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I haven't seen a thread on this, and I'm curious, so here goes: What was your first cookbook? Was it a gift? Do you still use it?

My first cookbook was the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook, published in 1965. :smile: I don't remember ever making anything from it. My daughter will probably get it eventually. It's a relic.

The first cookbook I remember using was my mother's edition of Fannie Farmer from 1965. I searched out my own copy and still use it.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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Good question!

My first ever cookbook was the Betty Crocker Cookbook (1990 edition) given to me by my mother at Christmas 1990. I was 20 years old and was just getting ready to move into my first apartment (out of the dorms).

I grew up using my mother's 60's edition of the same book and a lot of the recipes are the tastes I grew up with, I use it less and less frequently but there are a couple pages I alsways turn to.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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This is embarrassing, but in college while on a trip to New Orleans, the first cookbook I purchased was Emeril's "New New Orleans Cooking". I rarely use it-- I have memorized his recipe for making stock. Whenver I look at it, I recall the disastrous and the memorable over the top dinner parties my roommate and I threw. We also used "The White Dog Cafe Cookbook" a lot for our cocktail and dinner parties.

Like hjshorter, I also recall using first using my mother's Fannie Farmer to make popovers--or wait, was it the old Craig Kilborn's NYTimes cookbooks? I just remember flour on the butcher block next to one of those two books.

Edited by nerissa (log)
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My first cookbook was the collection of handouts (recipes, food descriptions and techniques) from the Lab Portion of the advanced cooking course - Food Prep 220 - at the Cornell Hotel School. I use it often but usually not for recipes (although there are some great ones; my favorites being their version of German Potato Pancakes and the marinade and technique for Cornell Barbecue Chicken).

I use it nowadays mostly for research - very indepth info on such varied subjects as potatoes (floaters and sinkers, varieties, etc.), cold food garnishes, cuts of meat, making roses with an Arrow Thermo tube, deboning a chicken and such. It's especially neat because it has my scrawlings (notes) along side (such as a drawing of the layers of a wheat kernel - endosperm, germ and bran from the inside out). If only I remembered 10% of this stuff I'd be dangerous.

Hmmm. Wonder if all this is copyrighted?

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."



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I had to look it up. In my yout' I had the anal habit of writing where and when I bought a book inside the front cover. So the runner up is...

French Provincial Cooking, Elizabeth David, bought October 1977.

And your winner ladies and gentlemen...

The Pauper's Cookbook, Jocasta Innes, bought August 1977.

These are working cookbooks. Their condition is now on the vile side of disgusting.

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My first cookbook was the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook, published in 1965.

This was my first cookbook too. It was a Christmas gift from my parents when I was 12. I spent hours reading over recipes and deciding what to make. Breakfast for my younger sister and brothers was always from that book. I loved the "Surpise" muffins with the jelly hidden in the center. My mother still swears by the meatloaf recipe they had. I baked and cooked and guarded the book against theft from family members who wanted to steal my secrets. No one was allowed to use the book without my permission!

I finally passed this beloved, though worn, book on to my 12 year old niece, who has been taking cooking lessons in her home ec classes. Her younger sister and brother already have their favorite recipes marked for her to make. I did see a newer version of this book, but I really love the photos in the 1965 version. The sketches of various young cooks and their comments on the recipes is still a part of my memories of browsing this book. It was well written, easy to use, fun and the dishes were actually very good.

Great thread! Thanks for the walk down memory lane.


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Oh, lord! the 17th printing of the tenth edition of The All New Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook, "completely revised by Wilma Lord Perkins" (apparently FF's niece), published in paperback by Bantam Books not much after June, 1968. "This low-priced Bantam Book contains the complete text of the original hard-cover edition. NOT ONE WORD HAS BEEN OMITTED." The crumbling pages have by now turned a rich caramel color. Do I still use it? Well, I still look at it for information. :rolleyes:

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My first cookbook was the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook, published in 1965. :smile:

Omigosh, this was mine as well (although my copy is a First Edition, copyright 1957 -- I'm a tad bit, er, older than you)!! I still have it, and don't think I could bear to part with it; the dated photos always take me back to childhood, as do many of the recipes, so representative of the food trends of the time.

I think I remember making Eggs in a Frame first, which I love even now, although I don't use balloon white bread these days. :smile: Then it was either the Velvet Crumb Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing or the Hot Fudge Pudding (still wicked good after all these years!). Stayed away from the Fruit Gelatin, however; couldn't stand the stuff even as a child.

Thanks for evoking such great memories . . .

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My first cookbook was the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook, published in 1965.

Me too. I never cooked much out of it as baking was then, as it is now, my favorite thing.

I STILL make the sugar cookies in that book. Big, thick, soft, a hint of lemon. They're great, despite the fact that they are all shortening.


"I'm bringing pastry back"


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My first cookbook was the Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook, published in 1965.  :smile:

Same here, and I think I got the Farm Journal "Let's Start to Cook" book at about the same time. Diana's first cookbook was Michael Field's Cooking School. I gave it to her for Christmas a little over a year ago. She felt that the Betty Crocker one was "inadequate."

