The Making of a Cookbook Collector

Hi, I’m Jenny and I was a cookbook lover before cookbooks were cool – doesn’t that remind you of a song? When I first started The Cookbook Junkies over a decade ago – it was slow going. Comments such as “why do we need cookbooks when recipes are online?” “you don’t need them, they just take up space” were tossed around by friends and family (and even some members). Then magically, membership exploded in the group, all the food sites were posting about cookbooks and everything was right in my world – everyone agreed we need cookbooks. We want to hold them in our hands, turn pages and dream of far away places, be inspired by the dishes and stories, and most importantly to feed and nurture our family and friends. 

From as early as I can remember – I have had an affinity for books. Books were an escape from parents that didn’t allow me to have friends or be out of the vicinity of their twisted judgment and controlling minds. Gone with the Wind was the one book I owned. I read it over a hundred times – I would lose myself in those worn pages and it is one thing I still own from my early childhood – that tattered copy.

My love of cookbooks bloomed when I was a teenager. I graduated high school at seventeen, moved out of mother’s home and was working full time for an oncologist. To earn extra money, I started babysitting for the Doctor and his wife.  On those nights of babysitting the girls and doing my laundry, I remember the great leftovers that could be found in their fridge. I had never eaten anything that tasted like those leftovers – seafood and different vegetables – ingredients that were foreign to me.

My mom wasn’t much of a cook. Never was there anything exotic in her rotation of chicken, meatloaf, spaghetti – and by no means were there any fresh herbs or spices in those dishes. Her ingredients of choice were always Ragu and copious amounts of salt.  I do remember she made great homemade fries….fried things were her specialty. It’s hard to mess up french fries. There wasn’t money to go to a restaurant or even order take out, so I was under the impression that food was genuinely bland and flavorless, processed and frozen.

When the doctor’s wife went through her cookbooks to thin them out – she gave me a stack.  She was my gateway to becoming a cookbook junkie. I still have one of those books – Miss Hullings’ Cookbook.  Miss Hullings’ Restaurant was a famous restaurant in St. Louis, my hometown. One of my first jobs in St. Louis, after the doctor, was for a law firm and my boss was like a father figure and would take me to lunch at Miss Hullings and the French Onion Soup – was incredible. Trips to Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill with other office staff were a treat as well. The first time I had pesce there I was blown away and then toasted ravioli – I thought I hit the big time.

Cooking became a therapy for me – a way to connect with people and something I was really good at with no training save those those cast off cookbooks I held onto. Now when I look at my shelves of cookbooks, I see a world of possibilities. I see travel to other countries, a connectivity to other cultures and people and a true love of the written word. Do these books fill our house? Yes, but I don’t see them as clutter – I see them as opportunities. Surrounded by cookbooks and things I love (I have a little problem with French cookware as well), I feel like I belong to something. It may come from a background of being abused and doing without for so much of my early life – but having these things bring me comfort. There are not stacks of newspapers or magazines lying about or herds of cats roaming the house, just shelves of books and a few stacks as well. Life is fleeting and if we do not surrounded ourselves with things and people we love – what purpose is there? As my bio here at Eat Your Books states, “She spends her time writing, cooking, baking and hoping that she isn’t discovered under a pile of cookbooks. Her tombstone will read “she was always buried in cookbooks.

A few months ago I wrote about the contributing factors that make a good cookbook and came across it again which spurred me to share this re-hash of a post I shared on my blog. I am also sharing the piece on The Cookbook Junkies from the Parker paper to explain why my little group of 42,000 cookbook lovers means so much to me and now my cookbook family has grown through Eat Your Books. Facebook statuses remind me of the connections I’ve made through food and cooking and also re-affirm that people who love to cook are good people.

What is your cookbook story? How did you begin down this delicious road? How many cookbooks do you have? I am working on a project and would love to collect as many stories as I can. I would so appreciate your comments here. Enjoy your weekend and cook something great for those you love. 


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  • Jane  on  March 24, 2017

    My passion for cooking and cookbooks came from a different angle – from family and love. My cooking started at age 5 (mainly baking) then as the oldest of 5 children I started cooking more meals around age 11 to help my mother out. Cooking meals (but especially baking) has been for me a way of expressing love. I used my mother's cookbooks then at 13 she gave me The Joy of Cooking (weird that she gave me an American cookbook since we were British – a premonition of where I would end up?). I collected cookbooks fairly steadily over the years – my collection expanded a lot when I started a website in the 90's selling cookbooks and now of course EYB. I know I have more cookbooks than I can ever cook from – 1,846 at today's count – but as long as I have room in my house I will never part from them.

  • smiddleton  on  March 24, 2017

    I come from a food and cooking obsessed family, but since I was the baby, I didn't cook much until I was on my own in New York City–about the time Silver Palate came along. (Hell0, Chicken Marbella!) I discovered that I loved to cook, and in the beginning I collected old, used cookbooks–especially at flea markets–and new ones alike. The collection grew steadily, until finally I realized I had to go to culinary school to follow my passion. Over the last ten years, I've moved and had to downsize my collection many times…but i can still look around me right now and see shelves and stacks of cookbooks everywhere–oh, well!

  • Prohlp01  on  March 24, 2017

    My mom's roots were a grandma who owned a neighborhood grocery store, and my dad's parents owned a diner. Neither side were strangers to good food, and that has passed through the generations! Though my three daughters have time challenges with their careers, they do all value home cooking, even though they may not carve out enough time for it at this point in their lives. It certainly is not for lack of cookbooks at their disposal, I have seen to that!
    When I was first married, I was armed with Betty Crocker and a copy of the Maine Rebeccas Cookbook, a few Wisconsin Electric Power Co. Christmas Cookie Books, and a couple of Culinary Institute single subject paper cookbooks, I think I had taken Italian and Meats from my mom's collection of those. Betty Crocker, and recipes that I had grown up with pretty much got me through those first couple years.
    Daughter # 1 came along, and I became a stay at home mom–and I started expanding my collection, first by signing up for the Time Life Foods of the World Series. What a treat that was, and I still have them all! Well, that opened a whole new world, and I am still acquiring and cooking out of them at 69! I had a career after my child raising days, as a librarian, and even that easy access didn't stop me from still wanting to own them. Now retired, I manage to borrow everything new that is purchased by my local large library system, as well as oldies that I want to revisit or hear about for the first time. I still purchase them, locally while traveling, at Resale shops, estate sales, on Amazon, used and new, and from bookstores, and cookware shops, museums and festivals!
    I have no idea how many I have and am currently listing them on Eat Your Books, what a great idea!
    Thank you,

  • manycookbooks  on  March 24, 2017

    I started collecting cookbooks at the age of 17 and haven't stopped yet. In late 2012, when I had just bought another box of books, my husband commented that I had to have more books than anyone and should try for the Guinness Book of World Records.

