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Your First Cookbook?

Do you remember yours?

Mine has embarrassingly awkward handwriting in it, and I got it in 6th grade. This will date me, but it's The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. Remember that?

It first came out in 1942, but I must have had an edition from the 1960's or early 70's because it didn't look like this and it's cover was BRIGHT orange.

http://www.rubylane.com/item/524080-L...

What was yours?

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  1. The Joy of Cooking

    2 Replies
    1. re: lawhound05

      The same. I think the Spouse's was either Betty Crocker or the NYT cookbook.

      1. re: lawhound05

        +1- and it remains the top book for finding out how to do most things, and why.

      2. 1963, Grade 7 Home Ec. class - my teacher told us about a series of spiral bound cookbooks put together by Home ec. teachers in the States, each on a different catagory. I ordered 4? I think, and still have them today - though still packed in the basement from our last move. She also introduced us to the wonder of writing for free recipe books from various food suppliers promoting their products. I still have the ones on rice, and bananas. That year, I bought my first "real" hardcover cookbook: Nellie Lyle Pattinson's "The Canadian Cook Book" first copyrighted in 1923, and revised by Helen Wattie and Elinor Donaldson, 1953 & 1961. That teacher inspired a lifelong love of cookbooks and cooking.

        1. My aunt gave me my first cookbook when I was six. I believe it was a beginner Betty Crocker that had recipes for a root beer float and ants on a log. Cute!

          7 Replies
          1. re: chefathome

            I think mine was the same book! No copyright date that I can find (although page may have long fallen out) - I still use the Cinnamon Puff recipe for a Sunday treat. I noticed last summer that they reissued a book from the same era (about cookies I believe) but not this one. Here's a pic of my copy (badly worn out but hilarious dated pictures).

             
            1. re: Blinkins

              That is TOO FUNNY! That's it! I'm going to go and look for mine. I remember being in awe when my aunt gave it to me, even at the tender age of 6. I was in Grade 1 when Mom said I could bake cookies by myself for the first time from one of her "big books". She asked me to halve the recipe and left me to it so I just mixed together the ingredients that were in the first column (wet) without the second column (dry)! Sooooo....those cookies were not really the best cookies I've ever made but I tried! :-p

              1. re: chefathome

                LOL - love those times of "learning". My daugher is now 11 and has always loved dabbling in the kitchen (with some of the recipes from this book, although a lot really never turned out all that well - and they use a lot of shortening!) and I try to guide her, but as they say, we learn from our mistakes, so sometimes I just let her be (I really have to stop myself from jumping in though :)).

                1. re: chefathome

                  chef, did you ever make the fortune cookies from the Betty Crocker cookbook you mentioned the other day? a friend and i tried once during a "sleepover" and all i remember was that the cookies never got crunchy, and when we *peeled* them open to retrieve the handwritten fortunes we had stuffed inside, the pieces of paper were grease-stained and the ink had run into an illegible mess! :)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    God yes...and the blistered fingers from trying to fold them before they set up!

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      yeah, we actually put the fortunes in *before* baking them...

                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      YES! I had forgotten about those. Oh, that cookbook helped to create a lot of fun food memories in our family. I have a nephew who is 7 who is creating his own recipes and writing a cookbook for me! Some recipes are actually ok but others, well, not so much. His latest was an apple salad - apple slices, lemon slices (unpeeled), raisins, marshmallows and maple syrup. Very cute. His goal is to be "like Jamie Oliver". When he "cooks" he even attempts an English accent and walks through his recipes step by step.

              2. Hi all,

                My Most Tattered Cookbook - - Better Homes & Gardens, 1965 Edition. The spiral-bound version. I raised my family using that cookbook. I use it still!

                A year or so ago I bought another one, in new condition. Gotta have a back-up for when my original finally bites the dust!

                Lucy

                1. Mine was The Joy Of Cooking. I decided that I needed a copy after using it countless times in my parents kitchen. I bought it at Costco on a trip there while picking up wedding stuff with my hubby to be. :)

                  1. The French Chef Cookbook. My mother gave it to me in 1973.

                    1. The Joy of Cooking from my future mother-in-law. I used it so much it fell apart so I just bought myself a new one last year after 30 yrs of cooking. It's a different edition but I still like it for the basics and all the added information.

                      1. Prudence Penny Regional Cook Book (1940), followed by Betty Crocker's New Picture Cook Book, (1955)

                        1. Earliest I recall, dating from the very early 1970s when we got married, is Delia Smith's "How to Cheat at Cooking". We still have it - although havnt cooked from it in years.

