How many cookbooks do you own? Ten? Twenty? Fifty? Do you use your cookbooks? Do you follow the recipes or just look at the pictures? Are you like me and wonder why anyone would ever publish a cookbook without pictures?
So I’m kind of a cookbook freak, and at one time my collection was pretty big (like 300 cookbooks big) covering just about everything you can imagine. I actually owned a cookbook dedicated exclusively to fruitcakes and one about medieval cooking in France (Blackbirds Baked in a Pie, anyone?). Well, thanks to a move into a 400 square foot house, followed by a divorce, I have whittled my collection down. Way, way down. I counted 37 this morning – and a few of those are actually Marvin’s.
One book I could never give away is my Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book. It’s way too full of childhood memories. My sister, Beth, and I would usually start taking an interest in it every year around Thanksgiving – just before my mom got started on holiday baking. Mostly we’d just look pictures and try to decide which pastel-colored creation from Betty looked like it would taste the best.
My mom usually made a dozen varieties of Christmas cookies to share around the neighborhood, and almost all of the recipes came from the Cooky Book: Classics like Molasses Jumbles, Half N Half Slices, Spritz, Chocolate Crinkles, Russian Tea Cakes, Scotch Shortbread, Candy Cane Cookies, and Thumbprints.
Plus, the Cooky Book had all kinds of genius ideas from Betty about how to make things more festive for the holidays, like how you could turn plain-old, boring Snickerdoodles into something infinitely better… Hollidoodles! Wow, what a neat idea, Betty!
My Betty Crocker cookbook is from 1976. I bought it at a garage sale. I was looking for the 1960’s edition my mom has, but I couldn’t find it. This one is pretty close. Betty’s hair is still slightly bouffant (pre-1980’s professional makeover), and the back of the book has pictures of the four food groups titled Foods You Need Every Day, so apparently we hadn’t gotten fat enough yet for the Food Pyramid. The final words in the book, right below the food group pictures are:
“And don’t forget fats, sweets and extra servings from these four groups – they provide additional food energy and other food values”
Back in 1976, Betty could still find the value in fats, sweets and extra servings – and that is exactly how I remember the holiday season when I was growing up. Clearly my mom and Betty had the same philosophy.
I’m babysitting my cousin’s kids tonight and Marvin’s grandson tomorrow. I think it’s time to get the Cooky Book out. Recipes and pictures to follow.