Cookbook Collecting Is Still Relevant To Me


The highlight of the collection

I can’t tell you the number of cookbooks I have collected and then donated from my collection. Over the years my “collecting” has slowed down quite a bit. And this year I have only purchased 2 new books. Not that I didn’t want to buy more, it’s I’m just trying to be good. Over the years my collection covers a wide variety of authors and subjects. All the books I collect I try to relate it part of my interests at the time. After having the best mashed potatoes at L’Atelier in Paris for my birthday I bought the Roubechoun cookbook. Yes, to me cookbooks can have strong emotional memories. My books remind me of a place a dish or an interest. I have books from my favorite chefs, French pastries, chocolate or even a restaurant. Julia Child is my favorite chef. The most prized cookbook in the collectionis my first edition of Mastering  the Art of French Cooking by none other than Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. It took me months to track down a copy that was in decent condition and at a price I could afford.




Another well worn cookbook. It was passed down to me   
My one purchase this year

I am lucky I get to work in one of the most prestigious research institutions in the world.  I actually work in the library for this institution. Over the years I have handled some amazing monographs.  Of course my interest is culinary related, and yes we have an amazing collection of cookbook and trade literature as part of our collection. It just so happens many years ago we were given a great collection of cookbooks by the Culinary Historians of Washington. The topics are varied as to the ages of some of these books.  Since I am geek when it comes to cookbooks, I always thought  can’t have too many, I loved looking through these books and I find myself  from time to time, still looking at the recent cookery purchases.


My very first cookbook 

Years ago when I was working with the newly donated collection I came across a copy of the very first cookbook I owned. It stired up some very good memories of my youth. So like a good collector, I had to track this book down and get a copy. Lucky for me, there are several vintage booksellers and I was able to get a very good copy. I have included the very first recipe that I “mastered”. The humble Oatmeal Raisin Cooky (that is how they spelled it in the book).

One group of books, or booklets that caught my eye are booklets from the Chicago Culinary School. These were published in the fifties. These booklets covered all sorts of topics, Entertaining, Casseroles, Eggs, Sour Cream, Meats and the list goes on. There are 300 ways to make eggs! Modern cooking and entertaining for the busy housewife. Using exotic ingredients at time? Possibly, if you consider MSG and exotic ingredient. Some use canned goods, as the modern housewife was busy raising children, keeping house and entertaining when the boss came over. Dressed, high heels, pearls and of course red lipstick is the stereotype of this housewife as she is portrayed on TV and in my mind.

The lovely Astronauts Wives 

Another great moment in my culinary history took place in n the summer of 2015. A  miniseries was brought to the small screen  based on the book The Astronauts Wives Club by Lilly Koppel. The characters are the women married to the Mercury Seven Astronauts. The clothes, hair, cars, and furniture all authentic to that period in American history. The wives would get together during the launches support. But it was the food portrayed in the show that got me tuned in. OF course there were blogs with the recipes from the show. Lots of gelatin salads, hotdogs and toothpicks were shown. The modern housewife and the modern, convenient foods of the times. After watching a few of the first episodes I remembered those booklets from work. In an nod to the bygone era I checked them out, all of hem. I loved these booklets so much that I searched them out in antique shops and even on eBay and after locating many, I added them to my collection. They didn’t take up that much space in my already stuffed to gills of my overflowing bookcase.

Sometimes I envision myself in a midcentury modern cooking dinners for the family sitting down to a bridge game with the gals or even sitting out around the veranda at cocktail time serving martinis and  hors d’oeurves on a toothpick….

But in the meantime the recipe posted is the first recipe I learned how to make. It’s the Oatmeal Raisin Cooky.


Oatmeal Raisin Cookie from the (1963). Better Homes and Garden Junior Cookbook for the Host & Hostess of Tomorrow, New York: Better Homes and Garden Books. Pg. 33


These instructions are straight from the book.  And yes they do spell cookie with a Y.

YOU’LL Need:

1 cup All Purpose Flour

½  cup of brown sugar

¼ cup of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons of milk

2 cups quick cooking oats

1 egg

1 cup raisins

½ teaspoon of soda

½ teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

½ cup of shortening


  1. Set oven to 375. Lightly grease cookie sheets with a little bit of shortening. Measure flour onto paper. Add soda, salt and cinnamon and sift ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Add shortening, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, milk; mix well.
  3. Add raisins and oats. Drop teaspoons of cooky mixture 2 inches apart onto the greased cooky sheets and bake,
  4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove cookies from the sheets with turner. Place them on a cake rack to cool. Store in jar.

1 Comment

    November 14, 2019 / 11:46 am


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