                          1. The only cookbook my mother had was "The Joy of Cooking" and it was the first cookbook in my home as an adult. Although it was my wife's cookbook. I really didn't do a lot of cooking until 5 years ago or so.

                            1. The original Moosewood. I got it in 1991, just after college.

                              1. I inherited a good collection but started cooking from a 1930's Joy of Cooking, then graduated to The Gentleman's Companion (both versions) the Southern Cookbook, River Road, The Busy Gourmet and a pile of others. they were always around.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  Love River Road!

                                2. The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. I got mine as a wedding shower gift in 1967. Its cover is medium brown (dust cover long gone), and I learned to cook with it. I have three shelves of cookbooks now, but I still go to it for general information. It's got some splash stains in it, but that gives it character.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: noodlepoodle

                                    Another The Joy of Cooking . . . I think someone gave it to me at my bridal shower.

                                  2. Fannie Farmer from the 1960's. I bought it at a library sale for $.50

                                    1. Better Homes and Gardens that DW brought with her when we got married. That was in the days when she used to cook. Still a good reference, along with both old and new versions of The Joy.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: junescook

                                        Me, too -- I bought BHG for myself, and it was my go-to until I discovered Joy ('97). Both of them are embarrassing to look at -- stains, dogears, pages stuck together...but they're my most-used books. I've added a French book (I live outside Paris) to help translate back and forth, and I do use it...but my old standbys are still my old standbys.

                                        (My Joy is in such horrible shape I'm waffling between trying to figure out how to re-bind it, or whether to sit down and copy all my chicken-scratch notes into a new copy)

                                      2. Pillsbury Cookbook--in a bright yellow notebook binder. Got it as a birthday gift when I was in 7th or 8th grade I think. Or maybe 6th grade. Sadly, I no longer have it and I don't remember what happened to it.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: nofunlatte

                                          nofunlatte, here's a link. Is it the one w these? I just recently discovered this site. Not sure how prices compare to Abes or Amazon used books but it's a good reference site:

                                          http://www.oldcookbooks.com/product/8...

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            Thanks! I might have to hunt it down--not so much for the recipes (I never cooked that much from it, because my mom was a clean freak and there was a limited amount of time I was allowed to mess up the kitchen), but more for the memories (I constantly pored over that book, daydreaming of becoming a grown-up with my own kitchen!)

                                        2. Marcella Hazan's "The Classic Italian Cookbook" circa 1976. I still use it!

                                          Kate

                                          1. MOM.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              Mom, taught on a provisional certificate in the early sixties and went to night school for her English degree. I was in the 5th grade at the time and the youngest child. She started me out by prepping the meals and then giving me instructions on what should be cooked when. By high school I was a pretty accomplished cook, making everything from bread pudding to stuffed veal breast on my own, with out the benefit of recipes. I'm still not much of a recipe follower.
                                              Joy of Cooking taught me a lot in my early adulthood. I've lugged on old copy around through 5 countries and 4 states.
                                              My daughter learned to cook "by wire". She'd call me up and say, "Poppy, how do you cook this.....?"
                                              Carpe chow!

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                I wish I had my now deceased mother's notes telling me how to cook the evening meal. Priceless.
                                                I have loaned to a first year English teacher, who does not know how to cook, mom's copy of Joy of Cooking..

                                            2. James Beard, Theory and Practice of Good Cooking

                                              1. Not a cookbook but a recipe file filled with handwritten notes, modest recipes and ideas my entire family contributed to. By the time I inherited it (age 12) some of those family members had passed and those notecards still exist along with new additions contributed by new additions to my very large and food loving family. Since I have 3 siblings, I consider myself pretty lucky to be the child who was gifted this precious file.

                                                15 Replies
                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  Very cool.

                                                  What a treasure!

                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                    The very best type of cookbook!

                                                    1. re: wekick

                                                      My sister suggested that I start laminating some of the file cards but I just don't have the heart to change the oldest recipes. Would you laminate a handwritten recipe from 1948? I just can't bring myself to do it.

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        I would scan the cards and you could actually put front and back on a page and even print them to use daily and for anyone who was interested. You can enlarge the print a little or darken the print and make them very easily usable. They may fade over time even if laminated. That way you could keep the originals out of harms way if you wanted to. It might be a little work at first, but a good way to preserve the recipes and share them. I have seen some upload the scans and make books on shutterfly and the like.

                                                        The other thing would be to put them in removable sleeves. They make all sizes and some are rigid even to protect the corners.

