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Im curious to know what other eGulleters covet when it comes the all mighty cookbook. It can be a recent aquisition of Bras' "Essential Cuisine" for some ungodly amount on Amazon (last I checked there were a couple of them for upwards of $600!). Or the collection of el Bulli. Or maybe the weathered papers of a great-great-great-great grandmother's recipes.

For me, its a First Edition of "The Physiology of Taste" by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. I picked it up at an estate auction a while ago for $900. It's my most prized book. I also have a more recent English version I found at a local Sonoma bookstore for $25. It is one of my all time favorite books.

What about you?

-Chef Johnny

Edited by ChefJohnny (log)

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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Just to clarify: you don't mean "favorite book to use to cook." You mean "prized object." Yes?

Yes. Most prized object. If you wish to add your "favorite book to use" that would great as well. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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most prized possession: the cookbook my great-grandmother copied out for my grandmother for a christmas present

favorite book to use: a deplorably decrepit copy of a Fannie Farmer Cooking School Cookbook that is missing the index past most of the "s's" and most of the forepiece. course i bought another copy and had it bound so that i can refer to it.

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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My sentimental favorite: Grandma Baich's cookbook she brought with her from Serbia to this Country in the early 1900's.

I can't read it since it's written in Serbo-Croatian, (in Cyrillic Script yet), but neither could Grandma, who was funtionally illiterate in both Serb and English. She did use the book though, utilizing her own system of marks to identify recipes and indicate measurements. (I've seen Mexican commercial kitchen workers who also use their own marking systems with great success)

My personal favorites are the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook, that I learned to bake from, and Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home because .... well, because it's Julia and Jacques!

SB :wub:

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My mother's recipe notebooks.

The first one, a larger notebook, started in the late 40's when she was learning to cook as a teenager which she kept adding to until the early 60's.

Then there is the set of 6 each two inches thick. The first one filled with generations of family favorites and the other 5 are filled of recipes culled from other sources.

They are part of what I would grab if a fire were to break out.

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My grandma's recipe box. It's filled with hand typed cards with notes on how she changed each recipe over the years, who she served it to, what she served it with, who liked it and who didn't, and more. Reading each card not only evokes many a fond childhood memory but also acts like a family ledger of sorts. There is a wealth of history in here.

gallery_9138_54_7508.jpg

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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My grandma's recipe box. It's filled with hand typed cards with notes on how she changed each recipe over the years, who she served it to, what she served it with, who liked it and who didn't, and more. Reading each card not only evokes many a fond childhood memory but also acts like a family ledger of sorts. There is a wealth of history in here.

gallery_9138_54_7508.jpg

That is very cool! Looks like quite the library, too.

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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I've got to say my Dad's recipe box which I found last year, while packing up my mom's apartment. The recipes have notes all over them indicating what worked and what adjustments he'd made.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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"The Millennium Coursing Cookbook", sold to raise funds for the (failed) fight against the ban on hare coursing in England... forward by Clarissa Dickson Wright...

What few of the recipes I've tried have been mostly awful, but the Guinness stew is great!

I love this one, from my friend Sir Mark Prescott (I know it's okay with him if I post it here)...

"Suggested for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week (unless better offer arrives!)

Take one tin of Heinz (and only Heinz) Baked Beans. Open with rusting can opener and eat cold out of the tin with teaspoon, accompnied by two pieces of dry 'burnt' toast (slightly stale bread is best and no butter).

Wash down with strong black sugarless tea and follow with a bowl of Kellogs Cornflakes (milk but no sugar) and an orange.

Should be cooked, eaten and washed up in 11-15 minutes (or you aren't busy enough!)"

The book is filled with humor, wonderful quotes about dogs and hares, and some charming illustrations. I pull it out every few months, just to read through it and reminisce about the wonderful days spent with those people and those dogs...

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I have to say I am envious of those above who have recipe notes/cards from generations before. I would gladly exchange every cook book I have along with a few fingers for such a gift.

I recall a conversation with my mother shortly before her death where she wished to index every recipe she had. I told her not to be silly and how she sounded a bit morbid. She smiled and said death is part of living son and you can trust there will come a time you wish you had these recipes.

She was right!

Robert R

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My mother never cooked!! So I have no recipes handed down from gerations of family. I am pea green with envy over those of you who do.

For me, its my copy of "The Silver Spoon" I just love the recipes, I make them over and over again.

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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I have a passion for Italy, and I recieved this book as a gift many years ago. It has become my most prized posession, "Guida gastronomica d'Italia" . It is like being in love with a beautiful Italian lady, that doesn't speak English, and I don't speak Italian. Over the years, we have learned to play beautiful music together. I believe the author, a man?, to be Felice Cunsolo.

Does anyone else own this book? Once, I thought I'd like to have an English copy, but not any more.

