Back in the days when I was raising four sons literally on a shoestring, there was generally not enough money for ANYthing, much less the toys and games the boys would ask Santa to bring. My husband (now ex) was self employed most of those years and his income was unstable and sporadic. I had to make do with what we had in the pantry for meals when sales became non-existent. We had spaghetti so often that my youngest son no longer will eat it at all. I kept large tins filled with dried spaghetti, rice or pinto beans. No one ever went hungry but they all undoubtedly got tired of meatballs and spaghetti and corn bread and beans, made with pinto beans in my mother in law’s West Virginia style.
That was during the years I was a stay at home mom – from 1965, when I quit my job at Weber Aircraft to stay at home, until 1977, when I was offered a dream job by a dear friend. I loved that job so much, I was employed by them until I retired the end of 2002. And the best part was, there was always money for groceries after that. The downside, of course, was not being at home all of the time—such as the time my youngest son ran his bicycle into a telephone pole and ended up in the emergency room. But could I have prevented that accident? Probably not. But it wouldn’t have taken as long to get to the hospital.
Well, aside from that – way back when I had only two young sons—and we had a lot of friends and families back in Ohio, I began baking cookies and making candies to give as gifts for Christmas. Gradually, I worked my way up into jellies and jams (at first putting them in baby food jars), then chutneys and preserves and all sorts of other good things to eat—baking pumpkin bread or making fruitcakes. This led to discovering all the great cookbooks devoted to the topic of gifts from your kitchen.
One of my favorites—it still is—was a book titled WITH LOVE FROM YOUR KITCHEN BY Diana and Paul von Welanetz, published in 1976. Back when I didn’t have ten thousand cookbooks taking over the house, WITH LOVE FROM YOUR KITCHEN was a frequently thumbed through cookbook and I think this is where I learned that you can make your own sauces, mustards and marinades, pickles, herb blends and some unusual jellies, such as one made from champagne.
Others that I sometimes rely on are “WHAT SHOULD I BRING?” by Alison Boteler, published in 1992—this is a nice spiral bound cookbook with ideas for just about any occasion, not just Christmas—there are ideas for bridal and baby showers, greetings, goodbye and get well gifts, annual events and holiday housewarmers…and a lot more—plus plenty of tips for wrapping things – the latter is my downfall…but my daughter in law, Keara, has me spoiled; she does most of my gift wrapping. Another favorite of mine is GIFTS OF FOOD by Susan Costner, published in 1984. You will go crazy over the recipes—160 delectable recipes and how to wrap them.
I’ll let you in on a little secret – I never noticed, before, how many of the titles in this category start out with “Gifts from –“ so let me give you a quick rundown on a few of them.
BH&Gs GIFTS FROM YOUR KITCHEN, 1976
GIFTS FROM YOUR KITCHEN, BY Carli Laklan and Frederick-Thomas, published 1955 by M Barrows & Co (a collection of 300 recipes)
GIFTS FROM THE KITCHEN by Norma Myers and Joan Scobey, published in 1973 by Doubleday & Co. (over 200 coveted family recipes)
GIFTS FROM THE PANTRY BY Annette Grimsdale, copyright 1986, published by HP Books (this is one of those oversize as in long but narrow soft covered books. I have been making my pickled watermelon from this cookbook for many years—because it uses the GREEN part as well as white and pink) Lots of other good recipes as well.
GLORIOUS GIFTS FROM YOUR KITCHEN by Lisa Yockelson, copyright 1984 – offers over 200 recipes.
GIFTS FROM THE KITCHEN by Famous Brand Names, copyright 2003—lots of great illustrations—so you will know what it’s supposed to look like when you’re finished,
WOMAN’S DAY GIFTS FROM YOUR KITCHEN, copyright 1976—no photographs but a lot of favorite recipes.
GOURMET GIFTS FROM THE KITCHEN, BY Darcy Williamson, published in 1982
SEASONAL GIFTS FROM THE KITCHEN, BY Emily Crumpacker, William Morrow & Companym 1983 (and oh, my! I bought this at the Book Loft in Columbus Ohio at the German Village…and the reason I know this? The sticker is still inside.
Also – THE GIFT-GIVERS COOKBOOK by Jane Green and Judith Choate, copyright 1971 and published by Simon & Schuster
And one more –
THE JOY OF GIVING HOMEMADE FOOD by Ann Seranne, copyright 1978 and published by David McKay Company. (If the name Ann Seranne sounds familiar – it should; she’s written many cookbooks. I’ll write something about Ann Seranne another time).
Well, this is just a sample of the gift-giving genre of cookbooks I have collected. Now that I have all of these out, I will have to thumb through them again and see what treasures I have forgotten.
Happy Cooking & Happy Cookbook Collecting!