Books, Books, Cookbooks

This weekend is the Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago. If you’re in town and up early enough to get your act together, you can still make it. I highly recommend at least walking through. When I was there Saturday morning, the History Press table was buzzing with Chef Jenny Lewis author of Midwest Sweet Baking History. Nothing draws a crowd like mini bundt cakes (at least that’s what it looked like from my vantage point… I couldn’t get close enough with Mr. Moo in his stroller).

I also met some lovely ladies at the mystery writers’ tent (yes, Mom, there are books on the way to you). But, why write about a book fair on a food blog? Because it is an excellent place to pick up cookbooks—new and old. In a few short blocks, there are a TON of new, used, and antique cookbooks for sale. And, if you’re an old book junkie like me, it’s also nice to meet the purveyors of said goods.

I came away with a few gems:

I bought a new copy of Cooking at the Kasbah by Kitty Morse for more than half off. I picked it up on a whim with the idea that I’m going to become a better cook on my tagine. In addition, there’s a recipe for preserved lemons that I’m pretty excited about.

Cooking at the Kasbah

And, in the old book category, I found a treasure trove at the This Old Book tent. (They’re in Grayslake, IL, so there’s no way I’d ever make it to their shop on a regular basis.)

What Shall I Serve by Letta Hesse was published in 1945 and touts systematic, correct, and up-to-the-minute menus indexed to recipes and recipes indexed to menus. (Hence the large Cross Indexed script across the cover.) The first section is entitled “Amounts Required to Serve 50 Persons.” I can’t wait!

What Shall I Serve

I also found a copy of Cook and Be Cool, a 1928 publication “offering the hostess a ready path to the maximum effect with the minimum of effort…” It’s a cookbook for hot weather housekeeping. Flipping through and seeing a recipe for jellied tongue gets me a bit giddy.

Cook and Be Cool

Finally, I paid way too much for a copy of the The Great 20th Century Cook Book: Three Meals a Day. But, how could I not with the subtitle of “Cooking, Table, Toilet, and Health?”

20th Century Cookbook

What really clinched it for me was the inscription on the inside:

20th Century Cookbook dedication

Something about the book being so formally presented gives me happy thoughts. The back inside flap also has a hand-written recipe for orange marmalade from a Mrs. Doty. At 576 pages, I think I’ll be able to find plenty of fun inside.

I can’t tell you how to spend your Sunday, but think about being a book geek for an afternoon.


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  1. #1 by emmycooks on 6.14.2012 - 1:40 am

    I love old cookbooks. Especially the ones that purport to give helpful advice to housewives. Did they think they were writing ironically, I sometimes wonder? 🙂

    • #2 by e.marie on 6.14.2012 - 4:10 pm

      I think the sad thing is that they actually thought they were being helpful. I so love those ye olde people!

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