When DH and I were married back in the 70s, we were barely able to make ends meet. I was a fledgling cook, with many disasters in the kitchen yet to come. I was relying on Julia Child to teach me, and I faithfully watched her French Chef cooking show every week. The local paper would print the main recipe for the lesson each week, and I carefully cut out each one to reference while watching the show. I collected recipes in magazines too as they were the best way to get new ideas and even more lessons. The only cookbook I owned was a wedding gift, The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, and believe it or not I still use it today for roasting times and a few favorite recipes like Pumpkin bread.
I cut recipes out of magazines like Women’s Day and Family Circle, because I could buy those magazines for 59 cents, and they came with at least $5 worth of coupons. We didn’t know about archival papers or acid free mounting in those days, so I just used heavy card stock paper and rubber cement. You can see now how that glue has turned brown, and many of the recipes are no longer stuck to the pages.
Even then, I was cutting out the pictures to go along with the recipe. This cloth bound binder in vintage 1970s Harvest Gold was my first one. It is falling apart now, but I still love looking at it.
For some years, the Women’s Day magazine came with a little cookbooklet bound inside and I diligently cut those out and saved them. I collected little ones from the gas company, Bisquick, Kraft foods, Spam, Pillsbury and anywhere else I could find. It is fun to see how our ideas of good eating have changed over the years, from hearty and easy to more healthy. If you are really interested in how our perceptions of what is healthy has changed, read Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food, or see the PBS show. Even so, there are some classic recipes in here that would be good to serve today.
I still like to do this, many years later, although these days I am pretty picky about what I cut out. It has to be truly original, or something that really strikes me to make my book nowadays. But, when I get a stack of cooking magazines, I go through them to see what might be new and different. If I don’t cut them up, they go back to the library for someone else to use.
In later years, after I filled up two binders like the gold one, I realized that photo albums would work better. I could add some sheet protectors in front of the album pages and save whole pages from magazines. This idea works well for multi-page articles with lots of gorgeous pictures. Many of these pages were taken from Bon Appetit articles with whole menus for everyday and holiday meals, along with gorgeous food photos.
The photo pages are perfect for mounting the cut-out recipes, just lift the plastic, position and replace the plastic cover. No glue!
It took several years to fill up two of those too. I have thought that someday I need to reorganize the albums into savory and sweet, but I doubt I’ll ever get to that. I just look through the pages, like a nice cookbook, for an idea of what to cook next. I may take an idea from one page, and pair it with a sauce on another page for a completely new meal. Most of the time the juxtaposition of one thing to another sparks an idea of my own. It is particularly helpful to consult these books while making a list for the store, so I know I have everything I need for the meal. So, this week, I’ll be adding some recipes from the magazines, with a couple of new ideas.
Mostly now I use the binders and albums for inspiration, although there are a some recipes I go back to again and again – like the Sourdough Stuffing with Bacon and Leeks from Bon Appetit magazine. If I need something specific, I often use one of my favorite cooking sites (like Epicurious), or go to the cookbook shelves where I have over 200 cookbooks, but there are times when I just don’t know what I want to do.
I am going to try to organize the cookbooks this month, and donate some to Books for Good. They take up space in three bookshelves in three different rooms, and that is probably a bit too many. This part of the overflow is in the library, with some of the foodie books on the top shelf with my favorite mystery novel series by Diane Mott Davidson (with recipes!).
I have some sets though that I just want to keep, like the Southern Living Annuals series that I have collected from the beginning in 1979, or the Good Taste series pictured below. But maybe some of the other ones could move on to a new home.
And we cannot even talk about the Christmas books that include recipes and craft/quilting projects! This is after I donated some of the Spirit of Christmas books and a dozen or so individual Christmas books. I have the Christmas with Southern Living series from its beginning in 1981, and all the Christmas with Victoria series which was short lived – only 7 volumes. Those are keepers.
Then there are the ones above the refrigerator where I removed the doors to the cabinet there and turned into a display area. I keep my Julia Child collection there. This picture is from my post on Decorating with Books.
I didn’t even take a picture of the Gooseberry Patch collection, the keepers in the closet, or the ones stacked in the kitchen and on the pie safe, LOL!! I am setting a goal of donating 10 cookbooks to make some room on the shelves. Here is what I pulled yesterday for donation. It’s a good start.
Do you save recipes from magazines and other sources? How do you keep yours? Are you a cookbook collector?
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