My (Sparse) Collection of Cookbooks

Several years ago, I spent much of my time running a local scholarship program for the young women in my community.  I directed the program, completely as a volunteer, and helped the women learn public speaking, interviewing, and community service skills.  After five years of doing so, I stepped down to focus on academia, but I am still in contact with many of the young women I met through the program, and I have made friendships that will last a lifetime with them and with the other women who helped to make the program a success.

After one particular year, the young woman with whom I had worked closely brought me a gift.  It was Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious.  I will be forever grateful for the time that I spent with that amazing young woman and the way that she inspired me to be a better person.  I will always think of her when I use Seinfeld’s cookbook, which suggests using vegetable purees in all of her recipes to “trick” her children into eating more healthy.  My favorite recipe from this book is the turkey meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  The carrot puree in the meatloaf makes it extra moist and tasty.  Unfortunately, my kids don’t really like the meatloaf.  They probably prefer the brownies that hide spinach in the mix.

decep delic cookbook

I found another great cookbook, The Perfect Hostess Cook Book, at the thrift store.  I have not yet tried any of its recipes, but I had to buy it.  As a feminist, I could not resist buying a book titled The Perfect Hostess Cook Book and published in 1950.  There are bound to be gems in there, right?  Anyway, some of the recipes I have marked to try are Supa Shetgia, Chicken in Garlic Cream, Chicken Georgia, Baked Herb Potatoes, Apple Coffee Cake, Artichokes Filled with Mushrooms, and Tomatoes Fribourgeoises.  I plan on trying the entire chapter titled “Ten Original Victorian Puddings.”  Yum.

perfect hostess cookbook

The last cookbooks I want to highlight are a family joke.  My mother is terrible at giving gifts.  She’ll often “forget” birthdays, and then if you mention it, she’ll rummage through her cupboards and hand you something used.  One year, she promised to buy me some Dorothy Whipple books because I needed them for my Master’s thesis.  I sent her the links of where to buy them, and I felt so excited for my birthday for the first time in about ten years.

Then, that day arrived and she ignored it and got me nothing.  Later that week, when I visited her, she handed me a cupcake decorating book, from her cupboard and unwrapped, saying that she had thought of me.  I’m not a baker.  Everybody in my family knows this.  This lack of baking skill has been my signature in the family since I made “Rock-Hard Brownies” and “Nuclear Cake.”  These are not proud moments for me.  So for my mother to hand me a baking cookbook, similar to the one she got me the year before, is akin to her slapping me in the face.  Here’s a picture of my cake cookbooks.  My sister got me one of them as a joke after the incidents with our mother.

cupcake cookbooks

What are your favorite cookbooks?  More than ever, I am finding most of my new recipes on Pinterest.

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33 thoughts on “My (Sparse) Collection of Cookbooks

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  1. I saw that Cupcakes book at the book store the other day, neat, I’m don’t have a sweet tooth, but my boyfriend does, I would like to learn now to bake from starch, which currently I only bake from a box. The 1950’s cook book looks interesting, you should post quotes from the book that are now outrageous for us liberal ladies *hehe. My favorite receipts come from Canadian Living. I am French-Canadian and I grew up with all kinds of yummy meals that were heavily focused on meats and potatoes! Also, onion soup, yum! You should check out some of the receipts there, here is the link: http://www.canadianliving.com/food/ Happy Cooking! And great Post.:)

  2. I have that cupcake cookbook – or what I mean is, my neighbour let me borrow hers when I was asked to bake cupcakes for a friend’s wedding and I was panicking and I haven’t yet given it back!!
    I loved the way you talked about all those old cookbooks as it reminded me of the ones my mum has which are so seventies – a casserole of strips of beef, wrapped around carrot batons and held in place with cocktail sticks!

      1. My grandmother used to make this banana dessert that was so delicious – a bit like a sloppy mousse, although that doesn’t sound all that great. I often think of it and wish I’d got the recipe off her.

  3. My sister bought that Deceptively Delicious book– it’s so awesome! I will definitely be adding that to my shelf at somepoint. I think it’s really clever to hide stuff in your kids food. I think a lot of parents give into negative feeding habits, because it’s easier… but with the right preparation and organization, you can get your kids the nutrients they need without the fight. 🙂

  4. Now I’m wondering what became of my mothers old cookbooks and little booklet from Crisco, Quacker Oats and Jello. She used to send away for them, and they had the best recipes! My most-used “cookbook” right now is my binder full of magazine pages, slipped into plastic sleeves, fabulous pictures and my notes in the margin. Margin notes in old cookbooks are the best!

