Cookin’ the Books
June 22, 2010
I believe some of the most beautiful and interesting books on the market are found in the Cooking section of the bookshop. I’m certainly not much of a chef but some of my most treasured books are my cookbooks. For sentimental reasons, my Blue Ribbon Cook Book for Everyday Use in Canadian Homes published in 1905 will always have prime real estate on my shelf. Mine is the sixteenth edition and has my Grandmother’s handwriting throughout its splattered, stained and yes, even burnt pages. (Possibly from a cigarette instead of the stove …? Those were the times!) My mother-in-law has her own mother’s edition on her kitchen bookshelf. I wonder how many of you are hanging onto a copy too …
A cook book can be so much more than just recipes. Here are a few I’d love to share with you:
A work of art! Literally … Hand-lettered, watercolour-painted, personal story-filled and yummy recipes on almost every page! All of her books are sweet but this is my favourite.
I have given this as a gift but have yet to treat myself to a copy. It is also a visual delight and weaves a wonderful story of family and the meals that sustain and comfort throughout one’s life.
Good heavens this woman is a hoot! I discovered her incredibly successful blog at www.thepioneerwoman.com and was inspired by her humour and photography skills to seek out her book. She is zany, but in the most charming and talented way. She photographs and chats her way through every step of each recipe – for instance step 15 of PW’s Potato Skins is: ” Then simply place them on a platter, walk toward your guests and discover what it feels like to be the most popular person in the room. Field marriage proposals as needed.” Hearty comfort food is the theme (she is feeding cowboys after all!)
Not actually a cook book per se, this is a collection of five of Fisher’s books of essays on cooking and life: Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me, and An Alphabet for Gourmets. I discovered Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher in a writing class (having passed away in ’92 she wasn’t in attendance – her writing was being reveredby the instructor) and was intrigued by her persona and the craft of her writing. Like Georgia O’Keefe and Coco Chanel, Fisher was a strong and charismatic woman with an abundance of talent and sharp wit. Here is a little excerpt from a chapter called Pity the Blind in Palate: “Frederick the Great used to make his own coffee, with much to-do and fuss. For water, he used champagne. Then, to make the flavour stronger, he stirred in powdered mustard. Now to me it seems improbable that Frederick truly liked this brew. I suspect him of bravado. Or perhaps he was taste-blind.”
Feel free to comment on your favourite cooking titles too …