Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Another Fine French Book Giveaway


Fifty years ago, Karen Stoeckley found a dusty recipe-filled ledger in her grandparents' Pennysylvania attic and knew right then that it should become a book. A lifetime later she made it happen, telling the story of her immigrant grandfather's long culinary career through his notes, mementos, menus, photos and more. With recipes old and new, this is a loving tribute to a passionate, dedicated man...but also to French cuisine then and now. The book came out just a few weeks ago.

Those of you who love cookbooks will enjoy it for the usual reasons--mouthwatering recipes, gorgeous photos--but A Culinary Legacy has two added ingredients: the author's direct family connection to the historic recipes and the expertise to understand them in context and then bring them up to date. Plus, it has lots and lots of Provence!


Karen's publisher, Acclaim Press, is generously giving me three copies to give away. Read on...and then leave a comment to enter the contest. 


In 1897,  Karen's grandfather, Axel Blumensaadt, moved from his homeland of Odense, Denmark to Paris. He was 16 and he wanted to learn how to cook.  He carried all his belongings with him in a sea chest that he built himself. The trunk survived two trips across the Atlantic, went around France numerous times, made it to California and back. Today it sits at the foot of Karen's bed in Louisiana, Missouri. 

It's not clear to Karen whether Axel actually worked for the famous chef Auguste Escoffier (1846 - 1935) or not...but he definitely considered himself a disciple and protégé in many ways. At the time Axel arrived in Paris, Escoffier was at the summit of his reputation in London and was just about to leave the Savoy to open the Ritz in Paris with Cesar Ritz.  

Axel completed his culinary studies in Paris, then went down to Hyeres, France, west of St. Tropez, where he served his first internship at the Grand Hotel du Parc. (One of the terrific historic documents reproduced in the book is a letter of recommendation written for Axel by hotel director Felix Suzanne.) Axel's  career then took him back to Paris, to Monte Carlo and America, back to Denmark and finally to Oak Harbor, Ohio, where his wife Josephine's family had a large dry goods store. Finally Axel gave up professional kitchens, having been ''consumed into the family business of retail,'' but Karen learned that he dismissed the family cook at one point and took over that responsibility himself. 


Josephine and Axel had two sons, one of whom was Karen's father. 
And like her grandfather before her, Karen was always crazy about the kitchen, working as a cooking teacher (at Bloomingdales and Macy's, among others), a culinary consultant (to Le Creuset cookware) and elsewhere in the industry. For many years,  she has owned and operated the Eagle's Nest in Louisiana, Missouri,  which once comprised a bistro, a fine dining restaurant, a bakery, a winery and 11 B&B rooms in an historic building a block from the Mississippi River. Today the winery, B&B  and bakery are still in operation.

Finally after thinking about her grandfathers recipe book for all those years, Karen decided the time had come. And that the place to actually write the book was Provence. (She and her husband, artist John Stoeckley, have traveled to the South of France annually for many years and Karen has done brief stints in the kitchens of many Provencal chefs.) So, in 2012, off she went to Les Arcs sur Argens in the Var, where she rented an old stone house and got to work translating the recipes, testing the recipes and updating the dishes, writing the headnotes, adding other recipes and stitching it all together into this beautiful book. 

Her co-author is local chef Max Callegari, the second generation chef/owner of Le Logis du Guetteur"Without Max's assistance, the book would not have become a reality," she says. "His classic training allowed him to be able to read Axel's very old French writing and between the two of us our skills as chefs permitted the development of the recipes for today's cook." 

The book's forward was written by Michel A. Escoffier, who runs the Escoffier Foundation and Museum of Culinary Arts in Villeneuve-Loubet, where Auguste Escoffier was born, not far from Nice. Michel helped Karen with research and of course gave the book his blessing. 


The 168-page hardcover has 100 recipes and photos of food and Provence scenes.  If you'd like to go ahead and buy it, you can get it on Amazon here or direct from the publisher here. But if you'd like to enter to win a copy, just leave a comment by clicking "comments" at the end of this story. To enter, tell us about something you inherited from your own grandparents' and why it's so meaningful to you. Or simply tell us why you'd love to have this book in your library or give it as a gift. Please make sure to leave us your email so we can reach you if you win; signing in with your Google account isn't enough. Winners will be chosen in a few weeks. Bonne Chance!

39 comments:

  1. this sounds very interesting, a different slant on life in the cooking field. I'd love this book to add to my growing collection.
    cigalechanta@hotmail.com

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  2. My Grandmother lived to be 99 years old and was always a part of my life. The most important thing she gave me was her love of food and the enjoyment of a good meal. Her birthday would have been tomorrow so that day is always best celebrated with food and prayer as she would have wanted it.

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  3. What a wonderful story - If the chest could talk I'm sure it would have some incredible tales to tell! Unfortunately I never knew either of my grandfathers as they passed away before I was born. However I have some lovely pictures of them and great memories of my grandmothers. Would love to have such a special book in my collection. I'm a huge francophile and have lived and traveled in France - two of my favorite regions are Provence and the Alps. Thanks for all of your fun stories and interesting tidbits on your blog!
    Vicki edhvah@yahoo.com

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  4. Oh my goodness, this book sounds delightful! I was fortunate to inherit my grandmother's Bible. And as the dedication page reads, it was actually given to her by my parents as a thank-you for when she came and helped them out after my birth. It's very meaningful to me.
    Karene

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    1. PS: My email is on my Blogger Profile.