    So I got on the Guinness site and sure enough, somebody named Betsy Ross McKay somewhere in the U.S. had, in 2011, 1125 cookbooks. So I said, I've got that many, I can do this." I invited two "witnesses" over to count the books: a local chef and a local bookstore owner. The total number of items were 3,231, however, due to Guinness rules, some had to be eliminated. The final official tally was 2,790 cookbooks and in November, 2013 I was awarded the Guinness World Record for largest collection of cookbooks.

    The collection was my second. My first one comprising about 1,000 books was donated to our local library for a variety of reasons, although it broke my heart. As soon as I had gainful employment and a little cash, I began collecting again. The collection has grown somewhat since 2013 and now numbers 5,758. I have been accused of being a mere "hoarder", which I think is untrue. I love my cookbooks and read them like other people read fiction (I don't "do" fiction". I also love cooking (and my husband loves eating). Cookbooks tell us so much about social customs, trends and fads, people, cultures and history. A cookbook is more than just recipes (although these come in pretty handy too!). For me, there is no comparison to surfing the internet for a recipe, when you can hold history in your hands and turn the pages. EYB has been a terrific site for me and we share 4,915 books in common. Keep up the good work, EYB!

  • FaithB  on  March 24, 2017

    My love of cooking and cookbooks started young, my interest piqued by my food-centric Italian and Armenian relatives. But my first cookbook was the all-American Better Homes & Garden Jr Cookbook, Then the Time-Life series and Julia Child came along, and, encouraged by my mother, I started building a collection – ironic because we always joked that my mother's favorite thing to make for dinner was reservations!

    At one point I had a flip-book of casseroles, that I fondly remember but somehow lost along the way. But I have pretty much all the rest, some moved across the country and back, and many acquired in more recent years when I've been grounded in the East. I even organized a Crazy For Cookbooks panel with chefs, journalists, and publishers, at the local library in 2015, that was very well attended. Emboldened by my membership in The Cookbook Junkies, my collection is up to around 500 now, and I use Eat Your Books to help me find recipes in them.

  • IslandgirlOK  on  March 24, 2017

    I've always loved cookbooks and have been fascinated with cooking since I was a child. My mother was a great cook, but a horrible baker. I discovered my Aunt's cookbook collection, and she gave me my very first cook book Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts. The very first thing I baked from book is the Sour Cream Chocolate Cake. That started me collecting, and even though I've added hundreds of Birthdays books to my collection, I still bake that occasionally, straight out of the very same book.

  • Rosesrpink50  on  March 24, 2017

    My Grandmother was an amazing cook and baker, my Mother wasn't. All of my Grandmother's recipes were in her head. She rarely measured when baking. My Mother had the familiar red & white Better Homes & Garden Cookbook and I remember reading it over and over. When I got married, I mostly used recipes in magazines. I don't know why it didn't dawn on me to buy cookbooks back then. I was a pretty good cook, I just didn't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen due to my children and their activities and my profession and professional groups I was involved in. One of my daughter's friend's mother had a bookcase of cookbooks and I started reading them each and every time we were at their house. So, I slowly started picking up a few cookbooks to begin my collection. When I had to retire for health reasons, I got involved in several cooking groups online, thanks to a good friend. One was a small Cookbook Group. I was exposed to a lot of great books and encouraged me to expand my collection. I especially loved Junior League Cookbooks from around the country. I also began picking up local cookbooks from different places we traveled to. Last, I joined Cookbook Junkies and learned there were others who loved to read cookbooks as much as I did. It wasn't just about using them to cook with. My collection really grew after I joined Cookbook Junkies. It has gone from around 50 to 200, which is small in comparison to some. I love to talk about cookbooks and share information, as much as I like collecting and reading them. I won a lifetime membership to EYB in a giveaway in Cookbook Junkies marking their growth. I think it was when we hit 5000 members. (I could be wrong). EYB is awesome, as is Cookbook Junkies. Jenny and the people in the group, bring me much joy!

  • monique.potel  on  March 24, 2017

    I love looking at my books i have been collecting since the late seventies i stopped counting at 800 i keep trying to give some away but i am not good at it i make a pile and never gives them away they just make it back on the shelf with a few exceptions i love the old classics from the seventies and eighties less pictures but oh boy what a thrill to read!!!
    i am particularly attracted towards cuisine from different parts of the world and discovering new ways of using food i think it is very revealing of the different cultures their spices and techniques show their relationship with other food most of the time is sharing and i truly believe that if we all exchanged better on food we probably would have less violence and war i do not think you can hate your neighbour when you know more about him i am really convinced that all the violence comes from being afraid of the unknown. Through all of this I have become a decent cook self taught and eat your books and cookbook junkies have made me feel I was part of a great community and its just been a great motivator to continue

  • matag  on  March 24, 2017

    My parents owned a Mom and Pop grocery. Mom would get home after 5:30 when she would start to cook dinner. Pan fried chops ,chicken or steak….every night. When I was 15 I asked if I could help by starting dinner for her. She would start something and leave it in the fridge with instructions. Then I opened my first cookbook …a good old Betty Crocker. After that I would tell her what I wanted from the store. From then on I was I charge of dinner and the joy was that I could choose any recipe I wanted. I discovered garlic and herbs and spices. Cooking was magic! Fifty years later I own over 800 cookbooks.
    I was flying home from California a few years back. I had bought a new cookbook on Catalina Island. I was reading it on the plane when the man sitting next to me asked if it was a cookbook that I was reading. Why yes it was. He seemed flabbergasted and said …well, you are reading it like a novel! I tried to explain to him that if you read a recipe you can tell what it tastes like! He replied, no you can't! I feel sorry for people with closed minds.

  • pvia  on  March 24, 2017

    Being a total tomboy growing up, I never wanted to be stuck in the kitchen, much to my mother's dismay. I remember telling her, "If I want to learn to cook, I will read a book." Funny how things work out. I now am pushing 600 cookbooks.

