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I have just mailed off a little Vegetarian cookbook to my newly-wed ( one week ?) second daughter. True Californian that she is, she's becoming Vegetarian.

When I married in England, the cookbook I was given was, of course, Mrs Beeton's Cookery and Household Management.

In that 1344 page volume, which I still use, you get useful information about the duties of a Lady's Maid, the Butler, considered the "Master of the House" ( I thought that was the husband)..the Footman, the Parlourmaid and the Housemaid (poor thing).. and though my European mum actually grew up with this sort of staff, she NEVER spoke of it to us, in the simple life she chose in another country.

So reading this was new to me, and not particularly useful for the wife of a Grad student in America.

My American friends assured me that I'd only need one cookbook..."The Joy of Cooking" and I've used that a lot too. Then I fell in love with Julia Child's cooking revolution...

And life has funny twists.

In England my husband was a know, one of those bewigged guys. Then he came to America and changed careers.

In his corporate life my husband was involved with a lot of the Betty Crocker cookbooks.

Later he was responsible for all the Sunset Cookbooks, and had indirect contact with Southern Living becasue Sunset and Southern Living ended up in the same ownership.

So we have a LOT of cookbooks. Unfortunately I can NEVER follow a recipe..I'm a bit-of-this and bit-of-that sort of cook.

Wow...TMI. I send a vegetarian cookbook, and go back 45 years and ramble....

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

The Betty Crocker loose-leaf here, and I still use it for basics. My pancake recipe is straight from there, and I make better pancakes than any restaurant I've ever tried.

I too fell in love with Julia through the French Chef TV series. I have both volumes of the French Chef, but I'm really fond of her two "and Company" cookbooks which were companions to a later series. I've probably made half the recipes in those.

I picked up the New York Times Cookbook for 25 cents at a yard sale and use it a lot. Great chocolate souffle and sour cream fudge cake recipes.

I've grown fond of the Barefoot Contessa. I don't have any of her cookbooks, but I've picked up a lot of her recipes from the website. Some great vegetable sides.

One of the things I love about retirement is having the time to try new recipes, which come from all over the place. Still on my to do list is getting more involved in Thai cooking. I love to eat it.

Rule Your Retirement Home Fool

...who says you just can't beat a good cucumber sandwich on the deck on a sunny summer afternoon
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Unfortunately, we couldn't afford one. I think my wife had some recipes from her grandmother, but they weren't of much use to us for the first few years.

We got married while still in college, and I distinctly remember buying a pound of hamburger, 20 pounds of potatoes, a few spices and veggies, and using them all up proportionately.

Those were the good ole days. But yes, the meals have changed over the years.

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The Joy of Cooking. Now there are videos on line that show you how to do it - you can pause a rewind. It doesn't get any better then that, I just need to find time to cook more!
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Hey Phil,
How come we didn't have you cook for us while you were lounging on the deck?

I bet you are formidable.

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


My DM gave me "The Modern Family Cook Book" by Meta Given copyrighted
in 1942 but this was the 16th printing in 1972 for Christmas the
year I went out on my own.

I didn't really use it for recipes - but for "how-to"s and what
temperatures and how longs and such it helped. I also had a box of
"family" recipes.

When I started out I used a fair amount of hamburger helper meals,
spaghetti, frozen dinners, baked and fried fish, canned vegetables,
tins of tuna, canned soups, chicken a la king (on toast if I had
company). Green beans were the main veggy.
Baking was different - baking cookies, pies, cakes, tortes and such
were things I tended to do from different family recipes and
some from the book.

Now I rarely use a recipe all the way through - but may start from
a recipe. I tend to enjoy noodle or rice-based dishes. Fresh or
frozen vegetables are routine - although I will use a small can
of peas - rinsed - for things made with pasta and tuna or sausage or
chicken. I still use tins of tuna frequently - love it and likely
always will.

Veggies are more varied. DW does not like lima beans - and I love
em - so I fix them when she is out. DW does squash very well -
her mother used to as well. She doesn't cook much anymore - back
problems plus generally low stamina.

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Betty Crocker was the book of choice when I cut the apron strings and moved out on my own. I probably didn't actually look at it until after I was married--and, of course, DW had the same cookbook.

We also have 10 years of Southern Living cookbooks, which is probably our go-to set of books.

