Cookbook Flambé

The New Basics, is one part cookbook and one part reference volume — and even twenty years after getting it for my birthday I turn to it regularly. My favorite recipe in there is Berta’s Carrot Cake (reprinted here) which with their cream cheese frosting recipe, is certainly the best damn carrot cake in the universe.

It was a pricey book when it first came out, so my wife, Ann, was not amused when I accidentally set it on fire.

The New Basics, done medium rare.

There I was working on dinner or something, and I had placed the book down on the stove. That was stupid, but then — to pile on stupid with even more stupid — I turned on the wrong burner. A few minutes later, smoke was filling the kitchen.

In a flash, I grabbed a set of tongs, snatched up the flaming book, and deposited it in the snow in the backyard.

A good wife will thoughtfully remind her husband of his past mistakes — and I have been reminded of the cookbook incident many times over the past two decades. But as you can see, the book itself serves as a potent lesson in kitchen safety with its missing cover and scorched pages.

Remember: just as an honest accountant should not cook the books, a good cook should not cook the cookbook.

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