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For the Love of Recipes and Cookbooks

Monday 11 December 2017 at 8:33 pm.

This article by Ray Spitzenberger first appeared in IMAGES for December 7, 2017, East Bernard Express, East Bernard, Texas.

            Checking out new posts on Facebook every day makes me hungry. Seriously, it does! Why? Because many of my friends regularly post favorite recipes, always with photos of mouth-watering casseroles, cakes, pies, cookies, etc.

            It’s a good thing I don’t like to cook, because if I tried every drooling-good recipe posted on Facebook, I’d be a blimp. And the recipe traffic has picked up on Facebook now that the Christmas season is underway, -- Christmas cookies are so luscious-looking that every pictured plateful screams “weight gain” at you. You rationalize that it’s only Christmas once a year as you send the recipe to your wife’s Facebook timeline with the suggestion, “We ought to try this!”

            However, at the rate she checks Facebook posts and messages, it will be Easter before she sees the recipe.

            Most people love to try new recipes. What is more, in spite of the fact that you can find any kind of recipe online, and download it, people love to buy recipe books.

            It’s true! Most of the books my daughter designs in New York are cookbooks, and they sell readily. People don’t seem to be buying other kinds of books as much as they used to, but cookbooks are big sellers.

            Men and women who cook a lot want to have recipe BOOKS in their kitchen. In the old days, great cooks like my mother had one or more recipe BOXES, packed tight with recipes written on index cards, arranged in categories like Casseroles, Desserts, Soups,. Etc., and alphabetized. Not my mother, however! Having inherited her box of recipes, and wanting to find certain types of dishes, I was unable to determine any system of organization whatsoever, so I gave the box to my daughter to see if she could un-jumble the jumble.

            Since cookbooks seem to be outselling other kinds of books these days, I decided to include some of my mother’s recipes in the book I have been writing, It Must Be the Noodles: Growing Up Wendish in Rural Texas. But, trying to find a specific recipe in Mama’s little box of 3 X 5 cards is like trying to find a noodle in a haystack. On top of that, she never wrote down some of the old Wendish recipes, like the one for creamed herring. That recipe went to the cemetery with both my grandmother and my mother!

            Today, many who love to cook have a recipe box which they never use. They also have a collection of books, and that’s what they use when preparing meals. The book, not the box.

            As a poet and connoisseur of poetry, I can tell you that poetry books do not sell. Any publisher who publishes a book of poetry today knows he is looking at limited sales. I can also tell you from experience that writing poetry for a living is not a wise career plan.

            Perhaps that’s the reason one editor published a cookbook entitled Food for Thought, and included many excellent poems between the recipes. It was my joy to have at least a half dozen of my poems included in that cookbook. And it was from that book I got the idea of including a few of my mother’s recipes in my book about growing up Wendish. To be sure, it’s not a recipe book per se; it’s about my mother, Dime Box, and being Wendish. But, hey, it can’t hurt to throw in a few recipes, can it? Especially since Mama was an avid cook and recipe collector.

            I do indeed love to eat decadently delectable food, especially desserts. I never saw a cake I didn’t like, and I truly love some of them. And I love to read cookbooks as well as recipes on Facebook. But I hate to cook! Go figure.


Ray Spitzenberger is a free-lance writer and artist who lives in East Bernard with his beautiful wife Peggy and spoiled cat Gatsby.

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