      1. My mother-in-law still uses her old Crisco cookbook for many things! (We have tried getting her to use non-hydrogenated shortening, but that didn’t last…) She wrote to Crisco last year asking for a new copy, and of course they don’t make it any more but they did send a few recipes.

        My favorite is the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook; never seen the show but the recipes are so great we’ve taken to giving copies as gifts for weddings and such.

  5. Isn’t it amusing how family members gift? I too have a family member that gives me completely inappropriate-to-me gifts. I suppose the difference is that my poor gifter really tries to give thoughtful gifts and just continuously misses. I used to hate it, but now I love that she tries so hard because I’m confident that the sentiment is the real gift, however she refuses to see me as I am and that irks me SO much and her gifts just rub that in!

    As far as cookbooks, I love them! I have way too many. My top favourites are: “Gluten Free & Easy” by Robyn Russell. I think I’ve made most of the recipes by now and they are all delicious. And “Mexican Cantina Cooking” by Jean-Pierre Vincken. Don’t ask me how a french guy knows Mexican food but it’s divine! O! and I also love “Chicken & Egg” by Janice Cole, this is a go-to book for various ways to cook chicken but I’ve found the portions much larger than listed. For instance a “feeds 4” actually fed about 10. WAY off, but if I remember to reduce the recipes, they are really good and I love the variety.

  6. I usually find recipes from my favorite food blogs–but my favorite cookbook is the Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers book, which literally taught me how to cook when I was in college. The recipes are simple and yummy and seasonal, and made from things I usually have on hand. Only “downside” (not actually a downside) is that it is vegetarian, which is why to this day I’m still awful at cooking most things involving meat!

  7. Emily, my wife has tons of cookbooks, wants more and then usually gets recipes off the internet. I suggest she needs to at least make one thing from each cookbook, otherwise it is a nice bookshelf entry only. The best cookbooks are often the local church or band sale books. By the way, one of my sons loves to cook, so it is a treat to see him at 6’3″ next to his mom in the kitchen attired in his chef’s hat, which makes him look taller. Have a great weekend, BTG

  8. I love Trisha Yearwood’s “Georgia Cooking in an Oklahoma Kitchen.” Genuine southern cooking utilizing normal, everyday ingredients. You’ll want to skip the baking chapter. I like to bake, and it scares me.

  9. I find I don’t have Cookbooks per se anymore. I enjoy cooking (less so baking, because it’s so precise and I end up eating whatever I baked), and use Google to search for ideas/recipes. After the results come up, I scan for the more credible websites (or those I’ve found excellent in the past) and open as many recipes as I can and read ingredients. If I find most of what I keep in my kitchen normally and some combination that appeals, I’ll read the directions and then adapt, pick, choose and amalgamate based on all that I’ve read. Sometimes I’ll use a direct recipe, but not often anymore….

    1. You describe another facet of the digital age. Maybe cookbooks are facing the same fate some believe that physical books are facing. But I agree that it is so convenient to find recipes online. I just pull out my iPad while I cook with the recipe on the screen. So easy!

  10. ooooh, i like this post. i have been wanting deceptively delicious for awhile but my sister has it and said she doesn’t use it much. that 1950s one is a hoot. i use my betty crocker, pioneer woman, and our best bites cookbooks the most. i sometimes use barefoot contessa for special occasions. pinterest has given me some great salads lately. i do so love pinterest. so many interesting cooking and baking ideas. p.s. my mom was a terrible gift giver, too. i’ve tried not to be hurt by it over the years, but it definitely makes me want to be really good in that area. i may fail, though. it’s so hard to give good, timely gifts!

    1. I do like following the pioneer woman’s blog and I’ve been wanting to try Our Best Bites. I have heard good things about them. Rachael Ray is another one whose recipes are always good, and your comments reminded me of her. Sorry about your mom. I like your attitude. I try to do that too. Just be better and learn from her mistakes, and then I’ll make my own mistakes that my kids will have to figure out how to avoid!

      1. Very well, thanks
        That sounds really delicous! Espacially the chocolate cake *.* Oh my gosh, I’m so addictet to chocolate xD

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