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What cookbooks did you all start out with? I'm curious. Have your meals changed over the years?

I still have the 1980 edition of "Betty Crocker's Cookbook, New and Revised Edition." My mother gave it to me when I left the nest and it is inscribed with, "Enjoy this book. It tells you everything you need to know and & I have one just like it so if you ever have a question about something, tell me the page number. June 19, 1982."

She's still waiting for that first call.

The irony is not lost on me that my brothers and I were never, ever given any culinary instruction of any sort. The one quarter I took a Home Ec course in junior high was the first time I'd touched anything beyond a toaster. I had a one-burner hot plate for the first year or so I was on my own and it sufficed just fine, because I didn't know how to use an oven.

Interestingly, this barely-used tome recently came in handy when my cousin sent out an S.O.S. on Facebook for a recipe for wings that she couldn't locate from an orange Betty Crocker cookbook. Yep. The same one. She couldn't thank me enough for passing the recipe along.

Have our meals changed? Boy, howdy.

I guess we weren't unlike many young couples who thought it the epitome of haute cuisine to open a can of cream of mushroom soup and start the Minute Rice casserole. When someone introduced me to their mother's lasagna recipe I refused to let them leave the house until they taught me how to make it and that was my signature dish for a while.

When we went to Okinawa we were introduced to scads of new dishes, some wonderful, some not so much, but talk about broadening your horizons.

Then the move to Southeast Texas and the joys of genuine barbecue and cajun foods. Brisket, pork ribs, gumbo, hot links... Mmmm! This was also probably the major turning point for me when I learned there were spices beyond salt and pepper. Thanks to internet mail order and the generosity of Mike, I still have access to the fabulous line of TexJoy barbecue seasoning, steak seasoning, Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, chili powder, cajun seasoning... (

We've actually really enjoyed the little Campbell's spiral bound cook booklets (Deliciously easy recipes, Fabulous one-dish recipes, No-time-to-cook recipes) and still use the Chili recipe a lot (made it last night) for the quick and easy dinners.

I got my favorite whipped garlic potato recipe from the KitchenAid instruction and recipe book.

We've enjoyed some of Buddy the Cake Boss' recipes from his website when we discovered he also was doing a cooking show.

Much like Phil mentioned, though, sometimes it's really tough to beat a chili dog with grated cheddar over the top.

And you thought your post was long!

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