HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


The side-car thread to the absolute worst cookbook you own -- What is your most obscure, weird or oddball cookbook.

This kind of came up in the worst cookbook that you own discussion. In addition to actual worst cookbooks, there are "weird" cookbooks. Books that are pretty obscure or very limited in audience appeal. Doesn't mean they are your worst. But it does mean they are weird.
Here are my top two nominations from my cookbook collection:
"Bill Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices" by George Leonard Herter and Berthe E. Herter.
"A General's Diary of Treasured Recipes" by Brigadier General Frank Dorn.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I will offer up my coolest cookbook treasure for its age and obscurity. Miss Parloa's New Cookbook and Marketing Guide from 1886 that i got at an estate sale for 12 dollars. Really cool to me.

    5 Replies
    1. re: suzigirl

      I have White Trash Cooking by Ernest Mickler. AND the follow up. I just find them fascinating. I confess to making a recipe or two... and having to google oleo and palm cabbage

      1. re: Goatjunky

        Not sure why you responded to me but oleo is old school margarine and palm cabbage is what i grew up on in Florida. We called it swamp cabbage, but most call it hearts of palm

      2. re: suzigirl

        Miss Parloa is not an obscure figure in New England cooking and the development of the home economics movement there.

        1. re: sr44

          Maybe true. But as far as cookbooks go, do you have one from 1886?

      3. I've never done this before, but let's see if I can link to an old thread. My coolest old cookbook is "Aunt Chick's Pies" from 1949. I'm sure it belonged to my grandmother and then my mother after her. I wrote a rather extensive listing of recipes here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8802...

        1. George Leonard Herter was an eccentric dude from Waseca MN. He also wrote a book called "How to Live With a Bitch and Avoid Killing Her". His company, Herters Inc., was a supplier of outdoorsman equipment, and Sam F. and I used to enjoy the massive catalogs. We learned from George how to skin a squirrel in 60 seconds.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Veggo

            Just the title alone is priceless.I want that cookbook. I now have a mission...

          2. Saucepans and the Single Girl - kind of a cookbook for a Mary Tyler Moore type in the 60s/70s (or so I would assume). Cute and fun and with a few actually good recipes.


            I got it at a thrift store.

            4 Replies
            1. re: moreace01

              I have it and the sequel, Now That You Have Caught Him, How To Keep Him.

              1. re: Candy

                That sounds more like a dating book to me. ;)

                  1. re: Firegoat

                    Read Misery for that, it's a classic. ;)

            2. Most of those 'neighborhood' cookbooks, similar to church/JR League-especially if you live In a small neighborhood, & you're wondering why they did/didn't ask you for a recipe...

              1. I will nominate "My Wife's Hands" - a cookbook by a guy from Sierra Leone who formerly had a West African restaurant here in New Jersey. It's certainly not my worst. But I think it's my most obscure. The name of the book indicates that the book is an homage to the author's wife, and "good hands" is an accolade in West Africa.

                I haven't made any of the recipes in the book. They seem to me to use a LOT of oil. For example, many of the recipes use a base sauce called alakpah, which is prepared using 2 cups (yes cups) of palm oil, with 6 medium onions, 3 medium bell peppers, 1 habanero, and some spices. I could cut back on the palm oil, but then I don't believe it would be representative of what the recipe intended.

                1. Don't have it anymore, but somebody once gave me "The Roadkill Cookbook."

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: emu48

                    My MIL gave me that book a couple weeks ago.

                  2. Peg Bracken - "I hate to cook book"

                    it's great.

                    lots of canned soup etc - but i am sure in those days, canned soup must have been of better quality than today - right?

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Georgia Strait

                      Well it is the 'I Hate to Cook Book.' Why make the soup from scratch when you can use canned soup instead? ;)

                      1. re: DatatheAndroid

                        White trash cooking. Its an amazing read

                        1. re: Goatjunky

                          that reminds me- go to youtube and do a search for honey boo boo sketti.

                        2. re: Georgia Strait

                          I have follow up book to that one. She's a very entertaining writer!

                          1. re: Firegoat

                            I love Peg Bracken and have almost all her books. she also had a column in Women"s Day or Family Circle, I can never remember which, in the 70s and published the best-ever recipe for poppyseed cake in it ("Mother Popple's Poppyseed Cake". I wrote her a fan letter because of it and she sent me the nicest note back.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              The one I have is called Peg Bracken's Appendix to the I hate to Cook Cookbook. No poppyseed cake recipe, but still pretty entertaining reading.

                              1. re: Firegoat

                                That 's a good one, as is her I Hate to Housekeep Book and a travel one, which if memory serves, has the wonderful title "I Didn't Come Here to Argue".

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  I read and loved all of those as a kid, and just found Peg Bracken's Almanac, which I'm now in the middle of reading. Lots of fun, though not many of the recipes appeal.