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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i got it as a gift when i was 14 from the office lady at the first restaurant i worked at. i was scared to death that my friends were going to see me carrying it home that night! i immediately threw it in my closet and never saw it again... kids! :wacko:

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I was given a copy of "The Joy" as a wedding shower present. It was quickly displaced by the original Julias, but it still sits proud on the cookbook shelves, should I need a basic recipe for biscuits, pancakes, etc. And the Country Captain Chicken was my mother's first foray into "Indian Cuisine :biggrin: " Heck, it tastes good.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel


A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites


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Mario Batali's first book "Simple Italian Food", and of course I still use it. I actually use it more now than when I first got it due to the fact that in my "college/less experienced" days many of the recipes were not that "simple" (homemade pasta) or the ingredients not very familiar (what the hell is a Zampone) . Believe it or not I picked up the book because I was looking for a Lasagna Bolognese recipe !!! I just could not stop reading it (and had no idea who the author was) so I bought it even though there was no Lasagna Bolognese recipe in it .


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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My first was something similar to the Betty Crocker for Boys and Girls. I recall the illustrations were bears in toques doing the cooking. The only thing I remember making from it, although I read it numerous times, was pnut butter and honey (EEEEWWWW) sandwiches for my Dad's lunch, which he gallently ate - or at least I didn't know it if he didn't.(and I wouldn't blame him if he didn't, either.)I must have been 7 or 8.

Stop Family Violence

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The first cookbook I ever owned was Craig Claiborne's Kitchen Primer, given to me as a birthday present (mumblemumble) years ago. I still have it, but haven't cracked it open in years. Of course, I rarely cracked it open back when I received it, either, for the simple reason that I didn't know what food was supposed to taste like. Such was my inheritance from the family kitchen.

Finding out what food was supposed to taste like took a few years training, going to restaurants instead of take-out the way I had when I was single. When I finally changed jobs (and the fellow I'd been dining with retired), we both thought my dining- and life-partner would start cooking, but then we discovered I had a better idea of how to put a dinner together. I've been "stuck" in the kitchen ever since, more happily than not.

Looking through Claiborne's book again, I can see why it made a good gift for a novice chef; it looks to be full of interesting ideas and basic guidelines. Since we're both retired now and planning on moving to live closer to his grandchildren, maybe I'll refer to it more, so I can teach those kids something I didn't learn when I was young: how to cook, and how to eat.

Well, it's a thought.

Addendum: Along with eating at restaurants as a learning tool, those early years with my partner were spent watching cooking programs, first on PBS and later on Food TV and other cable shows. Rosengarten was an early influence, Jeff Smith (does anyone dare mention his name any more?) even earlier. They were great for seeing how things were done, even if they weren't interactive and I've had to learn how to smell and taste on my own. I also found, during the transitition period, that cookbooks could make for interesting reading; good ones are filled with social history as well as recipes. Given my own family's lack of interest in the subject, maybe I'm lucky I got to be such a late bloomer!

Edited by SWoodyWhite (log)

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

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My first cookbook was a the blessed M.Patten's 101 useful recipes which was published in 1962. Most of the things in there are horribly dated, but it is unbeatable for some of the old english recipes.

I recently made a Steak & kidney pudding using her recipe and it was fantastic.

I think her contribution to food in the UK cannot be questioned and recently, when I caught her on a morning TV show cookery segment, she still displayed incredible passion for food.


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Scottish Chef - what's Creme Freneuse?

It's a cream soup. It's oulined in the Répertiore as follows;

Freneuse. - Turnip and potato pureé. Cream and butter.

I like to add a 1/6th of a bar of creamed coconut whilst softening the potato and turnip in butter and finish the soup with some creme fraiche and a dash of malibu.

Creme Freneuse is glorious :smile:

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Scottish Chef - thanks. Sounds delish - might be a way of getting Himself to eat turnips all unknowing. :biggrin:

Simon - I agree about Margueritte (sp?) Patten. My first cookery book was one of hers and I was given it as a prize at school, aged maybe 16. It was the first cookery book in our home since Elizabeth Craig and I found it fascinating. Pored over the recipes for hours.

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My first was "...Joy" too. After a 20 year relationship dissolved I could only grill. I hadn't the slightest idea how to make gravy so, out of necessity, I bought a copy of "...Joy". Now, 500 cookbooks later I find I use them very rarely. The one's I DO use are dedicated to a particular vegetable, fruit, meat or technique. I even have one that's devoted to all things banana! I have more fun "making things up" than blindly following recipes. For me, there's no substitute for understanding WHY things work as they do. At least I can figure out why that dish flopped! :huh: Sadly, I still have flops. I just don't agonize over it any more.


Bob Bowen

aka Huevos del Toro

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I grew up in a house full of cookbooks and I had access to all of them. At some point I do remember making something from a hokey cookbook with pictures of kids in horizontally striped shirts with their hands in flour or some such but I couldn't say what it was. As a girl scout (short-lived) I had to cook a full meal--from soup to nuts--to earn one of my badges but I couldn't say how I did that either. I think off the top of my head, probably from watching mom. But the first cookbook I really remember using was in high school. I'm not sure I should share this information--but well, okay . . . here goes. For prom one year each of the women in the group of dates who were going to dinner together before the prom decided we should COOK our dinner and have a formal sit down. I cooked from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. I even remembered what I made--it was the chilled cantaloupe and peach soup. I don't remember what else was served--hell, it was prom night.

Ellen Shapiro


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