Cooking the Books- Episode 1

So many bloggers write about the newest and greatest cookbooks and from visiting many sites, I know that many of you have large cookbook collections. I am actually encouraged to read that others have the same problem that I do when it comes to cookbooks- I have a hard time getting rid of them. Whether they were bought or ordered by me, given to me as a gift, or unloaded by a non-cooking friend trying to clear off their shelves, my house is like the Hotel California of matter how or when they come in, " they can never leave. "(picture to right is one of 10 shelves of books I have!)

Now, why is it that we have a hard time getting rid of cookbooks, even the ones we do not use? I can understand hanging on to the spill-stained, dog-eared cookbooks that we used when first learning to cook, and the cookbooks that we use everyday, looking for inspiration, or the brand new cookbooks with the latest trends, or the ones with sentimental value because they were given as a gift, but what about the rest? The cookbooks bought on a whim, the ones your friend gave you when she moved because she didn't have enough room for her collection, the vintage cookbooks picked up at a tag sale or from your public library's book sale, why can't we just give them away? My theory is that to a dedicated "foodie" (I hate that word!), these cookbooks are like foster children. We have brought them into our family because they represent some connection, whether personal, culinary, or sentimental. We have them because they stirred something in us and they represent a promise, a potential... maybe I can be a bread-baker, or a pie-maker, or a sushi chef. I could cook for celebrities, or a mafioso (Sopranos Cookbook), a wedding, or a great cocktail party. Maybe one day I will have time to make my own croissants, or puff pastry, Beef Wellington, or homemade pasta.

So what do these ramblings about cookbooks have to do with this post? I decided that it was time for my foster children to get up and get a job! Once a month I will write about one of the cookbooks I have on my shelves and make a recipe from it for a post. These will not be the "hot" cookbooks that you see on the pages of Amazon and B&N, there are enough foodies who already do a great job of reviewing new and emerging cookbooks (and encouraging us to add to our cookbook famlies!) I am going to pull out the ones that still have their dust covers, the specialty cookbooks, the ones from chefs before they were celebrities. I want to see what the connection was that made be bring them home to begin with. If the spark is still there, I will keep it, but if not, the cookbook will be making room for.... well, lets face it, probably a new cookbook!


Adapted from A Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price

This cookbook chronicles the international travels and dining experiences of Vincent Price(for you Generation X-ers, he was the narrator in Michael Jackson's Thriller video)and his wife Mary. From the Food Halls at Harods to The Four Seasons in New York to Thanksgiving at the Price's home, the cookbook is a tribute to fine food and enjoyment of food around the world. My in-laws gave me this book and it was the first gift I got from them, so besides being a great cookbook, it has a lot of sentimental value!

I make this recipe for a great breakfast dish, which is like a popover with sausage, and when my kids were little they loved the name! The original recipe calls for vienna sausages, but I use brown and serve sausage links, though any cooked link sausage would work. These are delicious with a pat of butter, and a light alternative to heavier breakfast foods! This recipe makes a dozen muffin-sized treats, but you could also do this as a casserole

12 cooked or brown and serve link sausages
nonstick spray with flour
1 scant cup of flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift flour into a bowl with salt. Stir in milk. In another bowl beat eggs until frothy, and then beat eggs into batter. Let batter stand about 30 minutes. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray with flour (this will let them rise really high!) Place one sausage in each muffin cup (I sometimes slice them so that there is sausage in each bite!) and then pour batter over sausage and fill about 2/3 full. Bake for 10-15 minutes until batter is browned and puffy. Serve with butter and/or maple syrup. ("Toads" will fall after you take them from the oven, so don't panic!)


Ronnie said…
Another wonderful post. I can identify with the cookbook disease. In fact I am coming home from a trip tonight to new shelves in my kitchen just waiting to be filled with my cookbooks. I can't wait to read about your cookbooks and all of the wonderful recipes. This sausage dish would be perfect for owners of a B & B!
s'kat said…
What a good way to delve into those tomes of times past! Toad in the Hole never goes out of style.
Deborah Dowd said…
Ronnie- I can't wait to hear from other bloggers who have some of these same cookbooks!

Shelley- I figured these cookbooks can at least earn their keep!
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Trace said…
This is a great idea for old cookbooks. I have several that I picked up from free bins and yard sales, and I have never cooked a single recipe in them. Your inspired me to crack them open and find one thing to make.
Trinity said…
Your post made me laugh when I read it. I never gave one thought to the cookbooks in the background collecting dust.
Deborah Dowd said…
Trace-Glad to know I am not the only one!

Trinity- Sometimes you have to look under a layer of dust for inspiration!
Anonymous said…
hey mom u can make thows in the morning or breakfast pizza!!!

love ya,
your daughter Molly
Susan said…
Well, that's a great idea, Deborah. I'll be interested in seeing your choices. To be honest, I have virtually no cookbooks. (I hope we can still be friends). ;)
I've just recently acquired a couple for baking (which I need), but for cooking, I fly by the seat of my pants!
Deborah Dowd said…
Molly- Thanks for checking out my blog. Glad to know you appreciate my cooking!

Susan- Of course we can still be friends. Maybe I should send you some cookbooks- a kind of blogger cookbook exchange (I actually have some baking ones that I hardly ever use!)
Sorcha said…
Vincent Price! *adores* He was awesome. He was also an art aficionado.
J said…
Deborah, I can totally empathise. I stopped counting my cookbooks when they got over 500. It’s an addiction I admit and I have called for a local chapter of CA (cookbooks anonymous) but you’re so right, maybe I should dig out a few oldies and resurrect them and I wouldn’t feel so guilty clinging on to them all.
Deborah Dowd said…
Sorcha- I know at the time the book came out he was synonymous with fine living (and eating!)

J- Unfortunately, I'll bet that I will find some treasures in my collection, and will be less likely to get rid of any!
Mansi Desai said…
Hmm...cookbook recipes are fun, though I usually don't stick to the exact measurements!:)

Great Idea. I too have a lot of cook books in my shelf. When I try to order them up all ends in a mess. Now I like to follow your idea.