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Three that are very special (often repaired and now set aside in a special spot to keep them safe from man-handling) are:

My mother's Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, 3 ring binder style, that she got as a baby shower gift for my sister's birth in 1961. All her co-workers signed it on the inside cover. It was the first cookbook that I read as a young girl, cover to cover like a novel. Lots of color photos. She used the excess ring space to store her recipe cards. Many are handwritten from family friends and relatives. She died in 1983 and I only have to open it to get a good close feeling. It also showed her progress as a cook.

Second is my mother's Mein Kochbuch which she brought over on the boat from Austria. Printed in that impossible to read style of alphabet (name escapes me). There is a brightly drawn color page on poisonous and non-poisonous mushrooms with skull & cross bones next to the evil ones that fascinated me as young child.

Third is a reprint of an 1879 book called Housekeeping in Old Virginia that was the first installment in a cookbook club I joined when I was about 11. I vividly remember making the taffy recipe and directing my cousins and sister regarding the fine art of pulling taffy in the backyard. It actually got white & light as promised and was somewhat edible. I had no idea what I was doing.

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My mother made only one dish, but she meant to learn to cook, and she had a copy of The Settlement Cookbook, 25th ed., 1943, with recipes that she wrote out on little pieces of paper and stuck in the book. The only page that shows any sign of use is the one with the recipe for banana cake, her specialty.

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I have my mom's book of notes, recipes and ideas from her years as a pastry chef. That's my most coveted item, she's a large part of why I cook for a living now. She told me to always play with my food and never accept that there's already a "best" version of anything. The book was found while my sister and other relatives were sorting out the house and a few other family members tried to get their hands on it. My sister and my grandmother told them to f@#% off... that it was going to me.

My most used book? I don't think I have one of those. My mom had the theory that you make it their way once... then you fix what should be different from then on and I've kinda adopted it. Most of the baking and pastry books she owned (which I now have) are filled with notes in every available blank space where she altered things the way she thought they needed to be. When I'd ask her for a recipe, she'd usually give me a generic one that I already knew/could find myself. I'd say "I want the one you make". She'd say "create the one you make". It was really irritating sometimes. Of course I have all those recipes now but I try my best to not use them... I get it now.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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A three ring binder of family recipes (copied by hand) that I was given by my little sister for christmas. She was probably 15 or so at the time and we were just beginning to move beyond the sibling rivalry phase. I've since added pages but I know that when I'm in the mood for something to make me feel at home I can look for a page written in sloppy pen with words like "grate" spelled as "great" and "cream" as "creem" (my sister is dyslexic).

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Mine's a toss-up between the Salvador Dali cookbook and Ranhoffer's Epicurean. But I envy you your first edition Brillat-Savarin!

i have seen the Dali cookbook in my old chef's collection and it was great. i then worked at Lascerres in Paris where the book was shot. where on earth did you find it??

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  • 2 weeks later...

My most prized, in terms of dollars, would be first editions of:

Grimod's "Manuel d'Amphityrons" written in 1806

my entire collection of every Urbain Dubois book

Alexandre Dumas' Dictionary, two volumes, first editions...

signed Escoffier cook book

unsigned Escoffier notebook

original menu from Alexis Soyer in the mid 1800's

in terms of rarity:

very small scale published recipe book of rabbit dishes from the mid 1800's

unpublished manuscripts from late 1800's to early 1900's

in terms of enjoyment:

damn, just about every book I own... Cook books unfairly getted cast aside by a lot of book dealers because they want so much to limit food knowledge transmitted throughout the years to a catagory thought to be only consumed by housewives... they seem to forget that a good food book is also an amazing read on food, traditions and culture from a said period... Take for example the time in the mid 1800's when food was shifting massively from French service to Russian service... when the French royalty had their heads cut off and their cooks were sent to "lesser" households for employment.

Grimod

"Bacchus has drowned

more men then Neptune"

Thomas Fuller

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"The Millennium Coursing Cookbook", sold to raise funds for the (failed) fight against the ban on hare coursing in England...  forward by Clarissa Dickson Wright... 

What few of the recipes I've tried have been mostly awful, but the Guinness stew is great! 

I love this one, from my friend Sir Mark Prescott (I know it's okay with him if I post it here)...

"Suggested for lunch and dinner, 7 days a week (unless better offer arrives!)

Take one tin of Heinz (and only Heinz) Baked Beans.  Open with rusting can opener and eat cold out of the tin with teaspoon, accompnied by two pieces of dry 'burnt' toast (slightly stale bread is best and no butter).

Wash down with strong black sugarless tea and follow with a bowl of Kellogs Cornflakes (milk but no sugar) and an orange.

Should be cooked, eaten and washed up in 11-15 minutes (or you aren't busy enough!)"

The book is filled with humor, wonderful quotes about dogs and hares, and some charming illustrations.  I pull it out every few months, just to read through it and reminisce about the wonderful days spent with those people and those dogs...

That sounds like every lunch my ex-husband ever ate. Well, no, occasionally he'd go mad and have toasted cheese instead of plain toast. But other than that...

I need a copy of that cook book.

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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