Monday, March 16, 2009

The Joy of Cooking

When I was younger (much younger than today) I loved watching cooking shows. Of course at that time there was no Food Network, so I had to get my Chef Fix where I could. The Galloping Gourmet started my life long love of Australia and Australian accents. I would spend an hour watching Graham Kerr collect the ingredients for the meal he was preparing, write down each one (complete with measurements) and then watch with awe and wonder as he assembled the said meal before my very eyes. Not knowing a thing about television production, it never occurred to me that the dinner he prepared in 37 minutes (commercials, you know) probably took him hours in real time. Being a novice cook (Mac lost 20 pounds the first six months of our marriage), I was nervously anxious to try new recipes and sort of spring them on him giving him the fancy name of the dish that looked like the dogs dinner by the time I was finished with it. I faced each afternoon in the kitchen with dread.

I cried a lot in the kitchen. I couldn't figure out why my efforts never looked like the finished product I had just viewed on The Dinah Shore show, or The Galloping Gourmet. I had no cookbook to guide me and the best meal of the day was generally breakfast. I could (and still do) prepare an omelet like no body's business and could cook grits with nary a lump, but dinner other than spaghetti was beyond me. Mama did all the cooking, we did all the eating. She was an amazing cook that I would put up against any chef in the world. She could take shoe leather and turn it into Chateaubriand, or stretch a meal for 5ive to accommodate a crowd of eight with no loss of flavor. That was my goal, to cook as well as Mama...or nearly as well. I longed for the day that included a real dinner that didn't start with the words Hamburger Helper.

I was in the bookstore one day and came across a cookbook called The Joy of Cooking. It was rather pricey, but I figured, what the hey...I bought it and took it home. I curled up on the couch and began to read. And so began my love affair with cook books. I read all about how to cook meats, about moist heat and dry heat...how to cook potatoes and the difference in salts. I learned that fresh ground pepper was far superior to the powered pepper that may have been ground years earlier and about the spices that made our food taste more like ambrosia and less like cardboard. I learned about the different pastas and what pesto was all about. I learned the difference between a Standing Rib Roast and a Sirloin Tip. It didn't happen overnight, and it took more than one cookbook, but I learned to cook. Better yet, I learned to love to cook and try new things and exhibit not the first sign of fear in the doing of it. I read cookbooks like novels and my approach to each recipe is with ambition instead of consternation. I have three shelves in the pantry that are nothing but cookbooks . My Joy of Cooking is dogeared and the pages are loose and I have a brand new one sitting by it's side. But it's the old one that I always reach for, it's like a beloved and trusted friend.

72 comments:

Nessa said...

A lovely ode to The Loy of Cooking.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I love cookbooks, too. My old favorite was a Good Housekeeping. I lost it in a move some years back. Thankfully some of the recipes as well as the tips are ingrained in my brain, but I sure do miss it!

Tessa said...

I couldn't even boil an EGG when I first got married. My first attempt at making soup was a frothy affair because I mistook washing powder for flour (they had both been supplied by my mother-in-law in unmarked canisters) when I tried to thicken the dishwashy looking liquid!

Now, like you, I read cookbooks voraciously.

Pam said...

I love cookbooks and what a perfect thing to do on a rainy afternoon but browse through them. I know what you mean, I have my fav ones as well. Those "go to" books that are just very trustworthy.

Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts said...

I love cook books too! I just wish I liked cooking. LOL

Suldog said...

As a man who loves to cook, and who comes from a long line of great male cooks, Graham Kerr was a hero of my childhood and adolescence. His always taking a break for a slug of wine had something to do with it, of course :-) But, his shows were always entertaining and I enjoyed them immensely.

My own personal favorites, insofar as cookbooks are concerned, is the one my mother worked from, The Betty Crocker Cookbook, and the perennial favorite, Fanny Farmer. The Crocker is still the one I'll go to for dessert recipes, while I'll consult Farmer for meats, vegetables, and more hearty main courses.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Oh I am just the same. I own shelf loads of cookery books and never tire of acquiring new ones. It is a complete joy to me to get into my kitchen. My husband built me a state of the art kitchen in our house when we moved four years ago. I love him for that! I could talk about food and bore for Britain and often do for many hours!

