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Nov 16, 2009 08:26 AM

Beloved Cookbooks

Going through my cookbooks this weekend in search of fruitcake recipes, I had the pleasure of re-reading the "Better Homes and Gardens American Heritage Cookbook," published in 1975. It was a real pleasure toe both read the recipes (many, many of which I seem to have internalized) and to read their stright forward acounts of American food history. I have a good size collection of cookbooks, and hadn't been at this one is a few years, so I was very happy to read it again.

So--favorite cookbooks? Not necessariliy the most useful, or comprehensive, just ones you really enjoy. Another one at my house: The New American Cookbook, 1955 edition.

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  1. I have three different cookbooks published by the National Grange. The first one came out for the Bi-Centennial. It's been ages since I've looked at these but since each recipe was contributed by a different person from different towns and states, I enjoy feeling like I've got the best of the best from some great cooks across the country.

    I have a community cookbook published by some Kansas ladies. It's interesting to see what they consider their best recipes. I am amazed to see so many recipes using persimmons, something that's not popular in New England. I remember when my college roommate was living on a mid-western Air Force base and the AF moms were aghast that she would feed her children Fluffer Nutter sandwiches. I like to see what other ingredients other cooks in different parts of the country use.

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    1. re: dfrostnh

      I collect cookbooks and love those local books compiled by church groups, etc. It's always an interesting snapshot at what real families are/were eating in many areas. I try to pick them up whenever I travel and have ones from various places in Canada and the U.S. I can't say I've every really cooked from them too much though :)

    2. L.L. Bean Cookbook of New New England Cookery. My mom always cooked from it and I recently came across it at an antique store. I love it.

      1. I won't be without Fanny Farmer Cookbook. It is my go to for simple tasty dishes. This time of year the cream of carrot soup and onion soup are a must.

        1. The Time/Life series of cookbooks from the early 1970s. Beautifully done, an excellent blend of food and culture writing, and it seems like the contributors (James Beard was one) really strove for authentic recipe documentation. They chronicled regional cuisines -- both US and International -- 15 years before it became fashionable in the mid-80s.

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          1. re: carbonaraboy

            We inherited the TIme/Life "Cooking of the British Isles" not long ago from a relative. My first thought was that it would be good fun to look through the pages, not expecting much, but as carbonaraboy says, they're actually quite excellent. The writing is great - this one has a series of set-pieces; stories really, illuminating aspects of British cooking in context with British cultural and family life, and the recipes are a snapshot of traditional food from the UK.

            Now, for actual everyday cookbooks we have and love, my family has sworn by a Canadian series "Fare for Friends" and "Good Friends". They were published and sold well in the 80s in support of a women's shelter, and ended up being blurbed by Oprah, among others. They seem to have been very well tested, as a lot of family faves came from them, with no duds that I can remember.