                                                        1. re: wekick

                                                          I appreciate the suggestions, wekick. I'm going to share the idea with my sister the next time we're combing through the file and see if she'd like to make herself a full copy of the file. She's never mentioned wanting a copy but everyone enjoys combing through the file from time to time. Some of the notations and quotations are hilarious.

                                                          1. re: wekick

                                                            I have a thick stack of photocopies of my grandmother's recipe file (I live overseas, so it was easier and safer to leave the box at my mom's and just take the copies) -- MyPublisher was offering a deal for self-published cookbooks, and I'm thinking about doing that for my sister and all my first cousins - I could drop scans of her most well-known recipes into it, along with photos (big project from which I keep running scared !)

                                                            They offer pretty significant discounts for multiple copies, and there's always a promotion being run.

                                                            My favorite for laughs value -- a recipe for a VERY potent punch written on the back of a church offering envelope.

                                                          2. re: HillJ

                                                            Never, ever, laminate any old document. It is a recipe for disaster.

                                                            Scan it and put the original somewhere safe so that a future generation can, literally, touch the past.

                                                          3. re: wekick

                                                            A treasure no doubt. But all of us could consider recipe databases that we can pass down to ALL the family member who want them.

                                                            Maybe a database doesn't have the romance of yellowed and spattered handwritten cards but there are so many advantages that they are well worth beginning wherever you are in creating your home cooking traditions.

                                                            1. re: rainey

                                                              From the vast library that is online recipe data, sure. OTOH, a handwritten file of family recipes mostly meaningful to the family that penned it, no=its not the same food romance or treasure as recipe database.

                                                              Most certainly both have their fun and worthwhile place in my cookbook library....along with dozens of hard copy cookbooks, carbon copied magazine recipes and countless new treasures from food bloggers, etc.

                                                              But to answer the OP my first cookbook was this handwritten recipe file. A treasure to me and my family.

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                Please understand. I'm not saying it's the same thing in the least.

                                                                But, we cook differently now. Our generation doesn't "do" recipe cards or keep clipping files. OTOH, we have the technology to do databases that, like recipe cards, will outlast us. If they don't have the romance and heirloom quality of recipe cards, they *do* have the advantage, so to speak, that they're not singular. A family of, say, 3 kids doesn't have to make the decision about who gets the only set of cards. They can *all* have the database.

                                                                IF I had a set of recipe cards like yours I would hold them as precious family memorabilia as you do, I promise you! I'm just saying that we have an opportunity here, to put together something for our families that will be useful to them and, perhaps, that they can continue to develop and evolve.

                                                                BTW, they are not limited to online sources. Mine has every recipe, including those from cookbooks I own, that I use or value. Most of them have been modified to fit my palate and cooking preferences. It also includes all kinds of templates, resources, techniques and other files so it really *is* personal even if it isn't yellowed and spattered -- qualities that I sincerely identify as romantic and endearing, I *assure* you. I was not being a smart*ss. I was just proposing a different opportunity.

                                                                1. re: rainey

                                                                  rainey, I agree that the opportunity to create new volumes is there. We all start somewhere. My original comment was answering the OP...your first cookbook.
                                                                  As I said, mine was a recipe file from family recipes.

                                                                  No one fought over our family recipe file. I'm just the diehard food lover and I suppose won by default. That's what happens when you ask the most food questions at the dinner table... you get a rep!

                                                                  But it's shared all the time....and we still use all the recipes.

                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                    Glad if I didn't offend!

                                                                    1. re: rainey

                                                                      Nope, no offense at all. It sounds to me like you're well on your way to creating a nice recipe file heirloom of your very own.

                                                                  2. re: rainey

                                                                    I have 1 cookbook that was my mother's but the real treasure is a small envelope of her handwritten recipes. Most of my mother's things "disappeared" after she died and I was far to young to have any say in the matter. Decades later, my mother's sister coughed up these few meager remanents. This is nearly all I have left of my mother and you have no idea how I treasure these small memories. Some of the recipes I would never consider making, others I cook more or less regularly. I keep this recipes separate from my usual stack and have re-written the ones I use often.

                                                                    This is a long, maudlin way of saying please find a way to preserve these handwritten gems. This is your family history. You won't regret it.

                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                              Self publish a family cookbook and send a copy to every member in the family. I've been thinking about doing it myself but keep putting it off.

                                                              You could include some old family photos and family anecdotes. Give credit to who made the recipe the most. Doesn't matter whether he or she invented but who brought to the family.