But I hate sweet stuff and never ever cook puddings! I can't bear sugar or sweet and sour so my poor hubby's mate Paul makes him apple pie and scones!

Moannie said...

I love cooking and good food, but I no longer seek out new recipes...if I can't get a good dish on the table inside forty minutes tops, forget it. Obviously I don't count casseroles or large roasts, things that go in the oven and forget 'em, but JP has had enough of being my guinea pig and says 'do what you do best.' And he always washes up. how lucky am I?

Penny @ The Comforts of Home/Lavender Hill Studio said...

I love to cook too! And it is hard for me not to buy a cookbook when I go to Barnes and Noble! I have the Joy of Cooking (about 10 years old) and I have one that I
bought on Ebay dated 1953....the year I was born...
Hugs,
Penny

Cheffie-Mom said...

I love this post. As you know, one of my passions is cooking. My mom could barely bake a baked potato, so I started learning to cook early. I love cookbooks too, especially the older ones - which inspired the Grandma's Retro Recipe section of my website. Have a great week!

Country Cottage Chic said...

I have loads of cook books, but my favourite is one that my mum gave me as a teenager called "Flop Proof Baking" and every recipe works. The book is tatty, food splattered & even slightly puppy-chewed on the corner but it is still in regular use.

david mcmahon said...

Like Suldog, I enjoy cooking too, Sandi!

Expat mum said...

I wish I enjoyed cooking more, but I think it's having to come up with something every day that all three kids will eat and that's healthy too. I do however, find myself turning to The Joy whenever I can't figure out a recipe or don't know why something's gone wrong. It's the best.

Hairline Fracture said...

I had to learn to cook after I got married, too. My mom is a great cook and she had me make the salads! But we had no money and I figured, if I can read, I can cook. I still love to read cookbooks for fun.

Jeannie said...

I'm on my 3rd or 4th copy of the Joy. It's been very dependable. I don't actually use a lot of recipes now - I check a number of them then create my own version using what I have.

Maggie May said...

I enjoy Italian cookbooks. Not ones written in Italian! Italian recipes!

My Mum used to be able to throw all sorts of ingredients together & makes tasty meals out of practically nothing & didn't often use a cook book except for cakes!

SandyCarlson said...

OK. You inspire me. I am the world's worst cook. I gave up years ago when I fell out of love generally. But I will give it a try. I will find the "Joy" and give it a go.

Uncle Joe said...

Almost a year ago I was thinking about ordering the latest edition of The Joy of Cooking and found the latest edition at a garage sale for $1.
ONE DOLLAR!!!
it was a miracle I tell you!

JanaBanana said...

Hi there Sandi :) She sure is growing fast... too fast for us. Its bitter sweet really..
Its funny how we evolve when it comes to our early years of marriage and cooking to now.. I think I better get me some more cookbooks and actually read them. Im now questioning my own cookin!

((((((hugs)))))

Susan said...

I think I feel the same love for quilt books that you feel for cookbooks. There could never be too many!

Lib said...

Hi Sandi,
I remember these shows!lol
I too collect cookbooks and Love to cook.
Have a great wk.
Blessins',Lib

jay said...

Good heavens! The Galloping Gourmet!

The very first cookery book I ever bought was The Grammar of Cookery by Graham Kerr and I still have it! Dog eared? It's got more dog ears than Battersea Dog's Home! LOL!

CatHerder said...

I know SO many people who love their Joy of Cooking cookbook. Recently I was cleaning out the attic and found my moms recipes from the 50's thru the 70's. Not healthy in the least...but alot of interesting stuff!

Woman in a Window said...

Yes, but what happened when you had picky children born into the mix? What then? What thenahahahaha! (that's crying)

Anna said...

Sandi, we have something very in common - 'And so began my love affair with cook books.' - me too I am so in love with cook books that I have one on each floor I constantly readidng, and studying, plus one big shelf filled with variety of cooking/baking books. I never really followed recipe in my life, I look at the photo, check out the ingredients, basic steps and I prepare my own style lasagna on the end - that is my joy of cooking - never made notes, so I cannot ever repeat to be exactly the same. So for ten years [married] not much of baking happened. After my Matthew was born, I said I better start baking and develop some cookie or cake recipes that I can make him and they will be his favorite ones - its all started with 1000 Chocolate recipes - poor Matthew cannot enjoy my baking yet, but everytime I make something, my husband says: 'boy you are every my wife lol. Sandi thanks for sharing this delightful joy of cooking story. Birlliant. Anna :)

♥ bfs~"Mimi" ♥ said...