  • ChefDoone  on  March 24, 2017

    I started my collection when I was a teenager, 40 years ago, encouraged by my grandma – I now have over 3,000 cookbooks, my favorites are still my grandma's handwritten ones – I will never stop collecting cookbooks, but I am much more discerning now, due to the fact that I am running out of room – I purchase some e-books, but I prefer the real thing – thanks to Eat Your Books, I am able to use my cookbooks much more

  • Kristjudy  on  March 24, 2017

    When I was a young teenager my best friend was Danish. Hers was a wealthy family and they had a cook. My favourite place to visit in her home was in the kitchen. Watching the cook take out her special butter knife, spreading the butter on beautiful homemade breads to make the stunning open face sandwiches mesmerized me..while my friend got bored and wandered off I stayed in that kitchen and fell in love with the beauty of it all.

  • marcsch  on  March 24, 2017

    I love this story, jenny. Thanks for sharing. I can relate. My mom was a heinous cook with some notable exceptions. She worked full time and didn't have a lot of time or passion at the stove. Fortunately, the Italian American neighbor who was my second mom was an amazing cook. As an adult I've spent many saturdays with her, learning to recreate some of her magic. Like you, I had someone inspire me to be a cookbook hoarder. I used to House sit for an older (to me at the time…she was probably in her 30s) Asian woman who offered me the cookbooks she culled from her collection. Thai, Indian, Chinese–cuisines I knew little about. It started an obsession. Love how our stories align in so many ways.

  • PegMallon  on  March 24, 2017

    By 11 years old I was selling cakes and cookies and went on to help my neighbor in his pizza joint, standing on a stool to reach the big pots. When my husband and I married we lived in Manhattan on very little money. So I cooked and cooked and cooked. In a 3×3 foot kitchen. My first real cookbook was Joy and I worked my way thru it and then Julia Child, Joyce Chen, and James Beard. All before it was cool! I'm up to about 1,500 "real" books though they are not all in EYB, yet.

  • lkgrover  on  March 24, 2017

    My favorite activity (since age two or earlier, according to my parents) has always been reading. Love of reading & books figures heavily into my cookbook appreciation. … My mother taught me cooking, from her rotation of about 20 recipes. I was doing most of the household baking by junior high, and assisting in dinner preparation. When I finished college, mom gave me a Betty Crocker cookbook and a recipe file with her recipe collection. Then in 2009 (at age 37), I had an Indonesian roommate who cooked fish often, which had always intimidated me. I also received a slow cooker for Christmas, although the only thing I knew to make in it was pot roast. So I made my first two cookbook purchases: Lynn Alley's Gourmet Slow Cooker & James Peterson's Fish and Shellfish. Three months later I bought an Italian cookbook and an Asian cookbook. I currently have 133 cookbooks. … I enjoy hearing other EYB members' stories!

  • southerncooker  on  March 24, 2017

    I've been blessed to have always been surrounded by great cooks.. My mom, dad. Grandma, granny, several aunts, and uncles. I was hired by one aunt to babysit her daughter the summer I turned 12. My aunt and I joined a cookbook club together and with part of of first pay I bought two cookbooks. I still have them, a Good housekeeping and 365 Ways to cook Hamburger. My Mom later started getting me cookbooks as birthday and Christmas presents. She also bought me boxes full at flea markets, estate sales, thrift stores, and used book stores. At on point I had close to 4,000 but I've become more selective and started downsizing a bit. I still can't resist a good cookbook though.

  • mjmoocow  on  March 24, 2017

    When I was 27 (a long time ago!), my mom gave me Jane Brody's Nutrition Book for Christmas. Once I started reading that, I realized how much of an impact food has on health and bought Jane Brody's Good Food book. That was that! I made eggplant ravioli, chickpea spaghetti sauce…all kinds of delicious and healthy meals–and I lived alone! It grew from there. I especially enjoy reading cookbooks at night – they lull me to sleep with warm stories and my own cooking aspirations. Unlike novels, I seldom feel the need to stay awake to finish the next chapter. Cookbooks leave me feeling cozy, and safe, and secure. I was recently challenged by my husband to cook one recipe from each of my cookbooks…and I accepted the challenge – which, luckily, has no time frame.

  • Bjean  on  March 24, 2017

    My love for cooking came from my parents, both were amazing cooks! No cookbooks ever! My love for baking came from my home economics class in high school, my first made from scratch apple pie! What a joy! My first cookbook was a gift from my mom, Betty Crocker! And so it began! I have been collecting them for over 50 years and I have lost count as to how many I have , but I tell you, I love every one of them! Cooking, baking and collecting cookbooks has been and still is the joy of my life!!!

  • debpiper  on  March 24, 2017

    Collecting cookbooks began of necessity for me. My mother was a wonderful cook. She came from Kentucky. I remember going to my grandmother's house in the Appalachian mountains where my mother grew up. They did everything themselves. There was a smokehouse where they made their own hams and bacon. There was a rootcellar where potatoes, etc., were stored and in that rootcellar were huge crocks, as tall as I was, filled with cabbage for sauerkraut and another with ears of corn. Corn was brined to make pickled corn. I've heard it's an acquired taste but I still love it today. My grandmother would rinse the ears, cut off the kernels, and cook them with a bit of bacon fat in a skillet on the stove. She churned her own butter, which I turned my nose up, and didn't appreciate; just as I didn't appreciate the fluffy home-made biscuits, home-made jams from berries she'd grown and fresh buttermilk. Maybe that was too much to expect from a city kid. When I was a teenager I went to work at the local burger drive-in, and then on to the local Italian steak/pizza/pasta joint. I never cooked with my mother or baked with her. It's something I regret, because she knew how to make the best pie crust and bread, and the best fried chicken ever. I wouldn't eat that southern food when I was living at home. Now I sometimes make it myself. It always turns out great – it's in my blood. Once I graduated high school and wanted to learn how to cook, I would ask my mom for recipes, but she didn't have any. It was always, you take some of this, and some of that, and this is what you do with it. I started buying cookbooks and learned how to cook from them. One of the first books I bought was the first Moosewood Cookbook. I've always been interested in cookbooks that presented different ideas and techniques or ingredients. Now I have my own library of cookbooks. I never let my print collection number more than around 500. That's what I have room for. Occasionally, I will sort through them and get rid of some I am no longer interested in. Those get donated to libraries, or passed on to friends who might be interested in a particular book. I've been collecting cookbooks for over 40 years now. I do have ecookbooks on my Kindle, but I greatly prefer to have a cookbook in hand to read or browse for new ideas or a recipe that fits an ingredient I want to use. For years I wanted a database of recipes that I owned to keep track of which recipe was in what book. When I found EYB, it was like a wish was granted! So happy to have this resource to use and as I joined right in the beginning, it has amazed me to watch it grow and evolve. EYB is a very, very good thing!

