Getting my sticky fingers on cookbooks is one of life’s simple pleasures that just never gets old. The cookbooks do, however, and they get sticky too. Ew, I know. But somehow I just don’t mind. Browsing through an old recipe book and coming across a splattered, well-thumbed page is heartwarming. It’s like the former owner, possibly a long-dead cook, is communing with us – acclaiming – ‘try this!’ It’s a pretty reliable sign that those particular recipes are worth checking out.
Once in awhile these old favourites are annotated. Pencilled markings scratch out – ‘use more flour’ or ‘double for family’. To me, this is a form of culinary time travel – I am transported back in time into the kitchen of an unknown, but kindred, spirit where I am invited to spy over their shoulder while they cook up familiar family dishes.
Recently one of my coaching clients offered me a set of her mother’s old cookbooks. Did I say yes? Oh yes. Among these treasures were:
- Edith Adams‘ Thirteenth Prize Cookbook, published by the Vancouver Sun for 35 cents in 1950;
- the Edith Adams Cottage Homemaker Service ‘Casseroles‘ collection;
- the 1948 version of the Watkins Cook Book;
- Freezing Foods at Home 1959;
- Borden’s Eagle Brand Magic Recipes 1946;
- Christmas Food Frolic by the Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1 (undated – but extolling the virtues of the all-electric kitchen);
And the jewel of the collection, in my opinion - A Guide to Good Cooking, The Five Roses Cook Book 1938. This is an all-Canadian cookbook and was available by mail for 40 cents and a coupon.
While eager to try out these recipes in my present-day gratefully all-electric kitchen, I am just as as content to sit in my PJs and leaf through the yellowed stained pages imagining my foremothers wiping their buttery fingers on flour-kissed aprons, and turning the same pages. From one to another we travel in our goodness.
Moodling through almost any kind of recipe book is one of my favourite ways to relax and unwind. I experience a sense of timelessness, ease and peace. Dishing in the Kitchen is on a mission to spread this kind of quiet joy. Enter our ‘Take Back the Weekend’ contest to win an overnight getaway. Required: PJs and a willingness to totally relax.