Wednesday, October 28, 2020

I'm Not Sophisticated

Nor is my cooking.  Or choice of cook books.
Katie C., who frequently comments on my blog posts, made a suggestion that I list my ten favorite cook books and why I like them.  
What a good idea.  Especially if you readers would then take the time to comment on your favorite cook books! 
So here goes.
You will see that I'm more like Betty Crocker than Martha Stewart.  I don't cook with ingredients I have to go to the big city stores to find.  I classify myself as a simple cook although I've been told I'm a good cook. 
That said, I confess I couldn't boil water when first married.  (Poor Papa Pea.)  

This was the first cook book I ever obtained.   In 1963.  (Yep, dear old Betty.  She and I have been best buds ever since.)  I devoured this book and my first attempts at cooking came straight from its pages.  I still look through it for new-to-me dishes to try.  Down-home, easy and delicious.

I also have these other four companion-type books obtained at a later date.  All chuck-full of good ideas.

This one may be irrelevant to most of you but considering my absolute love of rhubarb, it's one I dive into every spring.  No matter how many "keepers" I've already tried from its pages, there are still more that tempt my taste buds.

Many years ago there was a publication called "Farm Journal" put out for farmers.  As far as I know, it's no longer available.  In making a search I found a magazine called "Farm Journal Magazine" but I don't believe it has a connection with the one I'm remembering which was in the form of a thick newspaper.  There was a section where farm wives (or whoever the cook in the farm kitchen was) sent in recipes they regularly made for their families.  Subsequently, this cook book with a selection of many of the recipes was published and I've found lots of my favorite recipes in it's pages.  Contained is interesting information about the history of pies, cookies and breads along with all kinds of "tips" from experienced cooks.  Not all the pies and breads are sweet treats but also wholesome, main meal-type concoctions.    It's a big book and I'm a long way from experiencing all it has to offer.

During the years we followed a vegetarian diet, this book was my bible.  I think I opened it almost daily.  I still use it as an excellent source of information and make many of the recipes.

Some of you may be familiar with the Taste of Home publication.  At one time (I'm not sure if they still do), they put out an annual issue of recipes published (from real cooks who feed their families) in the magazine.  I have books from three years, 2002, 2003 and 2011, that I've kept as favorites of mine and I go to them time and time again.

My recipe box doesn't qualify as a "cook book" per se, but many of the recipes that are favorites from the above shown books are filed in there and on a day to day basis (unless I'm looking for a new dish), I use the recipes found in the box more than I grab a cook book.
I'll admit I only infrequently search for new recipes on the  Internet.  I guess you could say I'm addicted to my cook books.

A couple of years ago, I went through all my books and trimmed down the number to these in my cook book cabinet in my kitchen.

Well, those are all of them except for these that wouldn't fit on the other designated shelves.
I know I didn't list ten favorite cook books.   It was hard to choose the ones I did list.  Are they really my favorites?  I dunno, but I was getting a little wonky trying to make the decision.  With so many from which to choose, how could I list only the favorites? 
Thanks for the suggestion for this post, Katie.  Now I'll be really interested in hearing what are the favorites you all choose to list in the comments section.  I just hope I don't see too many that I have to buy!  


Dee said...

I love cookbooks and have way too many. Most I've never made any of the recipes, just a few family favorites. Those with favorites include, the "West Bend cookbook published originally in 1949 by "The Ladies of St. John's Ev Lutheran Church" - was a Christmas present from my mom (no not in 1949). The Settlement Cook Book has a few plus is a great reference, I inherited it, 23rd edition, copyrighted 1940. Many recipes have German names. Another was created in memory of a co-worker, contains lots of potluck favorites plus submitter comments. There's a GE Cookie Cookbook used for holiday treats. And I have an overflowing recipe box containing those I make the most. Sadly not everyone here is adventurous.

Leigh said...

What a fun post. I used to search for recipes on the internet, but it's gotten so time consuming to find anything. Now, I search my tried and true cookbooks first. Not in any particular order:
Betty Crocker's Cookbook (1976 edition)
Joy of Cooking (1975 edition)
a church fundraiser cookbook from the early 90s
Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook (1968 edition)
The Amish Cookbook
The Practical Produce Cookbook
Pieces of the Past Cookbook

And of course I write down and keep recipes we like.

Every time I'm in a thrift store I look for Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Not so much because I'm particularly interested in French cooking, but because (1) my grandmother loved Julia Child, and (2) I watched Julie and Julia and loved the movie. :)

Kristina said...

I have one of those books. The rhubarb one intrigues me too.

Rosalea said...

I don't know if I have 10 favourites. Whenever a recipe is good, from whatever source, it gets copied and put into the recipe file box, which is bulging and needs to be purged. I take recipes from the internet, magazines, calendars...But I guess the books I go to of late are the Looney Spoon Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski. There are so many bookmarks and sticky slips sticking out of those books! When we moved, I had to really downsize, and strangely, it wasn't that hard to go through the recipe books and pick the favourites. There are more than 10!! and the used book store received a Motherlode! Way back, a book I inherited, was 'The New Purity Cookbook', put out by Purity Flour Mills, which doesn't exist anymore. Its full of simple, basic recipes of just about anything you'd care to make. I've used it a lot over the years, and still go to it sometimes for basic information. The covers are off, its falling apart, but don't think I'd part with it. I have a couple 'Taste of Home' books, and some church fundraiser cookbooks. I always hit the cookbook section in the library, and presently have a cheese making book out.

Chris said...

I have the Laural’s Kitchen cook book, I bought it in the 70’s and use it all the time mine has nutrition info in the back. Well loved and well used.

Katie C. said...

