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When I first saw this question, I knew immediately what my first cookbook was but didn’t remember the title. I was pretty sure it was somewhere in the house – my husband insists that I am Queen of the Pack Rats :raz: -- but I didn’t know where. Well, this afternoon there was water in our basement – a combination of the snow and today’s rain. So, we went down to dry things out. We then decided to spend a little time going through the mounds of stuff that any respectable homeowner accumulates in the basement -- throwing out some things, rearranging others, etc. And, suddenly, there it was – that first cookbook! :biggrin:

There was a very good reason I didn’t remember the title -- there is none. It’s a book produced by the Westinghouse Electric Corp.’s Appliance Division, copyright 1950, put together by Julia Kiene, Director of Westinghouse’s Home Economics Institute. It was given to me round about that time. The cover reads as follows: This book is dedicated to my granddaughters and grandsons and ALL Little Ladies, and Young Gentlemen, who would like to learn more about the Art of Fine Cooking. Though the front and back pages have become detached and are ragged around the edges, the rest of the book – which totals 32 pages – is intact and in pretty good condition. The pages are illustrated with black and bright pink line drawings, and many carry the stains of frequent use.

On Page 2, there is a section entitled Regulations: Raise your right hand and vow you will never, never start cooking until you have first washed your hands. Really wash then, too, with good warm water and plenty of soap. If your Mother has paper toweling, wipe your hands on the paper towel; if not, then use a clean hand towel. Don’t ever use the corner of your apron!

Don’t start cooking dressed up in your Sunday best finery. You girls can wear a simple, little cotton dress, and always an apron. You will look your very prettiest in clean cotton dresses with an apron tied around your middle. You boys can climb out of your shirts, if you wish, provided your T-shirt is clean. Probably a clean pair of Levis would be best for you. Use your own judgment about the apron.

There are instructions about reading recipes and cleaning up ("This won’t be quite so much fun…"), and explanations for a number of cooking techniques.

Then come the recipes: Melt-in-Your-Mouth Muffins, Corn Bread, Gingerbread, Sugar Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, a Tea Party Menu, Hot Cocoa, Inexpensive Layer Cake, Quick Sponge Cake, Quick Mix Devil’s Food Cake, Mocha Icing, Party Icing, Oatmeal Peach Betty (“Maybe this sounds difficult…But don’t get discouraged. It’s really very easy”), Golden Cornstarch Pudding, How to Cook Vegetables, Creamed Fresh Snap Beans, Frozen Vegetables, Gary’s Hot Dogs, Pork Chop Casserole (We were kosher, so I had to skip that one. :laugh: ), Hash Brown Potatoes, Tuna Fish Casserole (You didn’t think she’d leave this out?! :wink: ), Range Burgers, and, finally, Breakfast in Bed (“Perhaps Mother would enjoy….”).

The “art of fine cooking,” circa 1950.

The funny thing is, my mother never liked to cook :sad: and never owned a cookbook in her entire life :shock: (though she did, at some point, keep a small spiral notebook in which she jotted down some recipes). I have no idea who gave this cookbook to me. But I loved using it, and it sparked a love of cooking that has stayed with me ever since. :smile:

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  • 1 month later...

Tonight, Peter made the "candle salad" (pineapple ring with 1/2 crosswise cut banana in the hole topped with cherry on lettuce leaf) from the 1957 Betty Crocker Boys & Girls cookbook that my grandmother bought the day I was born. He just loves that cookbook. He wants to do the "bunny salad" next (pear halfs with cottage cheese tails).

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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My grandma gave me her old Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Julia Child) when I was in university about the same time my mom gave me New Chinese Cooking School (Kenneth Lo). I was lucky to start out with two comprehensive books -- I still refer to the Chinese one a lot and the French one occasionally.

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Add another vote for "Betty Crocker Boys and Girls Cookbook," my birthday present when I was 10. And no, I don't still cook from it -- I outgrew my need for Mulligan Stew a short while back -- but my 10-year-old son does.

My first "adult" cookbook: Cecily Brownstone's "Associated Press Cookbook," a gift from my mom, along with a classic Happy Face cookie jar, when I got my first apartment in the late '70s. The AP cookbook was my mom's commentary on my chosen profession, long before I had anything to do with food writing, but I still use it -- it was surprisingly forward-looking.

Kathleen Purvis, food editor, The Charlotte (NC) Observer

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My first American cookbook was Betty Crocker Family Favorites - 1977 - I do still use this book sometimes for the cakes and pies...

Before that, in Mexico, it was the Panamanian/American Women's Club cookbookor my mom's BIG notebook with family recipes....

In the Panamanian/American Women's Club (which was lost long ago) there was a recipe for cutout cookies with vinegar in them... great results, but I'll never have them again...

Edited by sandra (log)



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  • 4 months later...

My first cookbook was the now out of print volume entitled The Impoverished Student's Book of Cookery, Drinkery and Housekeepery by Jay F. Rosenberg. It was pretty basic but it was inspirational in some ways. Unfortunately, it got destroyed when a pipe burst in an old apartment (a topic sadly neglected by the book).

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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For those who remember it fondly: just got word from Jessica's Biscuit that they've got a facsimile edition of Betty Crocker Boys and Girls, the original 1957 edition.

My first cookbook was the edition from the late 60s early 70s. It's probably somewhere in my parent's house.

First adult cookbook was Larousse Gastronomique.

Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I was all set, mentally, with my reply when 22tango's post about Buffy's Cookbook jogged my memory: I had completely forgotten until that very moment that when I was 9 or 10 I was given a copy of The Peanuts Cookbook. :wub: I remember even using it on occasion--the recipe for french toast in there was better than the recipe in my mom's Betty Crocker cookbook ("Frieda's French Toast", dontcha' know). I parted ways with it many years ago, but perhaps I shouldn't have--copies of it seem to be quite scarce and a quick check on the internet suggests there may even be some demand for it.....who knew?

As an adult, my first cookbook purchase was Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook, and I still use it regularly....in fact, it somehow manages to improve with age!

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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My first cookbook was probably the booklet that came with my Easy Bake Oven I had as a child. As an adult, it was the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. Can't say that I use that one very much now. :cool:

Life without chocolate is too terrible to contemplate.
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My first cookbook was Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Cookbook:Favorite Recipes from Mickey and His Friends. It is still at my parents' house. After that I played around with my mother's Joy of Cooking, then finally got my first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I, which I still have and use a lot.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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