I found a great vintage cookbook in Denton, Texas yesterday. I found an old edition of “The Joy of Cooking” at my favorite Christian thrift shop, and it was only $2.00!
Do you all remember the last time I went shopping at this particular thrift store?
The last time I was here, they had all their books on sale for 5 cents a piece!
I had a great time finding old cookbooks, new cookbooks, health and diet cookbooks. I found some great books on Christian marriage and some Christian growth books too! I even found some children’s books for my two grandsons.
Here is what my shopping cart looked like that day.
As a Christian writer and food blogger, I was thrilled to find a great number of good books that looked like they would be great writing resources for me. It was also nice to support the local new mom’s ministry which this particular thrift shop supports.
While my shopping cart was not so heavy this past time, I did find a gem at that same thrift shop on my trip there yesterday.
I found THIS:
If you love vintage cookbooks and traditional American cooking like I do, I’m sure you can imagine my own joy for just finding this old cookbook!
I carefully picked the fragile book up and put it in my cart alongside the half off jeans I had purchased for my husband and the half off dress shirt I had found for myself. Oh, I wasn’t going to throw anything heavy like a bunch of books on tops of this little item!
When I got home and at a safe location at my family dining room table, I took the time to better inspect my new purchase. I first peeked on the inside of the cover and saw some handwriting. It looked like some names and numbers. I’m wondering if these were someone’s friends from long ago. Were the numbers the old fashioned phone numbers of friends? Were they the birthdays of friends? Was that last entry a special number pertaining to the gas and electric service of the original owner of this book? Whatever this writing was… it must have been important to the owner of this book long ago to be written in the front cover of a cookbook like this.
This is pretty real “stuff”.
The “realness” of the time became even clearer to me as I turned the page to see the forward.
I believe what I have here is the 1946 reprint of the 1943 cookbook. I have also seen it recorded as the 1943 – 1946 edition. The 1943 forward was still used in this book, but the various publication dates, including up to 1946 was included in the book. There have been later editions as well, of course, but mine just showed up to 1946.
One glance of this 1943 forward reminded me of the times and life of Irma Starkloff Rombauer, the author.
The Joy of Cooking, one of the most widely-read cookbooks ever, was first written by Irma and self published in 1931. It was self published by a private printing company! This run away, classic cookbook, a cookbook of all times, was first published without a well-known cookbook publisher to start its long history of sales!
Hey, I say for those of you who are interested in publishing a cookbook and can’t get a publisher for it, then by all means, consider self publishing! Look what happened to Irma Rombauer’s book! The various editions of this book throughout the years are STILL in circulation today!
It was also riveting just being able to read the actual author’s words in the forward, knowing what she experienced in life and seeing that small glimpse of life through her words in her book’s forward.
You see, Irma was proud of her Victorian Era upbringing. She had lived through The Great Depression and preserved those old recipes throughout the years. However, she also grieved, writing The Joy of Cooking after her husband’s suicide in 1929.
Irma’s forward literally begins with Irma admitting that her growing and departing children hoped she would record all of her recipes. They also hoped writing a book would keep her busy in her loneliness.
Fortunately, Irma goes on, it did.
See the picture of the preface above to see that in Irma’s own words.
As an additional kind of “treat”, that same forward page also displayed some of the original book owner’s interest in recipes. Look at my picture of the book forward, and check out the little cut out newspaper recipe that was tucked in that page. I left that one just as I found it to take the picture for you.
There were other vintage newspaper clippings of old recipes in other pages of the book as well, many of them from the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was kind of like seeing some of Irma’s thoughts, looking at her traditional recipes, and then seeing some of the moment-in-time interests of whoever owned this book at that earlier time period.
Those cut out newspaper and magazine recipes always seemed to be stuck into the most used and yellowed pages of the cookbook too.
Whoever first owned this book must have really loved cooking some of Irma’s recipes, just as Irma Rombauer loved cooking those recipes.
Not every single page was worn and yellowed though.
Here is one of the lesser used pages from my 1943 – 1946 edition of “The Joy of Cooking”, one page the original owner must not have been so partial to:
This was one of the most unused pages of the cookbook, but the Cabbage Rolls with Rice and Sausage recipes jumped out at me, reminding me of some food I had somewhere as a child, a dish perhaps once commonplace but now almost forgotten.
I snapped a photo of some of Irma’s cabbage roll recipes in memory of some old recipes someone in my own history had made at one time in my life.
You see, I believe that old cookbooks and their traditional recipes are a window to our past. When we find a cookbook like this, we can cherish the world the author lived in, worked in, and cooked and baked in. We can also cherish the memories such a book gives to each of us individually.
I am very glad I stumbled upon this old version of “The Joy of Cooking” and that I have the opportunity to share this with you all as well. When this book was first published, who would have thought of how we could all be looking at it over the internet today. “Internet? What’s that?”, Irma might have said!
I also hope you enjoyed seeing parts of this old cookbook I found this past week at a thrift shop in Denton, Texas. I have enjoyed sharing it with you!
If you have any vintage or antique cookbooks of your own, please share what you have and how they have affected your view of cooking or food today. We would love to hear from you!