Ok, I know I made the suggestion but this was more difficult than I thought it would be. Here’s my list in no particular order:

1. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook - I took this one to college more than 🙄 forty years ago. It was pretty much my first cookbook.
2. Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book - this is an original from the 60s. It has since been republished. I got this from my mom. She is 94 and has senior dementia so she lives with my sister now. This book has the BEST snickerdoodle recipe. The trick is to use half butter and half vegetable shortening.
3. Jacques Pepin’s Table - he is one of my favorite chefs and this is my favorite of his many books.
4. Jacques Pepin’s Simple and Healthy Cooking
5. EatingWell in Season - has great veggie recipes. They also have a web site.
6. America’s Test Kitchen’s The Best Skillet Recipes - I pretty much taught myself to cook watching cooking shows on PBS (pre-Food network, etc.). This has a great baked ziti recipe that you make one pan.
7. Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving - lately, this has been in constant use. This summer I pressure canned for the first time. We might be getting our first freeze Friday night so I pulled all the jalapeños and some other stuff yesterday. I’ll freeze some but this afternoon, I’ll be canning some more jalapeño jelly. My sister eats the stuff with a spoon! Christmas presents ...
8. Weber’s New Real Grilling - this actually belongs to my guy but it has some really good recipes.
9. The Skinnytaste Cookbook - good stroganoff recipe among others.
10. My three ring binder - like you, I put recipes from other places in here and scribble notes or modifications on the pages. It’s currently full so I need to go back and weed out some duds.

Anyway, this is my current list. It seems to change with the seasons. I’m pretty sure that I have over 100 cookbooks. At this point, I could get rid of some but I have a whole wall of built in shelves over stock cabinets surrounding the pellet stove. I have the space and I like the colors so they will stay for now.

As Jacques Pepin’s says, “Happy cooking!”

Rae said...

It used to be common for someone to buy a new bride a Betty Crocker Cookbook. I got one and used it until it started falling apart. I ended up keeping the pages of my favorites and ditched the rest. My banana bread and apple pie are both from that cookbook with a few extra ingredients added in, over the years. I'm an okay cook - not my favorite thing to do and often feel like I make the same stuff over and over again, however I do like trying new things and usually try something a blogger has suggested or I go to my old church cookbooks that I've been given over the years. You can find some really strange stuff in those cookbooks. I do not display my cookbooks, as I have more computer printouts than anything else and just a couple of cookbooks to reference. So nothing to list but still enjoy seeing what others use. Ranee (MN)

JustGail said...

I have the Betty Crocker book too. I think it was my only cookbook for a few years. I still use it. Also most used are a couple of church/community fundraiser cookbooks. But most of my cooking is either from memory or winging it. In reality, that's easier than trying to wade through the books and clippings to find something new. My Ball canning book is a keeper also, not that I've done any canning lately.

It's been a long time since I've found those fundraiser books interesting, in fact I sent quite a few to thrift because no matter where they were from, the recipes were all the same. No local ethnic heritage recipes included any more it seems.

Lately most of my cookbook purchases are not so much recipe books as about the hows and whys of cooking. Or ethnic-originated recipes.

Michelle said...

Well, I can name my FAVORITE cookbook – The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I have several other Moosewood cookbooks that are also very good. My favorite online "cookbook" is A Veggie Venture: Vegetable Inspiration from Asparagus to Zucchini." I used to have Laurel's Kitchen; it has a great homemade soy milk recipe. And I need that rhubarb cookbook!

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StrictlyMystic said...

Sorry to see you have been visited by a troll. My favorite cookbook belonged to my great-grandmother and is called The Ryzon Baking Book. I love knowing she used it all those years ago (the silent movie days!) and the pictures are fantastic. All drawings, illustrated very accurately by showing overly done spots and imperfections instead of unrealistic results since they were using a wood stove for baking. The recipes aren't fancy but are very tasty.

Mama Pea said...

Dee - Like you, several of the cook books I won't part with have very old dates of publication. I suppose that's because the recipes (and cooking in general) were simpler then . . . and so am I! I've seen an Anne Taintor poster where the l940s-ish housewife says, "You have two choices for dinner. Take it . . . or leave it." You could try that on your non-adventurous eaters!

Leigh - I have the same Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook, 1968 Edition!

Kristina - Besides the taste, I look forward to rhubarb every spring just so I can try another great recipe out of that book!

Rosalea - Several of my old books are held together with a rubber band! I've considered having them rebound, but they just wouldn't be the same then, would they? New recipes (from all sources) are always fun to try, but we all seem to go back to those tried and true old favorites.

Laura - My "Laurel's Kitchen" book came into our house in the 70s also! So much nutritional info contained therein. The only thing I've come to disagree with is the use of soy.

Mama Pea said...

Chris - YIKES! Need more coffee here. Sorry, Chris, I called you Laura above. Must have been the association with the cook book!

Katie C. - Oh, yes! Ball's Complete Book of Home Preserving!! Mine gets used as a reference book every single harvest season. I think I got mine in the 1970s! Just about all I learned about canning and freezing food came from that book.

Ranee - I know you're not alone in feeling like you prepare the same dishes over and over. Hey, if it's good and all at the table like it, what's wrong with that? I'm tickled (and kinda surprised) to see so many of us have been, and are still, fans of dear ol' Betty Crocker!

JustGail - I envy a cook like you who can "wing it" and come up with tasty meals. There are a few (only a few!) things I make that I don't stick to a recipe to insure the outcome. You'd think I could be more creative than that . . . but I'm not! :o\

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - I KNEW what book you would list!! (Susan, too, I'd bet.) I had a copy given to me years ago and never could get excited about it. This isn't to say there was anything wrong with it (or your choice!), but rather that we're all so different!! I wonder if my little rhubarb book is still available?

StrictlyMystic - Oh, that book of your great-grandmother must be a treasure! What a wonderful connection to your past. Take care of it!


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