Growing up, Mother did the cooking, and we kids did the clean-up. So I was in your boat! The first chicken I tried to cook was horrid -- and I was sick anyway from handling it. Cut it up into unrecognizable pieces. My jello melted. That was our first 'meal'.

Would love to try your omelet!

Sally said...

What a great post, Sandi. :)

My specialty when I first married: Minute steak, Minute Rice, canned green beans. Like it or lump it!! My younger brother still likes to tell on me about those "minute meals". Bless his heart, and he married someone who to this day 35 years later, doesn't like to cook. hahaha

mihalis-halkida said...

Morning sandi, this beautiful color, Michalis

Jeff B said...

I have three copies of "The Joy of Cooking". The old stand by that I bought for myself, and two others that belonged to my two grandmothers. Those are really special. One is dated 1936 and the other 1946.

Mary Isabella and Kiley too! said...

I love your music. I too have that cookbook. I have worn mine out also. Have a great week ...m..

Jeni said...

I dearly love cookbooks! Have a collection that encompasses a full big shelf plus half of the shelf above it that my son-in-law built for me in the dining room a couple years ago and I have a pile of other books I rarely, if ever, look at any more stashed in the cellar way too! My biggest problem now is that though I love cookbooks, I don't have the same zest for actually cooking much of the time anymore. I attribute that to having to try to fix some kind of pasta almost daily that the kids will eat and much as I love pasta, there are times when I run out of ways to fix it too! (Well, ways to fix it that I feel like cooking maybe?) It's either find a new pasta recipe to experiment with and hope the kiddos will eat or fix a meal for the adults and a package of mac'n'cheese then for the kids. That seems to be their favorite fare. I used to do a good bit of baking -cakes, cookies, even bread and haven't had the slightest interest for sometime now in doing that either. Maybe it's just seasonal affective depression or some such thing like that. I hope the enjoyment I used to have with cooking makes a return soon though.

Mima said...

I was never any good at savoury, but really loved any puddings or baking, not much use when it comes to feeding people though! The one that we always seem to refer back to is Delia's How to Cook, I have never had a Joy of Cooking, sounds like I have been missing out!

Shrinky said...

You could have been writing about me with this post (except my ma could never cook to save her life). Cooking soothes me, it's where I can chop onions if I want a good cry, or where I can quietly sit day-dreaming, slowly stirring a risotto, perched over the stove on my high backed stool. Out of all my cookery books, it my battered old ancient tome (minus any pictures) that I turn to most often than not - it's good old "Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course" - no frills, no gimmicks, just sound down to earth, step-by-step idiot-proof instruction, that even I can't get wrong!

Trubes said...

I have a veritable library of cook books too Sandi. Cooking is my great passion in life apart from husband and family of course.

The first time I cooked the old classic...Spaghetti Bolognaise the recipe stated to put two cloves of garlic in it.
Being a novice I put two whole garlic onions in it, instead of the individual cloves...Oh dear..What a mistake!
My Dinner guest was my friend Barbie, who was in the early months of pregnancy, was sick for days after and has never touched garlic since.
We are still friends though!


Di.xx

windycorner said...

The Joy of Cooking is my mom's favorite, too. The pancake recipe is a family tradition for Saturday mornings that started many moons ago when that book was in much better shape.
As a newlywed I tried to make biscuits from scratch for my hubby. Instead of putting a teaspoon of baking powder I put in a tablespoon. The biscuits were hard as rock and even the birds wouldn't eat them when I crumbled the disaster on the birdfeeder.

Mockingbird Hill said...

Sme of the most loved books we have are the cook books from family members that have been apssed down through the years. While doing some sorting, we found the recipe box of a dear aunt that had "For My Hope Chest" written inside the lid. What a treasure!

