Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Cookbook Collection/Addiction/Fascination and a recipe for POLENTE

This is a photo of my cookbook collection. A collection that has already been scaled down.

I collect cookbooks. I love them.

Sometimes I will grab 3 or 4 cookbooks, lie down on the sofa and read recipes. And highlight the interesting ones that I need to try. I may make little notes of ingredients I would add or take away.

I can get transported when my nose is in a good cookbook. It is so relaxing.

My favorites?

Well ,I have many favorites, for many reasons.

I love to purchase church cookbooks (those ladies know their stuff!) and community cookbooks, because those usually are tried and true favorites and I am rarely disappointed when I make anything within them.

I also purchase a cookbook when Big AL and I visit other towns, states or communities on our little pleasure trips. It becomes a souvenir I can actually USE!

This is my very favorite because of sentimental reasons.

It belonged to my grandmother, Amelia.

THE best Italian cook.

It was her cookbook, from 1926. She used it throughout her life, and it is well worn. It has become a cherished keepsake in my home.

Upon closer inspection, you'll see her handwriting and some scribbling by one of her sons when he was a small child. Possibly my Dad's "artwork."

The sign of a good recipe in a well used cookbook is a food blot on the page!

Grandma was known for her excellent cooking skills. Everything was made from scratch.

My favorite recipes of hers when I was growing up were :

POLENTA, served with stew beef, marinara sauce and grated Parmesan
Gnocci (potato dumplings)
Italian Rice , served with boiled chicken
Pizelle Cookies ( A Christmas tradition)
Yeast rolls
Nut Bread
Apple strudel

Oh, how I miss her cooking.

Her cookbook brings me closer to her.

She would be so proud to know I was making one of her recipes, and even happier if she knew I was sharing it with all of you.

SO, in her memory,I give you my Grandma Amelia's POLENTE


1 T. salt
1/2 stick butter
3/4 box yellow cornmeal
2 qt. warm water

Mix cornmeal with water and salt. Stir until smooth. Set over Med. heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Simmer about 25 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes: add butter before removing from heat.

Serving suggestion:

Cook stew beef chunks in chicken broth till done, then add beef to your favorite Marinara sauce and pour over top of Polente. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan.

So, tell me. What is your favorite cookbook and why?

Feel free to share a favorite recipe in my comment section, or email it to me at: if you would like it featured in a post.


  1. I absolutely love your story and I could spend a week just going through those books.. LOVE the photo.. thanks for sharing.

  2. Donna, you would need longer than a week!

  3. You know what? I am EXACTLY the same way! I am a cookbook addict! I have so many that I have to box them up every couple of months to make room for the new ones. Hubby gets so annoyed w/ me sometimes...why do you need to go to the library...blah blah blah. I snatch 'em up wherever I can get them! My favorite depends on the day, but one of my all-time go-to's is Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican- LOVE IT!

  4. girlichef- guys just don't get it...
    glad to "meet" another cookbookaholic!

  5. What a great post! I loved the peek into your favorite cookbook. You could make this a regular feature -- I'd love to hear about your second favorite cookbook, and then your third :) Guess I'm kind of a cookbook fanatic myself. I have so many "favorites," but one of the best, certainly, is one I picked up used (I think it may have even been at the county dump; did you know they sometimes salvage stuff and put it on display and sell it?). It's called Holiday Home Cooking: Favorite Recipes from the Memebers of the Cooking & Crafts Club. According to the book flap, more than 3,000 recipes were submitted, and the cookbook's editor, Frances McCullough, tested hundreds of them and chose only the best. Absolutely everything I've tried from this book is a winner. Anyway, keep up the great food blogging! Such fun.

  6. Lynn- what a brilliant idea to feature my cookbooks individually. I will do it!
    (I'll give you credit for the idea, of course).
    I had no idea a salvage yard sets up displays to sell items. I've never been to one. I've picked up books at Yard Sales though, and thrift shops and antique stores. And gas stations,gift shops, restaurants, schools....I'm addicted, remember?

  7. Sherri, I'm so glad you're going to show us some more of your favorite cookbooks! I'm excited to get the cookbook tour. Maybe you'll start a trend and all of us cookbook addicts will find dozens more we absolutely "need" to have ;) Thanks for coming by and visiting me, too, and for adding me to your food blog list. I am honored.

  8. Lynn- I'm excited about doing the cookbook posts. You had a brilliant idea! Your site is great, BTW.

  9. I am so happy to hear that there are other people who own a lot of cookbooks. My family thinks I have an addiction. They could be right. I probably have over 100.

    This month, I started an experiment. I pulled out 4 cookbooks and 1 cooking magazine (yeah, I have a lot of them as well) and marked 4 different recipes to try from each one.

    I'm lucky I have a husband who likes most food and have found some great recipes and also learned that any recipe containing soy sauce, fish sauce and chicken broth should be retitled as "Salt".

  10. Glad I just came across your blog! I love to read (and collect) cookbooks too... yes it is an addiction!! :o)

  11. What a fun post as one cookbook addict to another. Loved the pictures of your grandmother's cookbooks. And you should know that your cookbook addiction appears mild and in control. I met a woman last year who owns a used cookbook shop (how cool is that) who met a woman who had installed library book shelves all around the inside perimeter of her house to accommodate her thousands of cookbooks! Now that's a serious addiction :-)