Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cockaigne Cookbooks

One of my favorite blogs to read is TennZen, and recently, she wrote a post about her top 5 favorite cookbooks. I collect vintage cookbooks, and so I have more of them than any person rightly should, but I only keep a handful in the kitchen and use them often. Here's my list:

1. Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I used BH&G in my 8th Grade Home Ec class at Hartsig Junior High School in Warren, Michigan, and it became the standard for me. The one I have in my kitchen is the one I got at my bridal shower in the early 1990s, but just yesterday, my sister in law gave me my mother-in-law's version from the 1950s. I love that hers features a recipe for a "liverwurst pineapple" - an appetizer that was liverwurst molded into a pineapple shape and covered with American cheese and olives. She also underlined the potato chips in the calorie counter section (7 chips contains 108 calories), which I am sure bummed her out. Also, on the back cover is the distinctive crop circle like brand of an electric stove burner, from accidentally setting the book on an uncooled coil. It was her well loved cookbook, and the 1990s version is one of mine as well. It's where I look first for any recipe.
2. Barefoot Countessa - the original cookbook. Every recipe in this book is a winner. The photography is beautiful, too. Try the French potato salad featured on the cover or the coconut cupcakes. Thank you Ina Garten.
3. I'm Just Here for the Food. I love every Alton Brown recipe I ever made, and I adore his show on the Food Network. I still need to get his second volume "I'm Just Here for More Food". Try the "No Backyard Babyback Ribs" or "Alabama Alchemy" recipe for collards to start.
4. The Ball Complete Book to Home Preserving - I usually buy a Ball Blue Book every year it changes - it's like a magazine for me, but this book is a great reference with many unique recipes.
5. Joy of Cooking. I have many versions of this book in my collection, but the one I keep in my kitchen is the one I got for my bridal shower. If you want to cook anything, you can find a recipe for it in this cookbook. I love that they used the term "cockaigne" - in medieval times meant a "mythical land of peace and plenty" to indicate their favorites recipes.
So, what are your Cockaigne cookbooks?


TastyMama said...

I love cookbooks also. My mom has a cookbook that is over 38 years old. I am in the process of restoring it. It is also a BH&G. Check it out at

TennZen said...

I love Alton Brown, too. One time he used a DRILL as a mixing tool and I really thought that was cool. He did a show once where he made hot pickled carrots and I am still searching for that recipe.

Maggie said...

Two of my books for basics are The Joy of Cooking and The Martha Stewart Cookbook (w/the blue cover). Unfortunately I mostly loved the Martha pre-dairy allergies for her pastry recipes with butter and now I can't use them (sob!) Two others I use often are The Whole Foods Market Cookbook and my grandmother's Sacred Heart Church cookbook. Grandma was prolific in her contributing and I get all my Slovak recipes from the two editions I have of it.

Cynthia said...

Alton Brown's pickled carrots can be found here: I saw that episode - I am going to have try it.

I have the Martha Stewart blue cookbook as well, Maggie. It's a good one! I have to say that I have never had much luck with butter in my pastry recipes. I much prefer Crisco, and maybe that will work for you, too. Check out the pie crust recipe I use, which I call "Old Reliable" in my posts on pies. It's the one I learned in 8th grade home ec.

Veronica said...

I love cookbooks and have been collecting them since I got married-my favorite would be any of the Barefoot Contessa books or either of the Silver Palate cookbooks.

Alex Harrison said...

For practicality, I love The Joy of Cooking.
However, for pure fun, I have loved Martha Stewart's Quick Cook (1983) since my mom added it to her shelf when I was 11. I stole it when I got married and now it's on my shelf. I've only made one recipe from it (Sour Cherry Clafouti), but I love reading it- the way she goes on and on about coming home after a busy workday to prepare a "Speedy" five-course meal for Andy...all served on platters collected from her many world travels...too much!
She's like the domestic virgin Mary, in a way (if I can say so without being totally blasphemous). Mary- ultimate mother, but perpetual virgin...Martha- ultimate homemaker, but toils for an empty house.

~~louise~~ said...

Oh my goodness! How could it have taken me so long to discover your blog.

I collect cookbooks also and have way to many. I'm not sure I would be able to pick out my favorites. They are all like my children. I am especially fond of vintage die-cut cookbooks and I'm trying to complete my years of American Cookery Magazine. Oh my I could go on and on but I want to visit more of your blog.

Thanks so much for sharing. I'm so glad I found your blog. It's a Keeper!