Janet's Notebook
Community Cookbooks Spark Creativity, Preserve Traditions

Community cookbooks prepared by members

"How did your cookbook collection start?" asks home cook Kathy Sterling in her Just A Pinch online discussion group, Cookbook Collectors Corner. "Perhaps someone gave you a gift and it started your romance with cookbooks, or you inherited your family favorite cookbooks." Indeed, Kathy's passion for cookbooks is shared by MANY of us here at the Club. There is just something so very special about sitting down and turning the pages of a recipe collection - one by one. Equal parts relaxation and exhilaration.

"I read a cookbook like most people read a novel," continues Kathy, a Blue Ribbon cook from Cypress, TX. "When I get a new one, it is by my bedside while I devour its contents. I didn't realize I had a cookbook collection until I started putting them together in one place! I had a few in the kitchen, some on a bookshelf in the den, some in a closet then low and behold they began to grow."

I couldn't agree more! My own love of cookbooks started with a stack of worn church cookbooks. My mom kept them stored in a drawer in our kitchen, and I'd pull them out to look at the pictures and read all the notes my mom had added. Each of the ladies featured in those books seemed so regal and important! I knew some of them as friends of my mom, but the others I got to use my imagination on! Simply put, the recipes from those cookbooks are among the best food I've ever eaten.

The Crew and I were tickled pink recently when we got to roll out our tribute to this tradition of community cooking: Custom Cookbooks! This is a new feature to our home here online. Compilation cookbooks of your favorite recipes - shared by cooks from all corners - are now a snap to create. We love organizing our recipes online, but we also never tire of flipping through a bound cookbook and wondering about the cooks and their stories.

Cookbook fan Kathy says it well; "I look [for] cookbooks with stories, regional books with pictures of the area it came from and family cookbooks with photos of gatherings." In fact, Kathy herself has her Blue Ribbon recipe for Tiny Pecan Pies featured in a Just A Pinch cookbook compiled by home cook Gail Welch of Carthage, TX! The cookbook, entitled "True Confections", is a delightful homage to Gail's family... and her obvious sweet tooth! "[This book is] dedicated to those who like things a little sweeter," writes Gail. With an absolutely charming family photo on the cover and pages chock full of time-tested recipes, Gail's book is truly an irresistible treat in itself.

Please join us in this celebration of community cooking - a tradition worth preserving.

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Dawn VanHorn - Oct 30, 2011
I to have CCBD so I know the feeling I am and have been a collector of cookbooks since I was 18 years old and the collection has grown to over a thousand cookbooks literally I have one million + recipes. Cd's cookbooks recipe cards several composition books and 2 large 3 ring binders that I have compiled of my own that has over 300 recipes in it, I Love to bake especially from scratch, My daughter sayes that I need to scale down that wont happen, everybody has their thing this just happens to be my thing.
Carol lynn Orrell - Oct 30, 2011
Hi everyone..I like Gail have a very eclectic cook book collection. It started when I got married with an Eastern Star Cook Book. I have had that book now for just shy of 50 years. The paper cover is now gone and the front and back pages are a bit wrinkled...many pages have a few spots. It is as well loved as it is worn, and now resides in a special plastic bag for safety. I would be willing to bet that most cooks here have one just like mine. Since that first book I have collected approx. 50 other books from yard sales and purchased at various stores over these many years. Each and everyone of these books have influenced my cooking, just as growing up in the restaurant business. I really miss our Chef (Milton Smith) now sadly passed away. He taught me so many things about cooking that I never would have know. He didn't know he was teaching me anything. While I was baking for our restaurant of course he was prepping for lunch, dinner or banquet service. I learned my knife skills from him and everything I know about quanity and quality cooking. I love my cook books but really use them as a guide and put my own spin on the recipe using the seasonings and herbs that I like.

There were great cooks before me in my family my grandmother who was diabetic and could bake cinnamon buns and pastry fit for angels and never taste them. My mother who is not an experimental cook but stayed with the tried and true recipes handed down in our family.