                                                              Titles like Gramma Gerties bread pudding and the like. maybe a story about gertie as a subheading.

                                                              It's fairly easy and inexpensive with today's word processors.

                                                            3. Moosewood Cookbook (the original one) while I was at school at Cornell in Ithaca. Actually would go to Moosewood Cafe and bought the cookbook there. I even remember that my favorite recipe was the mushroom and onion quiche.

                                                              1. Womans Day Encyclopedia of Cooking. Mine is from the 60's, there are plenty of comments about being a good wife but I learned to cook from that and Joy of Cooking, my second cookbook.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Floridagirl

                                                                  I've got a treasured set of the WD encyclopedia. I found a single volume (the one with cheesecakes) when my husband-to-be's mother died. It has so many really great recipes (WORLDS ahead of American home cooking at that point in what was probably the late 60s/early 70s) that I spent YEARS trying to find the rest of them.

                                                                  I still use it.

                                                                2. "My Learn to Cook Book" by Ursula Sedgwick...

                                                                  http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images...

                                                                  i think i was about 6 years old.

                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                    Now that is precious!

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      i'm headed back East to visit my folks at the end of the month, and i MUST remember to look for it in their basement - most of my childhood books are still down there.

                                                                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                        very cook, ghg! I can't wait to hear what else you find there!

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          one of my nieces has been systematically making her way through my collection - apparently she shares my bookworm gene. so every time she visits my folks she takes one...brings it back the next time and exchanges it for another. basically it's the GHG borrowing library, but i don't charge late fees ;)

                                                                          i know my second cookbook - the Betty Crocker one chefathome mentioned with the recipe for ants on a log - has to be down there too. i hope i can find them both!

                                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                            ha! why aren't I surprised by any of this. (big smile)
                                                                            My son has a copy of the BC cookbook in his collection, along with the mini spiral TL series on French cooking...take about a ying yang spirit!

                                                                            Borrowing Library, I love the sound of that!

                                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                              forgot to post an update...alas, i searched the basement from top to bottom when i visited the folks last month, and found no evidence of either one. so sad :(

                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                bummer, but absolutely avail on the Net...not the same as a childhood copy tho.

                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                  i now have this crazy fantasy of buying a used one on eBay and it turning out to be my long-lost childhood copy. yeah, i've seen "Serendipity" a few too many times :)

                                                                                  i'd buy them for my nieces if i thought they had any interest, but the twins are too old for them now, and the younger one has shown ZERO interest in cooking. she's too interested in *reading* books to tear herself away from them & do something else!

                                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                    Ha! You bound to "run" into a copy one day when you least expect it. I think I've re-bought my CD 20 x's....from lending it out once too often...

                                                                    2. Fanny Farmer for me too back in the 50s.

                                                                      Has it all but disappeared now? I can't remember it very well but I know when I discovered "The Joy of Cooking" I stopped using Fanny much.

                                                                      1. My mom's recipes and +1 more for The Original Moosewood. I grabbed this one off my roommate as a senior in college at Brown, while experimenting in the kitchen of our first off-campus abode!

                                                                        This means I'm the third vote for Moosewood as 1st cookbook... I hope we can consider it for Cookbook of the Month sometime. :-)

                                                                        1. Joy of Cooking. Moms wrote her buttermilk pancake recipe on the inside front cover. Cover fell off after awhile, so now it's framed in the kitchen for Saturday morning pancakes.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                                                            Page 212 is stained w/ pancake dough.

                                                                          2. The Impoverished Students' Book of Cookery, Drinkery, & Housekeepery by Jay Rosenberg.

                                                                            It was passed to me by my sister, and I handed it down to a nephew. It was about living with other students much as it was it was about cooking. I remember it fondly, but don't miss it.

                                                                            1. Actually, my very first "cookbook" was a tiny softcover job from "Scholastic Book Services", which ran a kids' "book club" in elementary schools everywhere. Sort of like "Book of the Month Club" for kids. Books were cheap, but ran the gamut from fiction to non, & did encourage kids to read. Unfortunately, I found it rather tame since my parents had already taught me so much.

                                                                              After that, my first cookbooks as a semi-adult were when I got married & so of course received the usual looseleaf-bound Betty Crocker & Pillsbury jobs (perfectly fine in their own right). But the piece de resistance was my mom's gift of a wonderful authentic carbon-steel wok accompanied by a copy of "Madame Chu's Chinese Cooking School" by Grace Zia Chu. This was back when real Chinese cooking was just starting to mainstream, & the book is not only still my favorite go-to (in fact I just used it this past weekend), but is just as relevant today as it was back then. I encourage anyone interested in Chinese cooking to search out a second-hand copy.

