The pantry clean out was--and is--dispiriting. I don't even want to tell you what I threw out (not that much, but still). The second- and third-tier cookbooks are giving me trouble too.
But what do I do with a copy of Anna Thomas's The Vegetarian Epicure, that staple of the student kitchen circa 1975? Everything in that book tasted good, no doubt because of the pounds of cream, butter, and cheese that nearly every recipe contained. And how's this for a blast from her past: The two-hours-later course is especially recommended if grass is smoked socially at your house. If you have passed a joint around before dinner to sharpen gustatory perceptions, you will most likely pass another one after dinner, and everyone knows what that will do...
I do sometimes make her Russian vegetable pie, which is filled with mushrooms, cabbage, cream cheese, and hard boiled eggs.
Then there is another veggie fave: The Vegetarian Feast by Martha Shulman. There you will find a recipe for Oeufs Poches en Souffle a la Florentine. This dish consists of poached eggs placed on croutons, covered with creamed spinach, topped with cheese souffle. These pages are unmarked, except perhaps with my sighs.
Anna Thomas, who sold millions of copies of the book she wrote at 22, has resumed writing cookbooks. I am sorry to say the new ones are terrible. Martha Shulman has veered from the vegetarian path and is now writing a Recipes for Health column in the New York Times. She has wonderful recipes and is particularly known for her Tex-Mex.
I recently bought one of Shulman's books, though I haven't used it yet:
One neat thing you may not know about: if you link to a book on Amazon, often you can "search inside the book." Click on it, enter a search term, et voila. That way you can look at and even try a recipe--to see if you want to purchase the book. Not all pages are available, but I test-drive cookbooks all the time.