Wow, I got windy! Hope to hear from anyone who reaches out or has questions that I can answer.
Straws Kitchen - Oct 30, 2011
Joyce...please post some of your colonial times and depression recipes.
Tammy Royer - Oct 30, 2011
Fab! I just love cookbooks and I, too, read them like most people read novels! Mine began with a little paperback cookbook my Mother gave me from her own collection when I got married. It's called "Cooking for Two" and I used it over and over. It is now held together with a rubberband. My husband and I have been empty nesters for about 13 years and now we're back to cooking for two of us! My next full collection started with freebies from Marsh Supermarket. You got the cookbook of the week for 99 cents for every $25 worth of groceries purchased. I still use them for recipes although many of them I have written different options and ingredients to change them throughout the years.
My married years of cooking have been a yummy ride!
Lee Ann Van Schoick - Oct 30, 2011
I love collecting and reading cookbooks, also. My family has teased me at the large collection I have which by the way is well over 300+. However, they sure don't complain at the food that has appeared on their tables.:)

The love of cookbooks has its roots in my childhood. I had asthma and so was home a great deal. I am an avid reader but got the urge for something different than novels. I happen to get an old cookbook at a garage sale and the wonder of the world of cooking began and has never wained.

I love to find cookbooks put together by home cooks. You never know when you will find that little nugget of goodness.

Its so great to find like-minded collectors!
Sharon Carlson - Oct 30, 2011
I am learning a different type of cooking with the Nuwave oven and infrared heat. I was a bit worried about oysters exploding-so cooking for the first time in the Nuwave I watched very closely. I made a 'ritz-cracker-crust' and 10 minutes foil-covered, then 10 uncovered on the 2" rack WORKED PERFECTLY!! If anyone has a special family recipe that you've used in a Nuwave, Please let me know??
Sandie Wysocki - Oct 30, 2011
I too, read my cookbooks like novels. I have no idea how this started just that I've always loved to cook.I think cooking for family and friends is a great show of love towards those who enjoy the time and effort it has taken me to prepare their meal. I also know that as a homemaker I had the opportunity to better my cooking skills. Working outside the home leaves little time to cook for families and friends when you are holding down "two jobs". I really admire those who can do both. I have a collection of over 500 and I can't resist a new one from a yard sale. Blessings
kimberly harris - Oct 29, 2011
A wedding gift from my fathers mother. It was a very old betty crocker cook book from the 40's . I still have it . It is protected by plastic now , but I cherish it.
Joyce Maxwell - Oct 29, 2011
I've got cookbooks with recipes that go back to colonial times, the depression, just about any time period you can think of!
Straws Kitchen - Oct 29, 2011
Congratulations Kathy and Gail...this is a great article.
I have been collecting cookbooks for so long I can't even remember whe I got my first one. I set and go thru them all the time, reading them from cover to cover like novels.
I have hundreds...and am still adding more, bought 7 this week.
Vicki Nelson - Oct 29, 2011
I to collect cookbooks I have about twenty hardback paperback a dear friend gave me some made out of wood .Her daughter school class made them an sold them . All kinds of recipes in them .Also when I get anew one read them from front to back .
Sharon Carlson - Oct 28, 2011
Actually I have yet to meet a kid who wouldn't prefer Pizza, mac n'cheese, or hot dogs. I made a scrumptious stuffed trout dinner for friends and clients, every bit was eaten-though 2 of the kids plates were cleaned up by their parents!
Debbi Higgins - Oct 28, 2011
My mom gave me THE Better Homes and Gardens cookbook when I married. I still have that cookbook! My love of cookbooks grew, and whenever I traveled, I had to have an "authentic" cookbook from whatever region I was in. In my 30's I opened a gourmet kitchen shop....and the real hoarding of cookbooks began. At one time, Im sure I had well over 1000 however, I have narrowed my collection to my favorites, over recent years. Junior League Cookbooks are among my favorites, as they tend to be tried and true recipes, passed down through the years from family member to family member......always with some fun new additions as well. Many of my friends have encouraged me to write a cookbook of my own, and I may one day. I look for recipes everywhere, and the internet has certainly made that easier. I recently threw a luau for family and friends, and wanted it to be truly authentic, so went on an internet scavenger hunt. Im glad to have that first luau under my belt, because next year, I will plan ahead, and make Mac and Cheese and Pizza for the kids. LOL
Teena Mathis - Oct 28, 2011
This is great! I started collecting cookbooks in High School. My Dad gave me the ever popular Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. That started my love of cookbooks and my endless search for used cookbooks and old recipes. If I am at a Garage Sale and find a cookbook with the Cook's notes in it, well I've hit gold! My cookbooks are filled with my own notes as well as others. I hope someone eventually gets my cookbooks, the notes are for them. Enjoy!!
Sea Sun - Oct 27, 2011
I'm another one of those people who can just curl up with a good cookbook and a cup of tea. :-)