First cookbook and the backstory

That’s quite the keepsake, very cool.

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A few years ago, I read about a nifty idea for keepsaking those treasured recipe cards. Arrange them in a pleasing collage, take a picture, and have fabric made of it. I forget the name of the website but it ends in “spoon”. Then you make aprons or dishtowels or napkins, so every branch of the family gets them.

That’s such a clever idea!

Believe it or not, I do not change the original chocolate cake recipe from Ms. Fields. It’s perfect as is. I’ve tried many other chocolate cake recipes because everyone claims theirs is the “best” and while I’ve made many that were lovely, nothing beats Ms. Field’s, it’s as American as it gets; thick chocolate cake that doesn’t crumb with a sweet, deeply chocolate icing, probably what you’ll find in good diners all over the country.


I came across some of my first Martin Yan cookbooks yesterday, it reminded me of this thread. They’re about 25 years old and I still cook from them!


I love that idea too! Here’s the link for a conversation and sources for any one interested:


I purchased 2 cookbooks at about the same time so I don’t recall which was first!

One was the 1964 version of Joy of Cooking since it was offered in a 2 volume paperback edition. As a broke college student I purchased the set on lay-away and was able to take possession of the half which contained dessert recipes just in time to take advantage of the massive amount of blackberries available in the national forest close to my home. I learned a lot of basics which have served me well over the years.

The other wasMichael Fields Cooking School which I found in a Goodwill shop in perfect condition. Many recipes were of things I’d never heard of or seemed quite sophisticated. But the instructions were very clear and the writing style friendly and accessible so I bought it after much deliberation. This book taught me that little things can really raise the level of the dish.

Micheal Fields was a terrific teacher and also wrote or contributed to many of the classic Time Life cookbook series. His books are worth taking a look at if you come across them!

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Is there a thread specifically about chocolate cake because there should be!

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My grandmother kept the TL series in her kitchen. I would flip through just for the photos.

I recall his cooking show.

I have a soft spot for martin yan… we were allowed to watch either pbs or stuff like the brady bunch for a bit when we finished homework. Martin Yan, Julia Child, and the Frugal Gourmet were all on pbs and became favorites. Although I don’t remember mom making anything actually asian (teriyaki chicken and stir fry i assume don’t count)


I used to watch his show too! LOL. @Ttrockwood you’re not as young as I thought, that show was on decades ago.

Honestly, to everyone else reading, his show was not that good, and recipes, especially Chinese recipes, are more sophisticated and authentic now. But he was such a quirky, likeable guy, and he was such an expert with that wok!


You should start one!

I did…and I hope HOs will share their recipes👍

In case you’re interested, Martin Yan has a show that’s currently on PBS in SoCal. Yan Can Cook: Spice Kingdom is on KLCS and KCET several times a week. Part culture, part cooking.

I found it on Dailymotion

Looks interesting, I’ll take a look after I finish with GBBO.

Not a big user of cookbooks. I look at the pictures for inspiration. Like this place. Pictures tell a lot

The only book I use is my grandmother’s family cookbook “Mashala”. A collection of family recipes. I have a couple recipes in the book.


That’s fantastic. How fortunate to have such a volume!

I must admit that I don’t remember exactly my first book or recipe, I guess it was gifted and it was those days I was not interested in cooking. The first book that I bought was probably Splendid Soup of James Peterson or a tapas book (a bit cloudy there). Strangely I bought it, but when the Borscht didn’t turn out tasty, I stopped using it. It was too acid. I remade many years later, it was fine. I think I added too much vinegar.

The cook book that meant something to me was a book borrowed from a friend: Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with Naked chef. Why I like it? Because I tried to follow 90% of the instructions, the food was delicious, and I felt that I achieved something. Before, I always "changed’ or substitute ingredients.

It was from then onwards, that slowly I developed interesting in cooking, of course with the TV programs of Joel Robuchon. Now, I must have at least 100 or more books, not counting magazines.


That’s the best thing about a solid cookbook! 100 editions, that’s incredible.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold