It may surprise you to learn that spiral bound cookbooks – whether battered, tattered, stained or not – are not all church or club cookbooks. In fact, there is such a wide variety of “other” types of cookbooks that I am hard pressed to find categories for some of them and often am at a loss where to file them.

Cookbooks produced by museums throughout the country are numerous enough to have their own spotlight. The same might be said of cookbooks published by restaurants. (One of the most famous of these might be Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House restaurant cookbook.)

One kind of cookbook you may not be quite as familiar with may be those compiled and published by an individual or a family. The ones published by an individual are easy to understand – everyone loves your recipes, everyone says you really ought to publish a cookbook – and so you do. (but oops – all those people who kept saying you ought to publish a cookbook may not be as forthcoming when you let them know the books are $10 or $15 each.

As for families – I can speak for my own family; it took us 20 years of cajoling, begging and persuading to get enough recipes to finally have our cookbook published. And then it all fell into my sister Becky’s hands and mine to see it through – from collecting to publishing, and putting up the money between us to get it to the publisher. (for, while clubs and churches have something like a 90 day grace period from the time they receive the published book to get it paid off – individuals have to have the books paid in full before they are shipped. Our cookbook was published in 2004 and almost all of the copies distributed amongst family & friends of the family. Only 200 copies were published.

When I edited a cookbook for our local PTA, only about 200 copies were published and a boxful of those got lost somewhere along the way. I have often regretted not holding onto the ones that hadn’t sold. My sister Becky and I were both involved in PTA cookbooks around the same time, in the 1970s. Oddly, one of HER PTA cookbooks ended up in Maryland – where a friend of mine bought it, not knowing it was my sister’s art work throughout the book. I was dumbfounded to find a copy on her shelves. Generally, I file PTA cookbooks with the state in which they were published.

Even so, there are oodles and oodles of individuals and “others” that often turn up in the marked-down sale prices in front of used bookstore windows, loose ends, perhaps, because no one knows quite how to categorize them.

One such might be “Northwest Corner Historical Cookbook, Food & Fact”, copyright 1970 by “the author” and warns without the express permission of the author, no portion or part of this book may be duplicated…but it took some searching and a magnifying glass to find the names “Arthur & Margaret Mortensen” in small print—I’d share one of their recipes with you but I don’t want to run amuck of Arthur or Margaret – or their heirs, considering that the book was published 40 years ago.

“NESEI KITCHEN” was published in 1975 by the St Louis Chapter Japanese American Citizens League—file with Missouri cookbooks? Japanese? Here, from Nesei Kitchen is a recipe for broiled shrimp on skewers that you will be sure to like – whether or not you like “foreign food”.

36 shrimp

½ cup mirin*

½ cup soy sauce

¼ cup sugar

bamboo skewers

Shell and devein shrimp. Set aside. In a small sauce pan, combine soy sauce, mirin and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 3-4 minutes. Place 2 shrimp on each skewer. Dip briefly in soy sauce mixture. Broil over medium charcoal; heat for 2-3 minutes, dipping in sauce once or twice during broiling. Serve hot. Serves 10-12

(Sandy’s cooknote *Mirin is a Japanese rice wine, less alcoholic than Sake. This would be a great appetizer for a small dinner party group. I would suggest using medium to large shrimp).

This cookbook is unavailable on Amazon.com.


One of the first non-church or club cookbooks that I bought back in the 1970s was something called “A LITTLE FUR IN THE MERINGUE NEVER REALLY HURTS THE FILLING” by Cherie, published in 1972. I think I bought it mostly out of curiosity, but I discovered, page after page, that Cheri wrote the kind of cookbook I might have written myself. In the introduction, Cherie writes, “For several years now, my friends have asked me to sit down and write a book because they say everything different happens to you and ends up being funny….”

A bit later, Cherie writes, “It is not symbolic of anything, no hidden meanings lurk among the pot roast, is practically devoid of sex and four –letter words, takes absolutely no intelligence to read, will certainly not make the literary world stand up and take notice, and sure won’t add a damn thing to the Vietnam situation. It is however, typical of most women’s everyday experiences. Those little trials and tribulations, like those fallen cakes you’ve baked for the church bazaar, those cut fingers every time you’ve just run out of band aids, and all of those other little meaningless happenings that add up to a big fat headache. I realize we now have tranquilizers to   solve these problems but for those of us who are still teetotalers …I offer you the chance to share with me, my excellent recipes, my two many pounds, my two diabolical children, my roly-poly poodle and my fat and balding husband….” Well, she got me on the fat and balding husband. But Cherie wrote the kind of chatty cookbook I would have written, if I had ever gone down that road. It really IS the kind of cookbook you can read like other people read novels. There are dozens of great recipes from which to choose – but I am going to present to you one of my favorites, similar to the cucumber recipe of my childhood. This is Cherie’s recipe for CUCUMBERS IN SOUR CREAM:

2 cucumbers, peeled,

1 onion, thinly sliced

1¼ tsp salt

1 cup sour cream

2 TBSP vinegar

¼ tsp sugar

1/8 tsp paprika

1 TBSP parsley flakes

Draw tines of fork lengthwise down cucumbers. Then cut in thin slices. Add onion and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Let stand 10 minutes, then press out excess liquid. Mix rest of ingredients, add to cucumbers. Mix and chill.

