nice feature is that the table of contents and indices list both the recipes and the locations described. The table of contents classifies the recipes into 14 categories, ranging from condiments and hors d’oeuvres to desserts and drinks. Recipes for soups, salads, sandwiches, eggs, vegetables, pasta, and various meats are found throughout.
All of the recipes list ingredients in both the English system (teaspoons, cups, ounces, etc.) and the metric system. None of the recipes require an oven; all can be prepared on the stovetop. Most of the recipes use ingredients typically found in any well-stocked kitchen.
The compilation includes a nice mix of foods that can be prepared quickly after a day on the road as well as dishes, such as sauerbraten, that require longer preparation and cooking times. Many of the recipes are designed to serve two to four people, so modifying them for larger crowds isn’t a big task. However, “festive” recipes, such as the one for Spicy Beer Cheese Soup, are for larger groups and make eight to 10 servings.
In one of the stories, the authors, on their way to Ontario, stopped for the night at Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, home of the “Signpost Forest” and the 50,000-plus messages, license plates, and signs giving directions to travelers’ hometowns. The next morning they discovered they were parked next to friends from Colorado who were headed to Anchorage, Alaska. After discussing this coincidence and admitting that “Meeting friends so far from home was even better than finding the names of familiar towns on the signpost,” they give “directions” for making a quick lunch with friends, Peppered Chicken Wraps. Naturally, a picture of the sign forest accompanies the story on the left, and a photo of the wrap appears on the right.
Those attending FMCA’s international convention in Perry, Georgia, in March 2005 may wish to stop by the little town of Juliette, Georgia, and visit the Whistle Stop Café, site of the filming of Fried Green Tomatoes. Linda and I did that on our way to Perry in 2002 and had a most enjoyable time. While Phyllis and Lamont do not follow their description of the café and town with instructions for making fried green tomatoes, the recipe for Cream Cheese French Toast follows their story perfectly. (Since Juliette is a very small town, it’s advisable to take the towed vehicle if you visit.) The authors also recount their two dining experiences at the New Perry Hotel in Perry and give their adaptation of the hotel’s Strawberry Rhubarb Congealed Salad.
Opposite the recipe for Chunky Pork Pasta, the authors recall a situation similar to the one faced by those who attended FMCA’s international convention in Minot, North Dakota, in 1995. They endured a hailstorm while in their motorhome. When it was over, they decided that they needed warm, comforting food. This meal took just minutes to prepare.
As I went over my notes for this review, I found that I had collected 32 recipes and/or locations on my “mention list.” I also realized I couldn’t discuss all of them, or this book review would itself become a book. The interesting stories and ideas for places to visit and meals to create made reading this book a pleasant experience. The Red Hat Society/Sun-Dried Tomato Condiment, The Lucky Turtles Of South Padre Island/Fried Shrimp Balls With Orange Dip, and the intriguing story behind and recipe for Nail Soup stand at the forefront of recipes we want to try and experiences we hope to encounter. But even if we are unable to try the recipes or visit the locations mentioned, this book allowed us to experience part of the pleasure.
Recipes From The Road ($19.95 U.S., $29.94 Canada; RFTR Publishing) is available from bookstores or online booksellers. It also can be ordered at www.thecookingladies.com.