The humble asterisk brings this witty piece of cookery Americana into the modern kitchen and allows the cook to wander at will among the syllabubs and hoe cakes and still produce a hearty contempoary dinner. One asterisk affixed to a recipe denotes acceptance by this generation, two asterisks betoken some adjustment necessary; three asterisks announce, ""obsolete but amusing."" The author reminisces, reconstructs nineteenth century cooking lore and practices. Among recipes for bottled cement (**) and rare beef seared in seconds (***) are many offering good, practical dishes. For nostalgic cooks, for collectors of vintage recipes and household hints, a fine staple and gift item.