I have been collecting cookbooks for many years and I love to read them. My very first cookbook was Betty Crocker’s New and Revised Edition – a wedding gift I received in 1974. It was a good gift for me because when I got married, I did NOT know how to cook! This particular book is now worn and tattered, the pages food-stained and yellowed. I still prepare delicious meals today that I learned how to make from Betty Crocker’s book.
I love to go second-hand shopping and have found many of my favorite cookbooks at used book stores and even at Goodwill. I especially like cookbooks that are put together by organizations, clubs and schools. One of my favorites is a book of recipes compiled by an elementary school booster club. The recipes are always family favorites that have been made with love for generations.
Another favorite is a book of recipes collected by the Potters’ Guild of Baltimore, given to me by my mother. In this book, I discovered many seafood recipes that, as I make them, take me back to my childhood days growing up in Maryland where seafood is plentiful.
When I was doing a story about the famous Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, I had the opportunity to speak with Dorothy Zehnder, the matriarch and heart of the place that is renowned for its fried chicken dinners. Dorothy gave me a copy of what was at the time her latest cookbook: From My Kitchen to Yours. The book is filled with timeless recipes and memories from Dorothy and her family. She personally signed it for me and wrote a message: “To my friend Cheryl, dinner is better when we eat together.”
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it’s time to think about how to celebrate the occasion with your sweetheart. And in my opinion, there is no better way than to prepare a romantic dinner for two. I have found many recipes in my collection that are perfect to make on Cupid’s Day. One of my favorites is Lobster Newberg, made from a recipe I found in another one of my beloved cookbooks, American Classics – which I purchased at a second-hand store in Fenton. It is not only filled with classic recipes, it also has a story to go along with each dish and beautiful illustrations. According to Christopher Kimball, editor and founder, American Classics helps you “get reacquainted with old favorites that you can fall in love with all over again.”
Of course, you can’t celebrate Valentine’s Day without chocolate! I love to make the German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting from the recipe in Betty Crocker’s cookbook (on page 233).
Cooking a meal from your favorite recipes is just one way to express to your loved ones how much they mean to you. But there is another recipe I try to use each and every day and that is a Recipe for Life: One large smile, lots of hugs, a jar of kisses, a big spoonful of kindness – topped with more hugs. This is probably the best recipe of all!