  • obbigttam  on  March 25, 2017

    My journey began very early in life. My grandmothers on both sides were terrible cooks but my mother's father could cook well and did all the cooking until he got too sick. Every time I visited my mother would encourage me to learn from him even though his cooking was standard English/Australian fare back then – meat and three veg. Mum always said as I was growing up that no son of hers was going out into the world without knowing how to cook, clean and iron lol. Her way of making a contribution towards equality of the sexes. Guess it worked as I'm married now with a 5yo son, do all the cooking and we share the washing, even though I still end up ironing as there's something about it I love.
    Anyway I can remember I was about 5 or 6 when mum wanted to learn how to cook other things than the standard fare of Australia in the 70's. She took a TAFE course on Chinese cooking and as part of the course they gave her the recipe cookbook (I have it now) and after finishing that course she fell in love with Asian food. Charmaine Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook was a staple and she got into the habit of writing notes on the recipes after cooking them, a habit I fell into as well. When I left at 17 to join the army I started my collecting with Time Life, cookbooks from Spain, Portugal and of course Asia (including other Charmaine Solomon books). I found on later visits home to mum that she had continued to expand her collection over the years too, but on a smaller scale. For my 40th birthday she got me a copy of Solomon's Complete Asian Cookbook, which funnily enough I had never bought myself and it seemed to be the completion of a circle to me.
    I continue to collect from around the world, travelling the planet on a plate with friends and family that I cook for. Devouring the introductions for the story of the author, or what inspired them to put this particular collection together – even better are the books that are setup where each chapter is from a different region or country with a story about the people and the place. My love of food is so great that I took on an adult apprenticeship to be a chef, a process that almost destroyed my love of cooking due to what I saw and went through. I left that after 2 years safe in the knowledge that being a chef was something I could never do, as my love of cooking comes from being able to watch the joy on people's faces when I've done well in the kitchen – as a chef you see nothing but kitchen walls and other chefs most of the time.
    When my mother died I inherited all her cookbooks and they became a window to visit the memories, for in every book were notes written in her hand and a lot had notes from both of us on recipes – sometimes agreeing and sometimes different. It's another thing that I love about cookbooks, in that they are like paper time machines. They can link you with memories from the past whether that be people or events, you can pick up old books and visit a time where food was presented in a different style, or years that certain foods or cuisines were on trend/fashionable/taboo. If you have books from different countries through different timeframes you can sometimes see how the culture of that country changes through time.
    Cookbooks are a pleasure and can bring laughter or tears through the memories they provide, they can bring absolute joy when you've tried new things, cooked with love and shared that with your friends and family. I have a saying that my friends and family have gotten used to "When my table is silent bar the sound of cutlery and chewing I know I've done well. When there is chatter and laughter I wonder what I've done wrong." I have old and new, soft and hardcover, culinary bibles and esoteric tomes and will probably collect and cook until the carry me feet first out the door lol.

  • gracieanne  on  March 25, 2017

    When I was eight years old my Aunt Agnes came home from Chicago for a visit and she taught me how to cook…not grilled cheese sandwiches or peanut butter sandwiches but hollandaise sauce and the mystery of souffles and other foods I had never heard of or tasted before. The first time we steamed a whole head of snowy white cauliflower and drizzled Hollandaise sauce over it and dotted it with fresh baby peas I thought I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life. It turns out I was what she called a "natural" in the kitchen. No words can describe how much those words meant to me.

    My Mother was a wonderful cook, every bit as skilled as my Aunt..but cooking was not her first love, gardening was. So she was more than happy to let me cook my little heart out. I made our evening meal almost every day. When I was 12, I made my first Thanksgiving turkey, not from a written recipe but with my Mother talking me through the process. I would read my Mother's cookbooks until I knew them by heart and when I needed to understand a technique she would teach it to me. By the time I got to home economics I could cook better than my teacher. As a non-athlete it was a wonder to me that I was always the first one chosen to be on a kitchen unit. My group always got an A. And that class was where I got my very own cookbooks…home economic teachers had a series of favorite recipe books on a variety of subjects and my Mother, bless her heart, bought me the whole set. It was the beginning of my collection.

    Through the years my Mom and my Aunt continued to share my adventure through many books from many countries and subjects. I treasure the family favorites they taught me as well as the techniques they shared. And I have learned they were rather classically me a great basis to work from. There are few recipes I make that do not use something they taught to me. My Mother's specialty was bread and pies so I have more bread and pie cookbooks than I really need. My Aunt was the queen of sauces so there are more than a few of those cookbooks in my collection. Not sure who I can give credit to for the addition of the rest of my books but I do give thanks for a great husband who understands why I need more of them.

    When I teach my granddaughters how to cook my voice is sharing all those wonderful words from my Mother and Aunt..sharing the skills with a new generation. I love to see the pleasure in their eyes when I hand them their own copy of one of our favorite books. I think one of the most special moments as a collector for me was at Christmas. I gave my granddaughter a book I thought she wanted and she did not react the way I expected her to. I asked her if I had gotten the wrong book and she hesitated and then asked..Grandma could I trade you my new copy for your old feels so much better. She is a "natural" too.

  • vickster  on  March 25, 2017

    I became interested in cooking when I was a young teenager. My mother was a good cook, but not adventurous. She had a few cookbooks (which she rarely used) and I read them over and over. When I was 15 I made a full Chinese dinner for my parents and their friends using the Better Homes & Gardens Chinese cookbook! I started collecting my own books when I was college, and Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking was one of my first. I have loved cookbooks ever since, buying new ones and discarding some along the way. Now I try to limit myself with what will fit on my bookshelf. And then there are Kindle books. I love the Cookbook Junkies site, and the Cookbook Clubs. Thank you Jenny for what you do!