                          2. re: Georgia Strait

                            I love Peg Bracken! I really don't use many of the recipes, but it was in one of her cookbooks that I was introduced to "Wacky Cake" (google it). This chocolate cake is cheap, delicious, and fool-proof. I made it for all my kids' birthdays for years, and recently made it for my granddaughter's first birthday.

                            She gives complete directions, assuming that her audience really is not very experienced as cooks, and I also remember a statement she made, probably in the first book, that is very empowering. I just googled for it and of course, here it is:

                            "Incidentally, a word here about herbs and seasonings. ... And if your family says, "What makes it taste so funny, Mommie?" whenever you use any herbs at all, you can omit them (although if you omit chili from chili or curry from curry, you don't have much left, and you'd really do better to skip the whole thing)."

                            Best cookbook advice ever.

                            Apparently the book was updated and reissued for its 50th anniversary recently.

                          3. My mother in law constantly sends us thrift store books that she thinks we'll like. Most of the time they're horrible. The latest cookbook she sent me was Loretta Lynn's Cookbook, "You're Cookin' it Country." Also, while I know it isn't that obscure I don't know how many other people have spent years collecting the entire Time Life Good Cook series. Love them. LOVE them.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: rainbowbrown

                              i have that whole Time Life series - i saved up my college money to buy them one at a time in the mail - I can't think what i have made out of the recipes - yet i cannot bring myself (after how many years and how many home moves?) to get rid of them - tho i rarely look at them - the recipes are interesting - i think my fav part is the step by step technique photos

                              1. re: Georgia Strait

                                I've never been that impressed with the recipe section of any of the books, but it's definitely always been the first, photographic, part of the books that I looked at and read over and over again.

                                1. re: Georgia Strait

                                  I have most of them. Some I sent back, not sure why. They're dated but interesting.

                                2. re: rainbowbrown

                                  My mother had the full set of the Good Cook series (by Richard Olney) in French. I think she thought they were classic French learn-to-cook books. I used to read them and it's why I can read recipes in French today. We're not American, and the name Richard Olney wouldn't have meant anything to her or me - I only found out it was originally in English when reading an obituary/retrospective on Olney. The irony of me learning to read French to read recipes from books originally in English has often struck me. They were gorgeous and so useful.

                                3. "Unmentionable Cuisine" by Calvin Schwabe

                                  Contains the answers to questions no one is asking anymore - like how to cook dogs and cats. Predates the resurgence in snout to tail cuisine by three decades.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: duckfatass

                                    And yet it is the most popular cookbook in China. Go figure. :p

                                  2. I think that one of the cookbooks that I picked up recently is probably pretty obscure. It's 'The Southern Heritage Cakes Cookbook.' It has some pretty good looking recipes, and it had more positive reviews on Amazon than I expected, 12-5 star reviews, and 1-4 star review. I picked it out of the free bin at 2nd and Charles.

                                    There are a couple of cakes that I am going to make eventually, it should be an interesting experiment. I want to make the Williamsburg orange cake, the Mayflower grape cake, the blackberry cake, the Hootenholler whisky cake, buche de Noel, the Mount Vernon cake, and the lemon gold cake.

                                    The book does not have enough pictures of the cakes for my taste, however. The book has some old photographs that are interesting IMO, but the book has too many photographs of really ugly artwork.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: DatatheAndroid

                                      Does it include a recipe for Hummingbird cake? I only tried it once down here in the South and loved it, but the recipe I was given sure didn't taste like the cake I sampled.

                                      1. re: Thanks4Food

                                        The American Century Cookbook by Jean Anderson has Hummingbird Cake. It is the recipe from Southern Living in 1978, and reprinted in the Souther Living Silver Jubilee Issue in December 1990.

                                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                                          No sorry, I just looked in the index. I did look up a Hummingbird cake recipe online that looks good, in case you didn't have or didn't want to purchase the Jean Anderson book. It got five stars. I don't know if it's anything like the cake you had, but I hope it helps. :)


                                        2. re: DatatheAndroid

                                          Hey, I have that!

                                          Someone mentioned on here so I book traded for it on PaperbackSwap. It does get great reviews on Amazon.

                                          I haven't made anything from it yet.

                                          1. re: Tam38

                                            I haven't either. It's hard to justify making a full-sized cake when you're single and live alone. Having that much cake lying around could be dangerous. ;) Plus I do not have any cake pans, or a hand mixer. I need to do some shopping.

                                        3. Nomination for MOST OBSCURE: "THE WONNERFUL WORLD OF FOOD, 50 funny recipes" by Amy Goldin and Robert Kushner (Sweet 16 C Publications, New York City, 1978).

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Joebob

                                            Is it about Liberace? Who I understand was a bit of cook.

                                          2. This is a bit of a cheat, since it's not a historical artifact but a compilation for a specific nostalgic audience. Still..."Sumptuous Dining in Gaslight San Francisco." It's a collection of recipes and anecdotes from early San Francisco.

