By Joan Fudala
Scottsdale has evolved as the culinary capital of the Southwest. We have hundreds of restaurants and cafes as well as Cordon Bleu-affiliated Scottsdale Culinary Institute, the culinary curriculum at Scottsdale Community College and other renowned cooking schools. Then there is our host of gourmet shops, an annual culinary festival, locally grown and produced edibles and a star-studded list of celebrity chefs who call Scottsdale home. You can gain weight just thinking about Scottsdale’s eclectic menu of food fantasies. Good thing we have plenty of gyms and pathways to work off those calories.
The secret ingredient in Scottsdale’s fame as a delicious destination for dining, however, is its history of home cooking, made possible by the tall stacks of cookbooks published here by charities, churches, chefs and events. Delving into the pages of Scottsdale’s plethora of community cookbooks provides a glimpse back at our eating habits over the past 65 years, and reminds us of the places and faces that have made our town so tasty. These homespun recipe collections have also raised thousands of dollars for local nonprofits.
Nibble on these bites of Scottsdale cookbook history:
•Surely there were a few self-published cookbooks between the time Scottsdale was founded in 1888 and finally incorporated in 1951, but they are extremely hard to find. Prior to World War II, there were only a handful of churches, women’s groups and restaurants in the Scottsdale area—the usual compilers of local cookbooks—thus, many shared recipes were either published in the Wednesday food sections of the Arizona Republic or the Scottsdale Progress (which began publishing in May 1948). Recipes might have also been shared among neighbors visiting the all-volunteer library inside the Farmers State Bank on Main Street (1921-1933), where the county home extension service offered canning and homemaking pamphlets.
•In 1950, ladies of the Sipe-Peterson American Legion Post 44 Auxiliary published Scottsdale’s Favorite Recipes, a spiral-bound compilation of its members’ best dishes. It also included table prayers, beauty hints (“A good treatment for rough cuticle and brittle nails is soaking them in hot olive oil for 10 to 15 minutes”), household hints (“A piece of bread crust inserted between the teeth when peeling an onion will stop the tears.”), quantity servings for 50 people and weight-control plans. Since Scottsdale was still a farming community then, many recipes included produce or meat from home gardens or farms. Among those contributing recipes were Thelma Holveck, Jean Thomas Scott, Lucy Lutes, Mrs. Glenn Peterson, Mrs. Cliff Carpenter, LaBeula Mowry and Grace Crews—all early and long-time town residents. Shortening, Jell-O, corn flakes, salt pork, molasses, compressed yeast cakes, tapioca and maraschino cherries were ingredients popular in these 1950 recipes.
•The Scottsdale Junior Woman’s Club published The Best in Cooking in Scottsdale in the early 1960s, with a cover photograph of a cattle drive on Scottsdale Road south of Main Street. Peggy Goldwater (wife of Sen. Barry Goldwater) contributed several recipes (including Arizona Ranch-Style Frijoles), as did Sen. Carl Hayden, who revealed the ingredients for the U.S. Senate Restaurant Bean Soup, and Gov. Paul Fannin’s wife, who donated her date and cheese bread specialty. Chefs at local resorts touted their famous dishes: Charles Rough/Executive House Arizonian’s Beef Stroganoff; Maynard Stanford/Lulu Belle’s Tournedos a la Béarnaise; and Harvey Fleckenstein/Mountain Shadows’ Barbecued Stuffed Shrimps, just to name a few. Members of the women’s club also put their best company dishes among the pages, such as Lucy Howes’ Ring-a-Lings and Dorothy Fox’s five-ingredient Whacky Cake.
•Maxine Marshall, co-publisher of the Scottsdale Progress from the 1960s to the 1980s with her husband, Jonathan, also served as the afternoon paper’s food editor. In 1971, she compiled a selection of the weekly column “My Favorite Recipe …” into a cookbook by the same name, complete with photos of each well-known contributor: Marion Saba (Saba’s Western Wear) – Baked Kibby; Patricia Hartwell (Scottsdale Fine Art Collection manager) – Baked Stuffed Avocado; Elena Corral (La Hacienda and Los Olivos restaurants) – Sour Cream Enchilada; Paul Shank (French Quarter at the Safari Hotel) – Quiche Lorraine; Ruth Sussman (Ballet School) – Lima Bean Soup; Pat McElfresh (Scottsdale Progress reporter) – Eggplant Salsa; Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (Cheaper by the Dozen co-author) – Curry Sauce; Sandra Day O’Connor (state senator – District 20) – Grits Casserole; and Pauline Tims (wife of Mayor Bud Tims) – Chocolate Pecan Dessert. After the cookbook was published, the newspaper continued to run the popular column; in January 1972 the column featured the lasagna recipe of Sam Campana; then a student at Scottsdale Community College, she later served as mayor of Scottsdale, 1996-2000.
