When I first moved out, my mother gave me a plant and a copy of the Better Homes and Gradens New Cookbook. The plant has long since died, but the cookbook has become part of my life. In the thirty plus years since, I have taken my plaid bound friend from place to place, and it was my regular reference as I tried to navigate my way around the kitchen. My life and cooking changed in many ways, but BH&G always had a recipe or tip to help me through disaster. I knew if I followed directions, My friend would see me through.
As I worked on the menu for Christmas dinner in two days, I thought it might be nice to have Yorkshire pudding popovers to go with the roast beef. By habit I switched over to Youtube and watched three videos, comparing the recipes and looking for the easiest. Today I did a run through to see how much time it took and figure out where I should fit it in to the other cooking. Only as I bit into prototype A did it occur to me that I hadn't thought to look in my old companion.
Actually, it has been a long time since I've dug out BH&G, or any other cookbook for that matter. When I want a recipe, I look online, and I usually look for a video. As I realized this, I felt a pang of nostalgia and perhaps a little regret. My daughter, should she want to cook, will not need or want an all-in-one cookbook, she has a far larger cookbook at her fingertips.
I can't argue for traditional cookbooks (any more than I can argue for traditional textbooks). Online recipe collections, coupled with demonstration videos give one a portable cooking school. I know that just as anyone can post bad ideas, people can (and do) post bad recipes, but there are plenty of dependable sites. I've often been amazed to find a recipe for something that I thought I made up in my head.
Even my old tried and true recipes, which still live in my recipe box, are also on my iPad, and it is easier for me to have this out when I'm cooking (even though I sometimes get doughy or eggy hands on the screen). The cards I copied from books or magazines, or gifts from my mom, are still cooked, but untouched.
I'm sure someone could give a reason why the cookbooks are still good. Someone will probably suggest that cookbooks still work when the power goes out…though I would suggest that my oven would also not work.
So what does this mean? Well, it shows that I have the same nostalgic regret for some of the older technologies that I see in other people. I understand the regret of those who feel the loss of paper books, newspapers and magazines. As comfort of the familiar is lost, it is easy to feel that the new is wrong. Life is becoming different, and things are being left behind.
Like my friend the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
As always, I welcome your comments
By the way, I just checked and the BH&G doesn't have a recipe for Yorkshire pudding popovers.