It’s Just Another Magic Monday and the weather is getting cooler here. Out in our woods, the leaves are starting to change and drop and there’s a little chill in the air as I walk the paths. I know it’s time to reap the last of the garden and start cooking comfort food again.
I have amassed a nice little cookbook collection over the years. Before I buy a new one I borrow it from the library first and take it for a spin to see if we’re a good fit.
That’s how I fell in love with The Italian Slow Cooker Cookbook which promises that you’ll be cooking like an Italian grandmother in no time. It’s one of my favorites not only for the easy, hearty recipes but also for the story behind it.
In the introduction to The Italian Slow Cooker Cookbook, author Michele Scicolone tells about passing by a small Tuscan restaurant near the apartment she rents in Rome and explains how everyday the cook fills the fiasco, a large greenish glass bottle and fills it with dried beans, garlic and herbs and sets it on the brick wood burning stove to simmer. “’Passing by one day I salivated at the sight and thought, This is the original slow cooker!’”
The remainder of her story is so vivid you can hear Il Divo crooning every time you pull your slow cooker out of the cupboard.
This is not a bad problem to have. There. Now I’ve made your Crock Pot sexy 🙂 See? It is a Magic Monday!
Another favorite cookbook is The New Food Processor Bible. I renewed this one from the library so many times I ran out of renewals.
I still laugh when I read her story behind the book. When Noreen Gilletz bought her first food processor in 1975 she “spent the first month pureeing dinner.” Her young son who disliked veggies “was thrilled because I could put them in the food processor and make them disappear!”
Noreen knew there had to be other frazzled cooks out there with the same problems so she decided to not only tackle her food processor, blade by blade, ingredient by ingredient she decided to write recipes specifically for the food processor to teach us how to do the same.
The New Food Processor Bible is updated every few years as new food processors come on the market and we’ve become more health conscious. This year’s newest edition marks the 30th anniversary of a National Best Seller. Isn’t that a great story?
Can you imagine the stories behind some of our cookbooks from the past? I often use the website Gode Cookery for research into 16th century cooking for my fiction titles. I like knowing what the peasants, middle class and nobility ate and drank and how it was prepared. Here’s an original recipe from A Propre New Booke of Cokery (1545)
To bake pigeons in short paest as you make to your baken apples.
Season your pigeons with peper / saffron / cloves and mace / with vergis and salt / then put them into your paest and so close them vp / and bake them / these will bake in halfe an houre / then take them forth / and if ye thynke them drye take a litle vergis and butter and put to them and so serue them.
It’s always fun to have my 21st Century heroines sit down to a meal with the Scottish Renaissance nobility and ask what’s for dinner. 🙂
Here’s the 21st century translation by James Mattison:
To bake pigeons in short pastry as you make for your baked apples.
Season your pigeons with pepper / saffron / cloves and mace / with verjuice and salt / then put them into your pastry and so close them up / and bake them / these will bake in half an hour / then take them forth / and if you think them dry take a little verjuice and butter and put to them and so serve them.
If you’re planning on cooking pigeons soon, (so not sexy 🙂 verjuice is a very acidic juice made from crab apples, unripe grapes and other sour fruit.
Other cookbooks in my collection have a story because they were given to me by someone special. I have cookbooks given to me by my Mom, other family members and friends.
Every year when I pull out my Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook I think of my dear friend Karen who gave it to me to celebrate my first Christmas with my hubby. For many years Karen and I would spend an entire day up to our elbows in sugar and flour baking cookies from the cookbook. Afterwards we’d split the proceeds and give them away to friends, family and co-workers. Like a good friend, it’s one of those cookbooks that never lets me down.
Do you have a favorite cookbook? Does it have a story to tell? Do you have a favorite historical resource for cooking? Do you collect old cookbooks? I’d love to hear all your cookbook stories.