                                            1. Strange no one mentioned White Trash Cooking. Perhaps it's not considered 'weird".

                                              Then there's Lewd Food.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: mexivilla

                                                Someone has, twice, upthread, about 8 hours before you...

                                                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                  WTC is also the second post on the earlier companion thread.

                                              2. How about "Not Your Mother's Cookbook" -- and I do NOT mean the Beth Hensperger series, but the book by John and Marina Bear http://www.amazon.com/Not-Your-Mother...

                                                This one has recipes such as: 'Baked Mackerel Stuffed with Gooseberries and Eggs', 'Chocolate Cheese Chicken Nicole', 'Nine-Layer Fish Casserole with Sauerkraut, Beer, and Gruyere Cheese', 'Celery, Bacon & Mashed Potato Pie'

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: drongo

                                                  I think you win the 'Most Disgusting Recipes in a Cookbook' award.

                                                2. I picked up "Breads and Coffee Cakes" by Ada Lou Roberts copywrite 1968 not noticing the subtext of the title "with Homemade Starters". It seems to be an amazing book filled with a variety of different ways to make starters of different qualities and recipes to use them. she has raw and cooked potato staters, buttermilk starter, and even peach leaf start. Amazing, but I have not tried any of the recipes yet.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jill kibler

                                                    Sounds fun!

                                                    My most unusual is Alaska Sourdough (The Real Stuff by a Real Alaskan) by Ruth Allman. Its printed in longhand and has all kinds of stories and history along with the recipes.

                                                    Tagline: "Somebody had to write a good sourdough cookbook." (Quotation marks and all.)

                                                    I use the pancake recipe all the time.

                                                  2. "The book of Sandwiches" by Louise Steele , purchased at a 2007 garage sale in near-new condition. It's a 1989 book, tall & slim, with excellent color photos of 100 creative sandwiches of all kinds.

                                                    I also have a pair of cookbooks edited by Anne McCaffrey with "recipes" contributed by science fiction authors. "Serve it Forth" and "Cooking Out of This World" (reprint, not the $400 first-edition).

                                                    And a Famous Personalities of Flight cookbook, 1981, edited by Mary Henderson from the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

                                                    1. The Hellfire Cookbook, by John Philips Cranwell. Subtitle: Recipes For Fiery Food For Those Who Like It, And for Those Others Who, Because Of The Sin Of Gluttony, Should Become Used To It Here And Now Ere They Perforce Eat It Hereafter When They Will Need A Long Spoon.

                                                      Some of the recipes are interesting and some not so much; I don't think I've cooked from this book. Still I haven't been able to part with it even though I've done several cookbook purges.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. 'Mario Tailgates Nascar Style' - Mario Batali hooked up with Nascar for a tailgating cookbook. Given to my husband for Christmas a couple of years ago. It's just an odd pairing. Recipes looked pretty good, actually, but pretty complicated for tailgating.

                                                        1. My Amana Radar Range cookbook

                                                          1. I want to add one more because it is pretty obscure, however it is one that I use all the time. There used to be a store/cooking school in Tulsa, Ok called Mary's Breadbasket. Mary Gubser put out her hardback cookbook, "Mary's Breadbasket and Soup Kettle" in 1974. The entire book consists of hundreds of bread and soup recipes. I picked up a used, signed copy at a used bookstore in Tulsa. No photos, but tons of diagrams, explanations and conversions. This is my total go to cookbook for all types of bread, from sourdough to Greek Trinity Bread.

                                                            1. and here's another side-car thread ....

                                                              what cook books do you now regret tossing out / recycling / giving to the thrift store ... mainly cuz you had to move homes or downsize for some other reason (or you were from now on, going to cook healthy! ha!)

                                                              ps - EDIT to add - so as not to derail this thread - i started this one over here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/910984


                                                              i had a couple ... just for the photos alone - Lee Bailey's Country Weekends. It was from the era of the glossy coffee table cook books (eg Martha's first big book - Entertaining? etc


                                                              Michael Chiarello's Napa Style - I rec'd as a gift and a couple yrs later - due to moving - i gave it away. again, i liked the photography and the styling.

                                                              ... and some of the cookbooks we had as kids - i wish i had kept some of them - mainly for sentimental reasons - but actually they were practical - like Better Homes & Gardens children cookbook- i felt so grown-up (my mom had the "real" version in her kitchen) --- safety, step-by-step with photos, some decent ingredients that could be updated easily w/o a big fuss about "it doesn't say to use whole wheat hot dog bun!" --- you know the age - when everything is EXACT.

                                                                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                  Oh dear god, I just snort laughed! Good one.

                                                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                    One of my sons wanted this one when we saw at B&N.

                                                                    1. re: Tam38

                                                                      Can't believe they still sell it! It is cute and the recipes are very simple, good for kids. I bought it at a book sale at my son's school.

