May 11, 2011

Family Treasures

Recently we met my brother for lunch in a town about halfway between our homes. We live about 4 hours from each other.

After lunch he gave me two large plastic bins full of cookbooks, plus a few loose books too. Our aunt (our father's sister) left these to him in her will. That might sound strange unless you know that my brother used to cook in a fine dining establishment, and he was quite good at it too.

I don't know if he cooks much anymore though. He said that his wife has copied all the recipes that she wanted to try, and wasn't very interested in the history of the books for history's sake, our family's history.

Some of the books belonged to our grandma, and our aunt inherited them. She collected her own along the way too. She married an Irishman from a very large family and gatherings were commonplace and always included food and drink. I think life was an endless feast for her and our favorite uncle. They married late in life but were sublimely happy.

When my father passed away I brought home my mother's cookbooks. There were only two: a 1946 edition of The Joy of Cooking, and the Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook by Ruth Berolzheimer, published in 1948. When I was in high school my mother gave up fancy cooking and stuck to my dad's request for "meat and potatoes" so I really don't remember her using the cookbooks very often, but I've found them to be a wealth of information on cooking from scratch.

Now I have the opportunity to delve into my grandma's and my aunt's cookbooks too. I'm excited and want to have enough time on hand to do the project justice. I hope I'll find some gems. As well as published books, there are notebooks full of recipes, and a long card file with our aunt's most-used recipes.

Eventually I'll probably send most of the books back to my brother's house; he has a great deal more storage space than we do. I'm hoping though that I'll find a book or two that "speaks" to me and wants to live in my house, as well as a wealth of recipes that we will add to our regular meals, dishes that will remind us of loved ones and past family celebrations.


  1. Wonderful! I love old books, and cookbooks are some of my favorites! May you find them as pleasing as you desire!

  2. Thank you, Carra. There will be more posts on the cookbooks as I have time to explore them.


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