An Ode to the Cookbook (and some summer garden recipes)

It’s been said that a great cookbook is much more than just a book – it’s a lifetime investment. As cheesy as that may sound, isn’t it true?

Think about your favorite cookbook. Maybe you even got it from your mother or grandmother. The pages start to curl at the edges, you get fingerprints on the cover, you spill all kinds of stuff  – vanilla, Worcestershire sauce, various cake batters – on it as you lovingly cook for your family.

If you’re like me, you make extremely vital notes all over the pages. (In fact, my cookbooks are getting to be more like family history books, as my scribbles tell me that I made this dish for Christmas morning brunch in 2000, tried this new recipe in May and hubby liked it, and experimented with adding extra ingredients to this or that recipe).

And many times, those well-used cookbooks get handed down to the next young cook.

With over 1,000 recipes, this is our biggest and best cookbook yet.

I am lucky enough to have my great-grandmother’s recipe binder, filled with her handwritten recipes (and even one in her mother’s handwriting – my great-great-grandmother) plus those she clipped out of publications over the years. Even though it basically contains dessert recipes (she had a real sweet tooth) and about 128 different variations of meatloaf (which my great-grandfather apparently loved), I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Another “cookbook” of sorts that I guard with my life is the handmade wooden recipe box filled with handwritten recipes that my maternal grandparents gave me when I got married (grandpa made the box, and grandma, of course, wrote out all her favorite recipes). It is a treasure trove and contains several precious family recipes that must never be lost.

On the slightly more recent side, I also own the Lehman’s 55th Anniversary Cookbook, which I had the pleasure of helping to compile this year to celebrate Lehman’s 55 years in business. Now, I might be a little biased, but I can honestly say that it is currently my favorite cookbook – I bet I use it an average of twice a week. (Not bad for someone who only actually cooks a few times a week.) Cookbooks also make great gifts – everyone loves them, even just to read for entertainment.

Now is the time when our gardens and farmer’s markets begin overflowing with a plethora of zucchini, cukes, tomatoes, onions, cabbage, sweet corn – the list could go on and on. In the spirit of fresh, local cooking and eating, here are a few recipes from our staff to help you use up and truly savor all those wonderful veggies.

Zucchini Chocolate Cake (Shelley Salsburey, Catalog Dept.)
1/2 c. margarine
1/2 c. oil
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sour milk
1 c. milk
2 c. grated zucchini
2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 T. cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. chocolate chips

Cream margarine, oil and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla and milk. Beat well. Add zucchini and mix. Add dry ingredients. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. This cake needs no frosting! Keep refrigerated. Delicious when warmed up in the microwave.

Summer Garden Minestrone (Crockpot) (Sherry Maurer, Product Specialist)
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
2 T. parsley flakes
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
1 c. ham, chopped into small pieces
2 cans chicken broth (14 1/2 oz each)
1 qt. water
1 pt. whole tomatoes
1/2 c. diced celery
1 c. diced raw potato
1/2 c. cooked navy beans
3/4 c. elbow macaroni, uncooked
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Put all ingredients except macaroni and cheese in crock pot. Cover and cook 10-12 hours on low. A half hour before serving, add macaroni and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Replace lid. Turn on high the last half hour. Serves 10.

Crunchy Broccoli Salad (Jemima Hostetler, Mt. Hope Hardware Store)
1 head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1 head broccoli, chopped into small pieces
2 c. mozzarella or cheddar cheese, shredded
1 onion, minced
1 pkg. bacon, fried and chopped
1 c. sour cream
1 c. Miracle Whip
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine cauliflower, broccoli, cheese, onion and bacon. Mix sauce and pour over. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Bon appetit, everyone.

Note: I also own and highly recommend: The More With Less Cookbook, Simply In Season, and The Best of Mennonite Fellowship Meals.

Shop Lehman’s entire collection of Cookbooks>>

4 thoughts on “An Ode to the Cookbook (and some summer garden recipes)

  1. My wife will spend hours looking up recipes on the ‘net, comparing ingredients and preparation methods, and finally printing off the dozen most-likely-to-succeed.

    She gets great results, but the physical permanence just isn’t there- at least not like you’ll find with actual “bound” cookbooks or meticulously hand penned index cards.

    A splash of “Worcestershire sauce” and the water-based ink is illegible, the notes no longer make sense, and for want of a ten-spot (or three) the original web site is gone.

    Maybe I’m just being maudlin this evening, reflecting on the ephemeral nature of all things “internet”; but I have to think your grandparents did a wonderful thing.

  2. I also spend hours on net looking for recipes. I tried the chocolate zucchini cake and it was the best I’ve had in a long time!! My husband can’t get enough of it. Thank you to Shelley Salsburey for sharing the recipe.

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