  • okmosa  on  March 25, 2017

    As the youngest of four with a single mom in the 1970s, there was no question that the kids were expected to do a lot of the house chores including making dinner. Being thrown into the workforce drained all my mom's desire for housekeeping duties and they were left to us and I don't blame her one bit. We did not grow up watching our mom cook, but her mom, my Italian grandma, cooked everything every day, but we only saw her down in Florida every few years. By the time I was in high school and it was just my mom and me I was cooking everything, but very simple fare, and repeated a lot (chicken pieces with a can of tomatoes and sliced onion, baked). I remember subscribing to some service where you received a packet of very 'American'-style recipes every other month (or, maybe I only signed up for the free first month as we didn't have any extra money in those days). I made a few of those recipes over and over – Beefy Chili Mac (Manwich and elbow macaroni and kidney beans). I had a best friend in high school who's mom would be 'reading' cookbooks when I'd go to her house. I think most everyone else thought this was weird, but she was my secret mentor. In college I would find myself trolling the sale shelf at the school bookstore, held subscriptions on and off to Bon Appetit and Gourmet, and would try recipes on my roommates. Then in 1991 I stumbled into a habit I hiked until today. My boyfriend and I went on a 6-week camping road trip and on one of the very first stops I picked up a grocery bag full of old cooking magazines that I spent our entire road trip reading and combing recipes out of. And the rest is everything from then on. My cookbook collection has grown but I'm amazingly selective due to space mostly. There are so many cookbooks being published right now that I get them all at the library first to look them through. If I like one or two recipes I save the recipe, But if the book really moves me and I know I'll come back to it again and again even just to read it i'll buy it. The last few years as I've gotten older (!) I started to read a little further back in time and seek out seminal cookbooks and authors pre1980s. It's just so interesting to read them and how their words are at the same time light years away but exactly the same as today.
    Footnote: I've been so excited about Eat Your Books over the last few years for me to be able to reengage with my cookbooks. I love it! And now I've just found Cookbook Junkies! Yay!!

  • Jenny  on  March 25, 2017

    I absolutely love all of these stories – thank you so much for sharing. Keep them coming.

  • traculart  on  March 25, 2017

    At 13 and the oldest of three, I started cooking when my mother returned to the workforce. For the first year or so all I did was start dinner and when she arrived home she would finish it. So it was a lot of prep work and some initial cooking like starting the stew, or putting the chicken in to bake for oven fried chicken parts. Eventually I was trusted with the meatloaf instructions. I say instructions as once my Mother learned a recipe she rarely referred back to it. A lot of measuring was done by how far up on a glass vessel you added an ingredient. For how much salt to add to boiling water for pasta she once told me, via phone, to cup my hand and fill to first fold beneath my fingers! I decided then that there had to be more and concise instructions in cookbooks. I devoured her 1945 edition of Woman’s Home Companion, a gift from her Mother-in-law, known to me as Nana. I have her book as well as a 1947 edition I purchased on eBay that is in better condition. After that I started reading the recipes in the supermarket magazines she treated herself with sometimes, Woman’s Day and Family Circle. From there I craved more cookbooks and added a few to her shelves over the years. We shared a love for The Doubleday Cookbook by Jean Anderson & Elaine Hanna. I literally wore mine out (as in it fell apart) and replaced it with The New Doubleday Cookbook version. I had been gifted with many cookbooks over the first years of marriage as people knew my hobby was cooking. In the early 80’s I started buying more cookbooks for myself and expanding my abilities in the kitchen. Then came Martha Stewart’s Entertaining, a coffee table sized book that inspired me to quit my job and with my wife and our best friend start a catering company. We kept it going for 5 years as a part-time venture. Then moved on. I kept buying cookbooks for inspiration in the kitchen. The joke was that I’d read a recipe in 8 books…close them and create my own version in the kitchen. I returned to professional cooking in 2004 as a Personal Chef and increased my cookbook obsession greatly! I built it up to be in the 500 range and recently got a grip on myself and have slowed the procurement to around 10 new titles a year! In other words last year I only added 10!!

  • Sharmiro  on  March 25, 2017

    My mom never used cookbooks when I was growing up–she was a terrific home cook and taught me by letting me watch, and do. When I was leaving home to get married, someone bought me the Betty Crocker Cookbook that was so popular during the 60's. I still have it, and several 100 more! Somewhere along the way I became fascinated with the history & story of cooking, and started collecting older cookbooks as well as newer ones that had a story to tell. Once I bought a Thai cookbook because I wanted to learn to cook Thai–way before it was popular. Now I just buy those that speak to me, either in food type, or the story that food will tell.

  • lgroom  on  March 25, 2017

    My mother claimed I exited the womb with my nose in a book. I figured she'd know. I do know there was never a time when I wasn't excited to find something to read. I continue to search for the high I received from the Scholastic Book club flyer and the delivery of the box to the classroom door a couple of weeks later. My grandpa surprised me with a homemade bookcase when I was about seven or eight. I still have it.

    As the oldest of eight kids, I learned the rudiments of cooking and baking at a young age. We were a very rural farm family and being responsible for producing platters of fried eggs and potatoes, side pork or some kind of a hunk of critter was just something I learned to do. In about seventh or eighth grade, I checked out a cookbook from the library entitled something like "Teens Cook" or "Entertaining for Teens." It was from there I learned how to set a table and about stuff like courses. I remember my mom letting me cook a meal from it one night and that we didn't eat until ten o'clock. I had some unhappy siblings. They still remind me about this.

    I went to college and majored in English and minored in library science. I met a hunky Joe and we got married a week after I graduated. He got his master's degree and then we joined the Peace Corps. I became a librarian in Yemen (yes this is true) and Hunky, who was a cross country star, became a member of the Hash House Harriers, an international running group, They planned long elaborate runs and the big deal afterwards were the massive spreads put on. So I calmly did this. I became known as the chef extraordinaire and would calmly prepare spreads for 70-80 folks.

    We ended up staying as USAID workers for a few years. I ate at the homes of Yemenis, Indians, Phillapinos, Egyptians and all sorts of ex-pats. If there was ever a party that needed to be thrown, I threw it.

    So Hunky and I came back to the States and I got my Masters degree in Library Science. I continued to throw parties but of course, now I was able to get books about any culture I wanted and experimented with all types of cuisine. I also worked at one of Milwaukee;s best delis, Glorioso's, and got to learn some cool tricks from the best of Italian cooks on the planet.

    Hunky caught on to the fact that I wasn't always going to look like I did in my twenties and took off to engage in what seems to be an endless string of relationships with those who are in their mid-twenties. I moved back home when my parents needed help and am the one who hosts the family gigs. I love to read cookbooks and food memoirs and l reading about food stuff to be the best entertainment there is.

  • darcie_b  on  March 25, 2017

    All of these stories are wonderful! My cookbook collecting hobby began when I volunteered at a food co-op in college. As a reward for taking on a lot of the management, the co-op board bought me a copy of Joy of Cooking when I graduated. I became a vegetarian at that time too, and then I really needed cookbooks to learn how to cook without meat. The Moosewood Cookbook was the next addition, and it snowballed from there. I've always been interested in the scientific aspect of cooking, so my collection leans toward those volumes, like On Food and Cooking, Cook's Illustrated, Cookwise, and The Food Lab, plus many baking books. My favorite pasttime is to comb through thrift store shelves to find discarded gems – I love to take home these orphans and put them to good use. It's a good thing I have a lot of room to expand my library!

