Cookbooks have a romantic appeal to them

Published 9:04 am Monday, November 3, 2008

I am obsessed with cooking this week. Not the actual doing but the actual looking for something scrumptious to make and put on the dinner table. I am not a doer when it comes to cooking, at least not anymore.

Don’t tell anyone but I used to be able to cook. I wasn’t a bad cook. I wasn’t a great cook. I did what I had to do to make sure my family had food when it came to mealtime. It wasn’t my favorite part of being a mom and a wife. However vegetables were not my forte. There are many stories about the burned vegetables that my kids could entertain you with. I would get distracted with other more interesting projects and the vegetables would burn away.

Perhaps my disinterest in cooking is because I did not learn how to cook when I was growing up. My mom was a good cook but she was too busy to pass that on to me. I have to admit I probably wasn’t too interested. Remember my description? I was a dreamer; creativity and other projects enticed me more. I had to learn what I knew about cooking on my own.

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Now there are just the two of us. We both work and it seems easier to put out a Bertolli meal than to spend hours over the stove. There just isn’t time and the desire is not there.

I don’t think about food. Many times my husband will ask me in the morning what we should have in the evening for dinner. My reply is always “It’s morning, I can’t think about dinner in the morning.” Unfortunately I usually don’t think about breakfast, lunch or dinner until it is almost time to eat and my stomach is rumbling. At that time it doesn’t matter and I still don’t plot and plan for my food. I just grab whatever is there. I probably would live on sandwiches or perhaps donuts if I lived alone.

Some people start planning their meal early in the day. I do admire that. If I call and ask them to join us for an evening meal in a restaurant they refuse because they have dinner started. They have dinner started at 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Those people have a good cook in their family.

I find it strange since I do not particularly like to cook and I cringe in fear if anyone asks me to help in the kitchen at church that I like and have many, many cookbooks. That is why cooking this weekend obsessed me. Remember I am de-cluttering and it was time to de-clutter my cookbook closet.

I love looking at cookbooks. I dream of the delicious dishes and recipes that I can use. I dream of being a great cook. Remember what I told you about dreaming earlier in my columns. Dreams do not have to come true for them to be fun. Well, my becoming a great cook will never happen. So I decided I did not need all of the cookbooks that I have. One by one I paged through my cookbooks to decide if I would ever use any of the recipes. My collecting cookbooks didn’t stop at cookbooks I also have many cooking magazines.

It took me one day to sort through my cookbooks. The vegetarian cookbooks were first on the pile. Why did I buy vegetarian cookbooks? I could not remember. Some of my magazines were from 1997. I think the last time I looked at them was 1997. Of course, then there were the Pillsbury Bakeoff cookbooks. Those were a little harder to give up since donuts and rolls also obsess me. I had a photo album with pages of saved recipes from other magazines that I had cut out to try. I didn’t recognize any of the recipes. I apparently have not tried any of them. My photo album will now house photos.

At the bottom of the closet was a book with pockets to save recipes. I had not used it in years, probably because I could not find it. This book was given to us when we were married 38 years ago. The lady that gave it to us was a childhood friend of my mothers. There was treasure in that book. I found recipes from a bridal shower that friends had given me 38 years ago. People had signed their names so I would know whom the recipe came from. I found loved recipes that were handwritten and given to me from my mother and mother-in-law.

De-cluttering again became a gift of time. There were many recipes that I had made when my children were younger. They are recipes that my children loved and have asked for since. I thought I had lost those recipes. The biggest gift was taking the time to sift through that book and those recipes and remember loved people that are no longer with us. I remembered my bridal shower and the fun we had that day. That book brought back memories of beginnings. Beginnings of a marriage and family. Beginnings of a new dream.

I will cherish that book and those recipes. It felt like my mom and mother in law were reaching out to me in time. The people that wrote those recipes probably had no idea that 38 years later those recipes would mean so much to someone. In my clutter are some treasures that I will never de-clutter and throw away. I will never throw away the treasure of timeless memories.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at