Sunday Salon – Cookbooks

I took a cooking class with some friends this week and had a really good time — thanks to my friends but not the instructor who wasn’t all that good but I learned a few things anyway.  It got me thinking — I love to cook and own a number of cookbooks which I frequently look at to browse ingredient lists and sometimes to see what my dinner should have looked like.  I’m not a recipe person though.  I’d rather cobble together ingredients and have at it.  My mother cooks like this and so did both grandmothers so I’m used to it.  I have a cookbook that used to belong to one grandmother (not really a cookbook so much as a notebook full of recipes) and true to her nature, she left out instructions on most of the recipes.  She was a little weird like that.  I once called her to ask her for her potato pancake recipe and this was the conversation.

“Hi Gram.  I was wondering if you could give me your potato pancake recipe.  I think I’m going to try and make some this weekend.”

“What do you mean give it to you? You’re Polish, you should know how to make potato pancakes,” said my grandmother in her ever so pleasing way of not saying anything helpful.  Years later, I’m still confused as to how my being Polish (I’m also Italian and Welsh) had anything to do with me knowing the recipe but anyway.

“OK then.  So, potatoes, onion, egg, flour, and salt.  Sound about right?”

“See I told you that you knew it,” she said.

“Uh, huh.  Got to go.  Call ya soon.”

My mother who I relayed this conversation to very shortly after I talked to my grandmother (it was her mother so I knew she’d appreciate the story) found it funny because she would never tell her what was in recipes either.  Years later in the hopes of finding her chicken cattiatore recipe (it rocked when she made it) we scoured her house but couldn’t find it.  When we finally found the little notebook with her recipes that I now own, we both freaked hoping it would be there.  It wasn’t.  There was, however, a decoy recipe that we know for a fact wasn’t her’s because there were ingredients listed she didn’t use.  She took it to her grave.

Oh well, you now might be asking where this is going.  Yes, back to cookbooks.  I don’t review them but I’m thinking I might start taking a look at recipes, testing them out, and reviewing them individually.  Also, I’ll warn you all up front that I don’t, and will not start now, following the recipes exactly.  I’m apparently genetically incapable.

And now, more sharing!  A few good links I found this week while perusing the internets.  Have at it fellow readers.

Books that rocked your world at 16 and fall flat now thanks to Flavorwire

Also from Flavorwire, cult books that need to be adapted to the big screen

Readers block thoughts on Work In Progress

From GalleyCat, an unreadable manuscript gets a date

To end on a book note, I’ve been reading Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier this week and loving it.  I wonder why it took me so long to read her.  Happy Sunday.


12 thoughts on “Sunday Salon – Cookbooks

  1. The idea of a “decoy recipe” made me laugh out loud! I have always loved reading cookbooks, for the stories behind the food, but have never been much for actually making the recipes. Luckily, my husband likes to cook, so cookbooks are now seeing some serious use around here.

  2. I want to reread Rebecca…it’s been forty-some years since I read it!

    As for cooking, I had to laugh. My mother was one who didn’t write things down, either. When I would ask her how much of an ingredient went into pie crust, for example, she would say “about the end of a knife.”

    Her creations were perfect, so it worked for her. I don’t think I can cook in this way.

    I used to have lots of great cookbooks and recipes, but my daughter absconded with them, saying only that “you don’t cook, so you don’t need them.”

    Well, I had stopped creating things from cookbooks, and oftentimes use the microwave more than the oven. But what if I want to cook again someday? I remember loving some things I made from The Joy of Cooking.



  3. I could probably benefit from the assistance of a cookbook. I usually just cobble together whatever’s in the house that sounds good and hope it turns out edible! (Sometimes I’m successful, others not.)

    Hope you enjoy Rebecca! I haven’t read it yet but it’s my grandmother’s favorite book since her birthname is Rebecca. (Seems like we’re all remembering our grandmothers today!) I recently inherited her very old, very worn first edition and I’m looking forward to diving in!

    My Salon:

  4. After many years of being the worst cook in the world not just skill-wise, but in terms of being psychologically capable of making it through a recipe without having an anxiety attack, I am finally learning how to cook. I credit this in part to the fact that I am very poor, and have to cook or else be malnourished, and in part to the wonderful life-changing Budget Bytes. Seriously, this girl has made my life better in substantial ways, most recently her spinach and sun-dried tomatoes mac & cheese (I added bacon and jalapenos).

  5. I’ve been having a lot of fun trying new recipes lately, so I very much look forward to your future cooking related posts!

    Rebecca is such a wonderful book. Enjoy!

  6. That is hilarious! It reminds of something from an Everybody Loves Raymond episode. 🙂 My family has very few cooking skills – just not in the genes I guess. I need to follow the recipes or disaster happens.

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