                                                                  2. Alice Brock, the Alice's Restaurant Cookbook.
                                                                    And her companion, My Life as a Restaurant.

                                                                    Yep! THAT Alice.

                                                                    Need I say I'm an Arlo Guthrie fan?

                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: truepeacenik

                                                                      I had both of those and just gave them to a friend of mine who, like you, is a huge Arlo Guthrie fan (also a great cook).

                                                                      1. re: truepeacenik

                                                                        I got the Alice's Restaurant Cookbook as a gift. I don't cook from it, but I like having it around. And I just picked this up at a yard sale:


                                                                        It's not very useful for recipes, but the cover sure is cool.

                                                                        1. re: small h

                                                                          Someone gave me "Vibration Cooking" as a gift 20+ years ago. This is the first time I've ever seen another reference to that book. During that era, our local public radio station used to run short commentaries (weekly or bi-weekly) by Verta Mae Grosvenor.

                                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                            I have Vibration Cooking too. Never cooked from it, but awfully fun to page through.

                                                                            1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                              How about that! What did she talk about? Reading the book makes me think Ms. Grosvenor is probably a better speaker than she is a writer.

                                                                          2. re: truepeacenik

                                                                            I just picked up a copy of My Life as a Restaurant at a thrift store last week!

                                                                          3. Definitely not the worst or most obscure but in the original Joy of cooking there are lots of recipes for Varmits, possums etc.

                                                                            1. I've got one on ricepaper. It's antique, and from San francisco.

                                                                              It's all about Japanese cooking, "country style" (no recipes for sushi!).

                                                                              It's a good book, but I'd bet money nobody else has it.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                Hard to say if you don't tell us more about it, like the title.

                                                                              2. I have a re-print of "The Well Kept Kitchen" written by Gervase Markham in 1615. http://www.amazon.com/Well-Kept-Kitch...

                                                                                My brother got it for me for Christmas. It's a fun little read. Stuff like mutton recipes and suggestions on how to prevent The Plague abound.

                                                                                All of the books in the "Great Food" reprint series by Penguin have very pretty covers, even for paperbacks.

                                                                                1. Not particularly old, but I have “Futurist Cookbook,” which Elizabeth David described as a “publication of preposterous new dishes.” My copy is the first English translation, published in 1989, of a book originally published in Italian in 1932. One recipe for aerofood is described as “a dish I would not recommend for the hungry. It is composed of a slice of fennel, an olive and a kumquat. In addition there is a strip of cardboard on which are glued, one next to the other, a piece of velvet, a piece of silk and a piece of sandpaper: the sandpaper need not be eaten, it is only there to finger with the right hand and provide prelabial sensations which make the food much more tasty as contemporaneously the left hand tries to bring it to the mouth.”

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    I love the Futurist cookbook! Hilarious read. I teach it to my art history students when discussing Italian Futurism in the arts.

                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                      That is divine. I've read about that book for years.

                                                                                    2. Natural Harvest: A collection of Semen Based Recipes

                                                                                      Who wants some Tuna Sashimi with Homemade Dipping Sauce?

                                                                                      Haven't tried any of the recipes. Maybe one day. Quite interested in the Eddie Cibrian brand. I'll let myself out now.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: VongolaDecimo

                                                                                        I had to read that title several times, just to be sure that I read it correctly. Was it written by Ron Jeremy? :D

                                                                                        1. re: DatatheAndroid

                                                                                          and...the book suddenly sounds less sexy now. xD

                                                                                          If you're curious, one recipe is demonstrated by the author here:

                                                                                          I love the top comment by Amir. <3

                                                                                          1. re: VongolaDecimo

                                                                                            Yeah, sorry for that mental image. I'm freaked out, but a little curious too. I'll check it out, thanks for the link. :)

                                                                                      2. "Meals That Can Wait" subtitled: A cookbook for commuters' wives, weekend hostesses and other dependents of the undependable. Copyright 1970 In essence, it's meals that can be prepared ahead of time and finished quickly when "your husband is halfway through his first cocktail."

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Jeri L

                                                                                          Where was this one when I needed it (and was too busy to shop for it)?

                                                                                          1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                            I heard she was a good cook. Famous brownies ;-0

                                                                                          2. "Stove Pilot" by the Maxwell Air Force Base Officer's Wives Club. ed. 1961. With cover art of a wasp waist lady astride a German V-1 rocket using the exhaust to heat her frypan.

                                                                                            First published in 1948. With emphasis on Tex-Mex and Southern. Three recipes for spoonbread. And lots of use of canned soups and veggies.

                                                                                            I have cooked more recipes out of this book than any other in the last 6 months.

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                              "I have cooked more recipes out of this book than any other in the last 6 months."

                                                                                              Come on, don't tease us. I understand if you don't want to post entire recipes for a lot of dishes, but at least tell us some of what you made.

