That’s not a cookbook!

better homes and gardens vintage cookbookI received my first Better Homes and Gardens cookbook in 1975. You know, the one with the red and white checkered cloth covers? I used that book so much the pages were falling out, some of them were stuck together or had been stuck and were now torn from separating them. So by the early 90’s I thought it would be fun if I’d go treat myself to a new copy of the book. This was before they shrink-wrapped them so you don’t know for sure what’s inside until you buy it. But back then you could flip though the pages at will.

The crisp, clean pages were such a treat to fondle. No sticky spots, no coffee spills, no pages glued together from dripped egg whites. But wait. This looked odd. They’d changed the format. I flipped through to the cake section and I was appalled.

The chocolate cake recipe in the old book began with
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
…and so on.

The new book had changed the ingredient list quite a bit. Now it read:
1 box of chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil…

What? Excuse me? Aren’t there instructions right on the cake box? Why would I need to buy a cookbook that has the exact same instructions that you can get on the boxed mixes? I thought maybe I was mistaken and maybe this was the quicky cooking section. So I started looking under the main course index for a spaghetti sauce recipe.

Again I read:
1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 lbs. ground beef
I pkg of onion soup mix…

My audible gasp could be heard two aisles away. That’s not my idea of “cooking”. That’s “slam some crap together and call it food because you’re too busy to bother with real food” cooking. I didn’t buy that new cookbook. Instead I went to the stationary department and picked up some of those little white binder ring page enforcers (remember those?) and put my old cookbook back together. I’m still using that thing and the kids argue over who’s going to inherit it. Of all the crap I’ve collected over the years, lost or misplaced and replaced, I’m glad I have one thing they all value!


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