My “Other Bible”

 

 Broken spine, frayed dividers, pages falling out and stained with ingredients - that's one well-loved cookbook!


Broken spine, frayed dividers, pages falling out and stained with ingredients – that’s one well-loved cookbook!

Ah, the 1950 Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book.  This book is precious to me.  As an avid cook and foodie, I have dozens of cookbooks, which I have read cover to cover (I know, weird!).  However, this is my only cookbook I would save in a fire, so great is its sentimental value to me.  If you had asked me “why?” last week, I would have answered, “because I spent countless contented hours poring over its pages when I was a child”.  But today I would also have to add, “because this book had a profound impact on my life!”

Earlier this week I decided to make some room on my shelves for newly purchased cookbooks  – I just can’t stop myself , nor do I want to!  As I was pulling a few unused and unloved volumes from my collection, my hand landed on this beloved tome.  So absorbed in all things Ina Garten, Lidia Bastianich, Martha Stewart and Cooks Illustrated, I hadn’t cracked its cover in ages.  I spent the next few evenings rereading my beloved 1950 Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book, and I was rewarded with both a flood of happy memories and a few new revelations!

My mother received her Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book as a new bride in 1950, and some 25 years later as a young child I read and reread it, and learned to cook using these simple recipes.  This was more than just a cookbook – it was a “lifestyle” book.  On its pages are depicted idyllic scenes of family and community life, all enriched by healthful, well-prepared food, elegantly but simply presented.  This was a fantasy world into which I retreated as a child, and thus began a lifelong love of homemaking and hostessing, and a desire to be the very best I could be at it – not for the sake of that achievement, but for the sake of blessing the people I love.

It had been such a long time since I perused this book that I was surprised to realize how much its philosophy of purposefully gracious homemaking and hostessing had influenced me.  Probably also explains my obsession with aprons.  Love them, and wear them almost every day!  : )  And rereading this work brought back so many happy memories of countless cakes, cookies and lemon merengue pies made and shared with family and friends.  The torn pages covered with food splatters are testament to how often this precious resource was put to use!  It was also fascinating to see where American cookery and the food industry was in 1950.

I'm making these brownies for friends tonite, and it's pretty obvious from the condition of these pages that this recipe has been made a few times before!

I’m making these brownies for friends tonite, and it’s pretty obvious from the condition of these pages that this recipe has been made a few times before!

I have resolved in the next few months to cook my way through this book to see if I can rediscover some old recipes that should still be in my rotation, and to challenge my modern butter-soaked, overstimulated palate to appreciate simple food economically prepared.  Toward that end, today I ordered a modern reprint of this 1950 edition.  My original copy is too fragile, and I want to be able to write my usual “tasting notes” in the margins.   I’ll be posting my discoveries and sharing the recipes I think you may want to try.  Blessings….

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Comments

  • The Belmont Rooster  On October 14, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    My mom has that same cookbook! Personally, I probably have over 200 (LONG STORY).

    Like

  • A. J. Ryan  On August 30, 2014 at 3:48 AM

    I have my Mom’s BCPCB circa 1950 and the pages look the same as these…brown spotted from vanilla drips, butter splatting out of the mixer. It is my most prized cookbook. The tips to being a good housewife in the back are so archaic and I love reading them.

    Like

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