                                                                                              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                Wow. That sounds like a real classic.

                                                                                                1. re: EarlyBird

                                                                                                  Heading out now. Will get back to you on the ultimate day of the month.

                                                                                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                    Well, the first day of the new month.
                                                                                                    Ward eight cocktail by the Commanding General
                                                                                                    Bourbon, lemon and orange juice, grenadine. There is more bourbon than juices.

                                                                                                    Inland Gumbo. All of the seafood and consommé are in cans. Great for impromptu entertaining.

                                                                                                    Cole slaw dressing. egg yolk and butter, milk vinegar, sugar and dry mustard.

                                                                                                    Chicken and Spaghetti Boil a whole chicken, debone. Make white sauce and add green peppers, pimento, and celery. pour over cooked spaghetti and lots of grated American cheese.
                                                                                                    This was a constant for my Grandmother's pinnocle luncheons and Mom's bridge club. Served on toast.

                                                                                                    Georgia country captain. 2 frying kitchens fry up, put in baking dish with diced green pepper and onions. add curry , pepper, cloves, vinegar, large can tomatoes. Pour over chicken and top with currants. Bake an hour.

                                                                                                    Pork chops a la Gwen Brown 6 thick chops then place in casserole. In pan, cook 1 minced onion, large can tomatoes, allspice, poultry seasoning, paprika, season to taste. Add 1 lb. unwashed brown rice to casserole. cover with sauce and bake slowly for 2 1/2 hours.

                                                                                                    Scalloped asparagus. Can of asparagus. Layer asparagus, well seasoned white sauce. Sprinkle with hard grated cheese and almonds, repeat. Sprinkle top with cheese and breadcrumbs. Brown in hot oven.

                                                                                                    My favorite dessert is the caramel corn flake rings. Combine brown sugar and butter. Heat till thick, pour over cornflakes and mix to coat. Form into individual torte molds. Chill. Fill with lemon custard ice cream and top with cut strawberries.

                                                                                                    Since basic training for both enlisted and flight officers is in Texas, there are 4 different BBQ basic sauces as well as a variety of Tex-Mex dishes.

                                                                                                    Wish I had this book as a Butter Bar trying to do my share of the entertaining in my first unit. Due to the large number of canned ingredients, this was applicable to those posted overseas as well as in the States.

                                                                                                    1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                      Those do sound like old-time American classics - thanks for your detailed answer.
                                                                                                      "Due to the large number of canned ingredients, this was applicable to those posted overseas as well as in the States."
                                                                                                      Yes, I can see that a book of this kind would be strongly oriented towards out-of-the-pantry cooking.

                                                                                                      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                        Love that! I've got to try that cocktail while I read General Robin Olds' memoirs.

                                                                                                2. "Country Commune Cooking," from 1972. It features descriptions of communes from that time and the food cooked there, mostly vegetarian. One recipe that I used to make was the cauliflower-peanut stew with millet. Haven't cooked from it for about 30 years but I can't seem to let it go.

                                                                                                  The others that I cannot part with are George Bradshaw's "Cook Until Done" and "Suppers and Midnight Snacks," from the 60s. They are delightful to read and include a story about a successful steak rescued from a burning oven.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: kittyfood

                                                                                                    If you do decide to sell it, I'll take it! I have a very large and well loved collection of books about 60's/70's communes. This one sounds right up my alley!

                                                                                                    1. re: sweetpotater

                                                                                                      OMG that's wonderful; This listing is even more evocative: http://www.amazon.com/The-Watergate-C...

                                                                                                      Wish I'd known of it to get for my mother, who "wallowed in Watergate" and loved cookbooks.

                                                                                                      One summer in my childhood when she and I drove up to DC to retrieve my father from his two weeks of active duty, we ate at the Water Gate Inn, a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant that stood where the Watergate complex was later built. We'd kept a copy of the menu (given to children to color in while waiting for the food), and my mother fished it out during the first summer of hearings. She put it up on the kitchen bulletin board next to a news photo of Nixon with her hand-added thought balloon ("I am not a crook."


                                                                                                      When I first saw your post, I thought that the restaurant had put out a cookbook before giving way to Big Real Estate; she'd have loved that, too.

                                                                                                    2. Booty Food Cookbook!

                                                                                                      For a bridal shower, we had to find the most oddest or funniest gift to give (in addition to a really nice large gift from everyone) and my friend found a book called Booty Food... funniest thing I've read in a long time. It's all about cooking at different stages of a relationship. They even have a chapter called "Cheese: Nature's Viagra". I guess stinky cheese wasn't part of that cheese plate.

                                                                                                      1. i have a friend who likes offal: i found a cookbook which I gifted her and, i'm sorry to say, i cannot remember the title to, but recommended "variety cuts" in all forms. The one recipe I remember SO well was to have the butcher grind up a bit of lung with your hamburger: no one in the family will even notice!!!! YIKES!