Cassie

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Hi Sandi,
I too love cooking and have even mastered some Brazilian dishes since living here... but it's the cleaning up afterwards that I can't stand!!
Your post has made me very hungry so I'm off to have lunch! haha
Big Hug,
Donnie X

Akelamalu said...

I love cooking too. I have umpteen cookery books - I love reading them and occasionally I will try out a new recipe. The recipes I use most are ones passed on to me by friends or torn from magazines which I keep in transparent pockets in a ringbinder.

Merisi said...

Sandi,

I couldn't even make coffee when I married and my first steps in the kitchen were taken with the same cookbook! The very first Thanksgiving (still in Rome, not married yet) I cooked half a turkey (why? try to find a whole turkey in Rome! *hehe*) with the help of "The Joy of Cooking". I even made stuffing (the classic JOC one with celery), found a can of cranberry jelly (Oceanspray!), but no corn in any form in all of Rome. ;-)

Once I arrived in the USA, I got ahold of a paperback edition of Julia Child's Mastering French Cooking, what a live saver! I also watched all of her cooking shows on public TV (my first real Thanksgiving dinner was prepared with her recipes from Parade which came with the Washington Post and my husband had to cook the turkey in the Weber outdoors).

Jodie Adams said...

Dang you should make some commission from the sale of the book after that blog. I loved it! That's cool that you taught yourself to cook. Sadly my food never taste as good as my grandmas, but I try!

Sorry I haven't visited in a while Nick is TDY so I have more time I will catch up soon. HUGS!!!

Dr.John said...

We have the same cook book and have had it for years.

Butterfly Gardener said...

What's wrong with Hamburger Helper LOL?
Before I got married I cooked supper for 5-6 people every night, we got married and I think I burnt everything for 6 months! I even got a wedding gift that said "Dinner is served at the sound of the smoke alarm". It happened a few times, but thankfully its been a while. My mother and sister in laws have given me several cook books that I use now.

jazzi said...

My idea of cooking is to see what's in the fridge and think about what might go with it. The cooking bug just never really bit me. The terrible thing is one of my jobs was a school cook! Luckily (for the school kids), I can cook, I just don't really like to.
Thank goodness my husband likes to cook!

Hilary said...

What a wonderful post. The Joy of Cooking sits on my shelf too, along with a few other old reliables. It's the one I referenced the least though and typically, I no longer take the time to open any of my cookbooks. Somewhere along the way, I found my own style and haven't killed anyone yet. ;)

imbeingheldhostage said...

I collect cookbooks too! With every move, I weed out one or two to meet our weight limit but then am drawn to new ones as soon as we unpack (I KNOW you can relate to weight allowances).
What a fun post, congrats on your mention at David's place!

Carol said...

What a great post, Sandi! It brought back many happy memories in my OWN kitchen with that wonderful cooking bible! Congrats on POTD!!!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Thoroughly enjoyed this! Congrats on your mention in David's POTD!

Donna said...

My copy of Joy of Cooking is Also dog earred and stained.Hahaa...Graham Kerr!! Hadn't thought of him in years...I loved Julia Child..she was Such a fun Messy chef...Happy day sweetie!hughugs

Pat@Back Porch Musings said...

Beautiful cooking post, Sandi! I think I have Joy of Cooking in my stash of cookbooks. You should try to do a Foodie Friday, sometime. I think you would enjoy it.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Thanks for returning my visit!!! A very unexpected but very appreciated honor!!!! So lovely to meet you, and your beautiful blog! Congrats again!

Eddie Bluelights said...

Although I will never starve, I'm sorry to admit I'm not a natural success in the kitchen - but boy do I appreciate good cooking. I enjoyed your post and I congratulate you on your POTD. You have a very impressive following.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Thanks Sandi for your visit and I am deeply honoured to have you as a follower. If you are going to drop in I must improve my cooking mustn't I - now excuses now! I am a new comer to the blogging world and started in January this year.
David's POTD award system is really great so we can get to know each other and share our work.
Bset wishes, Eddie

cheshire wife said...

I wish that I had more time for cooking but until the cottage is finished it is DIY and gardening that take up my time. We do eat but nothing fancy.

