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Cooking in the Clouds


Rummaging through the shelf of dust covered (I clean my own office) cookery  books, I came across one which deserves a more prominent position than it has, being how well it has served me in the past. The garish paper back cover has not faded, neither has the sturdy black plastic, spiral binding and the well thumbed pages are still clinging on. Really, I should be ashamed for not turning to it more often but the present day speed and variations on any given recipe offered by the Web has dismissed even my coffee table editions to the back shelves.

Cooking in the Clouds or given its Spanish title, Cocinando en las Nubes has a special history all of its own. It was produced in Quito, Ecuador in 1974 by the North-American and British Ladies in residence. It was a noble effort, 290 pages of indexed recipes, with special attention paid to the high altitude conditions - Quito lies at an altitude of 9000 feet and water takes long to boil at this height. 
In the same year my Cornish friend Peter Wilson and I had opened a watering hole for ex-pats.  El Pub, despite its simple name and rather avant garde decor, served up some good scoff.  Cornish pasties, recipe courtesy of Peter’s grandmother was Thursday’s special; syllabub, my grandmother’s dessert formula, was Sundays when we were open for friends only, long lunches. 
Los Damas Norteamericanas y Britanicas were a stalwart, even heroic bunch. During the Falklands Crisis in 1982, the opposition, Los Damas Argentinas, smeared a bust of Winston Churchill with yellow paint. The following day and for a few days afterwards, both sides being equally stubborn, the Argentine females smeared and our ladies scoured. It could have gone on ad infinitum but for the speedy end of the conflict.
Anyway, it was back in 74, when this very diverse group of  females, got together to produce a practical cookery book, in English and Spanish. Skimming through it now I cfind Carol Gites’s recipe for Baby Cream Puffs, Rosemary Peterson’s Coffee Cake, Claris Hunsinger's Cottage Cheese, Laura Powell’s Chicken Liver Casserole and who could have resisted Peaches Dodge’s recipe for Lemon Squares.
For me, this is not just a cookery book, it is another trip down memory lane. Fond recollections  of what some of the Damas got up to in the name of gastronomy  come swirling back. Wherever they are now I hope they  continue to survive as has my copy of Cooking in the Clouds – I can't see dust settling on them.
This week with gratitude to those gracious ladies, I chose a recipe from page 114, contributed by the then formidable Lela Belle, wife of the equally formidable Texaco field manager, Carl Hurst.

BAKED FLOUNDER WITH CRAB OR SHRIMP STUFFING

Ingrdients
4 Large Flounders
½ Cup of butter
Salt to taste

Stuffing
1 cup of crab or shrimp
2 Tlbs bacon fat
1 med onion chopped fine
1 shallot chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup of bread crumbs

Seasoning
salt pepper, thyme, chopped parsley, Bell pepper chopped, 1 egg

Preperation

Slit a big pocket in each fish. Place generous amount of stuffing made by sautei vegetables in drippings, then mixing remaining ingredients. Put mixture into eac Melt butter in pan to lay fish, not overlapping. Place fish dark side down; then 1 This butters stuffed side too. Bake at 375° F. or 400° F. covered, for 30 minul Uncover and bake 5 or 10 minutes more
Courtesy of Lela Belle Hurst (wherever she may be)

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