Back to School Book Week: Cookbooks

My first cookbook

Eren at This Vintage Chica cooked up Back to School Book Week and today is Cookbook Day.

I share with you my very first cookbook.  I still have this 1957 edition of Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls that I must’ve received on some birthday in the early 60’s.  My favorite recipe was the Whiz Cinnamon Rolls (“sweet and spicy and so pretty”) and I made them every chance I got.  Thus began my love of cinnamon rolls and the joy of cooking as a young child.

I have an odd memory about those cinnamon rolls.  One Saturday, we went over to my dad’s parents’ house for breakfast.  There must have been a special reason, because Saturday was not a day that we ever went over there, and never for breakfast.  Sensing it was a special day, I got up extra early to make my cinnamon rolls to take along.  I distinctly remember my dad apologizing for the cinnamon rolls, and I remember my grandmother being totally delighted with them!
This is a small picture of a great big generational change that happened during those years.  For my parents’ generation, there were wonderful new choices of new, packaged, ready-made things — like cinnamon rolls — that were more uniform and predictable and certainly easier than my modest home-baked offering.  For my grandparents’ generation, nothing was pre-packaged, not even the Bisquick that was the main ingredient of my “from scratch” cinnamon rolls.
I got a taste of both worlds.  I remember being fascinated whenever my grandmothers would invite me into the magic of “how things are really made” — like making plum jam from plums off of a tree I had climbed or discovering that bread and rolls didn’t have to come from a cellophane wrapper and that a delicious cake could be made without a mix.
When my little sister was born (I was nine at the time), I know my mother breast fed her some (always in private), but bottles and formula were considered the less messy, more modern way to go.  And though I know my mother did know how to sew, she didn’t do any sewing that I ever saw because (a) she had four kids and (b) she was busy being my strong role model for a woman living out her sacred vocation (she was an amazing teacher).
Betty Crocker's Kids Cook!
For today’s generation!
Now we know that the cinnamon rolls tasted so good out of the package because they were over-loaded with trans-fats and preservatives and sugar and were whole-grain-free.  And though we loved soup and chili — and so much more! — from a can, we later discovered the hazards of too much sodium and those unpronounceable ingredients that were not found in that aromatic pot that simmered for hours on the stove.  We found out that convenience was often made of life-depleting things rather than life-giving ones.

I sometimes ponder how it is that people cling to progress and, at the same time, travel back to romanticize the 1950’s and 1960’s as “the way things are supposed to be.”  Come to think of it, Betty Crocker was ahead of her time in creating a cookbook for boys and girls!  (For all you young’uns:  Boys didn’t cook back in the day.)

So, buy your child or your grandchild a cookbook and cook with him or her!  If cooking is not your joy, consider gardening, woodworking, crafting, antique-buying, running a race or bird-watching.  Whatever it is, spend some time to teach a child what is important to you and find out what is important to her/him.  Put up with the s-l-o-w pace of working with an inexperienced apprentice.  Don’t expect perfection from either of you.  Do expect miracles from your time together that could last for generations.

2 thoughts on “Back to School Book Week: Cookbooks

  1. How did I miss this post?!I treasure a very similar cookbook from my childhood. It looks the same but with a yellow background. Anyway, it's falling apart, but I just can't bear to part with it. I loved experimenting in the kitchen as a girl. I wish I could still get so excited about cooking!

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