Friday, September 24, 2010

Where the Cookbooks Are

It's the economy. Or maybe it's due to the increasingly common food-borne illnesses like salmonella. More and more people are turning to buying locally and cooking from scratch. Where do they get their recipes? For many of today's cooks, the basics and the preserving tips skipped a generation. Our mothers (and occasionally our fathers) cooked from mixes and made convenience foods whenever they could. These frozen foods and boxed mixes made it easy for working parents to feed the family when they got home. For a long time, there was no desire to go back to the old ways of slow cooking, starting with the basic ingredients. Time-saving was time-saving, and thank goodness for that!

That's how food blogger Drew came up with the name for his web site and blog How to Cook Like your Grandmother. Drew recently asked readers where we get our recipes and where we keep our cookbooks. You guessed it, readers. I grabbed my camera.



The main batch of cookbooks, the ones I use most often, sit on an easily accessible shelf next to the kitchen. It's on the main drag in the home; you can tell by the keys/ change bowl in the center and my purse on the right.


A second shelf of cookbooks takes up space inside the cupboard. It fills about half the shelf. My 13 by 9 pans, muffin pans, and cooling racks sit to the right. Below, well, you can see below! Slow cooker, mixer, immersion blender, coffee grinder.

Now back to our main event: cookbooks and recipes. I also have a file on my laptop aptly named "Recipes." Subfolders include cookies, canning, and crock pot. There's a similar folder on the family desktop computer, the one I use very little these days. Between two of the cookbooks inside the cabinet are two old-time files -- manila file folders -- filled with printed recipes and inspirations cut from magazines and newspapers. Some day (some summer day, most likely) I'll make a project out of organizing them into a binder.

I don't really cook like my grandmother. I cook like me. Only the future will tell how my daughter will cook, and so far she's doing quite well. I might even let her take a few favorites away to start her own cookbook collection. Maybe.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Class factotum said...

I read cookbooks and cooking magazines the way some men read porn: lasciviously, hoping that someday, someday, the dark chocolate torte with the raspberry sauce will be mine.

I have the cookbooks I use all the time downstairs and two more shelves of them upstairs. I read food blogs. I can. I bake bread. I make pie crust the way my grandmother taught me. I make almost everything from scratch because I am a better cook than anyone who sells mixes, etc, at the grocery store.

9/25/2010 6:42 PM  
Anonymous Jen on the Edge said...

I cook more like my grandmother than my mother ever did. My family didn't have much money, so we ate on a really tight budget, which meant not much fresh produce and plenty of cheap cuts of meat.

My grandmother, however, produced wonderful meals that included lots of goodies from her garden. In the summer, we always had bowls of cut cucumbers and sliced tomatoes with our meals, while in the winter we ate plenty of veggies she had canned the summer before.

My family eats beef and poultry from a nearby farm -- but not much, maybe once a week. Right now, a lot of our produce is coming from 20' from our back door. The freezer is full of frozen tomato sauce, veggies, berries and fruits, and more. In another couple of weeks, I'll start canning applesauce and freezing pumpkin puree.

One big difference is that my family eats a lot of pasta and Tex Mex (my husband is from Texas), which are two categories of food I rarely ate growing up. And by pasta, I mean plenty of seriously Italian meals, including risotto.

As for cookbooks, I have a couple dozen on a shelf in the pantry, as well as a binder full of recipes I've collected over the years. Mostly, however, I cook without recipes. When I do need one, my two most frequently used resources are the binder and also my copy of The Joy of Cooking.

9/25/2010 7:20 PM  

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