My family always complains that I am hard to buy presents for.
Who … Me?
I’m That Crazy Cookbook Guy … what’s so hard?
Well, I guess some of them have managed to crack the code. I received eleven cookbooks this year for Christmas. It is a win/win situation. I get to open a lot of presents and most of the givers get to save money because what I like the best are used cookbooks … my wife gave me most of them and she knows where I like to shop. I love you, honey! I have to tell you, the wrapping paper was wadded up knee deep around me … that’s why I call it pre-trash.
Let’s start with the biggest … a gift from two of my sisters, Alton Brown’s book on baking, I’m Just Here For More Food. Talk about cracking the code … this one is signed! I like Alton but do his books always have to be so big? Still. it is nicely done and it has a lot of excellent information. I’ll be pouring over this one. And signed, for me, is a must-buy.
Speaking of signed … my daughter’s fiance is well on the way to buttering up his future father in law … he snagged a signed 1979 fundraiser called Dining With The Daltons … put together by then first lady of Virginia Edwina Dalton for a charity she was funding. It not just signed, it is even personally inscribed.
This same prospective son-in-law sweetened the pot by giving me another quite unusual cookbook put together by an Iowa group to commemorate artist Grant Wood, The American Gothic Cookbook. It even has recipes used by Grant Wood himself, as well as from the family and even from the the models he used for the famous painting, along with a lot of good Midwestern fair from Iowa natives and notables. The models were his sister and his dentist, by the way … a tidbit I picked up from the book. Unusual–I like it!
Speaking of unusual, The Original Show World Cookbook does not have a flashy cover, but it was put together by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Showmen’s League of America. As I thumbed through this 1974 book I realized that could only mean one thing: Carnies! How cool is that? It is just the sort of offbeat fundraiser I like. People like to call them church cookbooks but, seriously, there are fundraiser cookbooks from a wide variety of sources and organizations. Even Carnies.
I got two Fanny Farmer selections. One was a 1965 edition of her famous cookbook that originally dates back to the 1890’s. I have a paperback but did not have a hardback until now.
I also received a 1972 reprint of her 1905 Fannie Farmer’s Book of Good Dinners. Both lack dust jackets but they are in excellent condition.
My interest in Bi-Centennial cookbooks was addressed by a small book called The Old Farmer’s Almanac Colonial Cookbook. This is another sub-collection … one that grows and grows because it was a very popular commemorative item in the mid-70s. For me Bi-Centennials are a must-buy.
A 1980 fundraiser called Vermont Grange Favorites was a good choice. For a source of good home-style cooking the combination of the Grange and Vermont can not be beat. Looks awesome.
Top Secret Recipes Classics is another one that might be a repeat, but it is a hard bound copy of one I think I might have in paperback. It is chock full of clone recipes for many well-known brands and products.
The 1978 book, Eudora Garrison’s It’s Not Gourmet-It’s Better, is a winner as well. She was a long-time food editor at The Charlotte Observer. I have a sub-collection (or have planned one) of tv/radio/newspaper personalities’ books.
Finally, I received E. Mae Fritz’s Prairie Kitchen Sampler – Sixty-Six Years of a Midwestern Farm Kitchen. Part cookbook, part oral history … marvelous book. Can’t wait to spend some time reading the stories along with the recipes.
Hard to buy for?