Last week I did some reorganizing in my kitchen. My cookbooks were scattered throughout the house. They really needed to be where the stove is, right?
Once I'd managed to collect them, the overwhelming truth was revealed. I own thirty-three cookbooks.
I'm not a gourmet cook. I'm not a master baker. Cooking and baking are fun, as long as I'm not under pressure to make things perfect for guests or quick for starving, whining children.
So which of these thirty-three books do I actually consult? Most often, I grab the 1075-page Better Homes & Gardens and the 1230-page Fannie Farmer heavy-weights. The recipes I use are often simple things like pancakes and muffins, where I just need the ingredient amounts. Or I check cooking times.
I love to sift through recipes, but only for inspiration. Meals never turn out the way the books specify. I don't like peas, so I use cucumber instead. No ricotta in the frig and the stores are already closed? Cottage cheese will work. Not to mention all the meat substitutes. And amounts are just suggestions anyway.
I admit to not regularly using most of the thirty-three. In fact, I've probably never even opened some of them. So why do I have so many cookbooks? Standing in the kitchen, gazing at them in wonder, I realized I had only bought three cookbooks myself.
Three out of thirty-three.
The others were bought by my husband, included in the box when I purchased some electric kitchen wonder, a gift or a hand-me-down.
I have a beautiful vegetarian cookbook from my sister-in-law. My husband bought a nice Italian cookbook. And at least seventy-five percent came from my mom.
She had everything from Gold Medal Country Baking Vol. 1 No. 8 (which I use quite often) to Joys of Jell-O from 1973 to 2007 Light & Tasty Annual Recipes (not used yet).
My mom was a great cook. Patient and creative, she must have had it hard in a house with three picky kids and a husband whose favorite vegetable was a potato.
In 2010, my mom passed away, and I rescued her recipes from a trash bag before her house was sold. Holding on to her cookbooks is a way of keeping a bit of her in my kitchen...and in my life. So I guess, when I say, “I love cookbooks,” it's not the whole truth. For me, more than anything, “I love cookbooks” means “you'll always be here with me, Mom."