Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"The First Official Law Enforcement Cookbook" - purchased at, and made in honor of, the Bloomington (MN) Crime Prevention Association's annual Book'Em Sale!

Date I made this recipe:  June 5, 2017 – Bloomington (MN) Crime Prevention Association's (BCPA) annual Book 'Em Sale

The First Official Law Enforcement Cookbook Compiled by Nadine E. Anderberg
Published by R&E Publishers
ISBN: 1-56875-063-3; © 1993
Purchased at:  a previous BCPA Sale, of course!
Recipe:  Crockpot Ribs – p. 52 – recipe contributed by Ted Vastine – Chief of Police, Chadron, Nebraska

Folks, you cannot believe how giddy I get when the first of June rolls around because that means it's time for the BCPA's annual book sale.  The sale kicks off the first Saturday of June and runs for two weeks, giving me plenty of time to stock up on used cookbooks.

I've lost track of how it came to pass that I found out about this sale but I've been going for years now and I tell you what, if you live in the area and you like books in general, this is the place you need to be as they have rows and rows and rows of books in every category you can imagine.

Since this is not my first rodeo, let me tell you the drill:  every year, the BCPA finds an empty store front in the Bloomington area and starts accepting donations around April 1st so that by preview day – this year, Friday night, June 2 – you have tons of books from which to choose at prices that make you cry coming in at anywhere between $.50 and $2.00.  On the very last day, everything is half-price.

When you walk in the door, you can grab a few grocery bags from the volunteers or, if you are me, come in with several cloth bags with a plan to grab more if necessary and yes, it has been necessary to go back to my car.  In many ways, I feel like a rank amateur with my cloth bags because other people come armed (and dangerous) with rolling suitcases and even the metal book racks used at places like Barnes and Noble.  Talk about being prepared!

On the first full day of the sale which is always a Saturday (Friday night is preview night but you have to pay admission) and the last day of the sale (also a Saturday), you can check your book-filled bags at a bag check where they will total up your purchases to get you through the checkout line fast.  Such a nice touch!  The checkout line is long on that very first day so plan accordingly.

And if you go be sure to bring either cash or your checkbook as they don't yet accept credit cards.  I tell you what, I feel like I'm sending a kid off to a first day of school:  "Do you have your tote bags?  Your checkbook?  Okay then son, off you go!"

Finally, I make sure my Dropbox app on my phone contains the latest and most updated cookbook list since I now refer to that while I'm perusing the section.  Back in the early days, I had to print out my lists which took some doing and so hooray for going paperless!  I've broken out my entire spreadsheet into sections so that I can look quickly at my list to decide Yeah or Nay.  I am not alone in my list-keeping as I often see other people with phones out looking through different sections of personal interest to them.  

That said, I think it would amaze you to learn that I have a very good sense of my collection – all 2,440 books (and counting) –and usually know without looking whether or not I have already a book I'm considering  In all my years of collecting, I've only accidentally purchased a book I already own maybe 4-5 times and that was during the days of the paper lists.  Yes, I am that good!

Since I'm sale veteran, I know where everything is laid out and make a beeline to the  cookbook section where everything has been broken out by category e.g. small appliance cooking, international cooking (all types of ethnic cookbooks), canning, cookies, casseroles, well-known cookbook authors and the like.  It normally takes me less than a minute to start filling one of my bags and it is not atypical of me to walk out with over 20 books at a time.

Most years, I return at least once if not twice to do a sweep for "new" books that have been donated between visits as they accept donations practically until the very end. 

If previous years, I've walked away with one full set of Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cooking cookbooks and this year, waltzed out with a bunch of Southern Living cookbooks for a mere $5.00.  Although I have some of the Southern Living cookbooks in this set, it was cheaper for me to buy the entire set and then donate the ones that I already own.  Out of the 20 books in the box, 13 are staying put and 8 are duplicates but why quibble when the whole thing cost pennies on the dollar?

The great thing about this sale is that I manage to find the most interesting/hilarious/long-sought after books ever, and it amused me to no end to find this cookbook about law enforcement at a law enforcement book sale!

The recipes in this cookbook were "Contributed by People in Law Enforcement Agencies of the United States," whose jobs ranged from secretary to dispatcher to patrol officer to chief of police from agencies around the country.

This book's Table of Contents is pretty small by comparison to other cookbooks, but many of the recipes sounded really good.  Your choices are:
  • Breads
  • Casseroles
  • Desserts
  • Main Dishes
  • Sandwiches
  • Side Dishes
  • The Final Chapter:  If All Else Fails i.e. a word about donuts!
 Recipes I considered were "Pizza Casserole" – p. 26, "Baked Chicken and Rice" – p. 45, "Sloppy Joes" – p. 80, "Gas Blast" (a baked bean dish) submitted by an officer from Bloomington, MN – p. 57, and don't hate me – "Grape-Blueberry Jell-O Salad" – p. 38.  All these (and more) were good but I wanted something really easy and so made today's Crockpot Ribs.

Now shocking as it may seem, Andy and I are not necessarily fans of ribs, barbecued or other and so instead of buying a regular rack of ribs for this recipe, I decided – after consultation with two butchers – to go with country ribs i.e. all meat, no bones.  I think they came five to a package which would have been fine had we not loved them so!  These were really good although be warned that you will not need the full 5-6 hours of cooking time.  I think ours were ready to go after about two hours but I kept them in on High for 2 hours and Low for 1 hour and that was plenty of time.  In fact, my only complaint was that I probably left them in too long as they were almost on the dry side.

Still, this was one of the easiest things I made in a long time and cleanup was a breeze but then again, I expect that from crockpot cooking – no fuss, no muss, no hovering over the stove to make sure things are "going well."  Nope, you just put the whole thing in the crockpot and let it do its thing.

If you are local, the BCPA sale ends Saturday, June 17th and trust me when I say I there are still plenty of cookbooks (and other books) for you to browse.  This year's sale is located at 494 and The Shoppes at Lyndale near Pet Smart and Best Buy.  Hope you find something fun – I sure did!

Crockpot Ribs – serves 4-6 – prep time 5-6 hours – submitted by Ted Vastine, Chief of Police, Chandron, Nebraska (as of 1993)
3-5 pound ribs
½ cup catsup
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons grated onion
2 tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Tabasco sauce to taste.

Put ribs in bottom of crockpot and cover with ingredients.  Cook on high for 5-6 hours.

(Ann's Note:  Easiest instructions ever!  Mad props for that.  If you are making half the recipe though, cook on high for 2 hours and then check.  If you want to cook them some more, I suggest lowering your temperature to Low and then check after a half hour.  I let mine cook at Low for about another 60 minutes which was almost too long—not that anyone complained about them!)

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