For many years, my favorite thing to collect has been and probably always will be recipe books. I love to read them, crack them open and find new surprises, old friends, and new takes on the classics. I particularly love those books that have stories, photos, family remembrances, and the like.
My first cookbook was the Fannie Farmer Junior Cookbook (to read more about this cookbook, click here). I loved it and made everything in it for which my mom would buy the ingredients. She had a cookbook which I used to enjoying reading which I have since inherited. It had lots of photos, drawing and party ideas. As a young girl in Texas, the dream of a Hawaiian luau was magical. Or a cake shaped like a baseball or Snoopy was way more interesting that the plain sheet or layer cakes we typically had at birthdays.
I still have the Fannie Farmer Junior Cookbook, and have added about 200 recipe books to it. Right now I am on a Lee Bailey kick. I am slowly purchasing his books from the 1990s, having secured six to date. I love them because they have stories that go with them. They have themes for each book. And they have menu ideas and photos that really set the scene.
One recent acquisition was Lee Bailey’s The Way I Cook which includes 1,300 recipes. I was so excited to open the pristinely preserved book to find it was autographed by the author. What a wonderful surprise!
In my collection, some of the more treasured recipe books are ones that were fundraisers for local causes. If the book or recipe authors are people I know, it makes it even more special. When my nephew was young, his class sold cookbooks at one point to raise money. What I love about this book in particular is that each student that submitted a recipe told why they liked the recipe or who in their family makes it.
The classics are represented, like Julia Childs, Joy of Cooking and Betty Crocker. I have some modern chefs that I enjoy like Ina Garten and Rachel Ray. I have the thin booklets that come with appliances (they really do have great recipes) as well as the anthologies by Martha Stewart and America’s Test Kitchen. I have topical books such as cakes, tea recipes, holidays, cookies, breads, etc.
I have collected recipe books while traveling. In Natchez, I purchased Mississippi recipes as well as a cookbook from Mammy’s Cupboard. A keepsake from a trip to Santa Fe is the Grant Corner Inn cookbook which I got while staying there. Sadly, the Inn no long exists. My newest cookbook from a trip was purchased at Kensington Palace. I will have to convert the Metric measurements, but it will be easy.
I find recipe books to be a great souvenir because they are reminders of your travels, they allow you to recapture a great meal or dish you had while on vacation, and they are an excellent means by which you can share your travel experience with family and friends.
Cookbooks have made their way into the decor in my house. They act as risers, shelf displays and coffee table books. And they aren’t just relegated to the kitchen!
I am working on my own book of original recipes. Maybe someday it will actually be in print! In the meantime, I will read or reread a few cookbooks, make a few of the recipes, and enjoy the rewards of other’s labors.
Bonus Information: Do you keep recipe books? With the accessibility of most every recipe on the internet, many cooks just Google a recipe. That way they save kitchen space and money.
I prefer to have a recipe book in hand. I like to make notes as to what worked and what didn’t as well as if we like the recipe.
I have found that when I use a recipe of the internet, I can never locate it again!