It isnt often that I go out and buy new cookbooks anymore–for one thing, I am completely out of bookshelf space–I kid you not. I have been working on thinning out the shelves in the garage library by donating works of fiction that were primarily Bob’s–we didn’t share our love of fiction by the same authors–besides, even if I have space on the shelves in the garage library, those books are our fiction authors. It doesnt solve my problem of lack of space inside the house where all of my cookbooks are. And even though bookcases are in all three bedrooms (plus two walls of the living room) of my house and mostly on all three walls (and often doubled up on the shelves, plus five smaller bookcases are sandwiched here and there in the family room, guests who come into the house are generally somewhat askance by the sight of the books, not to mention two hundred cookie jars and 125 recipe boxes, give or take a few dozen. Generally, the first thing anyone says to me when they see the bookcases is “do you actually read all of these books?” –I am sorely tempted to be crass and say something like “I’m just keeping them for a friend”. People who have been in my life for many years are used to the sight.

But back to cookbooks–like I mentioned I rarely buy new cookbooks. I was spoiled silly by the editor of a newsletter called Cookbook Collectors Exchange, generally referred as the CCE; publishers would send cookbooks to Sue, the editor, to be reviewed and featured in an issue of the CCE newsletter. I began reviewing cookbooks in the CCE – and no one ever complained — actually, we received many favorable responses to my reviews.Reviewing cookbook kept me fairly busy for about a decade; the newsletter folded when Sue’s husband passed away. What followed were a series of unfortunate events.

In 2002 I retired from the company where I had been employed for 27 years. in 2008 we found we had to move; the owner of a house I had rented for 19 years wanted a high increase in rent that I could ill afford; we were now retired senior citizens.

And I don’t remember exactly when we began to notice the demise of all the bookstores, new and used, throughout the San Fernando Valley–and while we regretted and mourned the loss of the bookstores in the San Fernando Valley, I couldn’t resist going to the stores and buying more cookbooks at special prices. The worst loss of all was the closing of Dutton book store, which had been a staple in bookstore lovers for decades. You knew a black cloud had fallen over the San Fernando Valley when Duttons closed their doors forever. (In writing about these events, I use the plural “we” because my significant other, Bob, loved books as much as I. Whenever we traveled anywhere, we had to checkout all the bookstores where ever we were.

At any rate, the bookstores disappeared and came into our lives–where you could find any number of pre-owned books which was kind of like going through a dozen used book stores in one fell swoop.

But I digress–and I apologize for that.

A few weeks ago, my son Steve was visiting me and we made a trip to the Barnes & Noble book store in Palmdale; I had two B&N gift cards burning a hole in my pocket – or they would have been if I had a pocket–and one of the books I bought at Barnes & Noble is Oprah Winfrey’s FOOD HEALTH and HAPPINESS.

I was enchanted with the first chapter SOUP IS LOVE–along with a collection of soup recipes (I want to make all of them) are photographs of Oprah as a young girl. Actually – I think FOOD HEALTH and HAPPINESS is as much a book of memoirs as well as recipes. Other chapters choreograph Oprah’s rise to fame–if you are a fan, as am I, you will thoroughly enjoy reading all about Oprah, told by Oprah.

Along with reading about Oprah, her cookbook is lavish with food art–can it get any better than this?

I love this cookbook; I think you will too. Prices start at $35.00. has copies for $17.50 as well as new and used copies starting at $8.00.

Review by Sandra Lee Smith




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