Monday, July 2, 2018

Around the Kitchen Table -- Researching via cookbook #bookgiveaway



LESLIE: Turns out that for those of us writing food fiction, cookbooks are great references for more than recipes. They can capture a time, a place, a zeitgeist.

My favorite is Butte’s Heritage Cookbook, created in 1976 in honor of the country’s bicentennial and the city’s centennial. Butte, America, as it’s sometimes called, is Montana's most colorful and diverse community, with the wildest history. I was a teenage bookseller in Billings when it came out, and we sold hundreds of copies. They still show up in yard sales and at thrift shops, and I snatch them up for friends.

What makes it so fascinating to me as a writer is that it is divided in sections by the ethnic heritage of early Butte settlers, most of them drawn to the copper and silver mines. American Indian, Black, Cornish, Finnish, Irish, Yugoslavian, and on and on, opening with a short history of that group in Butte, followed by recipes. I consult it as much for the cultural history—the photos of community celebrations, the personal stories, the descriptions of grocers and butchers and the group’s role in the larger community—as for the food. And the names—Simonich, Ducich, Mirich, Vucanovich, “all the iches,” as a character in my WIP (work in progress) says.

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DARYL Leslie, great topic. Ever since I started writing the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, I've been fascinated by cookbooks. I've amassed quite a collection during my research. People write me all the time about their favorite cookbooks or family heirlooms or church bazaar cookbooks, and more. For my Renaissance-fair themed mystery, Pressing the Issue, I even researched cookbooks written in the Middle Ages. Now, I can't say that a cookbook has ever really pinned down a time and place for me, but my own history in the kitchen has been marked by a cookbook: The Gourmet Cookbook Volume I. It's the very first cookbook I purchased for myself at the tender age of 14, and as you can see, um, it's seen better days. Sigh. That darned spine broke about a year into owning it. So much for good binding. There aren't any pictures, but there are about twenty go-to recipes I use every year. Many for holidays. Many just for fun. I make a killer pie crust because of this book. The roast beef recipe is never fail. And the biscuit recipe? To die for. I guess I treasure this cookbook because I know when my love of cooking began. I cut my "cooking" teeth on it.

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SHEILA: Daryl, I have the same Gourmet Cookbook, but the first one I ever bought for myself, for my first apartment, was Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, which I still have, (as well as two back-up copies in case the original one disintegrates). Julia taught me not to be afraid of food.

(It makes me a bit sad that Julia gets
all the credit, and Louisette and
Simone are forgotten)
I love cookbooks and collect them all over the place, including in foreign countries like Australia. It's been fun picking up Irish cookbooks over the past twenty years, because you can see the change in attitude toward food just by reading through them in chronological order. Once they were filled with recipes for stews and breads, but now they match any contemporary cookbooks in originality.

But one cookbook stands out in my memory: The James Beard Treasury of Outdoor Cooking (1960). We had a copy when I was in high school, but it was kind of useless since we lived in an apartment then and had no place to grill anything. But I remember sitting and leafing through it simply because the large color pictures were beautiful. (As an aside, I was once having lunch in a small restaurant in Berkeley and looked up to see James Beard in all his massive glory walk in. He was unmistakable, and I felt so proud to have chosen the same restaurant as he did.)

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LUCY: I'm crazy for cookbooks too and so it's hard to pick just one! But I would go with Molly Katzen's MOOSEWOOD COOKBOOK because this guided my first serious period of cooking. I loved her illustrations and her homey descriptions of both the food and the process of cooking. I still make things from that tattered copy, which I've probably had for almost forty years. Pound cake...calzones...tomato soup...spanakopita...yum...











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DENISE

Most of my cookbooks belonged to my mother. When she retired from the kitchen she passed them onto  me. But the cookbook I turn to time after time is the one my family put together after my Grandma Swanson passed away. All the recipes are from either Grandma or other family members. And the majority call for items most people have in their pantries.  





