First cookbook and the backstory

(Memory) #21

First cookbook I took seriously was Marion Cunningham’s revision of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I love her voice! Subsequently bought her Breakfast Book. RIP.

(Dan) #22

Would you recommend this edition over the breakfast book? If you had to pick one…

My Aunt was a big fan as well.

(Memory) #23

Difficult choice!
I love breakfast so. . .
If you already have a basic reference, buy the breakfast book. It’s full of MC’s enthusiasm for life.
However, the big book is wonderful.
I remember sometimes being let down by a Joy of Cooking recipe. Never by MC’s FF

Please people don’t flame me for that statement! No disrespect.


Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat - her writing style spoke to me and made cooking so approachable. Her lemon linguine was the first recipe that made me want to buy all the ingredients and really enjoy the cooking process. I own and enjoy all her cookbooks, but How to Eat remains my favorite.


The first cookbook I ever remember having was a gift from my parents when I went away to college called “365 ways to cook chicken”. I’m not sure how much I really used it but I know I did cook a few things from it and definitely relied on it for cooking times/general procedures. (I’m not recommending it but it was definitely the first).

The first cookbook I remember buying was “Eating Well is the Best Revenge”. I actually really enjoyed this cookbook at the time (still have it, though don’t use it anymore). It had a great breadth of recipes that were all designed for 1-2 people - which as a single person at the time was very helpful. I remember enjoying many of the recipes.

The cookbook I would recommend for others as their “first” is the original Barefoot Contessa book (has been my recommendation for several years). It is very simple, very tasty, very “do-able for any skill level” recipes, and all of them use easy to find ingredients and most recipes are 5 +/- ingredients. I think it is a great first cookbook - not intimidating, great pictures, easy recipes to build confidence - I don’t think you can ask for more in a first cookbook.


Here’s an article about The Settlement Cookbook. The title page says “ Compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander”. Our edition is the one on top of the stack pictured.

(Dan) #27

None taken, I asked because breakfast is my jam.

(Dan) #28

Thanks for clarifying.

(Dan) #29

My wife and I enjoy her tv cooking shows. That unapologetic stand at the frig late at night is embedded in my btain.

(Dan) #30

My wife borrowed the library copy of Barefoot Contessa so often, I bought a copy. The library copy looked well used by renters like my gal.

Thank you for sharing your cookbook memories. I had a community cookbook for years filled with simple recipes that came together fast when I was single and less inclined to spend much time cooking. It was lost in a house move years ago and I really should try and track it down.


This is funny because I buy and sell cookbooks but rarely cook from recipes.
My mother was a widow and Mad Man era executive secretary, so my sister and I cooked dinner most nights or we ate out.
We had the standard Better Homes and Gardens checkerboard cookbook with donzens of notes on paper stuck in the pages. Only one I remember. My mother knew how to cook everything, she just didn’t want to. When we moved her out here my sister used a cookbook printing program and we wrote down all her scrawled notes and remembrances in printed form so everyone would have them.
I pretty much just collect regional junior league and church cookbooks, especially Southern ones.
Still love “Talk About Good “ from Lafayette Louisiana, probably my favorite , along with Edna Lewis, which falls outside my parameters but oh well.

(Dan) #32

I have read about those recipe printing programs. What a cool idea to keep them all together in one handy memento.

Community/firehouse cookbooks are treasures in my view. Best blend of regional exp. in one place…plus, these recipe collection lie nice and flat on a kitchen surface… a personal pet peeve about the cookbook genre.


This was early 90’s, so sort of dawn of time stuff computerwise. We have recipes from their Croatian friends, Mexican recipes from the steel plant where she worked, KC Steak Soup from a restaurant and newspaper, and so forth and so on… :wink: )
Our whole family still uses them even though we’re all over the USA by now.

(Dan) #34

That’s quite the keepsake, very cool.

(erica) #35

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!

(Kathy S. ) #37

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.

(Kathy S. ) #38

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!