For those of us cookbook lovers, a recipe book is an old and faithful friend with a million memories trapped between the stained pages.
Long before the internet, we “old” cooks depended on cookbooks for ideas, measurements and recipes.
Sometimes a (cook) book is a life-changer. The Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook was a pioneer in promoting vegetarian cooking. Even though it was first published over 40 years ago, the message and recipes never fail to inspire. In fact, I recently made homemade hummus and used the seasoning technique for “Soy Spread” from the book. The result was a totally addictive and tasty spread. Some things just never age!
Whenever friends or family see me in the kitchen, they always want to know whether I received professional training. The truth is I learned by watching some very talented cooks. Laurel, Gale, Sultana, Sarah, Sandra, Diane, Carol and many others taught me that cooking was more than just putting together ingredients.
Together we cooked with grace. We washed, chopped, diced, sautéed and boiled with one-pointed attention and mindfulness. I learned that healthy food prepared with love was a selfless act.
A person dear to all of us would gently remind us to “think globally, but act locally.” We followed his philosophy in the kitchen, making sure the vegetables, fruits and grains we used came from local farms and farmers’ markets.
So now whenever I see the familiar deep red-brown cover of Laurel’s Kitchen on my book shelf, it is a reminder that cooking is an act of love, a gift to share with friends and family. This is a timeless and important message to keep in mind during the holiday season.
The Joy IN Cooking:
My aunt (yes, that same one you have read about) gave me my first cookbook in 1986 when I was a young bride. The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker became an indispensable part of my life. Those early days in Sacramento were lonely with my mother too far away for everyday advice. Phone calls to India were expensive and besides she had no access to a phone. My mother-in-law, Betty, was just a “long distance” phone call away, but at that time I was too shy to turn to her for advice. But Irma and Marion were right there in my kitchen, offering silent advice that I could follow as needed. Their advice came with no strings attached.
The Joy of Cooking was more than just recipes. I learned how to set a table and plan a menu. Everything a new cook needed could be found in the 800-plus pages from boiling an egg to making puff paste (pate feuilletee) to creating the flakiest pie crusts.
Need a bittersweet chocolate frosting? Look no further than page 679. Recipes for cakes, icebox cookies and even cocktails could be found in this book.
The book is a little worn around the edges (like me) and the spine is held together with tape but that doesn’t really matter because the pale blue cookbook is as dear as an old friend. We have weathered a lot together.
Imagine my delight when I discovered that there was a new and updated edition of this beloved cookbook at a recent visit to the Rombauer Winery (The Joy of Wine). It was our thirty-third wedding anniversary and my husband wanted to buy the book for me and the saleswoman offered the book at a deep discount to as an anniversary gift. How could we refuse? An old companion has a new appearance and I look forward to getting to know this edition. I’m sure we’ll become best of friends soon.
A happy and nourishing Thanksgiving to all. I’m grateful to all my readers.