About ten years ago, I was keeping my brother company while he browsed an antique store in northwestern Connecticut, and I spotted this old cookbook:
Attracted by the vintage 1950s artwork and historic eateries, I bought the book. The purchase kicked off a hobby of collecting vintage cookbooks – a hobby that’s spawned a new cozy series, the Vintage Cookbook Mysteries, which launches with BAYOU BOOK THIEF on June 7. (AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!! Sorry, had to shout that.)
I’ve noticed that when I tell people about the series, it often triggers fond memories of a special cookbook in their own lives. It might be one handed down through generations, or the first cookbook they bought as a young adult or newlywed.
Through my newsletter, I asked readers to tell me about a cookbook that’s particularly important to them. I thought I’d share a few of their responses with you today.
“This was my very first cookbook, from when I was 9 years old. I shared it with my younger sister. We both learned to cook and bake from this book. We collaborated on Mother’s Day dinner with the meat loaf and mashed potatoes recipes from this book, and my sister baked the chocolate cake for the dessert. That was back in the mid-1960s.
I lost it in the intervening years (with several moves across the country then across the Pacific – my dad was in the US Air Force). I found it, used, on Amazon, a few years ago and purchased it when I was working with my middle school students who chose to join my library class as their elective. My basic chocolate chip and oatmeal cookie recipes also came from this book.” Kat Kan, Panama City, FL.
(Sidebar: I have a copy of this cookbook from my own childhood. I also have an updated version I bought for my daughter. Comparing the recipes between then and now is fascinating. I once suggested making “Hot Dog Stew” from the original book to my kid and she practically turned green.)
“My parents received this as a wedding present in 1971. The copyright is 1969. My father and his parents were members of this church. Just for fun I’ve included a pic of the recipe we’ve used most often. I just made it again a few weeks ago.” Sue, Greencastle, PA.
“About 50 years ago I was a young bride and not much of a cook. My mother-in-law gave me this cookbook. It helped me learn to be a better cook & has recipes I still use today. The marriage didn’t last very long, but I’ll always treasure the cookbook!” Judith Karish Rycar
“This was my husband’s Grandma Lou’s (we were very close) cookbook. It makes me think of her and takes me back in time. Good ol’ days .” Patricia M., Ottawa, IL
“(This cookbook is from) My paternal grandma’s church where I attended a lot of luncheons.” Deb, Normal, IL
Thanks so much, Kat, Sue, Judith, Pat, and Deb. Your cookbooks are wonderful, as are the memories you’ve shared.
If you’re wondering what I’d consider the most memorable cookbook from my own past, I’d have to go with my younger brother’s copy of the Peanuts Cookbook. Sadly, the book has disappeared from our family’s shelves into the mists of time, so I can’t share a photo of it. But to this day, I have yet to find a better lemon square recipe than Lucy’s Lemon Squares.
Readers, do you have food memories of a cookbook from your past?