Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cookbooks . . .

I've known how to cook since I was a little kid. My mom always included us in the kitchen. It was something that I feel like I've always done. And then when I went to Junior High, I took Foods 1 and Foods 2 (as part of the Home Economics courses that were required at my school. Sigh. I wish that they still taught Home Economics in school.) And then when I was 15, I began to have an eating disorder (anorexia for the first few years, and anorexia/bulimia for several years after that.) And so during high school, even though I wasn't actually eating, I would collect all kinds of recipes and hand write them in my recipe binder (see, even way back then, I was using binders! LOL)

And then I went to college and I didn't do a whole lot of actual cooking. I used the toaster, the popcorn popper, the toaster oven, and the microwave for almost everything. But my friends started getting married, and most of them got at least one cookbook for a bridal shower gift, and I may have even given one or two as gifts over the years.

By the time I was in my mid twenties and living on my own, I should have been starting to cook more, but I wasn't. It seemed like such an effort to cook for one. And the fact that I love cold cereal certainly made it tempting to just sit down to a bowl of cereal whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. And when I was working in downtown Chicago, I either worked through lunch or went to a nearby restaurant and got a sandwich or something.

When I got engaged, my mom made a special point of telling Mr. Simple that I was a good cook. And I certainly had been, at some point, but by the time I got married, it had been many years since I cooked on a regular basis. Thankfully, someone had given me the traditional Better Homes and Garden Cookbook for a bridal shower gift, so I did have at least one cookbook (sadly, my recipe binders had gotten lost over the years.)

Mr. Simple began to doubt my mother though because I still didn't really cook. At least not for many years. At first, it was the "it is too much work for two and we are working totally different schedules" problem. And then when the first two babies came along, it was the "I'm a busy work out of the house mom and I don't have time to cook" problem. I had picked up several more cookbooks over the years, but I almost never looked at them except to cook up an occasional cake or batch of cookies.

When I was laid off in 2003, I finally started looking at the cookbooks. And slowly, I started weeding through them and getting rid of almost all of them. I started cooking from scratch some, but for awhile, I still relied quite a bit on pre-packaged meals.

And then, in 2007, I read the Little House cookbook, and the rest, as they say, is history. I still had my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and now the Little House cookbook. And a couple recipe books from our church congregation, a Goose Berry Patch cookbook that had some great "old fashioned" recipes. And a recipe book that came with my crock pot and a recipe book that came with my bread maker. I started using them. At first, I used recipes a lot. We had a different dinner almost every meal all month. And then, I decided that it was a lot of work to do that (and often more money) so I pared it down to about 10-15 dinners. And I got to the point that I had them memorized. I went back to hardly using cookbooks at all.

Better Crocker Vegetarian Cooking cookbook, Goose Berry Patch Hometown Favorites cookbook, church recipe books, plastic bag full of my "loose" recipes, bean cookbook, crock pot recipe book, bread maker recipe book.

And then last year, when I really started to try and eat locally AND seasonally, I found myself needing to look at cookbooks again. I started picking them up at the thrift store. I collected them from magazines and other people's blogs.

And then, this summer, I started checking them out from the library. Oh my. I both love and hate checking out cookbooks from the library. I love finding all sorts of cookbooks without having to spend the $$$$$$ to buy them, but on the other hand, I hate being able to only have them for a few weeks, and I hate that it would cost me $$$$$ to buy them after I have decided that I love all of them. LOL
My current stack of cookbooks from the library - Nourishing Traditions cookbook, Cooking Healthy Across America cookbook, Local Flavors cookbook, Your Organic Kitchen cookbook, Simply Organic cookbook, Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods cookbook.

So I am back to trying to compile my seasonal notebooks that, among other things, will contain some of the recipes that I've got in my recipes and from the recipes from the cookbooks that I've checked out this summer. I promise to do better on posting my seasonal notebooks this year, although I don't think I'll probably have them done and posted until the end of each season, so they probably won't do any of you much good for this coming year. (Sorry. But I'm also trying to actually do what I say I'm going to do but also be more realistic in when I will complete the task.) I'm also going to try and finish up the Food Storage series in the next couple of months. All the Food Storage recipes and Seasonal recipes will be over at my Recipe blog, although I'll try and post over here at Simply Living and Simply Loving when I've updated the Recipe blog.

So what about you? Do you have any cookbook favorites? Do you cook from scratch? Do you use recipes or just throw things together?

1 comment:

normal mom said...

I love the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook as well. I also use my Fix it and Forget it Lightly Slow Cooker cookbook about once or twice a week. I also have a Mrs. Fields cookbook that Hafe gave me for my 21st birthday before we were even engaged. My mom made recipe binders of all our family favorites for the grandkids and my girls love to cook Grammy's recipes with their own special cookbook. Cookbooks get me very excited too. I always think I am going to find the perfect family recipe that everyone will love. The search is always fun though.