Saturday, December 2, 2017

Recipe for discarding cookbooks

Mrs. Kenneth Schumacher broadly interpreted  the invitation to share a favorite recipe.

It's strange how giddy I feel when I sleep past 5 a.m. these days. More often than not I wake between 2:30 and 4:00 and never get back to sleep. This morning it felt like quite a win to see the clock read 5:30 when I opened my eyes for the first time.

I grabbed the iPad that I keep on the corner of the bed (one of the benefits of having the entire bed to myself) and opened the Kindle app. I read until there was enough daylight to see by, then I dressed and went out to the car to clean out the backseat.

I have a friend, you see, who loves to shop, especially at estate tag sales. She also loves to give her friends presents throughout the year. She knows I like cookbooks, particularly church cookbooks, the older the better. You know, where the recipes are submitted by women who identify themselves as Mrs. Glenn Barkirk or, if someone was feeling particularly independent, Mrs. Gaylene Sharps. I peruse these like some people look at glossy magazines.

My absolute favorite cookbooks are those where the owner added notes -- "Good soup," "Dorothy's favorite cookie," "Use dates instead" -- or when the book is tucked full of additional recipes clipped from newspapers. I saw one cookbook where the cook was especially expressive and used black marker to make her notes. Most undesirable recipes simply had an X through them. One, though, was obliterated. Heavy black marker through every line of the recipe, including the name.  I remain curious about what it was and what made it so terrible.

Often, there's a trend -- desserts made with apricots or recipes featuring pheasant -- that tell me something about that family. Maybe there was a fruit tree in their backyard. Maybe the mister in the household liked to hunt. Sometimes I feel a kindred spirit -- cherries! -- and sometimes I'm glad I won't ever be invited over to their raisin loving house.

So I do enjoy cookbooks. But, they come to me by the bagful and many are glossy and new. I never look at those. They just sit in an ever growing, ever more annoying stack.

Two weeks ago my friend and I met for lunch and she gave me three full bags. I left them in the backseat. I told myself I was taking them directly to Goodwill. I told myself I was not going to look through them and pull out the few that are old enough to appeal to me. Well, I never made it to Goodwill, and the books have been sliding around the leather seats all this time. Finally this morning at the crack of dawn, literally, I decided the time had come to sort. I brought in about a dozen. I haven't decided what to do with what's left in the car. Goodwill or my garbage can? There is a part of me that's afraid that if I release them into circulation again I'll end up getting some of them back.


  1. I have my gramma's 1912 edition of the Fannie Farmer cookbook - I love reading the recipes! I've made a few and was confused because they never specified the oven temp. Then I realized that ovens didn't have temperature controls in those days!

  2. Oh, I know. I've read, "Place in a hot oven." The old cook stoves that had to be fed something -- coal, wood, corn cobs -- to raise or lower temperatures leave me puzzled and in awe of those who could use them. No cooking time given either. I suppose "until done" was assumed. I also love the cake recipes that begin, "Make a sponge." Only there's no recipe anywhere in the book for the sponge cake. People just knew. Me? I'd starve.

  3. My mother-in-law died at the end of August, and while we were in SoDak for the funeral we cleaned her stuff out of the assisted living apartment she shared with her husband, so that he wouldn't have to be confronted with it every day. *So many cookbooks* Tons from churches and community charity benefits. I kept a couple, but most went to her daughter. As it should be.


Search This Blog

Powered by Blogger.