The Art of the Recipe Collection

I collect recipes. Doesn’t matter where they come from – the internet, the newspaper, magazines, neighbors, brochures, grocery store lines, or cookbooks. I really love cookbooks. I think I actually have an addiction to them which, if I don’t stand up and admit that I have a problem, might threaten to take over my entire house with their insipid tentacles of doom.

Okay, there are worse addictions, right? I mean, this doesn’t control my brain…well, not exactly, anyway. It doesn’t upset my family…except when I test-out a loser recipe; and it doesn’t force me to sell my soul to be able to afford my habit. Well…as long as I keep off of the Williams-Sonoma website, that is.

I think my favorite kind of cookbook is the fundraiser cookbook. The kind that The Amazing Worthington City Band put together last summer, or that churches make to celebrate 100 years of worshipping together, or businesses do as a form of…I don’t know…bonding? Whatever the reason, I love that kind of cookbook.

Wild Rice Turkey Soup that I adapted from a church cookbook...it's delish!


I have the church cookbook from the centennial of the church I grew up in on Orcas Island, WA. It’s from 1984 and it is almost falling apart, I’ve used it so much over the years. Some of the recipes in it are…well, let’s just say, dated. But others have reached the “if we have a fire, save this before you save the cat” category. (She’s an outdoor cat; she’ll be able to save herself.)

In a cookbook like that, filled with input from so many people, you get tried-and-true family favorites, you get memories of grandparents, of Little Suzy’s Accidental Chili Pot, you get, in a word, traditions. I love that.

However, you also get words like “Oleo”, which anyone born prior to (approximately) The War is familiar with, but everyone born after is left scratching their head over the meaning. I used to get irritated by unfamiliar terms like that or, even worse, the lack of clear directions that can crop up in such cookbooks, but now I just laugh – maybe because I’ve been cooking long enough that I can figure it out – or maybe because I know that somewhere in my vast collection of recipes, I probably have a similar one that can help me understand what I’m supposed to do.

That is, if I can find the recipe I’m looking for in my drawers, folders, piles of recipes. Someone really needs to organize all this mess. But not right now. Right now I’m downloading a recipe.

2 thoughts on “The Art of the Recipe Collection

  1. Church cookbooks are the best, I agree. Tried and true, basic recipes. And familiar names, which make the cookbook so much more than a cookbook, but a treasure.

    I have the same problem with finding recipes, even though I doubt I have nearly as many cookbooks and saved recipes as you. I don’t particularly like to cook, but I sure do like to bake (although I try not to do that too often given I don’t need the sweets and my guys don’t have many sweet teeth).

  2. Yes, a treasure! Good description. I really need to set aside a couple days and organize…and, I’m sure, discard!!! It’s hard for me to throw away a recipe…even if it’s been a bad one, I think, “Well, maybe I just did something wrong?!” I love baking, too – probably too much!

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