                                                                                                        Also, I just saw "The Prune Gourmet" on my mother's shelves the other day. It was a thick volume - I can't even imagine what could be in there...

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: rmarisco

                                                                                                          Unmentionable Cuisine is a book from the 1980s with a focus on offal, and other meats which have been or are taboo somewhere in the world.

                                                                                                        2. I have the Herter book too except it is "Bull Cook..."

                                                                                                          He must have been one eccentric character - wonder if there is a bio out there.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                            You are absolutely right tcamp, It is Bull Cook. Typo on my part! Pretty interesting book, tho.

                                                                                                            1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                              Herters was driven out of business defending itself against federal accusations of importing rare illegal bird feathers for its fly-tying materials.

                                                                                                            2. One of the oddest I ever had, but no longer do, was a paperback cookbook self-published by my late aunt's 3rd husband. He was a charter boat captain in Mexico and the cookbook title was something along the lines of The Drunken Captain. Every single recipe contained booze of some sort but the only one I actually tried was for vodka pancakes. They weren't half bad.

                                                                                                              1. Not a whole odd book, but I have a old ( late 70s) edition of the Vegetarian Epicure which has helpful hints on menu planning if (quote) 'grass is smoked socially in your home' This caused huge hilarity in my family, and is now much treasured because my mother, sadly no longer with us, wrote some pithy comments beside this section. The book is also treasured in that it supplied the nutmeat in brioche recipe which is the vegetarian centrepiece, alongside the turkey or pheasant, at all our family Christmas dinners.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Londonlinda

                                                                                                                  People rag on the Vegetarian Epicure but it's an old favorite of mine. I still love and use her macaroni and cheese recipe, for example. At the time, the book was just a revelation to me, a massive leap forward from Recipes for a Small Planet and Ten Talents and, sorry to say, the original Moosewood Cookbook (my favorite Moosewood is Sundays at the Moosewood Restaurant). For example, the original Moosewood recipe for ratatouille called for red wine, which in its way is even more weirdly 70's than the pot smoking. Both VE and VE2 were actually TASTE oriented and I learned a lot from them both.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                    Oh, absolutely! Another way VE was unusual was it was pretty much the only vegetarian cookbook I could find in the Uk when one member of the family went veggie in the early 1980s!

                                                                                                                  2. re: Londonlinda

                                                                                                                    Ah, the 70s, living in Berkeley, CA...

                                                                                                                  3. Entertaining with Insects:

                                                                                                                    I have never tried any of the recipes.

                                                                                                                    1. Not weird or oddball but really really fun to read

                                                                                                                      Twelve Company Dinners or the Well Fed Guess Made Easy by Margo Rieman, originally published in 1957.

                                                                                                                      1. Marking my place so I can come back later...Firegoat, I love how your mind works!

                                                                                                                        1. Les diners de Gala by Salvador Dali


                                                                                                                          It's pretty much the only true thrift store score I've ever made- paid $2.50 for it at a Goodwill.

                                                                                                                          I don't think you're actually supposed to cook using most of the recipes- it's all about the surrealist chicken etchings.

                                                                                                                          1. First You Take a Leek by Maxine Saltonstall - irreverent humor, travel adventures, cooking catastrophes and leek recipes from the late 60s.

                                                                                                                            1. By far the oddest cook book I own is "Nature's Harvest: Cooking with semen", it even has a section on entertaining guests.

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. I have a book written by concentration camp inmates called In Memory's Kitchen. The women were imprisoned in Theresienstadt by the Nazis, and they collected recipes of beloved Jewish and central European dishes even as they were starving. It's a moving book (not bad, just oddball). See here:

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: kmanihot

                                                                                                                                  You've reminded me that I have this book, which I must locate (stashed away in a box with non-cookbooks). Extremely moving, so much so that I could bear to read only a bit at a time.

                                                                                                                                  1. I have a 1901 Chinese cookbook ("The Chinese Cook Book", by Mr Chan (the book is upstairs and I don't feel like going up after it to find out the author's full name, sorry) that I think my mother gave me ages ago. It uses serious Chinese ingredients and has sample letters for persons wishing to write to grocery stores on Mott St in NYC Chinatown to procure same.

                                                                                                                                    1. I have the General's Diary -- I couldn't resist it at a yard sale...

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                        It's pretty entertaining reading! Definitely a different time and place (s)!

                                                                                                                                      2. I bought a reissue of the Settlement House Cookbook recently:

                                                                                                                                        1903 cookbook from the Settlement House in Wisconsin. It's a collection of recipes from the House's clients, mostly German, Middle European immigrants to the midwest (women who cooked like my grandma).



                                                                                                                                        I also love the Household Formulas books from the early 1900s. You know, about 2" thick, small print, a few illustrations, and full of formulas and instructions for everything: paint, cleaning fluid, recipes, how to waterglass eggs, etc. Fascinating!