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CLEO: Like you Denise, my family has been the source for much of my foodie inspiration. After my dear dad passed away, I received some of his things. Among them was this Unemployed Cookbook

For over forty years, Dad worked in the Pittsburgh steel industry. During the deep recession of the 1970s, many people in our community lost their livelihoods. This cookbook was created not only to raise money for the local food bank but also to help families with ideas for cooking economical meals. It was done with good humor and good grace, and I'll always cherish it.

The recipes also remind me how a few simple ingredients can be transformed into darn good eats. One such recipe inspired my husband and I to create our own version for our 15th Coffeehouse Mystery: Dead to the Last Drop. For anyone who'd like our recipe for BOURBON HOT DOG BITES, you are welcome to click here or on the foodie photo. May you eat (and read) with joy!


Click for the recipe.

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I have a whole collection that I love! My mom bought the Time Life FOODS OF THE WORLD series that was published in the early 1970s. As I recall, they were on a subscription basis, and each cookbook was accompanied by a larger hardcover coffee table type book about the foods in that country. Alas, our hardcovers are long gone, but I still have the original cookbooks. I can't speak for all the countries, of course, but their German and Austrian recipes are dead on. There's a book for Classic French, Foods of India, Africa, the Caribbean, several covering different sections of the United States, and more! There are twenty-seven cookbooks devoted to a particular area of the world plus a recipe and menu guide. 

As you can see, they've been used!


LINDA:

I'll readily admit that I'm a cookbook junkie. I love them, especially the ones with color photos in them. Which is why it's not so odd that the main character in my Dinner Club Mysteries, J.J. Tanner, shares that same trait. I also love the ones that take me someplace for some armchair travel in food land. Cookbooks have to tell a story that goes beyond the ingredients, whether it's about the author or the place where it all happens. So, here's one of my favorites (and I have several!). It's called The French Market by Joanne Harris & Fran Warde. As an aside, Joanne Harris is the author of several wonderful novels, including a mystery. Anyway, back to the cookbook. It has amazing photos from step-by-step techniques, to full pages of veggies, a double page of French balconies, and of course, the fully-prepared recipes. Each section has an intro with info about some of the ingredients. All in all, a terrific cookbook and one I refer to often, if just to look at the photos!


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And you, dear readers? Is there a cookbook you read 
for more than the recipes? A cookbook you value for its insights about a time or place? A community cookbook you enjoy, even if you'd never actually cook out of it? 

Join our discussion in the comments to enter our giveaway! Remember to leave your email (cryptically is okay; we're amateur sleuths) 
so we can contact you if you win.

One lucky person will win:

A copy of the first French Bistro Mystery, A DEADLY ÉCLAIR - to celebrate the upcoming release of A SOUFFLÉ OF SUSPICION.



And an advance reader's copy of Lucy Burdette's 8th Key West mystery, DEATH on the MENU, coming in August!



And a copy of Krista Davis's THE DIVA COOKS UP A STORM!



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56 comments:

  1. I started collecting cookbooks in 1966 after my wedding. The first one I bought was 365 Ways to Cook Hamburger! I love cookbooks & buy them as souvenirs when we travel. For me, cookbooks are novels. The recipes are fun to read but the stories that go with them are really interesting to me. They tell so much about a time and a place. My favorite cookbook is Cooking for Madam which was written by the lady who cooked for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for decades. I'm a huge fan of Mrs. Onassis, having "followed" her since the Presidential campaign in 1960 so having her cook share her stories is fascinating to me. lnchudej@yahoo.com

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  2. A favorite cookbook is the Kitchen Klatter cookbook given to me by my Mother. I don’t use it much for recipes but keep it because it reminds me of her and listening to the kitchen Klatter program on the radio. Dbahn@iw.net

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  3. Here in Alabama we have a cookbook that is released every year called "Calling All Cooks." I have several and they are wonderful. They are packed with real food recipes that people would actually want to cook in their homes.
    Wendy
    clarksrfun at gmail dot com

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  4. Today is our 52nd wedding anniversary. When we were first married we were so poor, but Woman's Day put out a series of cookbooks called Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cooking. There were twelve books in the series and put out every other week or so. My husband budgeted the price of each book into our food budget so I could buy them. They contained stories of the recipes and started my love of reading cookbooks. BTW....I still have them!

