What to do With Your Old Cookbooks

blowtorchI like cookbooks but in the digital age they seem to be taking up space and not really being used any longer. Most of the time, when I think of something I want to make I find a recipe online. It’s fast. It may not be the best way to get a really good, reliable recipe, but they usually work out.

Anyway, I’m not a rule abiding, strict recipe follower. I tend to add and subtract to my own tastes and depending on what I have available. This is another reason I like finding recipes online, I can look through a lot of similar recipes and find one which works for the ingredients I have on hand and my food style (I really don’t like mushrooms and onions make me sick).

A cookbook can’t compete against finding a recipe online in that way. But, I still have several cookbooks around. Some are vintage and I can’t quite part with Aunt Emma’s Ukranian cookbook, which includes her personal notes. I’ve also got the old cookbook which may have been my Great-Grandmother’s. All the family cookbooks come with notes from past women (and the odd man too) in our family.

Still, I have a dozen or so cookbooks which I bought many years ago and have not looked at in several years now. I don’t have a really good reason to keep them.

Why Keep or Collect a Vintage Cookbook?

As I mentioned, family history, is a big reason for keeping an old cookbook.

An old cookbook also gives us a taste (literally, if you follow the recipe) of what people made and what they ate in another time. As long as you can understand the language and measurements, anyone can get the old ingredients and try making a dish from hundreds of years ago. By cooking an old recipe you can have a real taste of history. (Or as near as we can get to it with modern ingredients which are chemically infiltrated/ enhanced).

People may collect cookbooks in a specific genre as well. If you grew up in an area or knew your family originally came from another country you would be curious to know what they ate and how they ate it. Cookbook collectors keep books with cooking from regional and ethnic time periods. Or, you may have heard about southern deep fried cooking for years and never tried anything, except in a restaurant. An old cookbook lets you do-it-yourself.

Collecting Old Cookbooks

Could you eat Like Your Ancestors?

Food Writing Challenge

Write Prompts from Squidoo has an August Challenge.

Every day this month write about some aspect of the food in your life and how it might have changed over the last year. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

* If it was your last day alive, what would you like to be your last meal
* What did your mother make you when you were growing up
* Write about a food addiction
* A food that turns your stomach
* What is your specialty to cook
* Write about hunger
* Overeating
* Eating socially
* Healthy eating
* Write a new recipe
* Recipes you have cherished from mother, grandmother (or wish to get your hands on)

Inspiration from Pinterest

I joined Pinterest. It’s a closed beta so you have to ask for an invitation. I was sent mine within 24 hours so it’s not a long wait. I like the site. I know there are others out there with the same theme, the same plan. But, there is something about Pinterest that makes it stand out for me. For one thing I don’t see a lot of sploggy links. The photos on the boards really are unique and interesting. When I found the site I knew it was going to be one I would be coming back for.

Some common sense rules sent in email (below). I like what they wrote about setting the tone for the community. It’s very true! I don’t think everyone thinks about this when they begin their “shameless self promotion”. I hope Pinterest can keep their community.

A few tips to get the most out of Pinterest:
– Install the bookmarklet. It lets you add a pin from any website with just one click.
– Follow a few more pinboards. After all, Pinterest is as much about discovering new things as it is about sharing.
– Pin carefully! As one of the first members of Pinterest, your pins will help set the tone for the whole community. Use big images, write thoughtful descriptions, and pin things you really love. Also, no nudity 🙂

A good plan for any site or network you belong to:

Pinterest Etiquette: Try to…
Be Nice!
Be Creative. The best pinboards mix products, art, recipes and images from all across the web. Try not to pin everything from a single source.
Give Credit. If you blog about an item you found on Pinterest, it’s nice to credit your fellow pinners by linking back to the original pin.

My account on Pinterest.

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge

You can find The Blogging from A to Z Challenge on Tossing it Out. The challenge runs for all of April, 2011. Can you make a post for each letter of the alphabet?

The premise of the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is to post something on your blog every day in April except for Sundays. In doing this you will have 26 blog posts–one for each letter of the alphabet. Each day you will theme your post according to a letter of the alphabet.

You will only be limited by your own imagination in this challenge. There is an unlimited universe of possibilities. You can post essays, short pieces of fiction, poetry, recipes, travel sketches, or anything else you would like to write about. You don’t have to be a writer to do this. You can post photos, including samples of your own art or craftwork. Everyone who blogs can post from A to Z.

Liquid Inspiration in a Mug

Although this is not a foodie or recipe blog, there comes a time when good things of the edible kind must be shared. I was listening to Laura Calder‘s French Food at Home today. One of the recipes she prepared was hot chocolate made with milk, honey and cocoa powder. I know it will be yummy. I am going to make it when I get more milk, I have the honey and cocoa powder.

Camille’s Chocolate Chaud
1 heaping spoonful high-quality cocoa powder
1 heaping spoonful honey
1 cup milk

Put the cocoa powder in a mug. Heat the honey and milk until very hot. Pour the slightest amount onto the chocolate powder and stir to make a paste. Now add a little more and temper it into the milk. Pour the chocolate milk into the mug.

Next time you need to work your way through a writer’s block check your cupboards for the ingredients and make yourself some smooth, chocolate inspiration in a mug.

Family Recipe Cookbook

Create a cookbook of favourite family recipes and give everyone a copy. – This came from Homemakers print magazine (one of the ads actually). I think it’s a great idea. Not just for the women in the family, or the children who inherit the traditions of the family but for the daughters and sons in law too. Each family get together people could add a new recipe to the book, make enough copies for everyone to add the recipe to their own books when they get home again.

My Grandfather’s sister (Alvena) was said to make the best chocolate fudge and other goodies. She would never share her recipe with anyone. Now it is gone along with her. I think about that at times. What a shame it is that something like that couldn’t be passed on so that Alvena’s amazing fudge could still be made and eaten today.

What recipe would you add to the cookbook first? How would you put the cookbook together, give it a cover design and an index by type of recipe or by which person contributed the recipe, which family it came from originally. This can be a great storytelling project (with copies of photos, drawings and personal notes) if you can get enough family together to begin and then record all the stories connected to each recipe.

Merry St. Patrick’s Day

This is a day I think of my Grandmother who came from Ireland as an orphan. She stayed with some distant family, working as a maid. But, my Grandfather called her ‘Pepper’ for a reason. I miss you Grandma and I miss my Aunt Alice, who was one of her sisters, too.

Should you actually be in Ireland: St. Patrick’s Festival 2010

Flickr: St. Patrick’s Day Worldwide

Flickr: St. Patrick’s Day Around the World

Flickr: St. Patrick’s Day

The Holiday Spot: St Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Toronto, Ontario.

Homemakers: Best St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

Chatelaine: St. Patrick’s Day Recipes

Foodie First Impression

You’re competing with other chefs on a cooking show. The challenge is to make a really great buffet and the real challenge is how you will introduce yourself, your food and your personality to the guests, the other chefs and those who are there to judge you. What do you do in keeping with the kind of food you are serving and your own personality to really impress and make that first good impression? What great recipes/ dishes do you cook up and serve for that buffet?