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                          and you just made me google "how to waterglass eggs"

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                            But I bet it did not make you want to try waterglassed eggs, did it?

                                                                                                                                            For some reason those eggs are one of the things that sticks in my mind. I have this mental picture of a bucket of eggs, in the basement, covered with curiously "heavy" liquid, looking a little sinister... [and the spooky music gets louder]...

                                                                                                                                        2. I just received Charlston Receipts 1951 and Dolphin Dishes 51. I. Am already on my google fu to decipher many of the terms

                                                                                                                                          1. This book falls into 2 of your threads, as I got rid of it and now regret it. I don't remember the title, but it was a Greek cuisine cookbook, paperback, from the early 70's, found at a garage sale. There were several reefer references, mentioned in the introductions to the recipes. Hilarious!

                                                                                                                                            1. European And American Professional Sourdough Cooking And Recipes by George Leonard & Berthe E. Herter (1975)

                                                                                                                                              1. http://www.amazon.com/The-Anthropolog...
                                                                                                                                                The Anthropologists Cookbook, 1977
                                                                                                                                                A collection of essays by anthropologists about food and cooking. The chapter I remember best is about Le stockfish, a French version of dried cod. It is soaked many days in the rain water barrel outside, stewed with potatoes, and finished with hot walnut oil.


                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                  There must not have been a chapter on lutefisk. It would have displaced every other memory from the book.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                                                                                                                                                    I grew up on lutefisk :) Or at least knowing about it. The only relative to regularly fixed it for Christmas eve was the Swedish mother of an uncle. I've fixed it a few times myself.

                                                                                                                                                    But a whole dried cod gives a very different impression than the packaged processed lutefisk I can buy in the grocery.

                                                                                                                                                2. "How to Survive with Sprouting", Bruford Scott Reynolds, 1973. I'm an avid sprouter and I enjoyed the author's enthusiasm but the recipes included are just the awfulest examples of cheap grey/brown-toned hippie cuisine.

                                                                                                                                                  1. White Trash Gatherings


                                                                                                                                                    My ex's mom bought it for him while we were together, and somehow it ended up staying with me. Which is interesting, because it TOTALLY could have been written my my current boyfriend's family. :p The author's last name would even fit in.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I have some little recipe booklets in Yiddish that I got from my grandmother. I can't remember what companies put them out, but I recall they are name brands. I'll check when I get home.

                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                                                        One of the Yiddish booklets is Crisco Recipes for the Jewish Housewife from 1933 and the other is Wolff's kasha recipes from 1938. There was also an interesting one in English for Jello creations from about that same time, when there were only 6 flavors. Actually there were a bunch that were really interesting from that era, all from different companies.

                                                                                                                                                        Another weird cookbook I have is Pressure Cooking Perfected by Roy Andries De Groot, who was a blind traveler and food writer. He wrote a famous foodie book about traveling and eating in France, too. So I thought this book would be good. Well, it's from 1978 and has some truly ghastly sounding recipes in it like "calves' hearts filled with apples, orange, peaches and pine nuts" and "a decorative buffet platter of cold jellied veal with lemons and limes" and "quick chicken liver soufflé." In fairness, though, there are a few good-sounding recipes, too.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                                                          "There was also an interesting one in English for Jello creations from about that same time, when there were only 6 flavors. "

                                                                                                                                                          We have one from 1937 - the Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone Jello Recipe Cookbook. I am such a radio weirdo it never even occurred to me to post it in this thread - but of course it is obscure I guess.

                                                                                                                                                          So if this Jello cookbook was for the Jewish housewife - Jello was Kosher then? Because I thought that it was not Kosher now. An actual question, I don't know myself.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                            Sorry, the Jello one was not directed to the Jewish housewife. I don't know if my grandmother ever knew, or cared, that Jello wasn't kosher. Our family has always had a very cafeteria approach to kashruth. For example, my grandfather loved shrimp eggrolls but stopped eating them when someone told him the little red things were bits of pork. Anyway, one of the other old booklets was for Christmas baked goods, which really surprised me since we never celebrated any form of Christmas. But grandma did love to bake. I hadn't looked through her cook booklets in ages. Now I want to sit down and examine them more closely.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: AmyH

                                                                                                                                                              Yes, they sound fascinating. Especially if you could tell if your grandmother had actually used any of the recipes - you know, stains on the page, etc.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                I'll definitely look to see if she made any notations. It's hard to believe she got these before my father was born!

                                                                                                                                                      2. I have several: all three "Bull Cooks," "The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook," and "Manifold Destiny." Will probably never use those last two.

                                                                                                                                                        I collect oddball cookbooks, BTW!

