December 7, 2010


….and an answer.

Those are the cookbooks over there in the old white bookcase. Now vastly simplified and organized for easy access, I am very pleased with the success of this project.

After trying on my new teeth, which were so painful I took them off when I got home, I came home to finish the cook book project.

There are now shelves of American regional cookbooks, one shelf of good international volumes, and a last shelf of collected all purpose cookbooks. James Beard vies for shelf space with Craig Claiborne. I have most books written by both authors. Another two thirds shelf is filled with White House cookbooks. From that first early volume published on high acid paper to Henry Haller and Rene Verdon’s works.

Mother’s photo albums are shoved far to the left out of sight and mind….left to molder till the kids can deal with them. And they are moldering. The rest of the cookbooks are holding up pretty good. Amazing. Only two are noticeably tired. My 60’s Fannie Merritt Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook, which is now called something else, has a dangling spine. Mother’s Milwaukee Settlement House Cookbook has no spine.

It’s really nice to be able to access them all.

Tomorrow I will dust….always tomorrow.

20 Questions to ask your Mum: Home:

12. What did you talk about during family meals?
I was seen and not heard at Great-great-grandmother’s mahogany dining room table. No one was interested in my school failures, my father was usually dozingly drunk at the table, and mother, who had matched him drink for drink, was angry at my father. My grandfather survived by withdrawing into himself over his vegetarian fare. If I was not being chewed out for not eating or failing at something that day, there would be a dulsitory word or two about the shop, what had happened that day, then the conversation turned to golf. Par, birdie, birdie, par….as the Geezers family called it. What iron they used to hit out of that sand trap on the 4th. What chip shot was needed here, or what wood could be used there. The length of the shot was important as was the slice or hook. Always mother and Gimpa took lessons. I can still see Gimpa on the course now….He’d address the ball on the tee. A little practice bit of swinging wiggle once or twice before stepping up to the ball. Then up would go the club. Up - and a tiny pause as if he had a hitch in his swing then down it would come. His head would not move, his ball would go the proscribed distance, but he hit it with a hitch in his git a long. As he got older, the hitch grew more pronounced. Sunday dinners were held at the golf club, and on shelves in the basement lived blackening trophies won at the old Blue Mound Golf Course. Golf was another sport I wasn’t good at.


  1. I have one cookbook. How pathetic is that? And I never even use it. How more pathetic is that? Sorry you grew up in an alcoholic home. Must have been hell.

  2. For real information, I am still using my fifty-year-old Joy of Cooking, which I rebound because its spine was falling off...

    But I cook (with recipes) so seldom now that the usual reference book is my first microwave cookbook. That microwave died years and years ago, but its cookbook lives on.

  3. I still use my 1967 "Joy of Cooking" too, in good shape until I dropped it, wah! It broke the back and the pages fell out. I will get it rebound. The portions are smaller than the newer versions, which I like.

  4. Am I losing my mind, or were all the decorations on your tree red a few days ago? Beautiful tree.

  5. You really seem to have a spurt of energy these days. Good for you. It always makes me feel good to have a cleaning, pitching, and organizing day.

  6. Yes, I hang on to the old cookbooks, but I tend to use the new ones more. The updated recipes are favored by me. I agree with **scribblins...Isn't the tree red this year?

  7. Your collection sounds more better than mine as Hubby would put it. My favorites are those regional cookbooks that have written memories associated with the recipe. I buy those not to cook with--in fact I don't usually cook with any of them--but I just like to read them.

    I like the way you're splitting up at those 20 questions. What a verbal portrait you've drawn with #20--almost like a chapter in a book. I hope you'll keep going.

  8. Thanks for the ABE suggestion, I hadn't even thought of getting another used one, duh.

  9. Love the questions and answers. What a great picture you paint. Sorry I haven't been around much. I'll try to do better in the new year.

  10. Wow!!! What a great collection you have!!! I, too, am a Claiborne and Beard fan. Since I live alone, I don't cook much anymore. Sigh.

  11. Love all the books and the cookbook collection. I had a Fannie Farmer book and gave it to one of the children, I think....

    Your mealtimes sound like something out of Tennessee Williams. I'm sorry; so very sorry. You prove the point that some children thrive in spite of their beginnings.


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Peter in front of a wall sculpture. We were invited up to Peter Knego’s home to see the latest installation.   Abstract flat ...