I am not one of those people with large amounts of stuff everywhere. In fact, I have absolutely no trouble purging most of my household on an annual basis and I am constantly cleaning out my closet (although, admittedly, mostly because it gives me another justification for additional shopping). However, I have never given away a cookbook.
My obsession began when, for some reason still unknown to me, the Tooth Fairy, in all her glorious wisdom, decided one time to leave a cookbook under my pillow rather than money. Over the…ahem…many years since then I’ve amassed quite a collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines. They’ve come to me through subscriptions, Amazon.com, used book stores, garage sales and from people who’ve given me anywhere from just one to grocery bags full of cookbooks. In fact, I have some really interesting, and sometimes hilarious, regional cookbooks that came from one of those grocery bags (Pretzel Salad with Miracle Whip, anyone?).
I’m not quite sure what defines the line between collector and hoarder but, in this case, I’d like to think of myself as a collector. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
I must admit that I very rarely use a cookbook recipe exactly as it is written. Mostly I just flip through a bunch of them for inspiration and then throw something together. I also keep several rotating stacks of cookbooks on my kitchen table for times when I wonder things like how much salt might be added to a gratin (I tend way under-salt my dishes).
Sometimes I end up with something that barely resembles what I started out to make in the first place. But even though I don’t follow the recipes I consider some of my cookbooks to be quite excellent.
So, starting next week, each week I will be featuring a cookbook from my ever-expanding collection. I will do my best to make at least one recipe from each cookbook I feature and tell you how it goes. And, every once in a while I’ll even pull out one of my magazine volumes from days past and wax poetic about the good ‘ole days.
By the way, Section 641 is a reference to the Dewey Decimal System (641 is the section number for cookbooks). I’m just old enough to remember going to the library to do research for school projects and pulling out those ancient wooden drawers full of yellowed, bi-punched cards to find the one book that I needed. Ah, memories of the good ‘ole days.