  • Teruska  on  March 25, 2017

    My mom cooked every day for the 8 of us. Now she is happy to turn over the cooking on family holidays. She had the Joy of Cooking and a few other cookbooks. We have nowhere near as many as some folks on this discussion but more than 500 and more than 1,000 cooking pamphlets from the 1800s on. I spent some fabulous time as a Library Director and packed for our last move, labelling the boxes with the correct Dewey Decimal ~ just for fun. The categories with the most books include vegetarian cooking, sausage making, charcuterie, ethnic cooking and canning and preserving. We take so many cookbooks out of our Library (Thank you EYB) the staff thought we were chefs. Ha! Love to cook. Love to read cookbooks.

  • Sueskitchen  on  March 26, 2017

    For inspiration I read cookbooks. For new ideas. But, my interest in cookbooks if definitely more anthropological. Learning about other cultures; not just other countries but other Americans – what they're cooking, how they grow the produce or how they care for and butcher the animals.

    How this plays into religion and holidays. How food brings people together and how diverse cultures have such similar recipes and food-ways.

    It's the story in the cookbook that brings me in. How chefs and cooks bare their souls and tell their stories while sharing recipes. It's really quite personal.

  • Lem9579  on  March 26, 2017

    My mom cooked meals and baked but simply to put food on the table. It wasn't her thing mainly because she has always had gastrointestinal issues. But I did enjoy it and she encouraged me, doctoring up frozen pizzas (it was the 1960's), making brownies and finally enrolling me in a cooking class in our neighborhood when I was about 10. After that I started doing more in the kitchen and browsing through magazines for recipes. When I moved out of her house I got myself a couple of books(mostly Betty Crocker and The McCalls Cookbook) and started my journey. I've always loved to read and cookbooks were just another type of book to get into. I then joined a cookbook club where I'd purchase books and get points and then was able to get a free book with my points. That is where I got my first "fancy" cookbook, "Delicioso, The Regional Cooking of Spain" by Penelope Casas. I still have it and love it. I think that book opened my eyes to a new world and the possibilities inside cookbooks.

  • jahqdruh  on  March 28, 2017

    My dad took me into the kitchen when I was 5 because he was tired of eating "chocolate hockey pucks" from the Easy-Bake oven. Once I was able to work on my own, I cooked through the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook we had. I used the money I earned at my high school job to buy those little cookbooks from Pillsbury and Philly cream cheese, etc. that you could find at the grocery store cash register. Fast forward to 1994, when a kind employer bought me a subscription to Cook's Illustrated magazine. What a revelation! From there, I started buying cookbooks that caught my eye, with an emphasis on James Beard and IACP winners. I regularly "audition" cookbooks to see if they get to remain in the collection. I still have that old BH & G that started it all — that one gets to stay forever, even though I don't cook from it very much anymore.

  • JuliaBalbilla  on  March 28, 2017

    I was lucky in the sense that reading was always encouraged when I was a child, however cooking was not. I was never allowed to cook at home and the school I went to offered very little in the way of cookery lessons. My mother was never interested in cooking and really struggled to cope with my vegetarianism, which was very rare in the UK in the 1960s. Fortunately, my grandmother was a brilliant cook and it was her cookery books that I spent most of my time reading when I visited her – Elizabeth David, Constance Spry and Larousse Gastronomique were my favourites.

    Like you, I left home at 17 and bought my first cookery books – Modern Vegetarian Cookery by Walter & Jenny Fleiss and Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure. I then acquired a meat-eating boyfriend, so I bought Elizabeth David's French Country Cooking. Over the years my collection has expanded to more than 800 books and is continuing to grow. They cover many countries and cooking styles ranging from Mrs Beeton to Nathan Myhrvold and I love them all.

  • Mrs. L  on  March 29, 2017

    Books have always been important in my life…my Grandmother was a librarian and all the women in my family have been voracious readers. But my love of cookbooks started with my love of recipes. I can remember when I could barely write, taking my grandmas recipe cards and copying them out on index cards for my own "file". Going through magazines (McCalls, etc) copying recipes that I wanted to try someday. Of course I was given several children's cookbooks but I honestly never really cooked. I know at some point I started pulling pages of magazines with recipes instead of copying them. Somewhere along the way, the love of recipes turned into a love of cookbooks and I started buying them slowly, as budget would allow. The first time I realized I had a "collection" was when the Frugal Gourmet started on PBS. I had to pick up every single one of his cookbooks and I remember gathering them and all my other cookbooks and putting them in a bookcase (though even then there were so many I had to have boxes of them in the garage). But here is the twist on all this. I rarely used the cookbooks. In fact, I rarely cooked. I was the person who said "yeah I collect cookbooks, but I don't cook". I grew up in a single parent household where my Mom worked all the time so dinners came from canned or frozen meals. Boxed Hamburger Helper or Kraft Mac and Cheese. When my Mom cooked from scratch, the meals were great, but those were few and far between. Instead of cooking, I read cookbooks. I dreamed along with the cookbooks…dinner parties I would have someday where I would make this fantastic meal and serve wonderful desserts. I painstakingly used to make lists (and type them up) of the recipes in each cookbook I wanted to try. Later in life, as a busy single woman, I rarely watched TV without having a cookbook to peruse through. But I still didn't cook. I had boyfriends who were great cooks, who loved going out to eat, so though I continued to buy cookbooks, they continued to just be reading material. Oh I did cook from them every now and then, but without my own kitchen (renting rooms in houses or small apartments) there wasn't much entertaining room. Besides…all spare rooms where I lived were basically taken up with cookbooks (and other books too lol). Things changed a bit when I met my husband. He cooked for me. He took me out to dinner. But every once in a while, I'd cook for him (the way to a mans heart is through his stomach right?) and I'd pull a recipe from my every growing stack of cookbooks. For various reasons I moved several times before I married my husband. His best man was usually one of those that helped us move. And there were always boxes of cookbooks. Boxes and boxes. Heavy boxes. Yes, I had a vice. It wasn't shoes, or makeup, or jewelry, or clothes…it was cookbooks. So during the wedding I shouldn't have been surprised when the best man made a comment that maybe I should start cooking from all those cookbooks he'd had to move over the years. So I started. Even started a food blog to help me cook from those cookbooks. Though I'm not a prolific cook, nor do I know a lot of the basics that folks have learned at the side of family, I pull cookbooks from my collection and actually cook from them all the time now. And as the years have gone by, the collection has grown. Cookbooks from my Grandma and my Mom once they passed. Friends have donated cookbooks to my collection that they've inherited from family. I'm super easy to give a birthday or Christmas present to've guessed it, cookbooks. Though the days of me buying a huge amount of cookbooks are over (just no room and no time to read/cook from them all) I do tend to buy at least one a month (those pesky cookbook clubs lol) and know that I will always get at least one cookbook at Christmas…following a wish of my Mom when she passed, that I always buy a cookbook and put it under the Christmas tree from her every year. How many do I have? Well… I know at least 1000 (that comes from an Excell spreadsheet I started decades ago to keep track). Now that I've moved and actually have bookcases for all of these cookbooks, I am slowing getting them into the Eat Your Books Database so I know that number could go a bit higher. My goal has always been to cook at least one recipe from each cookbook I own. I need to live a very, very long time.

