Revisiting The Great Swiss Chard Expose'
Part 1 - Revisiting "The Great Swiss Chard Expose' "
or Cooking Chard While Laughing Hard - A Very Happy Cookbook
You just never know what may turn up when attempting to clean up/straighten up your office. Perhaps it will be a piece of hard candy gone soft in the desk drawer. Maybe you will find that favorite old ball-point pen with its ink now all dried and useless. Perhaps it is a ten-year-old unpaid telephone bill - the one that caused the phone company to cut your talk wire that time so long ago.
You just never know what may turn up. And that's a fact.
Today, I got around to attempting to force some order onto the bookcase that stands over there by the inside wall. That bookcase is the one on which I stack a few books, some doctor stuff in several accordion, red-brown cardboard file folders, and a collection of some of my writings from years back - neatly typed manuscripts that never made it past that bookshelf.
The electric company chose today to do some piddling around with the electrical feed wires in the area. They turned off power to the whole neighborhood. When the lights went off I was well into straightening up that disorderly bookcase. In my hands at the moment was the unedited manuscript of the swiss chard cookbook that someone had dared me to construct way back in 1984.
Thirty years ago.
The manuscript had been printed on an old dot matrix printer using the zig-zag, continuous feed computer paper (the kind with the perforated holes along both sides) some of us old-timers considered to be "advanced technology." Trying to remember now ... Oh yes. The computer software used in both the input keyboarding and the output printing was word processor computer software named "Spellbinder."
At the time, I had a backyard garden. It did not amount to much as gardens go but the garden had this going for it: It was a garden populated by edibles that, more or less, were of the type that grew like weeds. The only way to kill the things was by eating them.
One of the green plants that met that test was the swiss chard plant. It was really a winner. Harvesting the swiss chard was easy enough. It had big green leaves held up for sunshine and rain by sturdy stalks that were typically a foot or so tall. Each plant featured these stalks grouped in a bunch,. To harvest the stuff, you could pull off the outside stalks and their leaves. The inside stalks would then take over and keep on growing such that you could return about a week later to harvest those, too.
Cooking this swiss chard was simple enough. After you washed all of the dirt and worms away, following which the chard stalks and its leaves were chopped into pieces, you usually popped the pieces into boiling water until they were cooked enough to suit you.
Rather boring, right?
The idea for the swiss chard cookbook was to put a wee bit of excitement into it - something a little more involved than simply telling people to boil the stuff. How to do that?
I had just then been given an old copy of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' "Cross Creek Cookery." The cooking recipes in Rawling's cookbook were certainly fine Florida country recipes, but what impressed me even more was her Florida backwoods/backswamps country stories interspersed with the recipes.
Even her introducing the cookbook with a recitation of a letter received from someone in leadership at Maxwell Air Force Base was an eye-opener. This was obviously how a good cookbook should be organized. The time period was during World War II days - GIs by the gazillion were into training for battle and all of that. The letter declared that Rawling's cookbook should be banned from Maxwell Air Force Base. The reason given for the cookbook being kept off of the training base was that it would have a destructive effect on the morale of the trainees. The letter explained that, although the trainees were well fed with nourishing food, their meals were totally unlike those in Rawling's Cross Creek Cookery cookbook.
The tales in Rawling's cookbook "made" the book. The recipes were interesting enough, but it was the story-telling that called me back into Rawling's cookbook time and again.
So, I decided that my swiss chard cookbook had to follow that example.
And it did.
If HubPages and its inhabitants allow it, I will on-site reproduce "The Great Swiss Chard Expose' " for all who either enjoy reading recipes more than reading stories, and for all who prefer stories to cooking directions. Actually, both of those are fun to mess with, even for an amateur gardener, cook, and story-teller like me.
If you feel like saving these pages, when you and I are done with them you will have what may be the only cookbook in the world devoted to swiss chard. I am hoping that there is to be a reward for you in that undertaking, but beware. If you tell your buddies about your acquisition of a 100 per cent swiss chard cookbook, they are likely to laugh at you.
Join the club.
Note: The next entry is to be the original "Foreword" of the expose' and its first tale, "The Emperor of Chard." If I keep on breathing, the rest of the book pages will follow. Perhaps I may also be able to flesh it all out with some interesting images. I will try.
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