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Hi Sandi,
I'm back again to congratulate you on Post Of The Day over at David's! Highly deserved dear friend!
Big Hugs!
Donnie X

granny grimble said...

I learned to cook 'at my mother's knee' and she could, and often did, make a tasty and filling meal out of next to nothing. Times were hard when I was small.
I love cook books and bought a penguin Cookery book by Bee Nilson when I got married 58 years ago. I still have it. The pages are brown and crumbling and repaired with cellotape. I loved it so much thatI bought a replacement in 1975. That too is now browning round the edges, but I still prefer the original! I have lots more glossy and modern books but treasure my Bee Nilson.
Any one got a recipe for a plain madeira type cake that it suitable for a diabetic to feast on?

joan said...

Hi Sandi,

Good post! I love cookbooks and I really am not much of a cook. LOL There is just something about them. Hey congrats on making it in David's post of the day.

Jeanne said...

I remember the Galloping Gourmet. Boy those were primative days for cooking shows compared to what we have now!

Vee said...

He lost 20 pounds? Dear heavens!

(Am often told that I am a good cook, but I do not enjoy it and I do not enjoy reading cookbooks. Now blogs that share recipes...oh no! ChocolateChic is absolutely killing me. And I do have your mama's angel biscuit recipe as a direct result of not being able to read about them and just walk off.)

I do remember Graham Kerr fondly. I was just a child. Zipping on outta here...

loong said...

a lovely ode to the loy of cooking ,have a good time .

RiverPoet said...

I bought my son the 40th anniversary edition of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". He did quite a bit of reading and ended up making us some fabulous crepes. That is what he makes for my Mother's Day breakfast every year now. He's fantastic!

I learned to cook from my mother - a great Southern cook - but I can't deal with all the fat and sodium now. I do alright but I never learned to love cooking. I love too many other things!!! Would you like to come and cook for me? :-)

Peace - D

Lee said...

Those are lovely memories, Sandi. My copy of the Joy of Cooking is still my major resource if I need to know how to do something. And yes, the pages are coming out in mine too. :-)

Hugs!
Lee

Denise said...

Thanks for stopping by and the sweet words for Mom..... It has been a long two weeks and still having a bit of trouble with Mom..... She is still seeing people..... I am so thankful for all you gals here in the blog world that know how to pray....... I am going to try and get out and about and do some reading that I have missed.....

Pouty Lips said...

Congrats on POTD. Maybe this is why after all of these years I still can't cook - I need a copy of this book.

Debbie said...

I have put myself on a no more cookbooks diet! I love them. Aren't they great reading?

Louise said...

Unlike your upbringing, my mother was NOT a cook. When I left home, I had no idea what a clove of garlic was. But I fell in love with cookbooks, too, and I love it now, too. I love that you read cookbooks like novels.

This is a fantastic post!

Veggie Mom said...

Some day I'll have to post about the Joy and Frustrations of trying to get each dish in a meal to come out to the table at the same time...funny stuff, that!

Lover of Life said...

I have oodles of cookbooks, too. It'ss my creative outlet. My first was the 1970 version of Betty Crocker. I was amazed to find it on Amazon.com for $60!!! My current fav is Ina Garten's new cookbook Back to Basics, but I never could get into Joy of Cooking. It was a gift from my mother-in-law, but I guess because it didn't have color photos, I just couldn't envision what it might look like - a biggie for me.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I love cook books too Sandi and have quite a collection. Like you though I have my favourites that I reach for first. Have spent many a happy hour just reading through them and then more happy hours trying new recipes! A great pastime! A x

Jules~ said...

Gasp...I have a print of that cook book.
For a few years a girlfriend of mine would get me a subscription to Cooking Light for my birthday. That really helped me out tons in the kitchen.
I go up and down with my desire to cook. But baking is always my first joy. I am so addicted to the sweet carbs.

Gill - That British Woman said...

I was lucky and was taught to cook at an early age. One book I really love is The Fannie Farmer Cookbook........

Gill in Canada

tardevil said...

Thanks for coming by my blog & entering my giveaway. I haven't blogged much lately. I need to do a better job of visiting. I might need to invest in that Joy of Cooking. I haven't found my "joy" yet, but I do have quite a collection of cookbooks that I like to read! :O)

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