April – Cookbook Memories

April – Cookbook Memories

Do you collect things? My personal collection (read obsession) is cookbooks. My library shelves are bursting at the seams.

Some of the collection

Some of the collection

I really do need to do a purge but cannot bring myself to part with any of them. They are a very personal history of my life and that of the women in my family. They tell the story of my evolution as a cook, and how cooking has changed over the last few decades. I have cookbooks that belonged to my mother and grandmother, very precious for the memories they contain. With my mother (and grandmother when I was quite young) I spent hours discussing recipes, ingredients, and menus. When I visited my mother in Florida, we explored any new market near her. I remember her delight when arugula finally made it to the local stores. It was a regular in California where I lived, but less common for her and therefore highly treasured. Traveling together, local farmer’s markets and food specialty stores were goals and highlights. In the evenings we cooked together. Neither of us wanted to go out because it was so much more fun spending time in the kitchen together.

This was one of the first cookbooks my mother gave to me, with a cover she lovingly made herself.

"JC"

“JC”

Can you guess?

Mastering the Art of French Cooking b Julia Child

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

JC was always Julia Child to her.

But how do you tell, out of those hundreds (I am afraid to count) of cookbooks if it’s a good one? For me it’s the food stains on the pages and the notes in the margins.

Stained and well used pages of a recipe

Stained and well used pages of a recipe

I read cookbooks like others folks read novels. But unlike novels, which I mostly read on my Ipad, for cookbooks I want an actual book I can hold in my hands…hardback preferred.

The recipe pictured above came for the book The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant. Paul is a Michelin-starred chef so his preserving manual is different from any others in my collection. The recipes are creative and imaginative, inspired by his restaurant, Vie, in Western Springs, Illinois. He gives menus plus suggestions for using those pickles. It’s a treasure trove of ideas.

My Meyer lemon tree is bursting with lemons which need to be picked. This will be the third year I’ve made Aigre-Deux with them, the jars from last year are almost gone. Look for a post later this week.

What are your favorite and most used cookbooks?