As I begin to pack up my possessions for my upcoming move, I’ve been reminded of all the memories that go along with those possessions. I’ve been accumulating a lot of stuff during the past 12 years since I’ve lived in my current house as well as possessions that I brought with me from prior houses.
I packed all my cookbooks in small boxes. They are quite heavy for me, but I’m sure the movers will be able to move them. What memories I have of my past life when my late husband and I used to cook in our kitchen.
I remember waiting in line to get The Way to Cook signed by Julia Child during her book signing at Rizzoli’s bookstore on Fifth Avenue in NYC. My late husband adored Julia and it was such a special gift. There are many gravy stains on the pages of that cookbook.
I packed the Frugal Gourmet cookbooks. My late husband enjoyed watching Jeff Smith’s cooking shows on PBS. They were popular shows in the 1990s.
I packed The Silver Palate cookbook. Do you remember when Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso started the gourmet craze in the mid ’80s. Of course, I, like my fellow yuppies at the time, wanted to become a gourmet cook like Sheila and Julee. That’s why I also bought the Frog Commissary cookbook. It was such a yuppie book at the time too with great recipes. (As I put this book in the box, I thought about my days working with a team of talented women in food, including Anne Clark, one of the authors of the Commissary cookbook, to start the Philadelphia Women’s Culinary Guild. During some of our Board meetings, Anne would ask us to sample the recipes she was testing for the new cookbook. I enjoyed the poached figs and other delicious treats Anne would serve. Ask me if I made any Commissary recipes. Yes, I did. I made the incredibly rich Carrot Cake with its incredibly rich cream cheese frosting. M’m it was SO GOOD, SO GOOD.)
I packed my Women’s Day collection of cookbooks from A to Z. They are the best set of cookbooks I own and will eventually hand down to my children. My mom’s friend bought them each week at the A&P supermarket. When she passed away, she gave the set to my mom. When my mom moved to Florida 20+ years ago, she gave the collection to me. I have cherished them ever since. My favorite recipe is the challah I make each year during the Jewish New Year.
I packed the Joy of Cooking. That book has been like a cooking bible to me for many, many years. Need to find out how to make coleslaw dressing? Check with Joy. Need to know how long to roast a chicken? Check with Joy. Need to learn how to make a piecrust? Check with Joy. I don’t think I could have existed in my kitchen all these years without Joy. Thank you Joy. Thank you Joy.
When New Orleans cooking was the rage in the ’80s, I bought Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen cookbook. I made jambalaya that was SO SPICY I thought my late husband and I were going to set our mouths on fire. I made the sweet potato pie. It was SO YUMMY.
I packed my Greek cookbook and my French cookbook. I packed my Jewish cookbook and my Chinese cookbook. What other ethnic cookbooks did I pack? Let me see. Ah yes, I packed my Italian cookbook. How could I forget my favorite cuisine and all the pasta recipes I have tried over the years?
I packed the Spa Cuisine cookbook I just bought after my trip to the Miraval Spa. (Ask me if I made anything from this cookbook yet. No, I didn’t. But, I do intend to use it in my new home.) I packed my Canyon Ranch cookbook that a friend had given me years ago.
I packed my new Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. (Ask me if I made anything from this cookbook. Yes, yes, yes, I did. My son and I worked very hard one evening a few weeks ago to try to replicate the famous Magnolia cupcakes that I love, love, love. We used a pound of butter, many cups of flour and tons of confectioners sugar for the icing. Ask me how they turned out. Not good. They were too rubbery and the icing didn’t look anything like the fluffy icing that is on the cupcakes at the Magnolia Bakery in NYC. We will try this recipe again when I get into my new kitchen in my new home. Yes, we will make cupcakes again.)
I packed my Moosewood cookbooks from the famous Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y. Those cookbooks will always remind me of my hip and cool college days of the ’70s, when cookbook author Mollie Katzen began to move vegetarian cooking into the mainstream.
I packed old issues of Bon Appetit and Cooking Light magazines. I packed my old copies of Eating Well and Gourmet (which is now extinct). I packed my newspaper clippings with recipes from Craig Clairborne’s 30 Minute Gourmet column that used to appear in the food section of the New York Times every week during the ’80s. He was ahead of his time dear Craig. I made almost every recipe because it was quick and easy and only took 30 minutes to prepare.
I will have lots of boxes of cookbooks to unpack when I get to my new home. My new kitchen is not as large as my current one. I don’t really do a whole lot of cooking anymore. My life has changed so much over the past several years. “Take out” and “go out” are now part of my weekly routine. “Low fat” and “low cal” are on the menu more often. And when I need a recipe these days, I usually turn on my computer and search the worldwide web.
Despite the advances in technology and the changing food trends, each of these cookbooks will continue to have a special place in my kitchen and likely in my heart. Like good friends, I know they will always be there when I want to sit and simmer a pot of wonderful memories.