But as for recipes, you can go to our local Junior League's cookbook Lagniappe. We don't follow (to my knowledge) any recipe in it. It does hold 60+ loose recipes. Those are the golden don't-lose-these recipes.

The spaghetti sauce recipe from DW's Italian grandmother; and other classics.

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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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Please pass on your whipped garlic potato recipe. Thanks a bunch!
Big Momma
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Obviously designed for the stand mixer:

5 large potatoes (about 2.5 pounds) peeled, quartered and boiled.

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Warm mixer bowl and flat beater with hot water, dry. (I never bother with this step.) Place hot potatoes in bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Gradually turn to Speed 2 and mix about 1 minute or until smooth.

Add all remaining ingredients. Turn to Speed 4 and beat about 30 seconds, or until milk is absorbed. Gradually turn to Speed 6 and beat about 1 minute, or until fluffy. Stop and scrape the bowl. Exchange flat beater for wire whip. Turn to Speed 10 and whip 2 to 3 minutes.

Yield: 9 servings (3/4 cup per serving)
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Prof. 9
Thanks a bunch! Merci. Danke. Xie Xie, Muchas gracias. Grazie. Tak Tak.
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5 large potatoes (about 2.5 pounds) peeled, quartered and boiled.

If I happen to be in charge of mashed taters, I just might add some onions to the process. The kids don't like the onions, but oh well. Cook the onions with the potatoes.

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If I happen to be in charge of mashed taters, I just might add some onions to the process.

I have taken to using celery root, about 1 part to 2 parts potato. Yum!

Rule Your Retirement Home Fool
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Ah, cookbooks I have known....

My mother detested cooking, and I am forever grateful to my maternal grandmother and to my high school cooking class teacher for teaching me how to read recipes, and giving me the idea that if I could follow a recipe I could cook just about anything.

I started out with The Joy of Cooking and the Better Homes and Gardens (red plaid ring binder) cookbooks as wedding presents. If I needed to know how to do something, like cut up a chicken, or how long to bake a potato, one or the other usually gave me an answer.

Although at one time I had tons of cookbooks, sadly I never got to the Julia Child level of cooking. I was more on the Peg Bracken "I hate to cook book" level. (Throw together three or four ingredients, call it good.) Oh and I used to have several "Cooking for Two" books, and Adele Davis, and several of the Moosewood-type cookbooks, all of which had some good things in them, that I used especially during my bread baking, sprout growing, and yogurt making phase of life, which seems like a hundred years ago....

When DH was alive I did a lot more cooking than I do these days, and had him convinced I was a brilliant cook. But then he was a meat-and-potatoes guy whose mother was also a terrible cook, so when I came up with stuff like lasagna or quiche he thought I was a domestic goddess. Heh. I was always best at things like chocolate chip cookies, really, but since that was his favorite thing on the planet, we were good.

Cooking for one, and gluten free, is not that much fun. These days I do a lot of stir fry, or salads, or basic things with salmon, or things that take no time at all in the microwave. Ho hum.

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Ah, cookbooks I have known....

After reading all the great posts in this thread, I thought I'd chime in too!

My mother was not a great cook -- she tried but some of the simpliest things seemed to be impossible for her. For example, she just could not/didn't know how to make a good meat gravy. She'd have a roast and LOADS of drippings but instead would open a can of Franco-American beef gravy (or something similar). (I learned how to make gravy from spit from my now ex-MIL.)

Since I loved to eat, early on I wanted to learn how to cook. Mom did buy me a child's recipe book - can't remember the name. It had loads of simple recipes -- like bacon wrapped franks! Started me on my cooking adventures, for sure.

When I got married, I didn't have any real recipe books (other than a huge LIFE book that my Mom gave me) but I also saved all the books that came with the appliances. I remember the blender, as well as the electric frypan and Farberware rotisierre, coming with some great recipes. And I started to collect booklets that you could order - like for chicken recipes, etc.

I love to cook and have no qualms about "experimenting".

When I bought my coop, a friend of mine from law school gave me Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. I think it's similar to Joy of Cooking as it goes from the simple to the sublime. 30 years later, I still refer to it fairly often.

I also still occasionally clip recipes or search on-line.

I mostly cook just for myself -- but hey, who's more important!!

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