New cookbooks are great. People everywhere are being innovative with their cooking now in 2017. There are tons of books for every dietary preference or need, and Pinterest is plastered with gorgeous, glossy looking photos of beautiful dishes. It’s absolutely amazing to see.
But for me, vintage cookbooks is where it’s at. They’re the bees knees.
I’ve always loved vintage cookbooks. The faded covers, the yellowed dog-eared pages, and the smell of them when you crack one open after it’s sat on a shelf or in a box for years… that’s the magic. You just know that there is a long history packed between the covers. Vintage cookbooks to me are a treasure trove of advice and information. You can tell by the beautifully scrawled cursive notes in the margins that someone has made the meal better. They have suggested alternatives for ingredients that wasn’t easily found in the place they lived. Sometimes you’ll find notes to loved ones telling them that THIS is the recipe they used and that was loved by all.
You could say that my love of vintage cookbooks started when I was a little girl. I remember being in the kitchen with my mom while she would be cooking dinner, or making edible Christmas gifts. While mom was toiling away, I’d be completely engrossed in her tattered red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It was splattered with oil, stained with batter, ripped from overuse, and even held together with tape. That cookbook was the favorite in our home, always providing us with the most reliable, easily adaptable recipes that my family loved. The most requested recipe from that book was banana bread, and with a few of my own minor tweaks, I still use that recipe today. My own copy of the beloved BHG cookbook was used so much that it fell apart!
I remember pouring over my mom’s cookbooks like most people would read novels. Cookbooks are still read as intently as someone would study their textbook for an exam in my house. Now that I have my own home, I collect vintage cookbooks that I find in charity shops, from ebay, and I even find some amazing ones in the Kindle store for free. I constantly swap recipes with my mom. I collect my grandma’s recipes that she’s kept for several decades, and even keep recipes from my grandma’s friends tucked away in a special folder on my computer.
Why you need vintage cookbooks in your kitchen
I know you’re probably thinking “You’re crazy, nobody needs those dusty old things!”, but honestly, I believe you should have a few in your kitchen. The ingredients are simple, filling, and usually quite delicious on their own. Vintage cookbooks have helped me stay frugal in my meal planning, simply because they use cheap, wholesome ingredients.
I find inspiration from old cookbooks because in the age of everything being new and shiny, sometimes you just need to go back to basics and alter recipes from there. I may be technically a millennial, but I don’t like the truffle oil fad, or avocado adorning absolutely everything. I’m not into finding 1001 uses for ramen noodles, creating fusion recipes, or drinking smoothies for 3 meals a day. Give me a simple meal of meat, potatoes, and veg, and I’m a happy girl. The nights I’m struggling to come up with yet another meal for my family, my vintage cookbooks have proven time and time again that just because it’s an old recipe, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad one!
Another reason you need vintage cookbooks: Most of them actually tell you WHY you’re using a certain ingredient, or what the purpose of that ingredient is. It’s an old school way of teaching people the who’s, what’s, why’s, and how’s of feeding your family. My mom never measured anything using traditional measuring cups and spoons, but taught me everything I needed to know in an informal, but highly informative way using her hands as a guide.
The current favorite
The cookbook I’ve been using the most lately has been “1000 recipe cook book; recipes for all occasions” edited by Isabelle Barrett and Jane Harrop. It’s a fantastic book that I picked up for 50 pence at a charity shop here in town. The night I picked it up, I sat and read it from cover to cover. It’s so interesting! If you love vintage cookbooks as much as I do, I highly suggest you add this one to your collection. Happy reading!