                                                                              1. My very first cookbook was from my 17 yr old boyfriend "The I Never Cooked Before Cookbook" by Jo Coudert - a small paperback. The next significant one, and probably the second book!, was from my fiance's dad at my bridal shower (which was not my first boyfriend's dad! LOL) - The Settlement Cookbook. My first husband passed away way too young - and now I am still collecting - but those two cookbooks will always be treasured ones!

                                                                                1. Sunset's Easy Basics for Good Cooking and Laurel's Kitchen.

                                                                                  1. My Dad gave me 'The Good Housekeeping Cookbook' when I got my first apartment as a sophomore in college in the early 70s. I can't say how it compares with JoC or FF as I never have owned those books, but it served as a pretty good reference book for me for quite a number of years. I've given away a lot of cookbooks over the years, but I still have this one, even though I haven't cooked from it in almost 30 years. It is stained and dog-eared and the dust jacket disappeared decades ago. For nostalgia's sake, I just can't bear to part with it.

                                                                                    1. I started cooking when I was about 5 (well, mainly baking in the early days) and used my mum's cookbooks. But the first cookbook that was my very own, given to me when I was about 13 was Joy of Cooking, an edition published in the UK in 1969. This is quite strange since I was English and neither I nor my mother had ever visited the USA. But since I now live here, I assume it must have been a sign!

                                                                                      1. It had a red-and-white checked cover; I guess either Betty Crock or Better Homes & Gardens. I made my first challah using the recipe in that book.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: mnosyne

                                                                                          if it's got a dark-blue silhouette of a couple of pans on the front cover, it's BH&G.

                                                                                        2. A Carnation Milk? book when I was maybe 6 with a little redheaded girl on the cover, "I Like to Cook". Followed by my mom's Five Roses cookbook and some weird recipe brochures she had from the 30s or so. Then the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cooking (LOVE it) and the Time-Life Foods of the World (love love love them). Then Julia. All this by the time I was 14.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                            I, too, started when I was 6 and had a serious collection by the time I was a teenager. Thankfully my obsession has only grown!

                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                              "Fun To Cook" maybe buttertart? Take a peek:

                                                                                              http://www.etsy.com/listing/66395412/...

                                                                                              I love the Five Roses book too!!

                                                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                The very thing! Thank you. I have it somewhere at home still.

                                                                                            2. This was mine:
                                                                                              http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...

                                                                                              I still have it, all marked up with my 11 year old handwriting. And I still mark up my cookbooks.

                                                                                              1. It was 1985 and I was 15 when I discovered the 'Frugal Gourmet' on PBS, and I instantly became addicted. I saved up all my allowance to buy his first cookbook. It was not flashy, and some of the recipes never seemed to work as they should have, but I think it taught me something about respect for food, embracing food from other cultures, and the pleasure of cooking for oneself, and those we love. In his shows he would often talk about his 'adoptive Chinese grandma' who helped with his passion for Chinese food. Through my life, I have been fortunate enough to have found my adoptive Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish, Japanese, Mexican, and Polish grandmothers who were willing to share their knowledge and experience. Thank you Mr. Smith for lighting the flame of a lifelong passion: FOOD!

                                                                                                1. The 1983 Better Homes and Gardens "Cooking Chinese" cookbook. I saved up my allowance when I was in 4th grade to get it--and I still use it! The recipes are more Chinese-American than authentic Chinese, but definitely a great buy.

                                                                                                  1. When I was little, probably around 7 I received Minnie & Me, a cute cookbook with Minnie Mouse. But the first semi-grownup cookbook I got was in 7th grade and its the Little House on the Prairie Cookbook. I still use it when I am feeling nostalgic.

                                                                                                    1. I started with the Betty Crocker kids cookbook, circa age 9, was devoted to it for a few years, then segued into Craig Clairborne's Herb and Spice Book, circa age 19, as my love of food started with my interest in herbs. In between I read my mom's Better Homes and Gardens, recipe index and all her women's mags cooking articles from the early 60's.

                                                                                                      1. Mine was James Beard's "Fireside Cookbook". It was published in 1949 and I probably got it a little later. I think I was in jr high. My great aunt gave it to me. No idea how she knew I was into cooking! I had the book for many years, but left it (along with a hundred other cookbooks) when I moved to México.

