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There's something about a cookbook...

Twelve years ago, approximately, I had a much bigger library of cookbooks, including Julia Child, The New York Times Cookbook, and a series from the 1960s called Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts, Salads, Meats, Vegetables and Casseroles.  In the first of our pointless, ill-advised interstate moves, we discovered that all of our stuff wouldn't fit into the moving truck, so we left some items behind. One of them was the cookbook library and the bookcase where it was kept.

I have mixed feelings about all of this. In some primal way, I have gotten caught up in the fantasy that having a cookbook both enhances my culinary ability, and, even more magically, causes prepared food to appear on a plate in front of me. Obviously, it does neither. I used to feel that way about aprons that came from wineries and kitchen-supply stores: They would identify me as a Serious Cook.

I am nothing of the kind, though I am apparently much more of a "foodie" than I ever realized before limited funds curtailed most of my culinary adventures.

I miss my extensive collection of cookbooks -- until I snap out of it and realize that virtually any recipe my li'l heart desires can be found with a few mouse clicks. Saved to Evernote, if I REALLY need to keep it and call it my own.

I don't need the collection of cookbooks that I've managed to amass since abandoning its forebears. Most of them, I rarely use:

In case you're wondering, here's what I've got:

  • The (All-New) Good Housekeeping Cookbook. My mother had a battered copy, and it was, I think, the only one she owned. Recipes clipped from newspapers were inserted between various pages. This is probably my basic, all-purpose, whatever-you're-looking-for-you'll-probably-find-it-here cookbook. 
  • Favorite Recipes of America: Desserts:  This was one of the aforementioned series. I bought a used copy on Ebay. There's a candy recipe in there called "Filbert Confection Creams," and I had to have it. That's right: One recipe out of an entire book.  My personal name for it is "The Recipe From Hell," because it requires you to have something like 3 pans going on the stove at once, all of which need constant stirring. The ingredient list is a mile long, and the sugar content will make your pancreas report you for abuse.  Still, every couple of Christmases I grit my teeth and turn the kitchen into a war zone to make it. It's that good. If you would like a copy of it, let me know.
  • My company's "Wellness Cookbook," which includes recipes submitted by co-workers, emphasizing healthy ingredients and preparation methods. I've glanced at it, but so far have not used any of the recipes.
  • A Pampered Chef, It's Good For You cookbook. I use this one even less often than the company wellness cookbook. I bought it several years ago from a co-worker who was selling them to raise funds for her kid's school. It features every over-priced, uni-tasking gadget that Pampered Chef ever devised. I know it's not necessary to actually use their stuff, but the inclusion in the recipes and instructions is distracting in a highly annoying way. It is a waste of time to sell it on Ebay; sooner or later I will probably donate it to a thrift shop or somebody's yard sale.
  • Maw's Recipes. "Maw" was my husband's grandmother. I never met her. However, I do keep in fairly close contact with his two sisters and various cousins, all of whom have fond childhood memories of holiday meals and creations that were a big hit. These recipes were assembled from newspaper clippings and recipe cards, gathered into a binder. Many of the items are duplicates, and I estimate that about 70%, if not more, are desserts. There is one scrumptious cornbread dressing recipe that I will be happy to share if anybody wants it.
  • Everything else in this photo is either Taste of Home Magazine (to which I subscribed for one year; I rarely use any of the issues, but !All those recipes -- imagine the possibilities -- gollygeewhiz! is what keeps them on the shelf) or specialty recipe-card publications that I picked up, purely on impulse, at the grocery store. Ground-Beef recipes I bought for Carl: We've only used ONE recipe from that one. Crock-Pot recipes: great idea, except the crock-pot I bought at a yard sale two years ago doesn't work anymore. Freezer Meals: Again, sounds like a great idea but I haven't even bothered to thumb through it.
  • There's also a one-inch binder, which houses anything I've clipped, or been given by friends. That one probably gets the most use, since what's in there has generally been tried out at least once. There's not too much in it, which makes it much more convenient when I'm looking for something specific.
My collecting impulse has given rise to an enormous folder in Evernote, fueled mostly by Yummly, which tempts me far too often on Facebook.

I've never gotten the knack of writing down the steps taken when I experiment with new dishes, and that has given rise, on several occasions, to disappointment when someone says "Why don't you make that great chicken and rice thing you made awhile back?" and I'm thinking What chicken & rice thing? My son was once on the verge of tears, trying to jog my memory about some "cherry brownies" he swears I made when he was about 7. I have since looked through the brownie aisle of every grocery store, to no avail. I rarely bake from scratch, so it MUST have been a mix, but I honestly have no recollection of ever making cherry brownies. Too bad - they sound great.

I suppose there's a recipe for it out on the web somewhere.


Pat said…
Hey! Loved your post about cookbooks and cooking in general. It was great! I'd love to have Maw's recipe for cornbread. Pat
Lorena said…
I have lots of cookbooks. Couldn't do without. They're great for providing dinner ideas, if nothing else.

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