Those of you who have been meditating in a Tibetan monastery may have missed the fact that I recently had a recipe published in the Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook.
The book is lovely… glossy pages and all.
As usual, I shall attempt to keep it in pristine condition.
I’m not certain why I do it.
I’m like that with all my books. Mon mari knows better than to bend a corner to mark his place. That’s what book marks are for.
I have been known, upon the return of a mishandled book loaned to a friend, to buy a replacement for it. I have paperbacks that I’ve owned for twenty years and reread ten or twenty times that still would get a ‘good’ rating on Amazon Marketplace.
That should be different with cookbooks. Cookbooks should be for using, making notes about what worked, what didn’t and what to change.
A favorite aunt, who loved to cook, died a few years ago. I got her cookbooks.
I’m not sure which gives me more pleasure: paging through her old cookbooks, some of them dating from the ’40’s, or reading all the notes and bits she left behind.
She had a habit that I could never emulate.
She put things in her books; not just the cookbooks, but all of her books.
- Other recipes, of course,
- Obituaries of friends, announcements of weddings and births
- Letters from friends and family, including from my mother to her
- Scraps of articles she found interesting, from the newspaper or a favorite magazine
- Copies of old utility bills, cancelled checks, etc. (why in a cookbook?)
- And my favorite – something one rarely sees today: pressed flowers.
I have to turn the pages of these books carefully, lest a perfect violet, pressed 50 years ago, drop out and be damaged.
As careful as she was with the flowers, she was ruthless with the recipes.
Lines are drawn through ingredients she didn’t like or didn’t think worked. Notes were written in the margins with a better way (or her preferred way) of doing something.
It’s like being a child again, sitting in her kitchen and listening to her as she bustled about, baking bread, making pies and jams… always something bubbling on the stove and perfuming the house.
She was an old-fashioned farmwife and no meal was complete without freshly baked bread and a pie still warm from the oven.
She would have liked this stew: simple, winter vegetables, slowly simmered with chunks of beef.
And, yes, she was known to have a little nip of sherry now and then…..
The recipe, Beef & Root Vegetable Stew, has been updated, nutrition information added, and re-posted here: Beef Stew.
How do you treat your books?
Do you treat your cookbooks differently?
Are they works of art or tools of a working art?
I will now admit to the copious use of post-it notes. I often put a large one inside the front cover to write on.
I still can’t bring myself to actually write on a page, though…. Not even in pencil.