INCURABLE COOKBOOK ADDICTION

I’ve always been the first to admit – I am hopelessly addicted, not only to cookbooks but recipe boxes as well. But never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that one day I would have so many cookbooks, recipe boxes and cookie jars, that they are pretty much taking over the house. This wasn’t so much of an issue when we lived in the Arleta house, which was a big rambling house and it had a guest house that we filled with books and book shelves as well. They weren’t all cookbooks, you understand (only about ten thousand of the books were cookbooks); we also had a vast collection of fiction and non fiction, books about travel, books about religion, biographies and auto biographies. There were books about gardening and books about landscaping, books about UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) and books about movie stars and the movie industry. There were books about queens and kings and princes and princesses. I have a lot of books about Princess Diana.

When we began packing up books to move – we filled my daughter in law’s SUV with boxes of books for the Burbank Friends of the Library sale and AFTER we moved we filled her SUV with books for the Lancaster Friends of the Library sale—and I assure you, we scarcely made a dent. When we moved, my son moved over 600 boxes – most of them filled with books—many of which are still in boxes in a shed we had to buy just to house the boxes of books until we can figure out where to put them or what to do with the overflow. I’m not bragging about this –an addiction is nothing to boast about. The bottom line is that books have taken over our lives. Anytime anyone was getting rid of their books or someone died and no one knew what to do with a collection of books, I said bring them over! We’ll take them! And we did. (We also took any kitchen utensils, pots and pans and other household items that no one—except us—wanted.)

But this is about cookbooks so let me skim over all the books that are not cookbooks and maybe explain how this happened.

In 1965, I had maybe one or two cookbooks. One was a Methodist church cookbook that my father bought from a coworker at Formica, for a dollar, in 1961. My mother and sister also got a copy. That little church cookbook intrigued me; I wondered if there were more cookbooks out there, somewhere, like this one—and at this time, a girlfriend who was married to a Hungarian refugee commented to me that she knew about a little Hungarian recipe book published by Culinary Arts Institute and wondered how she could find a copy.

“I know how!” I offered. At the time I was subscribing to a magazine called Women’s Circle; it was made up completely of letters written by women looking for penpals, or something for their collection—whatever it was. I wrote a letter to Women’s Circle asking for a copy of the Hungarian cookbooklet – and added that I was interested in starting a collection of cookbooks and would buy or trade for cookbooks.

My letter was published and I began receiving letters from all over the USA – over 200, I think. I began buying cookbooks left and right, sight unseen. (and yes, bought several copies of the Hungarian cookbooklet—one for my friend, one for myself – and an extra for who ever might want it. We didn’t have the internet – you had resources such as women’s circle or Women’s Household magazines or used book stores. One time a friend told me about a used bookstore on Western Avenue in Hollywood – all the books
were a dollar each! How could anyone resist that? Twenty dollars would bring me twenty books! Whoohoo!

And one day the bookstore owner said “I have something you might be interested in” and brought out a small leather bound notebook filled – in beautiful handwriting – with recipes. Of course, I had to have it and I think I paid $11.00 for it. It was my introduction into what might loosely be referred to as “manuscript” cookbooks- and I was sold. I have written on my blog about Helen’s Cookbook and how it came into my possession. Having it begged the question – were there more handwritten cookbooks out there? Who had them and what did they want for them? I wanted them! Finding manuscript cookbooks proved to be a daunting task – but I discovered the next best thing: someone’s recipe box, filled with their favorite recipes or newspaper clippings. I called them the Kitchen Diaries and began searching for them.

Also, in 1965, I became acquainted with a cookbook collector in Michigan, my friend Betsy who still sends me boxes of cookbooks. I can’t turn down a cookbook – not even when it’s one I already have. (Now that, you have to admit, is sick). My logic to this is, some day someone will come along wanting that very same book and I’ll have a copy to give to them. Betsy also got me turned onto community cookbooks—and there are a lot of community cookbooks in Michigan – back then and still, to this day.

Every so often someone comes to the house and they look around and then say “Do you actually read all of these books?” – the answer is yes. I am constantly reading, except when I am writing about reading. Or maybe when I am in the kitchen cooking something because I found a recipe that intrigued me.

People who collect cookbooks (and trust me, there are a lot of us out there) think that they are unique because they ‘read cookbooks the way other people read novels’. Trust me, all cookbook collectors read cookbooks the way other people read novels. In the last decade or two some mystery writers have figured out how to incorporate recipes with their novels. I get it. I’m sure all the other cookbook collectors who also like a good mystery get it too.

And that, girlfriends, is how you start a collection and it eventually takes over your life. But I have often thought – what could be better in life than collecting books that you love – and the being able to write about them? Ya gotta love it!

Happy Cooking!
Sandra

21 responses to “INCURABLE COOKBOOK ADDICTION

  1. Hey there, I just wanted to let you know that your site is excellent. Im a frequent reader. I think it is so great, that I have actually gone ahead and linked to your site (dofollow) from here: http://www.bestpda.net/my-favorite-site.

