Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Aug. 22, 2008

What's cooking is more than food

Organizing recipes was not on my to-do list last weekend. But when I pulled a cookbook out of the kitchen cabinet to make a dish for husband Art's birthday, several others and a file folder stuffed with newspaper and magazine clippings tumbled out. Although I don't cook anything unusual much, I seem to have a need to collect recipes and cookbooks.

The books fall into two primary categories - those that promise healthy meals fast and "other." Those in the former category have titles that include words such as "deliciously easy," "no-time-to-cook" and "meals in minutes."

In the "other" category is "The Butler County Home Demonstration Council cookbook," published in 1951. It is probably the most intriguing as it includes not just recipes from people I knew, but also ads from my hometown of Burns. Among the ads was one for Bolen Grocery, which simply stated the phone number - Phone 37 - and Burns, Kansas. Another advertisement was for Henry Hammann's Harness and Shoe Shop, which listed binder and combine canvas repair among its services. The Jackson Pharmacy ad said, "We have all sulfas: sulfanilamide, sulfamithazine, sulfathiazole, sulquin, sulfaquinoxaline and others. And you can get pure Vanilla Extract and several spices in glasses."

Whenever I look at the book, I remember shopping for groceries at Bolen's, getting shoes repaired at Hammann's and drinking my first vanilla Coke at Jackson's. None of those businesses exist today.

The "Fleischmann Treasury of Yeast Baking," published in 1962, remains on the shelf because I used recipes from it to bake breads for the Butler County Fair when I was a young 4-Her.

"Cocinemos para nuestra salud," published by Peace Corps Volunteers in April 1976, was useful when I was a volunteer in Ecuador from 1976-1978. I shared many of the recipes in that book as I traveled to small villages along the coast.

As I looked through the books, it became obvious that I keep those in the "other" category because they have sentimental value for me.

Another example is "A Book of Favorite Recipes," compiled by the United Methodist Women of the Blue Valley Memorial United Methodist Church. It lists several cookie recipes contributed by my friend and neighbor Teddy. When I first met Teddy, she assured me that she wouldn't be buying anyone Christmas gifts. And she didn't. But every year, we received a plate of her lovingly made, picture-perfect goodies. And now that Teddy is gone, that book with her recipes is a connection to and a reminder of her.

An album put together by late mother-in-law Rita Claflin Johanning includes her mother Edna Claflin's mixture for cinnamon rolls plus recipes from several aunts, cousins and other relatives and friends. One recipe even has a story connected with it. My late husband Jerry, whom I called Jerome, once called Rita from our home in Costa Rica on the pretext of wanting her goulash recipe. But all he really wanted to do was chat with his mother. Rita found that both amusing and endearing, so after his death she decided she just had to include Jerry's old-fashioned goulash among the family favorites.

After I went through the cookbooks and decided which ones to keep and which ones to send to better homes, I decided to sort through recipes I had clipped from newspapers and magazines, scribbled on scraps of paper and received from friends and family. As I did so, I used the same criteria I utilized for the cookbooks. If the recipes were healthy and fast OR if they reminded me of someone or something in my past, I kept them.

In all likelihood, I won't use my now neatly-arranged cooking references any more than I have in the past. But I feel better about them being organized plus I had the bonus of reminiscing a bit along the way.

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