                                                                                                        1. When I was about four years old, Mud Pies and other Recipes: A Cookbook for Dolls

                                                                                                          http://www.amazon.com/Mud-Pies-Other-...

                                                                                                          It's a very earnestly written cookbook, very serious tone, but all the ingredients are things like mud and dogwood bark. I LOVED that book, and spent many hours in the backyard, following the instructions faithfully.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                            That's an unbelievably adorable book, and I bet a tremendous amount of fun. I think I might purchase it for my new grand niece, although she has a very more years before mud pie time, and probably will turn out to be a girly girl all in pink anyway, grrr.

                                                                                                            I wish this book had been around when I was four. I was big into mud pies.

                                                                                                            1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                              It's my favorite gift to give, along with a set of ikea kiddie cookware (it's nice and solid metal, stands up to a lot of mud pies, and is a great price).

                                                                                                              1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                                love the idea!

                                                                                                          2. Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook

                                                                                                            1. Ah, it's funny this came up because I was given back my first ever cookbook to give to my son about a week ago. Mine was a UNICEF spiral bound recipe book that I ordered from a book club when I was about 6 or 7 years old. There was a recipe for about 24 different countries and I always wanted to bake the letter biscuits from Hungary (or somewhere similar). Oddly enough it was the first thing my son wanted to make out of it too. I never did get to cook out of it, but I spent many an hour looking through it and being fascinated by bircher muesli and other such 'exotic' creations.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                                                                I came to cooking late by comparison, around college age. Didn't have any cookbooks of my own, but my mom had a tremendous, deep, wicker laundry basket in which she kept/threw newspaper clippings. When I became interested in learning how to cook, I took those recipes and organized them into 4 notebooks. I still have them today. It took me an entire summer of sorting before I could even begin to cook out of them. Reading through the recipes turned out to be an eduction in an of itself, and I think it really sparked my lifelong passion for cooking.

                                                                                                                Once I started cooking, my Aunt sent me a treasured copy of The Flavor of France by the Chamberlins. I still cook out of this book. The format is remarkable: every page has a black and white photo of a scene from France, the lower 1/2 of the page lists the ingredients and then the instructions in paragraph form. Each recipe is dead on and perfect for the home cook.

                                                                                                              2. Mine was/is the Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook (1980). Still my favorite format and layout--easy-to-read, good groupings with technique hints, no nonsense, separate *small* color photos of the finished dishes. Definitely contributed to my love affair with chow.

                                                                                                                1. As an adult, a 1970's edition of Joy of Cooking. But my mother brought home a copy of this 1912 children's cookbook when I was about 8 or 9 (it was already 50 years old, I'm not THAT old myself!) and my sisters and I learned to make really simple things like cinnamon toast from it. And even as kids we realized that it was pretty old - the recipes were illustrated with animated kitchen utensils, and they were all pre-electric. Note the wire cage toaster dancing on the bottom right, just below the steaming kettle.

                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                    I had forgotten cinnamon toast. I'm always looking for recipes my 6 year old grand daughter can help with. She can crack an egg as well as anybody.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                      Have her stand beside you when you bake (let her roll out a bit of piecrust, etc), that's how I learned.

                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                        Same here - "helping" my mom, who was a great from-scratch baker, when I was too small to really do much except hand her the ingredients. I still can't get my pie crusts and flaky as hers (and she didn't use lard, we were more or less kosher).

                                                                                                                  2. First cookbook I bought for myself was the Moosewood. Before that, I cooked from the books Mom had around. Some of them are listed here by other posters.

                                                                                                                    1. An avid reader, I spent a lot of time with my mother's Joy of Cooking (1953 edition), since it was often out on the table and open. [Quickly learned it was vital to bookmark the page she'd gotten it out for!] So when I began to cook for myself in 1972 my first purchase was a Joy; I was a little disappointed to find it was different from the one I'd grown up reading.

                                                                                                                      A few years later, truly on my own, the first cookbook I bought was Anna Thomas' Vegetarian Epicure. Still a great resource.

                                                                                                                      Left the 1970s Joy of Cooking behind in a move, but have inherited the beloved 1953 version.

                                                                                                                      1. The Little House Cookbook
                                                                                                                        I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie as a child.

                                                                                                                        1. I received a copy of the Frugal Gourmet's first cookbook in HS and the first cook book that I bought was the NY Times w/ Craig Claiborne in 1986.

                                                                                                                          1. I THINK it was the Good Housekeeping Cookbook, but I couldn't swear to it.