•In 1976, Patti Stillman, wife of Guy Stillman, the namesake and founder of the McCormick Stillman Railroad Park, published Dinner in the Diner, which benefitted the railroad park and its nonprofit, the Scottsdale Railroad and Mechanical Society. Arthur Godfrey penned the introduction.
•Although local cookbooks of the 1950s and 1960s spared no butter, sugar or cream, healthy cooking and eating began to permeate cookbooks in the 1970s and beyond. The Scottsdale Healthcare Auxiliary has published at least four cookbooks since its founding in 1961; later editions emphasize low-fat/low-calorie recipes. Local fitness guru Jyl Steinback published a series of fat-free living cookbooks in the 1990s. During its tenure as the Scottsdale area’s first and most exclusive spa, Elizabeth Arden’s Maine Chance helped its all-female guests lose weight with gourmet diet food. To help them continue their regimen at home, Executive Chef Harris Golden published Golden’s Kitchen: The Artistry of Cooking and Dining on the Light Side in 1985. More recently, Scottsdale restaurateur Sam Fox and healthy living proponent Andrew Weil teamed up on a cookbook, True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure.
•As expected, many local cookbooks highlight the cuisines of the Southwest. In 1986, Rick Heetland, then owner of Sphinx Date Ranch, published Date Recipes, a compilation using locally grown medjool and Sphinx dates that resulted from a Valley-wide recipe contest. Arizona Highways published DeGrazia and Mexican Cookery featuring the artwork of Ted DeGrazia, the Tucson-based artist who spent much time in Scottsdale. The cookbook was written by local television star Rita Davenport. Fernando and Marlene Divina, co-owners of a restaurant concept company, published Foods of the Americas – Native Recipes and Traditions, a featured publication of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Scottsdale restaurateur Robert McGrath published American Western Cooking from the Roaring Fork in 2000 (including the recipe for his green chili macaroni-and-cheese dish).
•There have been so many benefit cookbooks published over the past 60 years, it’s impossible to list them all. To name a few: Our Favorite Recipes by the Scottsdale Historical Society, Calico Cactus Cookbook by the Scottsdale Girls Club Auxiliary, Pinnacle’s Recipe Book by Kids Can at Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, St. Daniel’s Womens Guild Cookbook in 1975, A Cookbook for All Seasons by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Scottsdale Auxiliary, Seasoned with Love by the Christ the Cornerstone Evangelical Lutheran Church, Guess What’s Cookin? by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Scottsdale, Para Las Cocinas by the McCormick Ranch Woman’s Association, Break Bread Together by the First Christian Church of Scottsdale, Diamond Jubilee Upon This Rock Cookbook by the First Baptist Church of Scottsdale, Las Madrinas Cookbook by the Auxiliary of the Scottsdale Foundation for the Handicapped (now known as STARS), Whoooo’s Cookin’ at Scottsdale Ranch, The Loaves & The Fishes by St. Barnabas on the Desert Episcopal Church, Tour de Taste, the official cookbook of the Scottsdale Culinary Festival by the Scottsdale League for the Arts and Phoenix Home & Garden, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Cookbook – 25th Anniversary Special Edition by the Fiesta Bowl Women’s Committee in 1996, and Star-Studded Celebrity Media Cookbook by the House of Broadcasting (on Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale).
•Roberta Stone, a Scottsdale High School alumna of the late 1940s, recently compiled a cookbook of recipes from her fellow Scottsdale High Beavers that includes memories of “the good ole days.”
•Valley food and dining journalist Eileen Bailey compiled The Arizona Celebrity Cookbook in 1997 that benefited the Season for Sharing. Dining in Phoenix Cookbook, published in 1982, features recipes of a bygone Scottsdale era, like Ambrosino’s, Avanti, the Chaparral Room at Camelback Inn, Chez Louis, Etienne’s, Finch’s, Garcia’s Las Villas, Impeccable Pig and Trader Vic’s. Chef’s Choice Arizona Restaurants and Recipes, published in 1980, includes recipes from former Scottsdale eateries like BB Singer’s, Emperor’s Garden, GuadalaHarry’s, Ianuzzi, La Chaumiere, Oaxaca, The Other Place and The Quilted Bear.
•Food Network star Robin Miller, a Scottsdale resident, has a cookbook every busy home cook should love, Robin Takes 5, which includes 500 recipes using five ingredients or less, 500 calories or less, suitable for five nights a week and ready at 5 p.m.
So what are you waiting for? Go out and buy a local cookbook that benefits a great cause, features local products or companies and shakes up your kitchen routine. Bon appétit!
Joan Fudala is a Scottsdale-based community historian and author. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.