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  5. As a new grandmother myself, I was hesitant to begin a journal of my own to "leave" my sweet baby Eloïse. Would it be burdensome? Tedious? But, because my sweet new grandchild is half French and may well spend most of her life in France, I am now, after reading this book's synopsis, ready to begin to write my own story and leave some recipes for her. This book sounds so lovely and inspirational. Although I must say, my world-famous chocolate chip cookies are not exactly haute cuisine, Eloïse might enjoy knowing how her grandmother made her own children very happy!

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  6. Hi Julie - what a wonderful read about how Karen found all those old recipe pages of her grandfathers' and decided to do some serious 'food writing' and about the man behind it all, Axel, who as Hans Christian Andersen came from Odense on the island of (Fyn in Danish) Fynen, Denmark...bet his sitting up there smiling right down on that grand daughter of his... :)

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    1. Axel's grandparents housed Hans Christan Anderson for a few years during which time he wrote The Ugly Duckling We suspect Axel is pleased with the Legacy he unknowingly left.
      Thank You, Karen.

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  7. Old cookbooks found in attics are my favourite thing, as you can see how tastes and culinary fashions have changed. Can't wait to see this 'vrai' Provencal cookbook. Always a delight!

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  8. thank you for offering this special book. And thank you for your blog which always brightens my day! I still vividly remember my first trip to France as a college student in the 1960s and how amazing the food was - no matter where we ate, and we had little money. I specifically remember one trip to the Loire, on a primitive bus with a bunch of students, and a teacher/lecturer who couldn't stop talking. We stopped for lunch at a modest place in a small town. Can't remember the name, alas. But I do remember the salad I had - all fresh ingredients, amazingly tasty with a small glass of wine. I savored it; and the setting, so carefully prepared and beautiful to just sit and eat. Vivid memory. I have since spent the rest of my life trying to make all my meals that local, that fresh, that vivid, that caring, that French!

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. My grandma gave me several antique books. I cherish them. I love antique books and it's the only thing that I collect. I love flipping through the pages, reading the older english, smelling that musty attic scent. It's so nice.

    Hannah Jurgelis
    hjurgelis@yahoo.com

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  11. apologies for posting twice. Here is my email which I forgot jean.palmer1@gmail.com.

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  12. I received binoculars from my Grandfather's estate. He used them all the time to watch airplanes and we used to use them together when I was a child.
    gdavis at psteering.com

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  13. I'm honored to have Karen Stoeckley as my sister-in-law and so proud of her and the beautiful book she has written. We have enjoyed many of Karen's culinary treats throughout the years she has been in our family. Congratulations, Karen! Ann Stoeckley Haffner
    ahaffner@kconline.com

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  14. This book sounds so lovely. I just adore cookbooks with a back story as well as recipes! I didn't get any recipes from my grandmothers, though I wish I'd asked for the butterscotch torte recipe from Grandma Dorothy!

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  15. I love cookbooks that have a story to them. you don't just use them in the kitchen but can curl up in your favourite chair and enjoy the stories.

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  16. I have made my own family recipe book with traditional recipes and stories from my own family. I included pictures and a short note such as when we ate this particular recipe or the traditions surrounding our eating of it...ie with my Eskimo Cookies recipe I put a picture of me as a child and told how I loved this recipe so much that I had worked out how to reduce it down to make only 3-4 cookies which I could make, clean up the mess and eat without anyone even knowing. So it is partly family recipes, family stories and family pictures and it is continually being added to. Hopefully it will become a family heirloom.
    I would love to win this recipe book and see how this author has done it and read his family stories and try his family recipes. Lin Powell linpowell@hotmailcom

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  17. Thanks for this delightful story. I'm sure that sea chest is treasured. My grandmother wasn't imaginative when it came to cooking, but that woman could knit up a storm. She made beautiful sweaters, mittens and slippers. She left me her lovely knitting basket, woven for her by First Nation friends in British Columbia. I'm the one who cooks and would love a copy of A Culinary Legacy. marilyn@marilynmcfarlane.com

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  18. Thank you for offering this lovely book to your readers and sharing the heart warming story. It is lovely to pass things down over generations to keep memories alive. I inherited my grandmothers love of gardening. When ever I catch a wiff of peonies, I think of my grandmother's garden in the back yard. The heavy white and pink blossoms only lasted a few short days in May, but they created lasting memories for me. Piltchm@gmail.com

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  19. My prized possessions: My grandmother's rolling pin and bread pans! I feel so honored to have them! And....her old Hoosier Baking Cabinet! Flour bin and all! Thanks for your very sweet post.

