I’ve missed my cookbooks. They’ve been sitting in boxes for close to three months while we’ve been living with my parents and waiting and waiting to move. But the dawn is finally breaking, and we are going to be in our new apartment hopefully by next weekend. As you may already know, I worked in a bookstore (and in a cookbook specialty store, briefly) and for a publisher that specialized in cookbooks. So I amassed quite a lot of them. I am proud to say that I do cook from many of my cookbooks, but I also have several that I have never even used.
So I really liked the link to the Weekend Cookbook Challenge posted by Breadchick. The idea behind the challenge is to dig up the cookbooks you never use and make something from them. And the girls behind the Cookbook Challenge are doing different themes each month, and lord knows I love a theme. This month’s challenge is “Winter Comfort Food.” It makes me think of soups and casseroles and my beloved (and much used) Macaroni and Cheese Cookbook.
I guess if I were to pick a book to cook from that I have never used, it would have to be the Betty Crocker Guide to Easy Entertaining. I found it in my parents-in-law’s basement and I think it must be from at least the late 50s or early 60s. There are chapters on hosting “Late Night Suppers” (in case you’ve got spiffy new records and card games to play), formal teas, and a spread for a boys night in (in which the wife makes a shitload of man-friendly food and disappears so that husband and friends can “forage” for it between rounds of poker.) The book is kind of delicate and has pages loosening from the original spiral binding, but those retro recipes beg to be cooked. Perhaps one day I’ll have to get dolled up in beehive and pencil skirt to make glazed ham for my late-night buffet. Hmmm – best not to hold your breath waiting for an engraved invitation and reply card to that party.
Hey, I hope the Cookbook Challenge does a cocktail theme. I’ve got loads of martini recipe books, too.
One book that I can’t wait to cook from is Mangoes and Curry Leaves by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. I bought this book as a Christmas Present to Myself, and it’s been my bedtime reading for the past week or so. As one might expect from those two tireless travellers, cooks and authors (they also wrote Hot Sour Salty Sweet, Flatbreads and Flavours, and Seductions of Rice), the book combines photographs, travelogues and recipes from across the Indian Subcontinent. It’s a coffeetable cookbook to be sure, but the recipes look very doable. I’m torn as to whether I ought to let it get stained and splotched like a good, trusty cookbook, or photocopy the pages I plan to cook from to keep it looking pristine.
Whatever – I’ll be in my new kitchen soon and that’s all that really matters to me right now.

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