Sandy’s cooknote: You can make this up a day (or even two) in advance. It will keep. I suggest you double the recipe because if you start sampling the cucumbers, as I tend to do, you will need to make more. A nice ripe tomato can also be sliced and added to the dish. The first time I made this for a Filipino girlfriend at one of our outdoor parties, she sat and ate the whole bowl of cucumbers.)

(*It took some searching but I finally did find some copies being offered on Amazon by private vendors, for about $5.00 each – not a bad price. I was surprised to find it listed at all.)

And curiously, the person offering two copies is not the person who wrote MY copy of “A Little Fur…” I’ve seen this happen a few times but don’t know how to explain it. Understandably, anyone (me included) can offer cookbooks for sale that I’ve accumulated over time–but I don’t list myself as the author. If any one can explain this to me, I would be happy to hear from you.

Another individually written cookbook in my files is something called

Treasured & wanted Recipes by Mary Ellen.

In her introduction, Mary Ellen writes, “For 20 some years I’ve been asked go share my recipes – I have shared and many have shared with me. Now it’s time to share with all. Some are very old family recipes, some rather new – others from dear friends and then there are the little out-of-the- way Inns, where you corner the cook!….” “Treasured & Wanted recipes” has a copyright date of 1978. From Mary Ellen’s cookbook here is her recipe for “THE ‘OLD DUTCH’ COLE SLAW” and she adds “And I do mean old”. To make Mary Ellen’s Old Dutch Cole Slaw you will need:

1 small head of cabbage, shredded

Beat together :

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup sugar

1 tsp salt

Dash pepper

½ cup vinegar

Refrigerate cabbage, when shredded, to keep crisp. Beat cream to medium whipped cream only, then add other ingredients. Mix with cabbage just before serving.

“Treasured & Wanted Recipes” originally sold for $6.95 and Mary Ellen sold copies from her home in Kalamazoo. If you can find a copy, you will love it. I was unable to find any pre owned copies in my web searches. It is not listed on Amazon.com.

Another favorite of mine is a well-worn copy of “1000+ Recipes from the American Cancer Society, Florida Division” – I no longer remember where I found it – possibly when I was living in Florida. The book was published in 1979 and I lived in North Miami Beach from 1979 to 1982. A huge amount of work went into “1000+ Recipes” which contains several recipes for chicken liver pate – one of my favorite appetizers (which my mother called Black Butter) –

You know there are numerous recipe for chicken liver pate. Try this one:

1 lb chicken livers

½ lb bacon, c hopped

1 bunch scallions or 4 shallots

4 cloves garlic

4 bay leaves

½ tsp cayenne pepper

2 TBSP Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp hot mustard

½ tsp ground cloves

1 tsp salt

1/3 c. bourbon

Place livers and chopped bacon in covered saucepan with bay leaves, onion (see ingredients) garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Barely cover with water and boil gently 20 minutes. Discard bay leaves and add remaining ingredients. Blend in food processor using steel knife until pureed. Pack into buttered mold and chill. Serve with melba toast, garnished with hard boiled egg. Keeps 1 weeks in the frig and freezes well. Serves 20. **

In 1976, the Yellowstone Art Center Associates published a cookbook titled “Art A La Carte” with proceeds from the sale of the books going for improvements and exhibitions at the Yellowstone Art Center. The recipe I’ve chosen is one that is similar to something my mother made regularly as a side dish, when I was a child. I’ve never found something exactly like mom’s (it may have been a Wok Presence thing) but this is close. To make Tomato Scallop, you will need

2 tsp butter

1 TBSP flour

1 tsp salt

Dash of pepper

1 TBSP sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

1 TBSP basil

4 TBSP dried onions

1 #2 can tomatoes (20 ounces, do not drain)

Buttered bread cubes

Melt butter, add flour, seasonings and onions. Make a paste and add to tomatoes in a 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle top with bread cubes and bake at 400* degrees or until hot & bubble. Serves 6.

(*Sandy’s cooknote—personally I am reluctant to bake anything in a glass casserole dish at 400 degrees.  I’ve read some stories about baking dishes shattering in a very hot oven.  I would bake this at 350 degrees until its hot and bubbly.)

An unusual cookbook from Historic Marshall, Michigan was published in 1979 and titled “A Tasting Tour”. This cookbook contains a selection f the favorite recipes for the collection of Berta Denger. Berta, a native of eastern Iowa, moved to Marshall in 1964 and was soon inundated with requests to “do” parties The cookbook provides a guide to some of Marshall’s famous 19th century homes. Here is Berta’s easy Blueberry Cake dessert for a 4th of July picnic—and so easy to make!

To make Berta’s Blueberry Cake – layer in a 9×13”   pan the following ingredients in this order:

1 can blueberry pie mix

1 large can crushed pineapple, drained

1 box yellow or white cake mix

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts

Drizzle over all 1 cup melted margarine or butter. Bake 1 hr at 350 degrees. A red raspberry sauce or just hulled strawberries would complete your patriotic motif!   ** This appears to be an early version of what became dump cakes which are very popular in different parts of the country.  everything old is new again!

I couldn’t find any listings for a Tasting Tour cookbook but a lot of wine ads popped up when I typed in the title.



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