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    1. sharonquilts@yahoodotcom

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    2. I still have my set. Happy belated anniversary, too.

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  5. I don’t have any old cookbooks.
    sgiden at verizon(.)net

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  6. I think the very first cookbook I ever owned was given to me by my grandmother, right after my mother (her daughter) died. I was 13. THE I NEVER COOKED BEFORE COOKBOOK by Jo Coudert is held together with masking tape and missing a large chunk of the back cover. It cost 75¢ paperback back in 1965. I highly recommend it for anyone who has no idea what to do or where to start.

    pjcoldren[at]tm.net

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  7. My favorite is my Betty Crocker cookbook from 1969. I don't remember where I got it, maybe a garage sale for my first apartment? I love all the instructions it includes in addition to the recipes. It was a big help starting out and is still a great reference when I try something new. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

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  8. I like the Better Homes & Garden New Cookbook. I've had a few editions and it's great to see how the recipes are modified over time.

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  9. I have several cookbooks, but I tend to now find recipes in line, but I may change that because the last few things I've made off pinterest ended in complete epic fails! (And I followed the instructions perfectly) Maybe I am just not a good cook.. I'm trying but stoves and ovens tend to be my enemies 🤦‍♀️🙈 Thanks for the chance. lilyanngill56(at)gmail(dot)com

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  10. When I got engaged 48 years ago I received a treasure of a cookbook which I still have and use. A wonderful and cheried cookbook. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. I love cookbooks, I have 2 bookcases full. I have some great old cookbooks from my grandmother and aunt. I love reading the types of foods that were popular then and how much butter and fat was in the recipes. It's a great window into the past.
    scarletbegonia5858(at)gmail(dot)com

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  12. I have collected cookbooks since the late 50's and my favorite is the pillsbury bake-off ones. I have the very first one up to the last..they are such fun to look through. Best recipes of all with older recipes and which one won best bake-off...terrysaunders29@hotmail.com

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  13. I collect cookbooks and love thumbing through them. My prized, though, are a spiral bound book that my grandmother-in-law made for me and a collection of cards my grandmother gave me for Christmas one year. Most precious of all, the little book of recipe cards that my mother started for me. I came across it right after she died, a few months ago, while looking for photos for her funeral service. Dmskrug3 at hotmail dot com

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  14. Thank you so much. One of my Wedding gifts was a Betty Crocker cookbook- I loved that and still have it (falling apart)49 years later.

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  15. Cookbooks are meaningful and are timeless. I received a unique cookbook as a gift which I will always keep. I love looking through them as they give me enjoyment. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  16. What an amazing giveaway!
    I am one of those people who can read a cookbook as if it were a novel. I savor each recipe.
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  17. I love cookbooks. I think it's an inherited trait (obsession?). My mother collected cookbooks and clipped and copied recipes. My favorite cookbook is an old brown 3-ring binder which holds a spiral notebook. I was probably pre-teen and decided to capture all my favorites, and I used it just the other day for the best BBQ sauce recipe in the world - my grandmother's and weekly for homemade pizza! It has writing in the margins from when my little brothers drew in it. It's treasured.

    And thanks for a fabulous giveaway.
    sallycootie(at)gmail(dot)com.

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  18. I don't remember which cookbook I bought first: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook or Recipes and Reminiscences of New Orleans. The second one was certainly more interesting to read! I've got a couple of church cookbooks from our Minnesota years; hot dish anyone? A number of recipe compilations from clubs all over Texas. A couple of Irish cookbooks. A couple from Justin Wilson. I pared down my collection several years ago. But I am addicted to cutting out recipes from magazines and printing them out from MLK among places!
    patdupuy@yahoo.com

