Sunday, November 28, 2010


Offal (The Good Cook / Techniques and Recipes series).  Hardcover book published by Time Life.

Sometimes it’s important to tackle the serious topics in life (no, not more Stuff on Cats) and today I want to write about offal. Traumatised as a child (thanks mum) with plates of liver and onions, I am still unable to even begin to consider offal as sustenance.  It is over 30 years since I last ate liver (or kidney) and I still shudder at the thought.  There are those of you who enjoy a plate of offal and it seems that over recent years offal has made a bit of a culinary comeback.  This is something beyond my personal understanding and taste.  So why am I writing about offal….?

I couldn’t believe my luck when I came across a large pile of Time Life “The Good Cook” books (not to be confused with the Time Life “Foods of the World” books).  Earlier this year I ebayed 11 titles of this series as a set and failed to make the sale.  I then found an extra title, upped it to 12 and got multiple bids.  After some consultation with some other booksellers, the plausible theory as to why this is, is that people will buy a set of 12 (a dozen) but 11 isn’t a set… even if there is a total of 28 volumes in the set, 11 seems wrong.  Anyway, I have been collecting a few odd volumes to one day make up another set and now I can easily make 12 with the titles I found.  Now here’s the interesting part, some of the individual volumes are worth $$$.  These were titles that were less popular at the time and people opted not to buy them, Offal being a prime example and this is one of the titles that I recently acquired.  So I am going to list this volume on ebay separately to the 12 volumes.  There are 3 ways of looking at this:

  1. As this volume is less common, a lot more people will be missing it from their collections/sets.  Therefore they probably don’t want to buy 12 volumes when they only need the 1.
  2. Someone may just want to buy a cookbook about offal and have no interest in the series.
  3. I can get more money for this book if I list it separately… and lets face it, that’s why I sell books.

So I do have an appreciation of Offal, maybe not in the same way I have an appreciation for James Joyce who once wrote:
"Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods' roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine." 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist, pictures by Maurice Sendak.

Penthesilea by Heinrich von Kleist, pictures by Maurice Sendak, translated by Joel Agee.  Hardcover published 1998 (first edition).

Sometimes I stumble on something that I think is VERY special...  “Heinrich Von Kleist was virtually forgotten until the beginning of ” the 20th century, “when Rilke, Kafka and Thomas Mann hailed him as a master of German prose and European dramatic literature”… but lets be honest, what is really interesting about this book is not the author, it’s the illustrator.  Maurice Sendak is well known… ok maybe “super” well known, for his illustrations and the writing of childrens books.  I didn’t even realize that he had done any adult illustration, but here they are in all their glory.  This is the sort of book that catches the eye and interest as its something a little out of the ordinary.

Its value isn’t enormous, $15 to $30 on Abe, which is still a nice price.  Anyway I was getting this book ready for sale and began writing a description.  I like to be detailed in my descriptions (I think I’ve written about this before), as I don’t want any buyer to be disappointed with some undeclared wear, so everything I notice gets mentioned…. creases, marks, gift inscriptions, signed copies…. What?  Its signed?  Maurice Sendak signed this book? Yes. First thing I do is check one of the many signature/autograph websites to confirm that it is his signature and yep it’s him. 

I was (am) truly flabbergasted.  The guy who created Max signed this book.  So I go back to Abe and check the value of a signed copy.  If the translator had of signed it, it would be worth $44 (no hard feelings buddy, but you aint Maurice)… Maurice signs it and its listed at $250.  I need to stumble more often.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Art of Sandcastling

The Art of Sandcastling by Ted Siebert.  Paperback book.

This book looks at the art/sport of Sandcastling, that is, the making of sand castles.  But not just any sandcastles, this is competitive sandcastling on a grand competitive scale.  Forget about the small plastic bucket with the tiny plastic shovel, this is the real deal, the sort of thing you train all year for and then conquer the beach with those practiced sand crafts… this is sport and art shoveled and mixed in the bucket and turned upside down.  I’ll also mention that this seems to be the sport of adults… there are only a few examples of younger sandcastlers work in this book.  This is no game or casual summer hobby.  There are many fine black and white photographs and the last third looks at the details of when and where competitions take place… very handy information.  Unfortunately for any Australian buyers the book is from the United States so the details are a little obsolete, but still if you were serious you would train hard, perfect your skills, pack your swimming gear (not sure why, as by the looks of it you wont get much time in the water)… and your shovel, fly to the US and then attach yourself to the circuit and compete your way around the country… what a great way to travel, see the country (and sand) and meet like minded people. 

Here in Australia, we have a considerable amount of coastline and beach (and sand), and besides the professional sandcastler in the United States, I reckon this book could be of interest to anyone, anywhere who spends their summers at the beach… dreaming of conquering the sand castle universe.  This book could be the inspiration for Australia’s next major sporting hero.  You know, the Australian Cricket team seems to be at a bit of a low point at the moment… a bucket and shovel may be the answer in more ways than one.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Man Eats Man: The Story of Cannibalism.

Man Eats Man: The Story of Cannibalism by Mick Anglo. Hardcover book published 1979.

First of all… what’s with the Gothic Script… its not only on the dust jacket, its on the cover spine as well.  I think this is meant to give the book a spooky “olde worlde” tone.  Just look at that cover illustration… that’s spooky, creepy and why are they naked?  Well I guess that’s why you buy the book… to learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Cannibalism.  I mean… you know… I’ve often wondered, do we really taste like chicken?  I’ll check the index for “chicken”… there is no index… which is unfortunate as I was hoping to find a few recipes listed in the index, that I could share with you ala Laraine Leyland… but we are out of luck… although Laraine’s Mince Meat recipe doesn’t really indicate what sort of meat !!!