  • Jerry77360  on  March 29, 2017

    Two things in life I've always loved – good books and good food. As a young Coast Guardsman, after several years on ships, I found myself in an office job requiring that I live on the economy in Boston. There is good food to be had in Boston, but not three restaurant meals a day on military pay. I decided that my only chance to survive was to become my own gourmet chef. I can't claim the "gourmet" part, but in the ensuing 45 years I have become a fairly good cook, & I did survive well enough that I probably gained 50 pounds during that tour of duty.. I'm not sure now if I started with Fannie Farmer or the New York Times Cookbook, but as soon as I began saving enough by cooking for myself, I started browsing cookbooks & buying any that had recipes for dishes I like.

  • cynmcconniel  on  March 29, 2017

    Hello, my name is Cynthia and I am a cookbook collector. I don't know if I found a 12 step group or a crazy extended family or a little of both. Even as I write this Americas Test Kitchen is playing on t.v. I come from a large family. I am the second oldest of ten. For me cooking was a way to connect and belong. If I wanted to spend time with my mom you best be in the kitchen because that is normally where she was cooking, doing dishes or planning for the next round. Both of my parents came from very large families in the Midwest. My dad would tell you mom couldn't boil water when they first met but my mom's love for reading and for learning soon proved him wrong. I followed in her foot steps. Cooking bonded us tightly together. I cannot remember where I got my first cookbook. I do recall the first thing I ever cooked was toast because Mr.Rodgers has showed how to do it on his show and I made some for my mom. I was hooked after that. I got my first Better Crocker cookbook when I joined 4-H and started tearing through the pages begging mom to try things like Orange Julius. I clipped recipes from magazines, and newspapers. I spent hours copying all the secret family recipes from aunts and grandparents. My cookbook collection took off after college as funds became more available. After I met my husband the collection exploded. Our favorite hobby together is what I call junking we find cookbooks that have been well used with the notes in the margins and the stained pages and dog eared corners. Those are my favorite books. These books not only tell of different cultures and traditions

  • pokarekare  on  March 30, 2017

    My mother was a great cook, even though she continually burnt the potatoes, and as the eldest of 6 children I was inducted into the kitchen at early age. An early memory is of Mum's friends raving about a seed cake I had made [I remember that it tasted exceptionally good too]. She only had a few well worn cook books including her "Edmonds Cookery Book" which I think every New Zealand housewife owned, and another battered old book which I think she had as a child herself [both are now in my collection].
    I received my first cook book as a 21st birthday gift, and by the time I married I had, I kid you not, a suitcase full of recipes cut from newspapers and magazines, plus 2 cookbooks about cooking with herbs and spices. I did start to paste the recipes into exercise books but I couldn't bear to throw out a recipe for, for example, beef Stroganoff, that I hadn't tried – unfortunately I had more than a dozen recipes for this, all slightly different, and the same was true for many many other recipes. I ended up gritting my teeth and throwing them all out. Then I started all over again.
    I honestly can't remember how my cook book collection started after that – recipe books and I just seemed to be a natural match! I was interested in gardening and growing herbs so that started a collection of vegetable- and herb-themed cookbooks. I love watching cooking shows so that started another collection of celebrity cookbooks. I love travelling and trying different cuisines, so another collection started there – I have bought a recipe book from every country I have visited except Antarctica, and a few I haven't.
    Then, as my mother's generation got older, she and various aunts gave me their precious recipes and favourite cookbooks.
    I still collect individual recipes and every winter I sort, purge, catalogue and file them. I know – it's a problem!!! I am not even safe around book stores, second hand book sales or anywhere else where books are being sold or given away. Even so, I only own between 200-300 cookbooks and these only comprise about 10% of my library, so I'm pretty restrained compared to some of you!

  • FunkyViriditas  on  March 30, 2017

    I didn't really "collect" cookbooks so much as buy ones that seemed unusual, like, "Renaissance Recipes," and "The Amish Cook." I also would buy cookbooks based on Ayurvedic, Macrobiotic and Raw Cuisine and super healthy cooking, like, "Cooking for Consciousness." This last one was my go-to as a young single mom of one. With my second child, I became a speed cooker – – I could get dinner on the table in 15 minutes – – all fresh food, nothing from a can or box. But also nothing from a cookbook either. Fast forward to a few years ago and I started cooking again after doing a 5 week juice fast. (Actually, my favorite thing to do during a fast is to read cookbooks, lol.)

    My dad and his mom were great cooks and bakers. Luckily, it turns out that I inherited the same gene. Once I realized that people loved my food, I started buying (mostly used) cookbooks like a fiend. In a few years, I have almost 500. I've had to put the brakes on though because I just don't have the space. Still, every year, on my birthday, my favorite thing to do is to go cookbook shopping!

  • Lavnder  on  March 30, 2017

    I am a middle child from a poor family. I was then and still am. My mom worked two jobs to support three kids. My siblings had no interest in cooking or cleaning, so I was the born caregiver of all. I did all the cooking and cleaning. I have always loved books and anything creative (Im a starving artist). I would create something out of anything I could get my hands on whether paint, wood, food, cloth..etc..all self taught.) I also happened to live in vibrant new york city and a big italian family obsessed with food, which still holds my heart. I guess because we didnt have much. The sights, the sound the smells are still there if I close my eyes. Joy of cooking was my first cookbook. As I do not have a HUGE collection, mainly due to money. I do like to collect famous restaurants and some of my favorite chefs of the cooking shows, my favorite types of food and different places that seem interesting. I am not a collector of anything else except kitchen ware items and cookbooks. I have a HUGE list of wants on my list-some never to be attained again due to cost. But why stop dreaming……If I didnt need to work I would LIVE literally in my kitchen. At the moment I try to make the quick stuff so we dont eat too late after my day at work but hope when I retire to do more of the larger items I have flagged in each and every book I have and have read them from cover to cover. Since I'm off in summer I tend to have more fun and get to try the more complex items not do-able in winter working hours.