  2. I discovered your blog site on google and check a couple of of your early posts. Continue to keep up the excellent operate. I simply extra up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Looking for forward to studying more from you in a while!…

  3. We are a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community.Your site offered us with valuable information to work on.You have done a formidable job and our whole community will be grateful to you

  4. Excellent goods from you, man.I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just too magnificent.I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you are saying and the way in which you say it.You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it smart.I cant wait to read far more from you.This is actually a wonderful website

  5. don’t you guys have got any facebook web page simply because i would like every day notifications of one’s great

    • I thought I did sign up for the FB notification – will check on it again. I do have FB and sometimes copy one of my posts over to my FB page when I think some friends might be interested in reading it.

  6. I have to say that for the last couple of hours i have been hooked by the impressive articles on this blog. Keep up the great work.

  7. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your blog. You have some really great articles and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d really like to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an e-mail if interested. Thanks!

  8. Helpful posts. All your articles or blog posts are generally brutally honest and also to the point. You never spend time with normal debates. I can’t any response have, nevertheless, many thanks, and then thank you so much.

  9. Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the fantastic work!

  10. Hi, Sandy! I first found your blog several months ago while looking for information on Meta Given. You crossed my mind today, while I was sitting here trying to figure out the best way to organize my cookbooks. I’ve no idea how many I have, but I would guess that I have about 250. I know that you organize a MUCH larger collection, so I wondered if you might have any tips. Right now, I have my cookbooks organized somewhat by category. The wild variation in shapes and sizes, number of authors, and scope of category really do create quite a challenge!

  11. Hi, Danielle–wow, I think I could actually write a blog post about organizing cookbooks. Well, first–I was more organized when I lived in the San Fernando valley because the house I was renting was so much bigger and had a guest house that we filled with shelves too. In 2008 I moved into a much smaller house and in 2010, Bob (my then-sitgnificant other) built a library out of half of the garage. Then I put all of my fiction/biographies/autobiographies/travel & specialty categories – plus SO
    ME of the cookbooks out there. Then I was able to unpack boxes of books LAnguishing in a shed. :) OK–here’s what I have now: all the Christmas cookbooks & cookie cookbooks are in a bookcase in my liv rm. Next to it are celebrity cookbooks dating back to the 1940s and sandwiched in with them are my dessert cookbooks. My 3 bedrooms are pretty much wall to wall cookbooks except for a wall containing a bed–MY room contains all my California cookbooks; another bookcase has all my Americana cookbooks. Another has all my White House or WH related cookbiooks (ie, anything related to a former president’s cookbook–goes with those. Another bookcase in my room (3rd wall) has all of my FAVORITE cookbooks, the ones I use the most often. There are a lot of soup/stews/one dish meal cookbooks in there because I am that kind of cook–big on one dish meals. In Bob’s room I have two-three bookcases filling a wall and they are EAST of and WEST of the Mississippi church-and-club cookbooks (and overflowing). opposite are my foreign cookbooks, also overflowing, and next to it are all my canning/[preserving cookbooks. In the 3rd bedroom I have all my favorite author cookbooks-also overflowing–and next to it a lot of southern cookbooks. opposite wall are BREAD/Biscuit, et al cookbooks and a section for Ohio and Michigan (too many for the other bookcase & I am from Ohio) and next to THAT are all my radio/tv personality cbs and below it all the southwestern cbs. I have all my food reference books in 4 smaller bookcases in my family room near my computer. OUTSIDE in the garage library I have a lot of books that dont fit anyiwhere else–oh, such as Meta Given, rhe JOY cookbooks, a lot of very old books and shelves filled with recipe booklets. in another bookcase I have shelves for meats/fish, vegetables, diet cookbooks (a lot of weight watcher books) and other individual categories–oh such as honey or nuts or all the Pillsbury bake-off booklets. I moved all the outdoor BBQ books to the garage last year to make more room inside for americana. I hope this gives you some ideas. My plan when we created a garage library was to keep cookbooks inside as many of the latter are a lot more valuable and easier access. I apologize that this is so long but I hope it gives you some ideas. Oh, I forgot the gooseberry cookbooks-they are with Christmas because so many of the books are holiday or cookie related (and I enter recipes to get free copies of their cookbooks. Sorry this is so long!! I will send you a separate message of suggestions for you to work with. is space a problem? – Regards, Sandy

  12. Are you actually using that type of mobile website tracking (mainly useful for old school feature phones)? If so, you are pretty limited in terms of what you can do because of how that behaves since cookies cannot be set. You could use the addIgnoredRef that Eric points out above. If you are targeting smart phones (iPhone/Android/etc..) I would switch out to using the regular JavaScript tracking.

    • I dont have an Iphone or anything like it – I have an “old fashioned” cell phone with a keyboard and not much else. My articles are written in WORD where I can keep track of them. and then transferred to my blog site when I am finished writing. I am very computer challenged so I dont even know what you are talking about –sorry!! Sandy

  13. I hate to confess that I know so little about the mechanical workings of computer-eze–I think I have the regular JavaScript tracking (because I have been asked if I want to keep it)–I need to get some help from someone around here who is more knowledgeable. Thanks for the tips.- Sandy

  14. I just want to tell you that I’m new to blogging and seriously enjoyed this page. Most likely I’m want to bookmark your blog post . You actually have fantastic article content. Bless you for revealing your website.

