June 13, 2007
"Spider" Woman

In cooking terminology, a "spider" isn't something you'd rather not find in your pancake, but a heavy, long-handled skillet with metal legs so the pan could stand over an open flame or coals, freeing the cook’s hands for other chores. With today's ranges and flat-bottomed frying pans you just don't find spiders anymore, but they were popular a century ago. I learned this not from one of the contemporary food dictionaries on my desk but from a new blog called

It's a spinoff of the Web site, where Eddie Edwards, of Reno, has collected and sells some 15,000 out-of-print, vintage and rare cookbooks. She likes to thumb through them, so she started the blog to share tidbits she discovers, such as arcane recipes and outdated terms. "Spider" showed up in the circa 1918 "The Jewish Cook Book" and the 1902 "Woman's Favorite Cook Book." In addition to commentaries on the latest old cookbook she's read, the blog includes a forum on lost cookbooks, old recipes (oatmeal jam jams with fig filling), and the glossary, all in their infancy.

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