  • mama_c  on  March 30, 2017

    I'm comforted to know I'm not the only one with a cookbook obsession! The on-line index idea was brilliant; something I thought about for years, but never implemented. I'm really grateful that you did it! I do have one question: does anyone have suggestions on where to sell or donate hundreds of cookbooks, if/when I could ever consider parting with them?

  • Jane  on  March 31, 2017

    mama_c – this question has come up before. I’ts unlikely you will get much money if selling them, unless you have signed or first editions. A better idea would be to donate them to your local library or culinary school – and you may be able to claim a tax write-off.

  • AlisonL  on  April 5, 2017

    When I was little my mother and some of her friends all had the Julia Child book "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". They would all throw dinner parties and attempt to show off. I think my mom was probably the best of the bunch – she was definitely a good cook. I loved to sit in the kitchen and watch her make things (even if I refused to eat half of it). It was something I did right up until she passed. She was a voracious reader and instilled that love of reading and books in my brother and I. I think my first cookbook was a weight watchers one obtained at the summer camp I attended in high school. The true collecting began slowly when I moved into my first apartment at 25. It started with entertaining books and how to's. When I went vegetarian in 2001, (and even more so when I switched to a predominantly vegan diet), the obsession really began. I think I have a book that corresponds to just about every category you could lump them into. Entertaining, oil-free, gluten-free, holidays, decadent dishes, baking, chocolate, ice cream, tacos, bowls, international cuisine, tofu, starch heaven, Paleo…it goes on and on. I still pick-up the occasional omnivore/carnivore book if the recipes look interesting or there is something special about it or the chef involved and if recipes can be converted (think Ottolenghi's Plenty and Extra Virgin by Corcos and Mazar – cutest show ever – hate all the meat but I am sure I can convert many of the dishes…just need time). The frenzy has slowed down because my tiny apartment cannot take much more. Heaven help me when I move to a bigger space!

  • adelina  on  April 8, 2017

    I grew up in a home where my grandma, then mom would only make homemade Armenian/middle eastern meals. I remember being super picky and would not like to try anything new. As much as I loved picking fresh produce with my grandma on her weekend trip to bazaar, watching her or my cook or bake, I was still not thrilled to try new flavors until years passed and we moved to America and I went away to college. My dinner most nights consisted of cheese and bread, corn with labne, pasta. I would be intimidated by fast food and did not want to get near it. Little by little my roommate/dear friend from junior high started to push me try different items. Since I liked the idea of eating out but was to scared to taste the food in the restaurant, I would try making the food from a cookbook my mom had bought me from the mall. Discovering the ingredients in the recipe, helped me get over my phobia of eating out. After that, I got into Sunset Magazine and Martha Stewart recipes. Borders bookstore and Barnes and Noble were my two favorite hangouts so I can go through their huge cookbook collection. Years later, when I got married, I started to cook from my mini cookbook collection. Every night I would attempt to cook a meal and photograph the meal. Since this was prior to digital camera days, I would develop the print and write the recipe, cookbook name,page number and if I had any modification on the back of the photo. This helped me organize my cooking in a photo album to recall which recipe I used from which book any given time. Twenty years later, my love for cookbooks has not stopped. I am so glad to have found this site. I feel like I've found a home finally where I can feel great visiting almost on a daily basis. I loved reading everyone's stories and I am glad I am not the only one that loves reading recipes like it's a novel. Thanks to kindle, my cookbook collection has surpassed and love my collection. It makes me so delighted to receive or purchase a new book. I know it's not the same as print but it does help when copying or highlighting recipes. Thanks again for this post. Happy reprimand cooking!

  • colleensweet  on  September 14, 2017

    My mom was not a good cook, so at ten I decided I was "never going to eat anything she cooked again". For a few months I mostly ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but then a birthday or Christmas came around, and I got a copy of a Betty Crocker cookbook. My parents said I could use anything in the house to cook, but they were not going to buy "special foods" for me to cook (if I wanted something that wasn't in the house, I could get it myself). I discovered that I enjoyed cooking and baking, and after I moved out to go to college, it was a nice way to relax from studying. More than 40 years later, I have cookbooks in the thousands, and still enjoy cooking and baking.

  • WUVIE  on  September 16, 2017

    At the risk of throwing my mother under the culinary bus, she was not known for her cooking. Both sets of grandparents have long passed, but there were no great family recipes to hand down, unless my paternal grandmother's famous frozen waffles count.

    I have always been a very particular eater, but later in life realized all of my food dislikes came not from pickiness, but a particular palate. I hated onions, beans, anything green, beef, and so many other things. Soup was an absolute nightmare, as it meant a can opener, or a pot of milk with fat-ridden bacon, some gooey green beans, and a few potatoes with the eyes snapped off before they surrendered to rot.

    Once I grew up and married, cooking became fun. Foods I'd always hated were now appealing, once I understood that unlike Aunt Eva's cooking, eating a roast did not have to mean chewing until your jaw ached. That spices were a good thing. That an onion is not an onion is not an onion, and the same applied to beans.

    Though collecting cookbooks was never my intention, happening upon a few great second-hand sales really started the ball rolling. My husband and I found a great storage building with what appeared to be the entire cookbook section of a one-time antique store. The seller noticed I had picked up quite a few books, when she walked over and handed me a gigantic paper bag with handles, the type that one might see during the holidays for shoppers with large purchases. She told me to fill up the bag with as many bags as I could, for $20.00. Needless to say, I scoured the entire stock of books, and picked what I deemed the best. The following weekend, we went back. Sure enough, she offered the same, and again twice more. I now found myself with more books that I could ever cook from, but went to bed every night with one of them, perusing pictures, reading about techniques, and planning which things to cook.

    A bit more of a fast-forward found treasures at yard sales, and a local second-hand store with a frequent 'all you can stuff in a bag for $2.00' book sale, which we need not mention the number of times I've visited.

    Initially, my husband stated that he did not mind my cookbook collection, as long as I cooked at least one thing from each book. It is apparent I will never be able to catch up, but trying to do so has proven daunting.

    This group has made me realize that I am not the only one with a passion, perhaps obsession for all things cookbook. Thank you for adding me.


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