My Cookbook Memories

I’ve taken a break from blogging, but I have missed it.  I got caught up in the lethargy of the pandemic, and like many others I’ve spoken to about this, I just wasn’t interested in the things that usually I loved to do.  “Languishing” is the word I’ve heard many use to describe how they’ve been feeling throughout this life-changing situation.  It’s been hard to muster up enthusiasm, when the world is suffering. 

That’s all I’m going to say about that, as it’s best to concentrate on moving forward and enjoying life as best we can, without the “doom and gloom” scenario.  There’s plenty to be grateful for, and that’s what I I need in my life right now.  

Tops on my “gratitude list” is always family and friends.  This is my joy.  Hand and hand with this “joy” is the “joy of cooking,” at least for me.  There’s nothing I love more than to cook or bake for those I love.  I missed this during the days of lockdown.  My focus was on searching for food, ordering food, storing food…..there was no pleasure in it for me.  But lately I have felt the resurgence of the need to wallow through my many cookbooks and enjoy the happiness that a delicious meal can bring to those I love.  Once again, I’m eager to share these recipes with you.  There is a new charge of excitement in my soul.  I’m back!!!

Where do I start?  What should I make?  What should I share?  

As I sit in my kitchen and look at the hundreds of cookbooks I’ve collected (and loved) over the many decades of my life, I’m filled with pleasure and passion.  I’ve read each one like a novel, tearing through the pages to see what the next page holds.  The pages of many are stained and falling apart after many years of excessive use.  Even if I’ve made the dish 100 times, I always need to at least glance at the recipe one more time to assure myself that I haven’t left out any ingredient.

These cookbooks are like family and friendships to me.  They’ve been such a part of my life.  I turn to them over and over for help, information and comfort.   Like those I love, they are always there for me, ready to help….ready to bring happiness and satisfaction into my life.  Now it’s time for me to reciprocate and give them the attention they deserve.  

So I’ve set up a little challenge for myself.  I want to give each cookbook a showcase.  Every single cookbook, old or new, holds a memory for me.  When did I get it?  Who gave it to me?  Did I meet the author?  Did I buy it in some far away land?  At a famous restaurant?  Every book has a story.  Putting these stories together will certainly tell the story of my life, especially my life in the kitchen. 

 I hope you will enjoy this journey with me.  At the very least, you’ll come away with some fabulous recipes. 

Mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook 1959

Probably  the first cookbook I ever laid eyes on was my mother’s “Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook.”  My mom wrote  her name in the book  along with “Christmas 1959.”  That would make me 8 years old.  Perhaps it was a gift.  Or perhaps she bought it for herself.  I imagine it was her first cookbook.  Most of her recipes were handed down from her mother, mother-in-law and sisters.  Most were committed to memory, but many were written on scraps of paper, as you have seen in previous posts.   Those are my most treasured, as I love looking at her handwriting and at the name of the person who gave her the recipe.  She always had their name in clear view, just in case she needed to make an emergency call with a question regarding the recipe.  

I can remember her using this cookbook, but only for the sweets….pies, cakes, puddings, etc.  Everything else is not something she would have served her family.  The stained pages indicate which recipes she did try.  She was a pie lover, and I can see the wear and tear on those pages.  Blueberry pie, apple, apple crumb, banana cream, lemon meringue…..and a large stretch for her was her much loved rhubarb pie.  (Italians didn’t know from rhubarb in the 1950s!).  

Leafing through this book has been a gift to my senses.  I can actually smell the pies baking in the oven and then placed to cool on our red Formica-topped kitchen table.  The aroma throughout the house made my stomach growl in anticipation.   Would this be an after school snack or would I have to wait for dinner for this scrumptious dessert?

Now that I’ve reconnected with this cookbook, I’ve decided to bake some pies.   I started with peach, as I have an abundance of peaches at this time of year.  It’s just delicious, and that is the recipe I’ll share……but I can assure you there will be more pies to come.  I may even try my hand at rhubarb pie!  If mom could do it, so can I!

4 thoughts on “My Cookbook Memories

  1. Fabulous cookbook journey you are on. I can just see you going through your rather impressive collection.

    On the eve of my mother’s birthday your post has really touched me. I have her earliest cookbook as well; a Betty Crocker with the stained pages containing the recipes of my early childhood. My Mom made the best cinnamon buns created from a sliced jelly roll type recipe from that book. Back then recipes were also featured in popular magazines too. I recently came across a 1950’s magazine ( LIFE?) that featured a doll cake which she made for my birthday.

    Thank you for the sweet visual and bake scented walk down memory lane. It arrived at the perfect, albeit tender, time and has now illustrated how you have fed a friend even without food.

    Ironically I made a peach upside down cake this morning.

    💕 Judith


  2. I love this! Looking back at life through the cookbooks in our lives is such a marvelous adventure. I think I can almost taste my mother’s cherry pie, baked with the cherries we kids (6 of us) picked from the tree in our Pennsylvania backyard. I feel an instant urge to start paging through my own overgrown crop of cookbooks. And your tone of voice feels like home…even across the impersonal internet!


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