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  20. As someone with no family historical records, this would mean even more to me

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  21. Oh my goodness what a story. I never had a grandfather, but my grandmothers' recipes are all so very special to me. I would be honored to win a copy!
    ~Laura

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  22. Oh my goodness what a story! I was blessed to grow up with grandmothers and great-grandmothers, but my grandfathers all passed away when I was young. My grandmas' recipes are all very dear to me. An eggshell of this and a splash of that. Aprons, and eggbeaters. Ah the memories! I would love to win a copy of A Culinary Legacy. It would make my day!
    ~Laura
    lauralewie@hotmail.com

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  23. Beautiful story. As a life long chef I hope my grandchildren will be as equally impressed with my legacy – off course, in the 21st century, they'll have to search in the attic & on-line.

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  24. wonderful story...my grandfather gave me the love of gardening and I still think of him whenever my hands are in the dirt!! and loved cooking with both of them as well as my great grandmother who passed on her love of cooking and German recipes....

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  25. Marginalia is the stuff of dreams for us culinary historians. Old cookbooks that have handwritten notes in the margin use to be disregarded but today, they're the juicy bits! As the Historic Kitchen Coordinator at Dundurn Castle I've compiled a cookbook of recipes that we share with visitors that are accurate to the mid 19th century era of this home which include many French influences. but my personal favourite recipes are the tiny handwritten ones from my grandmother, with no directions and sometimes no measurements..she just knew what to do. .A true cook! Thanks for this post Julie.

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  26. My grandmother lived to be 97 and I can still remember the wonderful Sundays spent at her home. Today, it has become a family tradition to have my family at my home every Sunday as well.

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  27. Entering for...Anne Ager
    Director/Proprietor at Côte Weddings www.coteweddings.com

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  28. This book sounds like a lovely way to try some French cooking and I love the story behind how it came to be! I think I would enjoy looking at the photos as much as the recipes and reminiscing about our family trip to Provence a couple of years ago and how much that I want to return! lmgoodmurphy@gmail.com

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  29. My boyfriend and I have just moved to Provence in October. We're alone on a big property where we work as guardians. I find myself jealous of the French and their family traditions of always seeming to hand something down, whether that be a house or cherished recipes. I cook incessantly but I must admit that although I often go to local markets, I end up cooking either Italian or other cuisines rather than French food. I would love to own a little piece of family history, even if it is not my own, while at the same time owning a beautiful cookbook that can teach me about French recipes and way of life.
    ashley.e.tinker@gmail.com

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  30. My grandmothers both passed away in the last five months. One was 97 years old and the other almost 101. They both enjoyed entertaining others and cooking. They did it with what appeared to be ease and elegant simplicity. I hope wish I can make my guests feel as special as theirs did. Thank you for the opportunity!
    Nicole Moore

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  31. I would love to win a copy of this book since I practice French cooking and feel French cooking is the one true delicious way to prepare food. I have a recipe from an aunt for pancakes that is gluten free (!) and was handed down from her grandmother who lived in the mid-west. It is a delicious recipe from the past and my families favorite.
    My email is debrapaper@gmail.com

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  32. I would love to win this cook book because I practice French cooking frequently, and I believe cooking ala francais is the most delicious way to prepare food.
    I have a very old recipe from my eldest aunt who passed away long ago. The recipe was her mother's mother's (we are talking 1850's here) for pancakes. It is from the mid-west region and gluten-free! So good, and my family's fave.
    My email is debrapaper@gmail.com.

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  33. What I remember fondly at my Grandmother's house is the annual butchering of the hog in the winter. The town butcher came to her house and all her daughters and grandkids gathered in the bottom of the garden where the sad event took place. My Mom and her susters all had a job to do, and the somber group quickly finished the job. Afterwards we all had sumptious feast of freshly prepared pork and wine, and stories were told till midnight. We, little kids, fell asleep in a big heap. By the way this book would be a wonderful addition to my 240 cookbook collection!!! My email is: ujvari@comcast.net I live in Colorado,

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  34. Sounds like a very interesting book - I'd love to have it. My story is different as my grandparents were both great cooks but never wrote their recipes down & no one asked them so the recipes are forever lost. I remember several of the dishes - the best potato pancakes, goulash, turtle soup but can only dream of them.

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  35. Congratulations to my cousin Karen Blumensaadt Stoeckley on the publication of her wonderful cookbook. We met for the first time in June 2011 at her home when she hosted The Blumensaadt Family Reunion. This was the first time I learned that her grandfather Axel Blumensaadt had been a chef in Paris, France. He was the brother of my grandfather Svend Blumensaadt. This is the perfect addition to our family history. Thanks for all your hard work.
    Ann Blumensaadt

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  36. This is Photographer Robert A. Genna. My wife Ann Blumensaadt and I enjoyed Karen's wonderful Blumensaadt Family Reunion in Louisiana, MO. Her exquisite culinary talents made the reunion a fabulous feast for the palette. Her new cookbook will bring great recipes to anyone who appreciates fine cuisine.
    Ann Blumensaadt's Email: SnookyLanson@verizon.net
    Robert A. Genna's Email: LaserBase@verizon.net

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  37. Would love that book here in Switzerland!

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