Saturday, September 29, 2012

Old Cookbooks

This is one of several b/w illustrations created by gifted illustrator-Suzanne Langelier-Lebeda for inside the pages of "The Reindeer Keeper." This particular piece is a favorite of mine. It reminds me of my mother's cookbooks. She treasured her cookbooks. She'd sift through their pages, reading each one like a novel-treating each one like a good friend. When she passed away, we divided the cookbooks between us and what I discovered to be even more fun than reading the recipes were the bits of paper and pages from notepads and looseleaf with recipes written on them in her handwriting mixed in with a few handwritten grocery and things-to-do lists. There was even the back of a bag of Nestles chocolate chips with the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe on it. Whenever she found a recipe she liked in a magazine, or if someone recited a recipe for her to try, my mother would write it down and put it in a cookbook for safe keeping.

My mother was a fine cook. She perfected soups to main dishes and everything in between. But it's her desserts I remember the most and it's the desserts that prevailed on those odds 'n ends of worn paper between the pages of her cookbooks where many of the frequented pages were still smudged with traces of flour. When my mother made her chocolate sauce served over vanilla ice cream we all hurried to get through the main course just to enjoy the most amazing hot, thick, chocolate sauce ever! Adults would clean their bowls and lick their spoons just like the kids. Every bit as amazing was her gooey, rich  butterscotch pudding served over warm rice with homemade whip cream. Her melt-in-your-mouth Lady Baltimore cakes were always baked in cake tins shaped like Christmas trees no matter the season. Peanut butter balls of all sizes dipped in chocolate were Holiday favorites as was her peanut butter fudge and divinity fudge made year round. In her younger years when she worked nights as a nurse I remember riding with my brother in the backseat of the car in our pajamas when our father would take our mother to work. Many times she brought along some of her fudge to share with co-workers. Of course we had our share of fudge waiting at home.

These days the internet is more often than not the cookbook. Recipes are googled. Famous chefs are searched and all is downloaded. But in the computer google searches and beautifully designed pages of those famous chefs and celebrity chefs, a main ingredient is missing, and that's the taking of time to turn pages in worn cookbooks turned by a generation or two before. Old cookbooks recite a family history. Worn, handwritten recipes scribbled on bits of paper and stuck between their pages are priceless as are those pages still smudged with traces of flour.

1 comment:

  1. I love my recipe books, some pages stick together from the mess I make whilst cooking! I've got recipes handwritten by my mother and various friends that I must keep and preserve.