Usually, when I go to Amazon in search of a book, condition is a big deal. If buying used is an option, I usually want the best one I can get for my money. “Like new” is a good thing. But today, noticing that the stash of cookies in the cookie jar was low, I made a batch of brownies. I pulled the cookbook off the shelf, opened it to the page I needed, and proceeded to mix up my favorite brownie recipe. It’s my default recipe, the one that’s tried and true. I use it for snacks here at home; I use it for potlucks at church; I use it for the perfect ending to a meal for a family who’s just had a baby or just needs a hand; I use it for thank-you gifts; I’ve used it for the base of the ultimate buckeye cake.
After I put the soon-to-be brownies in the oven, I turned to put the cookbook away and noticed the condition of the page. Definitely not “like new”. It occurred to me that when it comes to the cookbooks that keep the dust off of our kitchen shelves, isn’t “well-used” or “poor condition” with “torn, bent and dirty pages” what we look for? I don’t know about you, but my paperback Betty Crocker’s Cookbook is by no means in good condition. The cover is ripped, bent, and bound to fall off if dropped a few more times or found in the “loving” hands of my one-year-old. The pages are wrinkled, dotted with dried batter and oil spots. It’s been around the block a few times.
My mom’s hardcover Betty Crocker’s Cookbook was a go-to in her kitchen for more than 30 years. The cover was falling off, pages starting to come loose, literally hanging on by a thread. When they republished that same edition in a binder format for its 50th anniversary celebration, my dad bought it for my mom for her birthday. A great gift! She loved it! It immediately went on her shelf. But when push came to shove and it was time to make dinner or dessert or something else…. she still went to the one that had been with her all those years. The new one just wasn’t the same.
Like a spouse in marriage, there’s something about a cookbook that has seen you through many seasons–perhaps showing its age, wrinkled, softened around the edges, not as pretty as it used to be, yet useful, dependable, comfortable. No, you probably won’t make a mint trying to sell a torn, tattered book with no plot and a bunch of chickens as the main characters. But when your favorite mint chocolate chip brownie recipe is in it, I’m guessing you wouldn’t sell it for the world.
P.S. By the way, here’s the link to my default brownie recipe. 🙂
P.P.S. Have a default recipe or favorite cookbook of your own? Please share!