What do you think about your cookbook collection? Do you love it? How often do you use your cookbooks? Or are they just for show, taking up valuable space on your kitchen shelves?
Here’s how I think of my cookbooks… they’re like candy. A treat. Something fun to take out and enjoy on a quiet afternoon. I love reading recipes and the stories about the recipes.
Baking is a great passion of mine. I enjoy trying out new bakery recipes and then sharing the results with friends and neighbors. It’s an art form and also a gift of love. My dear friend Cindy gave me a new bakery cookbook for my birthday. It’s one I had mentioned wanting to get because I love the baker who wrote it.
That baker is Cheryl Day from Savannah, Georgia. I have her first two cookbooks and have never been disappointed in any of the recipes I’ve made from those books. I’ve given her cookbooks to many friends as gifts. I even once went to Savannah just to see Cheryl and her bakery there. It was a delightful experience.
The new cookbook called Treasury of Southern Baking came to me gift wrapped. When I opened it, I spent at least an hour reading through the stories and recipes.
I started baking when I was a girl of about 8 or 9. The first thing I learned to bake was blueberry muffins. I made them for my family, and they were a big hit. I always have considered muffins to be one of my signature foods. I found a recipe for lemon poppyseed muffins in the book and immediately went to the kitchen to make them.
Right away, I learned a great tip from Cheryl about lemon. She suggests making “citrus paste” from whole citrus fruits by putting them into the food processor for a good length of time. The whole fruit! It makes a thick paste that can be frozen so that you have lemon whenever you need it for a recipe.
This is such a great idea. So often lemons or limes go bad before I can use them. I made the lemon paste and used it in the muffin recipe. They came out delicious, just as I expected. And now I have lemon paste in my freezer to use in future recipes.
Some of my favorite cookbooks are Back in the Day by Cheryl Day, La Belle Cuisine by Patti LaBelle, Gourmet Cookbooks Volume 1 and 2 (Gourmet Magazine publication), Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child, In Pursuit of Flavor by Edna Lewis, and The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces.
I have many other cookbooks from various cultures and in each of them have two or three favorite recipes. The art, the passion, the sensuousness that is food! It’s in them all. The stories and histories of the recipes are so fun to learn.
Cookbooks are something to get to know. Find out what’s inside them and put post-it notes to mark pages of recipes you want to try. I write notes in my recipes because I like to make them my own by adding or subtracting ingredients.
Even if you don’t have everything on hand, you can substitute something or borrow an herb or spice from a neighbor. Approach it more like play than like work. This is how to enjoy your cookbooks as much as you would enjoy a piece of candy.
How many cookbooks do you own? Do you use them often? What do you like most about them? How many recipes have you learned from your cookbooks? Is there a recipe that you make often because it’s a favorite?