Well moving along, this book was written by a British cartoonist Mick Anglo the creator of Marvelman (… I don’t think Marvelman was a cannibal, but I could be wrong).  The book has some great photographs and illustrations and overall except for the gothic script, I think it looks quite tasty.  Mick seems to have dished up all the evil history in this study of “man’s darker nature”, including some of the 20th century’s darkest moments.  If I had to criticize his book I would say it’s a little short (164 pages) and being so short it leaves us hungry for more.  So who would by this book?  … anyone who has ever wondered, do we really taste like chicken? …or somebody you don’t want to ‘meat’ in a dark alley.  Bon App├ętit.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What ever happened to…

What ever happened to… Respected Citizens: The History of Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia.

I bet you’ve been wondering whatever happened to Huc & Gabet’s (that’s me), obscure history title about the Armenians in Singapore and Malaysia.  Well it sold… and believe it or not, it sold to a buyer in Malaysia, Penang to be exact.  After pondering who this book was written for, I couldn’t help but ask the buyer if they were of Armenian descent.  I don’t usually do this sort of thing as I like to keep transactions on a more professional and formal footing… but in this instance and after writing about this book here, I couldn’t help myself.  The warm reply was “no Armenian ancestors” as far as they knew.  The buyer is a collector of books about Penang and Malaysia and a part time book seller as well.  So there you go, the book is going home and by the sounds of it, to a good home… but not an Armenian home.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stuff on my cat: The Book

Stuff on my cat: The Book by Mario Sarza.

This book is one of the growing number of blogs that have had books published.  In this case the blog is humourous, light and fluffy… very fluffy.  Some of the blogs I occasionally peruse have gone down the same path… I can’t remember which ones but there are some… trust me on this one.  As a matter of fact I was looking at a book of very funny cake photographs the other day, which was from a blog about… cakes… and let me say that I haven’t laughed that much in a long long time… I guess you had to be there, it was very funny ( 

So this book is compiled by the person who brought you .  Its basically a compilation of photographs from the website, one may even say it’s a best of.  So the question is: In this technologically overloaded and connected society, if there’s a website with these photographs, do we really need a book of them as well?  I have pondered this question many times over the years… not necessarily about this particular example, but rather in a more general manner… and I have come to the conclusion that yes we do need this sort of book as well as the website.  The (flimsy) reasoning for this has to do with the internet and our aged members of our communities, my mother being the best example I know of.  My mother is not computer literate and I'm tempted to say that she is proud of the fact.  No computer means no internet.  No internet means no stuffonmycat.  So if she wanted to look at pictures of stuff on cats… well she can’t, and this book fulfills this gap and massive hole in our culture and our society for those without the www, in particular for those who are not wasting time looking at stuff on cats.  So this book is published for the benefit of my mother… who I’m pretty certain would not like the book anyway.  So with my reasoning firmly in place, I am going to try and sell this book on line to people who are computer illiterate… ???  There is a logic there… I just can’t seem to find it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The sad sad tale of my Graham Greene’s

Graham Greene, writer much respected
Hardback firsts are what’s collected
These 4 titles are not what they seem
4 hardcover books by Graham Greene

The Reprint Society published 2
Reprint editions through and through
Readers Book Club published another
William Heinemann did the other

All hardcovers, dust jackets intact
There is some wear but no bindings cracked
50s and 60s vintage editions
No firsts though and of various conditions

Ex library is “A gun for sale”
This rates low on collectors scale
It’s from 1959 and page 1 is torn
Library markings, this book is worn.

“The Quiet American” has some wear
The dust jacket though, it’s all there
The cover is good, this book ain’t busted
But Reprint Society don’t cut the mustard   

“The Comedians”, this ain’t funny
If this was a first it’d be worth money
Its a fine copy in all its glory
A book club edition of this story

 “Our man in Havana” a Graham classic
Another Reprint Society, this is tragic
The cover looks great and the book is too
Insect damage, the jacket wont do.

Hardcover books with dust jackets
Unfortunately not worth packets
4 titles that are not what they seem
The sad sad tale of my Graham Greenes

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Laraine Leyland’s Food for the road

Laraine Leyland’s Food for the road by Lorraine Leyland.  Hardcover book published in 2002.

When I first perused this book, I didn’t get what it was that I was looking at.  There’s a lady holding some bread on the cover and it’s a cookbook… It was easy to tell that she wasn’t Jamie Oliver, Maggie Beer or Madhur Jaffrey and judging by her happy care free friendly demeanor, I reckon that she probably swears a lot less than Gordon Ramsey… but I may be wrong.  So who is she?  Laraine… mmmm… doesn’t ring a bell.  The front cover indicates that she has “camping and caravanning cooking secrets which she made famous on television” and she wants to share them with us… which is very nice of her, but who is she?  And then the penny dropped.  “Leyland” is the key word here.  She is Mrs Leyland married to Mal Leyland of the Leyland brothers.  If any one overseas is reading this, the Leyland brothers and there is position in the Australian Psyche is far too complex for me to explain in this brief blog (check out this disappointingly short article:   You can’t buy this sort of credibility, this woman is practically royalty of the road, duchess of the campfire and queen of the caravan kitchen.  Besides being part of the legend, she fed the legends.  The recipes are quick and easy.  Lots of canned products as we all know that being remote in Australia, its not always easy to get to the Supermarket for the quick purchase of fresh…mmm…anything.  The contents of this recipe are a great example of the simplicity this woman has perfected:

Laraine’s Minced Meat:

500gms mince steak
1 chopped onion
1 teasp Parisian essence (Parisian is made from Sugar)
Salt and pepper
Plain flour

…and here’s what you get.

On legend alone this book is of incredible interest to all of us who have pondered over the years about how the Brothers (and families) sustained themselves whilst traveling all over the country side.  There is no need to ask…its all here.