Cookbook Love

Settle in my friends because it’s time for me to do a deep dive into one of my favorite topics – how technology is robbing people of living a full life. To illustrate this point, I need to look no further than recipes. Yes, recipes. Confused? Stay with me because it will all soon become very clear.

Today, if you want to find out the best way to make, let’s say, a killer, mac and cheese you just type that into your phone and literally hundreds of thousands of recipes will be at your fingertips. And the first one you see will always be from the site All Recipes. (Pro tip – skip it. Who cares if it has four stars and 1,539 reviews and counting. It doesn’t explain how to make a roux which means there’s a 90 percent chance your mac and cheese will taste like the gunk you use when your kid has to construct a paper maché globe for a fourth-grade history project.)

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with using a digital device to find a recipe. I get it. It’s fast. It’s easy. You can download ingredients right to your shopping list app. Yet, you’re missing out because you’re depriving yourself of the sensory experience of not only finding that perfect recipe, but making it part of your family lore.

Full disclosure – I’m a cookbook freak. I collect and read cookbooks like other people read novels. So, I’m going to admit there’s some inherent bias in my thought process. That said, I still know I’m right because when you find an amazing recipe in a cookbook it can be an emotional experience.

There’s the joy of discovery, the years of tweaking a recipe where you write in the cookbook how you added a little of this and that. Then there’s that momentous occasion when a recipe becomes a beloved part of your family. It’s the day when you open a cookbook and behold the wonder of a page stained with greasy goodness or spilled vanilla or molasses.

A well-worn cookbook is like a best friend. As soon as you hold it in your hands you immediately feel at ease. It has the power to transport you to another time or event in your life. I even have my “go to” cookbooks (Junior League of HoustonSouthern Living 1983 Annual Recipes, and the 1982 Better Homes and Gardens) where if I want to feel like my mother is still with me I just open them up and inhale.

Right before Thanksgiving my dining room table was piled with cookbooks. I have a ritual of going through my favorites while I write down my grocery shopping list. As I was blissful perusing them certain family members mocked me for my old-school ways. “Why wasn’t I using a cookbook app?” “Did I know I didn’t have to handwrite a list?” And my personal favorite, “The 80’s called and my mom answered.”

That last one got to me. So much so, I went a little cookbook cray. I called my daughter into the dining room, sat her down and made her sniff cookbooks.

As she plunged her nose into each one I asked her if she could smell her grandmother? I picked up the Christmas With Southern Living from 2000 and told her to inhale and experience the memories of her first Christmas. Never mind that in December of that year she was still an infant and not on solid foods yet this cookbook still held the scents of that season.

Did she think I was losing it? Probably. But, I know my techie child just might be coming around to my way of thinking. I recently caught her sniffing the cookbook that has her favorite gingerbread recipe. I couldn’t have been more proud.

7 thoughts on “Cookbook Love

  1. Angela says:

    When I die, I want to be buried with my cookbooks. All of my grown children cook, all eight of them, but they have their own beloved cookbook collections. (I even have a son, an electrical engineer, who makes his own plum pudding, starting with grinding the suet himself. Proud mama!) I’m taking my cookbooks with me!

  2. Donnadon says:

    Love, Love, Love my cookbooks. I don’t have any family to pass them on to so they’re getting cremated with me when I die. Did I mention I love my cookbooks?

  3. Kira Flowerchild says:

    Even better – while your family is together for the holidays, make a plan to put together a family cookbook. We did that years ago. About a dozen family members participated, and it turned out great. Now we have a real family heirloom to pass down to our children, with all the recipes not only from holidays but the regular weekday favorites. I put ours together using an old MS-DOS computer, so with all the technology available today, no excuse for not putting out a great family cookbook!

  4. Rachel M. says:

    I don’t have a favorite cookbook, but I do have a recipe book containing all my favorites. It includes my great aunt’s sugar cookie recipe, and the cookie recipe I was making when I met my husband.

  5. Mary says:

    The older, vintage ones from family members are the best! I prefer my cookbooks over any websites; so comforting to curl up and stroll through the pages – and no ads popping up!!! Lol

  6. Angela says:

    One of my daughters lost literally everything but a suitcase of clothes in hurricane Harvey. She was asked yesterday what she misses most. She said, “My recipes.” Like me, she is a cookbook lover. She is a computer geek, teaching Microsoft systems. But she prefers cookbooks over the online recipe sites. That’s my girl!

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