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  19. I have a large collection of cookbooks that I browse through and read. I just love collecting them. Ruth Reichl is someone that I have admired and followed while she was editor at Gourmet Magazine. I was very disappointed when it folded. I have the large Gourmet cookbook that she edited. I like looking through that one. My go-to cookbook that I often use is the Better Homes and Garden.
    bluedawn95864 at gmail dot com

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  20. The first cookbooks I purchased were the HP series. They all had great pictures and easy to follow recipes for the beginner.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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  21. My favorite cookbooks are the Bette Hagman, Gluten Free cooking ones. These were my go to when I was first diagnosed as a celiac. I may have outgrown them and their use, but they were a life-saver when I needed them. Thanks for a chance to win! ljbonkoski@yahoo.com

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  22. my mom and I did at one point buy a few cookbooks from the early 1900s, but they are packed away, so no names handy. Sara
    UCLASara(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  23. I was diagnosed with diabetes in January and discovered a website called SkinnyTaste. When I discovered that she has several cookbooks, I jumped at the chance. All the foods are perfect for my healthy eating plan and I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. I am learning to eat right, exercise, and keep my sugar levels in check. suecolerick(at)att(dot)net

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  24. My mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook. Sentiment and lots of traditional recipes.

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  25. I love looking through my grandmother's old cookbooks. Not just for the wonderful recipes, but also just to see her handwriting that I miss. She was a wonderful cook & I love trying out her recipes.

    Mary Duffer
    mlduffer(at)att(dot)net

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  26. My favorite cookbook has always been on that I got as a wedding gift back in 1978, it was a church cookbook from a local church, and I used it for years and years. It went to Canada with me for 6 years, but somehow in my last move from NC to MN I lost it. They no longer make them at that church any longer, sad face.

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  28. I have several cookbooks and a ton of handwritten-passed down to me recipes..my grandmother gave me her McCalls cookbook (10th addition, copy right 1963)long years ago, prior to her Alzheimer. In 1963 I was 10 yrs old..I love the fluffy egg dumplings recipe :) nani_geplcs(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  29. I love looking through cookbooks. I like finding new creative ways to make the foods I like. im2early4u(at)gmail(dot)com

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  30. I have a few favorite cookbooks that I just love to page through, whether or not I make any of the recipes. One is HOME COOKIN' WITH DAVE'S MOM by David Letterman's Mother. Another is DELISH! A Martha's Vineyard Cookbook by Philip R. Craig and his wife Shirley. He talked a lot about food and how to prepare it in his books. Also I often bought community cookbooks when I went on vacation - I have a couple from York, Me and looking through them brings back the happy times I had there. But most special of all was one cookbook that was more than a simple cookbook. It was in 2 volumes and as I recall one was about the history and the other was recipes. I think it was something like American or Heritage. Sadly it burned in my house fire more than 30 years ago.

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  31. Sorry I didn't indicate my email address in case you need it. jmpurcel at hotmaildotcom.

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  32. I have resorted many times to my old favorite Betty Crocker. I received it when we got married 40 years ago and I still use it. Also my mom’s recipes!
    faithdcreech at gmail dot com

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  33. I love cookbooks and have quite a collection. I also a lot of my Mom's recipe cards with some of the family favorites. I like reading the Pioneer Woman's cookbooks, they are well written and have great photos of the ranch and the food. Really like recipes included in the books. Thanks for the great giveaway.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

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  34. I love looking at cookbooks that actually talk about the recipe. For years when I was younger I got a yearly Christmas book. Each one was from a different country and would be mostly recipes, but also included how to make ornaments and other things. I looked forward to getting those every year. And just like the books Krista got, I know for sure the German and Austrian ones were spot on!! I love cookbooks with photos, even if I dont make the recipes, lol. Thanks for the chance to win. kayt18 (at) comcast (dot) net

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  35. I have many many cookbooks---but my favorites are all old church cookbooks that my mother had and I inherited---so many good recipes.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  36. I don't have many cookbooks. I do have some of those small Pillsbury and Betty Crocker ones that you find at the checkout at stores. They were free - the library was getting rid of them.
    catbooks72(at)gmail(dot)com

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  37. Jennifer McCormackJuly 2, 2018 at 8:39 PM

    I kind of collect cookbooks, and my favorites are ones that are from Television series, like Alice's Brady Bunch cookbook, or the Gilligan's Island cookbook. I don't really use them much but they are fun to look thru.

