My Cookbook Addiction

I confess! I’m addicted to books! But I have read all the books I own and continue to use them all as reference and/or for teaching.

My addiction carries over into cookbooks, and I doubt if there is even one of these books that hasn’t been used for at least one recipe. Like many cooks, I use recipes mostly for guidance to come up with my own variation. My cooking has never been an exact science.

The shelves of cookbooks shown above were in my kitchen/dining area when I lived in Ocean View, and I had another shelf of cookbooks in another bookcase, because there wasn’t room for them all here. I’ve even been known to borrow cookbooks from the library to read!

When I moved onto my boat from a large house in the late 70s, I gave a book box of cookbooks to each of my four children. This is what I have left!

I know I could probably find the same recipes online, but there is something deeply soul-satisfying about sitting down and reading through an old book of recipes that my mother, or grandmother used. Tucked into each book are other recipes given to me by friends, or that I have cut out of a magazine.

Yes, I think you can say I’m addicted!

Now, you may think that with all these recipes at my disposal, I’d be cooking delicious dishes every day. The fact is, I usually have only myself to cook for and if I ate the way I’d like to cook, I’d be as wide as the channel between here and Maui!

So this week, instead of sharing a recipe with you, I thought I’d tell you about my favorite books on these shelves, and even tell you about some of the recipes in them that I love.

Probably the oldest book I have is a little booklet from the Metropolitan Insurance Company; I think I inherited it from my great-grandmother. Several of my books date back to the 30s, and many of what I have date to the 50s, when I was a young woman. My first Christmas as a married woman in 1955, I received the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, a three-ring binder that is barely holding together.

I also love my specialty books, like Mme. Bégué’s Recipes of Old New Orleans Creole Cookery, from 1953. You wouldn’t believe how many pages are spattered with oil and tomato paste! One recipe from that book is “Shrimp Creole” and someday I’ll post that because I make it often.

I have quite a few Mexican cookbooks, but my favorite is Elena’s Secrets of Mexican Cooking by Elena Zelayeta, blind, but she kept on cooking. Her “Caserola De Pollo Y Elote” (Chicken and Corn Casserole) is full of green chiles and wonderful!

Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook is another tattered book on my shelves, also full of messy pages! And Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook probably has most of the comfort foods I make.

The Rodale Cookbook published by the Rodale Press is where I go for breads and other wholesome foods. I have several other of the Rodale books and they are all great.

As I peruse the books, it’s fun to see how many phases and stages of eating I’ve gone through. You will find vegetarian/vegan books, low-fat books, low-carb books, and all sorts of specialized diet books, all of which I still read and sometimes use. Then there are the regional books that show where I’ve lived – Guam, Alaska, Arizona, California, Down East, Deep South, the Orient.

Even though I still buy new cookbooks, I still go back to my old “tried-and-true” standards when I want to make something special for friends. Maybe someday I’ll stop reading my cookbooks like novels (which is what I do!) and actually use them for more cooking.

Now I’m anxious to go find a new recipe to try for you!

A hui hou!

9 thoughts on “My Cookbook Addiction”

  1. Many of the local farmers markets are putting out cook books as a way to teach people how to use all the fresh fruits and vegetables for sale at the markets. The San Francisco Ferry Building Cookbook is terrific because it has great recipes AND lovely photos and stories about the farmers who have been selling there – some for many years. That market is managed by CUESA which means ??? something about urban education. You need a copy!

    1. Please tell me how to get a copy! I went to the CUESA website but didn’t see anything there. I’m sure there is another place I could find it. I mentioned CUESA in one of my posts after my trip to CA last summer. It is the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture 🙂 In Hawaii, we are all about sustainability. We are so isolated that we could be cut off from anything outside the state at any time.

  2. Lucy,
    I am Uncle Sam’s daughter by marriage (we never used the term, stepchild/father) and my sister-in-law and I are putting together a cookbook from family and friends. What was thought to be a small thing, we now have over 700 recipes typed. I just don’t know what to do with the monster now to get it printed that’s affordable, but when I do, I will make sure to send you one. It has some of your Uncle Sam’s recipes, maybe one or two of Aunt Esther’s, probably with cuzz Don’s name on them and I might even have some of Aunt Agnes’s too. I enjoy your blog. Diane

    1. Thank you SO much for writing! I wish I knew more of the Jones family! I’m hoping to get back down to the South again before too many more years pass me by. Or maybe you aren’t in the South? Where are you?
      I have a suggestion on the family cookbook. I’m going to put some of my writings on my website at some point, and people can download it as either a Word doc or a pdf file. Another thought is to do a “print on demand” sort of thing. Check out “Create Space” on Google and that would be almost no cost at all. But it would give family and friends access to it and they can print out what they want. Glad you are reading the blog. Once it’s out there in the world, I never know who all is reading it 🙂

  3. Have been in GA for 35 years but our daughter and family are in NE MS, Booneville and we hope to return to MS and move there this year. Have parent’s home in Hattiesburg where we try to have the Jones/Quinn/Todd /Harris crew get-together when we are back in MS. Could I put some of your recipes in the cookbook? Diane

  4. Hello, my name is Sonia and I’m a cookbookaholic…..

    I know I have over 800 cookbooks and probably closer to 1000….! ,,,,and all these have been collected since July 23rd, 2000 when a fire destroyed my previous collection!

    I received my first cookbook in Cuba when I was about 14. There weren’t too many available at the time except for the one we all considered the cooking bible and it was written in the mid 1940’s by the woman who now is known among Cubans as “the Cuban Julia Childs” although Nitza Villapol wrote her books 20 years earlier than Julia…..

    Before I moved to Hawaii, I too gave away or sold a lot of the books I could live without…still came over here with about 18 large boxes of just cookbooks!

    In the last couple of years I’ve been working on giving some away through Freecycle and still have many more I will be culling out…it is quite agonizing to do 🙁 so it is taking longer than I anticipated….

    1. I’m still laughing over your response. Maybe we should start our own 12-step program for this. I’ll bet there are lots of other people who would join us! 🙂 Love your comments!

  5. 😉 Lucy, I’ve been a member of a cookbookers’ group on the Internet since late 2000 or early 2001. Another member invited me to join…. It was a BIG mistake….it feeds the addiction as you just can’t live without the cookbooks other members mention or review… 😉

    I’ve even attended a “convention” with several other members of that group in Iowa in summer 02!!! Of course, I came home with yet more cookbooks!

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