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The Nancy Drew Cookbook: Clues to Good Cooking

What is so secret about Bess's Secret Chocolate Waffles? Are the Captive Biscuits being held captive somewhere? Is Lemonade Disguise another one of Nancy's "bad" aliases? Does the Ivory Charm Shrimp Curry have any lifesaving properties in it? Does the Crumbling Wall Coffee Cake crumble when you eat it? And what is so "special" about The Cousins' Special Cauliflower?

These and other baffling questions will be answered by the Nancy Drew Cookbook where inside its 70's style covers, you will find 'Clues to Good Cooking.' Debuting in 1973, The Nancy Drew Cookbook mixed in a dash of mystery with a pinch of thematic recipes. Nearly half of the 111 recipes incorporate part of titles from the first 50 volumes of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories--including the sinister Double Jinx Salad, the warm and toasty Ski Jump Hot Chocolate, and the mysterious Haunted Showboat Pralines. 25 of the recipes involve places or characters from the series such as Togo Dogs, Mrs. Fayne's Famous Rice, and Hannah's Cheese Puffs. George, Hannah, and the Drews have several recipes named in their honor! Poor Helen Corning--always a wayward character throughout the series-does not have a recipe of her own but she and her parents, The Cornings, all have one together!
The following places or characters are used:

  • Nancy Drew
  • Carson Drew
  • Ned Nickerson
  • Mrs. Nickerson
  • Hannah Gruen
  • Bess Marvin
  • Mrs. Marvin
  • George Fayne
  • Mrs. Fayne
  • Burt Eddelton
  • Dave Evans
  • Chief McGinnis
  • Togo
  • Aunt Eloise Drew
  • Miss Hanson (Carson Drew's Secretary)
  • Effie
  • The Cornings
  • Tommy (Nancy's neighbor)
  • River Heights
  • Mapleton
  • Muskoka River
  • Emerson

21 recipes incorporate various mystery themed words into their titles: Coded Steak Rolls, Mystery Corn Pudding, and The Case of the Smothered Pork Chops are some of the more mysterious sounding recipes. There are 15 recipes which focus on international fare such as Hong Kong Fortune Cookies, Versailles Au Chocolat, and English Style Chops with Herbs. Throughout the cookbook, you will find tips from Nancy including adding a 'mysterious taste', a 'taste of intrigue', the scary sounding 'mysterious crunch', and adding 'a dash of mystery'.

Contents of The Nancy Drew Cookbook

Click on the following chapter links for an in-depth look at each chapter and its recipes.

There is a Forward to the cookbook from 'Carolyn Keene', which states the following:

"How can you become a really good cook?"
"'It's no mystery,' Nancy Drew reveals. 'You must do what fine cooks have always done--add your own special touch.'"
"How do you do this? Let Nancy show you how. Who would be more intrigued to be an adventurer in cooking than a girl who loves to solve mysteries!"
"In this book she gives you over a hundred easy recipes and for some of them she has included her cooking secret. It may be a pinch of an herb, a secret sauce, a surprise cake. The trick can be anything that makes the food easier to prepare, tastier or more attractive-looking when served."
"Of course, Nancy's friends have helped with her cookbook and Hannah Gruen has lent advice. Bess likes rich foods, George the slimming ones. The boys are the experts on barbeques, picnics and beach parties."
"Nancy's acquaintances from overseas have sent recipes of their delicious native dishes, and there are surprise specialties even from Mr. Drew!"
"Just remember Nancy's two most important rules: follow the recipe carefully and add that little secret touch of hers. Or think up a mystery ingredient of your own!
"--Carolyn Keene"

To Clue You In moves right along with 21 tips and how-tos for cooking and preparation of the recipes including "#1. Unless you are an expert, follow the recipes exactly."

Votes for Good Breakfasts is a short story introduction to how chapter 1 came to be put together. Nancy tested out 24 recipes with the help of her father, Carson Drew, her special friend, Ned Nickerson, Hannah Gruen, and her chums Bess Marvin and George Fayne, and Bess's steady date Dave Evans and George's friend Burt Eddleton. All of them voted and the winning recipes were incorporated into chapter 1.

Kitchen Mystery is a short story of how Nancy helped her neighbor, Mrs. Russo, find a valuable heirloom ring--located in a batch of freshly baked muffins! After destroying several muffins in her search for the ring, Nancy is nice enough to offer to bake a fresh batch of muffins for Mrs. Russo's niece's birthday party.

While waxing nostalgic with its many themed recipes, The Nancy Drew Cookbook lacks that closeness and in-depth tie-in to the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. What happened to The Sign of the Twisted Candles Cinnamon Toast? How about The Secret of Mrs. Burd's Sizzling Ham & Sweet Potatoes or Lilac Inn Chicken Dinner? The cookbook's collectibility--notwithstanding this lack of a true tie-in to the original stories--is what makes this cookbook harder to find. It is treasured by many who still have their original cookbook bought fresh off the shelf at the local bookstore and it is sought after by collectors who want to have all of the Nancy Drew themed collectibles in their collections. It typically commands prices between $10.00 on up to $50.00 or more for a first printing in reasonably good shape.

David Farah notes in his Nancy Drew guide, Farah's Guide, (11th printing), that Patsy Bogle of Montgomery, Alabama, compiled the recipes for the cookbook. She also signed a release for them on November 20, 1971.

The first printing which I own--shown at the top of this page--has red endpapers. Later on in the printings, the endpapers became a cream color. Also, in the first printing on page 138, tomatoes are left out of the ingredients listed for the Italian Salsa Di Pomidoro recipe. The cookbook was also issued in a library edition.

Featured above is an advertisement that appeared on yellow spine picture cover format books like The Hidden Staircase book pictured. Only a couple of printings featured this ad and it can be found for only the first 54 volumes. The ad features a picture of The Nancy Drew Cookbook and the following blurb:

"Nancy Drew does it again--this time uncovering the secrets of kitchen lore. After a thorough investigation, she selects some great recipes for every meal. Then, with a pinch of special tips and a batch of nutritional clues, she passes them on to you."

There are also four reviews of the cookbook including this one by the Chicago Tribune:

"...will just encourage young cooks to unravel the mysteries of cooking."

Overall, the cookbook is mostly part of the nostalgia of collecting Nancy Drew books because if you closely examine the recipes with your magnifying glass you will discover that things may not appear as they should be. You will find some strange ingredients and odd combinations of ingredients, and not enough traditional spices for some recipes. You will find yourself wanting to make substitutions and add to recipes. On the mysterious flip side, you will find some very basic and fairly good recipes. But certainly, these recipes are not for the true gourmet cook unless you are an 'expert' and can disregard the first tip from the 'To Clue You In' section and vary the recipes as you secretly please!

Reminder: For detailed analysis of the recipes in each chapter of the cookbook, click on the chapter titles above!

Grosset & Dunlap reprinted the cookbook in 2005.

If you have tried one of the 1973 cookbook recipes and would like to submit comments or tips please e-mail here, and your comments or suggestions will be placed in the chapters with the recipes you are commenting on.

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