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  38. My grandmother always used the better Homes and gardens old cookbook. She would tweak done of them to her liking and became a family tradition at holidays. I've mostly learned to cook from watching her as I was growing up. I only cook what I know now I'm not confident enough to branch out on my own to try new recipes but have recently wanted to start trying.
    hollystover13@yahoo.com

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  39. i love cookbooks i read them all the time

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  40. My favorite cookbook is the one written just for me, longhand, by my English brother. It contains all the family recipes passed down through the biological family, and especially from the biological mother, I never knew I had until about 15 years ago. My brother carried this black-and-white composition book with him on a very busy business tour; he wrote in it on planes, in hotel rooms, while waiting to be called to work. It contains many private jokes and endearments, bits of family history, and huge dollops of his irrepressible humour. It's a treasure.

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  42. I have shelves of cookbooks and I enjoy looking at them while watching TV!! My first cookbook was my Betty Crocker Cookie Cookbook! I loved the photos of the cookies and the cookie of the year section in the back! I think my most treasured one has to be my mom's Fireside Cookbook by James Beard, copyright 1949! No pictures, but it's a link to my mom! The ones that are most sentimental are the cookbooks that my students and I wrote to celebrate the birthday of the Earl of Sandwich!

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  43. I also have shelves of cookbooks but I love the stories and wit of The Pioneer Woman cookbooks.
    Robs est60@yahoo.com

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  44. Under the category of unique cookbooks, here's one I've treasure since it was published in the 1960's. The Vincent Price Cookbook. It's a large book, featuring menus and recipes from around the world. Every one we've tried has been excellent. Who knew V. Price was a foodie?!

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  45. I grew up with the Betty Crocker Cookbook & still use it. Many of my family's favorite recipes came from it.
    turtle6422(at)gmail(dot)com

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  46. I love going through old cookbooks and ones put together by schools. One of my favorite ones is "The Bridges of Madison County". Besides the history the recipes are easy and good. I have also tried some from the cozies. Bobntoni@aol.com

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  47. Better Homes and Gardens is a cookbook that I've worn out. Vivian Furbay jtandviv(at)q(dot)com

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  48. My go to cookbook is the 1979 addition of the Betty Crocker cookbook I got when I got married. It's held together with a rubberband. But I have 4 shelves of cookbooks. And I do have the Butte Heritage cookbook too!! Nineteen19@blackfoot.net

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  49. I love the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks. Not only do they have recipes, they have crafts in them. Thank you for the giveaway.
    debprice60@gmail.com

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  50. My sister gave me our Mom's cookbook from when she got married in 1954. It is a treasure to me!

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  51. Looks like a delectable collection !They would be a yummy aaddition to my bookshelf : )Kim can be contacted at ...Rapumpkim@gmail.com

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  52. I have lots of cookbooks. My grandma left me a White House Cookbook from maybe the 30s as my oldest one. It is packed away right now so I can't see the date. I also have my mom's first cookbook as a child. It is so special for me to have it. I just love cozy mysteries and culinary mysteries are my favorite! Chris R. from Iowa, ckrobinson01@hotmail.com

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  53. I have a big collection of cookbooks even though I hate to cook. The one I manage to pull out the must through all of the years is my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that I have had for about 50 years. It's fun just to look at. lkish77123 at gmail dot com

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  54. Several of the cookbooks in my collection come from places we've vacationed, especially places outside of the continental US. I just recently acquired the Cozy Cookbook, Mystery Writers of America cookbook, Cozy Food, A Taste of Murder and A Second Helping of Murder. More inspiration for authors, books and food! m*d*mh*wk@gm*!ldotcom PS One of my favorite cookbooks is Jan Karon's Mitford Cookbook - as much for the excerpts as the recipes.

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