21 March 2013


I was looking through my cookbooks the other day.  I have two bookcases filled with them, and despite my best efforts to winnow the collection, it seems there is something to love—and something to cook—in each one.

Some books border on 'vintage':   
The Working Girl Must Eat (Hazel Young - 1938)
The Boston Cooking School (Fannie Merritt Farmer - 1941)
Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Child, Bertholle, Beck - 1961)

A few are old standbys, which I turn to again and again:
The Joy of Cooking (Irma S. Rombauer)
The New York Times Cookbook  (Craig Claiborne)
The French Chef (Julia Child)

Many have only a few favorite recipes inside but I still can't part with them, such as my go-to Greek Lemon Soup (The Silver Palate Cookbook) or Steamed Christmas Pudding (Harrod's Book of Traditional English Cookery).

Quite a few are specialty cookbooks, concentrating on Bread-baking, Creole or Cajun foods, or my tattered French cookbook with the very best mousse au chocolat recipe. 

And then there are the countless British cookbooks that I turn to for Tea Scones, Welsh Rarebit, Scotch Eggs, Lemon Curd...  or advice from Mrs. Beeton. (e.g., how to hire an upstairs girl or get the right amount of starch into the butler's shirt collar)

Some of my cookbooks are so stained, you could probably boil them in a pot of water and produce a stock of some nature. Others are so worn, the bindings have long since fallen away and the stitched pages come apart in large clumps when I open them.

In amongst the cookbooks are vintage cookery pamphlets put out by gas companies, baking powder factories, insurance agents, or companies that made items like JELL-O, Campbells Soup, or Amana Refrigerators.

There are also cookbooks that speak to my literary bent (The Jane Austen Cookbook or The Booklovers Cookbook) and countless books that feature nothing but recipes for Afternoon or High Tea, most of them purchased in Scotland or England during my many journeys there.

And lest I forget, there are two old library catalogue drawers full of index cards with family recipes scribbled on them in my hand or the hand of my mother, aunts, and friends.  Apple Nobby Cake; Coconut Custard Pie; Granola; Rice Pudding; Strawberry Devonshire Tart; Rosewater Cookies; Lemon Pudding Cake; Hot Cross Buns. And the list goes on.

And now, of course, I'm hungry.

Carry on.

No comments:

Post a Comment