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Revisiting The Great Swiss Chard Expose'

Updated on January 21, 2016
Swiss chard and weeds - just like in my little garden
Swiss chard and weeds - just like in my little garden | Source

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.

Cover of Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's Cross Creek Cookery cookbook - 1942
Cover of Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's Cross Creek Cookery cookbook - 1942 | Source


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    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you so much Gus for your kind words.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 2 years ago from USA

      Good Doctor BJ (drbj on HubPages) -

      There is but one good thing about the passing of one's mother. You are caused then to remember all of the fantastically wonderful things that she did for you and for the rest of us throughout a long and hard-working lifetime. That stays with us in her absence. For example, I remember when my own mother began to teach me how to read, and your mother taught you how to write and to be such a good friend to me and to so many others in an otherwise boring and friend-scarce world.

      I miss your mother with you.

      Gus Kilthau

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Hi Gus:

      Thank you for your comment. My Mom loved all her followers. She passed away on February 20, 2016. The world lost an unbelievable woman.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 2 years ago from USA

      Hello again, Everyone -

      Now that I am awake (had my coffee this morning) - I have found a bunch of "Swiss Chard" nonsense among the roster of my deleted HubPages postings. I will be starting the rather big chore of making something "new" out of that old stuff - all the time wishing that my loyal and friendly bride might even cook some Swiss Chard for supper tonight. Small chance of that, but I am going to get some new Swiss chard articles ready to go sooner than later right here on our HubPages thingie. Hang in there. I will be working on the project.

      In the meantime - have lots of fun and keep smiling.


    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 2 years ago from USA

      Howdy Good Doctor BJ (drbj on Hubpages) -

      Let's you and I give 2016 a try. It is beginning with some interesting LESSons, what with the DEMIs and The REPIs filling the air with more than the usual amount of retchoric. What is so amazing is that, from more than 300 million politically ignorant citizens, somehow, some way, somewhere, somebody(s) have managed to locate and push forward fewer than two dozen of the least among them as those from whom we are supposed to choose several acceptable leaders of the 300+ mil. 2016 is to be a year for the books - the funny books, that is.

      To say that I was pleased to be here is to say that I am once again enjoying working lungs and obedient fingers. Unfortunately, the brain has not yet picked up the method, but there may be a wee bit of hope for that.

      I had amused myself for a time in the lesser neighborhoods of the jabbering classes - places like the land of the illiterates, the Bubble place and one more (even worse). The contacts provided a bit of fun, at least mostly so. Well, the "Big Bubble" burst as predicted, and the other nonsensical website fooled the daylights out of me. I had been studying the silly place for a time, trying to ascertain when it would go belly-up. Its membership went down and down and down for several months. I believe that my bride maybe spiked my coffee one otherwise ordinary morning. On that morning I decided to become member #202 of the website. Feeling so inebriated I thought to myself, "Self, you just go ahead and stick some "real" articles onto that website and see if that might result in other, long-term members starting oxygenation again. (There had not been a posting for the previous 5 days other than the website owner's notice that the site would no longer be paying members to post stuff - which, indeed it had not been doing sans any prior notice. The result was swift in coming. The owner kicked me off of the website. That was quick enough - my second day on the pages...

      Interesting places, these "writing and share the wealth" deals.

      With a return to sensible health, and all of that nonsense, I suspect that I may try to contribute some lightweight text around the HubPages. We shall see how that works, won't we?


      Gus Killthau

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 2 years ago from south Florida

      Happy New Year, Gus, and welcome back. As a result of this entertaining introduction, I do look forward to your collection of daftology re Swiss chard and any other ethnic chard.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hi Gus

      Always a delight to read your writing, you made me smile as usual on this frosty morning, oh so breathtakingly beautiful it is too.

      Happy New Year to you and your Bride.

      Best wishes,


    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 2 years ago from USA

      Hello Ms Sally - You have already made this new year of 2016 a happy one. (Great good start...)

      'Twas funny how I came upon my old swiss chard manuscript today. No electricity for a number of hours. ("Time," I thought, "to admire myself in a mirror now that the light is so dim.) I found that manuscript, getting itself rather yellowed and out of sorts due to being cramped up for so long on the dusty old bookshelf. On first re-sighting, I wondered what I had been drinking during its writing. When I was finally able to open the curtain enough to let in sufficient radiation to permit a brief read-thru, I began to see a wee bit of merit to the thing. Well, maybe "merit" is the wrong word. Then I classified what I was trying to read on those yellowing pages.

      "Daftology. Gus, you invented daftology, lo, those many years ago."

      Perhaps they might yet issue a patent on the thing, so smooth and shiny are those wacky stories and swiss chard recipes , like patent leather I suppose. (I wonder if I can sucker a good patent attorney into working on that project in return for lots of copies of the swiss chard cookbook.)

      I wonder, too, if the HubPages will add "daftology" to its roster of article categories. It is my new word, and I am most proud of it. Next week I will assign it a meaning. The consideration toward that meaning should occupy me to a degree and keep me from pestering my bride or the neighbors overly much.

      Take care of yourself, be happy and smiling, and handle that wet felt stuff with due care. They say that wet felt beats dry felt whenever the felt feels like it, so feel good about your several hobbies. It takes real skill to master as many of those as you have mastered.


      Gus Kilthau

      Houston, Texas USA

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 2 years ago from Norfolk

      Hello Gus,

      How nice! You are back and ready to entertain! I can't wait for the next chapter.

      Best wishes,



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