                                                                                                                                                        1. I never owned it, but in the Pacific Northwest you often see a cookbook in the airports with recipes for cooking the Banana Slug. (Inside there is a disclaimer: Not for human consumption.)

                                                                                                                                                          1. The Nero Wolfe Cookbook. For the uninitiated, Nero Wolfe is a fictional private detective/chowhound who, along with his amanuensis Archie Goodwin, are my two favorite fictional characters. Obviously, a fictional character did not write this book, nor did his creator Rex Stout. Still, after my entire library, including cookbooks, was destroyed in the Great Bedbug Catastrophy, this book is what I replaced. Not bad at all, but weird I guess.

                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mwhitmore

                                                                                                                                                                I have this, mainly because I'm a sucker for novelty cookbooks.

                                                                                                                                                                Like The Lucretia Borgia Cookbook, "Favorite Recipes of Infamous People". Even comes with a bibliography to demonstrate that Borgia indeed enjoyed Steamed Stuffed Artichokes, or John Dillinger his sister's Coconut Cream Pie.

                                                                                                                                                                Also celebrity cookbooks like The Cartoonist Cookbook (Black-Eyed Bean Soup from Al Capp) or Cooking Out of This World by various science-fiction writers (most notable: Larry Niven's experiment with whiskey and dry ice).

                                                                                                                                                              2. I don't know if it qualifies as weird- I'd love to know if anyone has an opinion about that- Adelle Davis "Let's Cook It Right" first addition. My boyfriend was looking at it and was sure the brain recipes were a joke. I assured him they were not. Is this weird or obscure?

                                                                                                                                                                1. The Enchanted Broccoli Forest- I didn't own this vegetarian cookbook, but someone I once lived with did.

                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                                                                                                    I don't think a cookbook that sold as well as Enchanted Broccoli Forest did can qualify as oddball or weird.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                                      Uh, the title can qualify. Did you read the whole question?

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                                                                                                        Yes. Here it is (emphasis added):

                                                                                                                                                                        :: Books that are PRETTY OBSCURE or VERY LIMITED IN AUDIENCE APPEAL. Doesn't mean they are your worst. But it does mean they are weird. ::

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                                          Just realized how long it's been since Enchanted Broccoli Forest was popular, so to clarify my original post:

                                                                                                                                                                          Mollie Katzen's second cookbook is one of the top-selling cookbooks of all time, having sold somewhere around a million and a half copies. http://www.thedailymeal.com/25-best-s...

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I had one called "Cooking with a Serial Killer." Apparently, the woman ran a boarding house and poisoned her guests. Terrible food. I gave it to the Goodwill. They probably prayed over it and set it on fire.

                                                                                                                                                                    Then there was "By Hook or by Cook", a book of absolutely appalling recipes by prostitutes from the infamous Mustang Ranch. I sent it on its way to charity, or, probably, the landfill.

                                                                                                                                                                    Two that I kept: "Eat What You Want and Die Like a Man", which actually has a few good recipes, and "The Male Chauvinist's Cookbook" that I keep for its ridiculous cover of a muscle-posing guy with a fawning girl.

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: RosePearl

                                                                                                                                                                      Rose Pearl, What is it about your life that lead to your acquiring such unusual books?

                                                                                                                                                                    2. "Deviled Eggs" by Debbie Moose. Yes, an entire cookbook for deviled eggs. Don't laugh - many of them are divine. The BBQ eggs especially, and also one that features avocado instead of egg yolks. There are even some dessert deviled eggs - haven't had the courage to try them.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Not weird, but you just don't see it around much any more. We just got our SECOND copy of the Alice's Restaurant Cookbook by Alice Brock. The first one left years ago, but my husband REALLY wanted the BBQ sauce recipe from it so I got a used copy for him.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Caramel Knowledge: Bostess Bupcakes Peanut-Butter Coffee, Herring in a Cloud, Wienie Zucchini, and Moure Food and Culinary Musings for the Twisted Mind

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: wekick

                                                                                                                                                                            I have this book, by Al Sicherman who wrote food columns for many years at the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. Try the Chocolate Pudding Cake (p. 90) - you won't be disappointed (as long as you like chocolate...)

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Complete coffee pot coking....Yes, it exists. It also does have much better options than the chow video series.......

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: annfaulkner

                                                                                                                                                                              Coking is an industrial process, that can't be done in a home coffee pot. :)

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                                                All the more reason why that cookbook must be one hell of a book.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. We don't actually own it, but my husband bought my brother a copy of "Cooking with Coolio" a few years ago as a joke.

                                                                                                                                                                              "Coolio provides step-by-step instructions only slightly more (less?) difficult to navigate for the slangy substitutions (dime bags rather than teaspoons), cheeky asides (step seven in Steak Fatricia: "Pass out the sombreros and machetes"), and unnecessary expletives (Crazy Pollo Salad "easily serves 4 crazy motherf****ers")..."

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't think my brother has cooked any of the recipes...