I think that people have been cooking ever since the invention of fire (it really makes foods quite tasty). Remote instruction in the art of cooking delicious food had to wait for the invention of writing, then for the invention of printing. The first written cookbook by a woman in English was published in 1661 and things took off from there. My mother had a 1948 copy of “The Gold Cookbook” that was probably a wedding present, and I don’t recall ever consulting it, but it had it’s special spot in the kitchen. When I learned to cook I sort of remember using recipes on food packaging (Hershey’s cocoa), the newspaper, and the occasional magazine. Now I have been cooking for a large number of years and I now own a small collection of cookbooks.
My mother bought this probably as a magazine promotion in the early 60’s. It’s a beautifully photographed book, with many of the sort of recipes that require special ingredients like lobster (never ever served at my house). It’s pretty much a fantasy of what to cook, certainly not the ordinary sort of recipes (most everyday cooking doesn’t need a written recipe). But there was one recipe in here that I tried, and I have made it often.
And of course since I have made it often, I don’t need to look at the directions anymore, and change bits depending on what’s at hand. It’s very ordinary, easy and delicious.
This booklet is also from the early 60’s and M got this from his favorite restaurant. This was a lucky purchase, because the restaurant decided to stop selling their secret recipes (I’m sure they have a few more up their sleeve).
You can tell from the red chile stains on the page that I have used this recipe a time or two, but it’s also something of a pain to make, so it’s only for special occasions
I didn’t get this book until 1970, when my first boyfriend bought it for me. And I would guess that he bought it because his mother probably had a copy and I suppose it was a hint. At that point I only knew how to make simple things and sweets, pies, cakes and candy. Since I was a grown-up (sort of) person, I learned how to make regular sorts of things, using this as my guide.
This is another recipe that I have used a zillion times. Even with my annotation, it’s a pretty basic recipe that presumes some sort of experience in the kitchen. What’s interesting to me about my cookbooks, is even though they have lots and lots of recipes, I have kept them for just a few tried and tested ones. Now there are infinite recipes and cooking styles available from the internet, but there are still physical cookbooks floating around out there in our homes and hearts. (A reprint of “The Gold Cookbook” is $35 on the internet, maybe Mom’s copy is around somewhere).