The recent thread on recipes from old Gourmet magazines got me thinking about self-published cookbooks which I love to read. You know what I mean...the recipe collections published by churches, clubs, etc. for fundraising? Old or new, they fascinate me. They're as much about sociology as cookery. Some of them have lots of contributors; others seem to be from the recipe files of about six people in the group who can cook. There are books that give me a picture of genteel luncheons and dinner parties, old family silver in high buff, each hostess trying to outdo the other with "fine" dishes. Others call to mind lively church suppers where you've got to move fast if you're going to land one of Mrs. X's ham biscuits.
Good relations with members are more important than editing. If l8 people submit recipes for broccoli casserole, then 18 recipes for broccoli casserole will get published. Priorities are obvious...there's inevitably a sparsely populated section. Vegetable sides in one, seafood in another. Rarely desserts, though. My aunt has one frome some group that one would swear eats only at cocktail parties. "Canapes" is the big chapter.
I've seen collections where I've had to figure that the canopener is the most used utensil in the kitchen. And others where folks feel compelled to introduce "foreign" ingredients into their recipes. (Water chestnuts again?)
Some actually have good recipes. A favorite is Charleston Receipts which the Junior League of Charleston has been publishing since 1950. I do believe every woman in our family owns a copy. But again, sociology enters the picture. If you knew nothing at all about Charleston, you'd get a decent picture from this book alone. (At least from the perspective of the Junior League.) Plus, it's fun to read. One recipe, salvaged from the 19th century, actually intstructs you to go out and milk the cow over the bowl.
Any other Chowhounds share my fascination with this genre of cookbooks?
And Jim, I heard you. I'm tryng to figure out a creative way to exapnd my moniker.