  15. Hi – I found your blog when I was looking up cookbook addiction :) I have sooo many cookbooks and need to move cross country (from Wisconsin to California) so am really trying to downsize now. Hence the reading of articles regarding cookbook addictions! LOL

    I started on my blog a review of cookbooks I have and made it a challenge of sorts. I write reviews (some funny, others helpful) of three cookbooks and then choose winners and losers. The losers I am placing in a box and listing on Amazon for sale. So hopefully this will give me the extra motivation I need so I am not moving 600 boxes of books LOL!

    I really enjoyed your writing and your blog and now subscribe by email.

    Just a word of warning – the bizarre things about smartphones etc that people are commenting are all spam. I would just delete those off your comments and just leave the comments of the real people.

    • Dear Deborah, Your email made me laugh – we must be cookbook twins…I could have written most of your message. When we moved from the San Fernando valley to the high desert (Palmdale, Lancaster) I packed over 600 boxes, most of them books. We also gave AWAY two SUV-loads of books (not cookbooks) that I didn’t want and donated them to the Burbank library for their Friends of the Library sale. I stopped counting after 600 & had a master list (a steno notebook) listing what each box contained. that really did help a lot. When we GOT moved, I had all of those boxes in a storage unit–then my son & daughter in law moved Everything to my garage – I couldn’t park in it for almost a year…managed to get a lot unpacked but this house is not nearly as big as our old one; we went from 3000 sq feet to 1500…I began giving away more books, this time to the Lancaster Friends of the library–then we bought another shed (those metal sheds you buy at Lowes or Home Depot) and we moved all the boxes into that – about a year later I discovered that the shed wasn’t water proof and some of my good books (in particular some of my JFK/Jackie Kennedy biographies) had gotten wet and had to be thrown out). so THEN my life-partner, Bob (whom I mention from time to time in blog messages) – built a library out of half of the garage and some of my bookcases that didn’t fit inside the house–and built shelves when the bookcases were full – and as fast as he completed some shelves, I unpacked boxes, but also moved some books outside to make room inside for more of the favorite books. Most of the cookbooks are inside now but I have one wall of bookcases filled with cookbooks that didn’t fit inside – but they are all categorized now so I can pretty much go right to the bookcase to find a book I am looking for….ok, to make a long story short (or make a long story longer) – I have been packing up fiction, mostly Bob’s books that I know I wont read and aren’t something I can give to friends) – to give more books to the library and make room out there for cookbooks I have run out of shelf space for. (Bob passed away in September, 2011 of esophageal cancer) We read some of the same fiction authors but not all – he didn’t care for my girly fiction like Janet Evonovich or Sue Grafton, I didn’t care for some of his authors of a more serious genre).
      So I know what you are going through – you have come to the go-to person, although it sounds to me like you have everything under control. Is the email/blog address listed with your name your blog site? I will write it down. I didn’t know that about smart phones. I just scan through spam messages to see if WordPress overlooked one I want and then delete everything else. so much of it is weird – a lot in different languages. to write to me directly, my Verizon email address is ssmith00281@verizon.net. Where, in California, are you moving to? And what has motivated the move? My (now ex) husband & I moved to California in 1961, mostly for job opportunities (for him, I never had trouble finding a job in Cincinnati, where we both came from) – the economy was pretty bad in 1961. Thanks for writing. If interested in “penpaling”, stay in touch. – Sandy ps all the boxes weren’t books–I also collect cookie jars and recipe boxes; there are over 200 cookie jars & those were hard to pack and move safely. My son did virtually all of the work of moving–first all the boxes to a storage unit, then everything else–we moved in Thanksgiving weekend in 2008. I bought a house in Quartz Hill/Lancaster–we had been renting a house & had to move; the owner wanted too much(more) money for us to stay there. I HATED moving. – Sandy

  16. Found your blog seeking info re Marjorie Rawlings cookbook. Are you aware of Librarything.com? YOur complete library organized any way you choose can be entered on this site. For $25 its a lifetime deal. Take a look-THEY(whoever they are) make it very easy to catalog.I only have 300 or so cookbooks–definitely a nutty cook. Judy Kerr Macomb, Il

  17. Judy, I need to do some updating – and it is always a huge excitement to me to read anything about MKR or just have messages about her. hers was such a unique talent – Imagine living and writing in a small southern town like she did–I think her greatest success came from writing ABOUT Cross Creek and the people who lived there – like the adage write about what you know – her books began to sell when she focused on her little section of rural Florida. about a year (or maybe two) ago I began researching MKF insofar as I was able. My next trip to Florida MUST include Cross Creek – I don’t care about Disneyworld or all the other family oriented places of interest–I just want to see where Marjorie lived and worked so diligently for years–and how she included to call her friends notable writers who would visit her and go hunting! what would you call this? she was a man’s woman, comfortable in her own skin and lifestyle. thanks for writing. – Sandy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s