Favorite first cookbooks

cbears.JPGThere is something to be said for the old staple cookbooks, like the Joy of Cooking, Fanny Farmer, Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, all of which have been cited (repeatedly) as must-haves for the home cook because they are books that you can turn to again and again. But just because these books have been around for quite some time, that doesn’t mean that they were the first cookbooks you encountered. I know that they weren’t the first books that piqued my interest as a kid, but fortunately, there were cookbooks out there geared directly towards children – by which I mean that they were illustrated.

One of the first cookbooks I had that I can remember using was , embarrassingly enough, the Care Bear’s Party Cookbook. Illustrated with the characters from the very early 80s cartoon show, it was filled with brightly colored illustrations that made the simple, no-bake recipes look very appealing. I definitely made “Funshine Fizz” (a punch made with orange sherbert), Ants on a Log and Rainbow Fruit Sticks/Kebabs time and time again. Far from gourmet cooking, it was perfect for a kid who wanted to experiment with food but had very limited experience with the kitchen. I loved it and still have the book to this day, although I generally pass it over on the shelf in favor of my more “grown-up” cookbooks.

Do you remember your very first childhood cookbook, or the first one that really made an impression on you?

26 comments

  1. My favorite cookbook as a kid was The Klutz Kids Cooking which came with its own set of measuring spoons, which I still use. Simple, fun recipes.

  2. That is brilliant! I would love to see some of the recipes in this book. I honestly can’t remember the names of some of my childhood cookbooks, but I’m quite sure they involved making English muffin pizzas and fluffy scrambled eggs — very gourmet ;)

  3. Mine was called something like “food of many nations…” it was spiral bound and had a delicious recipe for a chocolate mousse that I would make for my family.
    I also have fond memories of the Betty Crocker cookie book. My mom made cookies from it all the time and sometimes we got to help her.

  4. Mine was The Charlie Brown Cookbook, which is still on my cookbook bookshelves, even though I haven’t used it in decades. There’s a recipe called something like Charlie Brown potatoes, which my mother made all the time. It’s baked french fries.

  5. Mine was the Alpha Bakery Children’s Cookbook, published by Gold Medal Flour. It had 26 recipes in it, and each corresponded to a letter of the alphabet (“A is for Apple Crisp, B is for Banana Bread,” and so on). My dad and I had the order of the recipes memorized and we’d play a game where we took turns calling out the names of the recipes while we were on long walks. I remember planning to make each recipe, in order, but I’m quite sure I never got through all of them!

  6. We must be from the same generation, because I totally recognize that cookbook. I definitely had that one, but there was another, and thin, hardback book with a tan cover, that was my favorite. I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it. It had old-fashioned type foods- nothing with cute names or lots of colors, like the Care Bears one.

  7. Definitely the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys & Girls. I would stare longingly at the “Ghost Cake With Flaming Eyes”.

  8. This was mine:
    http://www.amazon.com/Microwave-Cookery-Richard-Deacon/dp/0553240218

    Microwave Cookery by Richard Deacon, ya know… the actor from the Dick Van Dyke show? I still have this book. I remember my grandparents giving it to me when I was 10 years old. If my mother sees this comment, she’ll probably roll her eyes because I made SO MUCH stuff from this cookbook, including the cherry cheesecake on the cover!

  9. Ditto Anna on the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls. I had the 1972 edition, passed down from my sister. Oh, the bunny salads, the painted sugar cookies, and the Enchanted Castle Cake, which I stared at, longingly, at least weekly. Did you notice that Amy Sedaris borrowed heavily (and without acknowledgement) from this in her recent book? True.

    Also, Peter Rabbit’s Natural Foods Cookbook. So many uses for granola. And carrots! The fudgy pudding cake on the last page totally ruled.

    You can read more of my childhood cookbook reminscing right here (shameless self-promotion – sorry!)
    http://www.portlandfoodanddrink.com/?author=36

  10. when i was in first grade my class made a cookbook (i submitted ants on a log) and i still have it!

  11. My first was the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls. I remember one recipe that my sister wanted to make, but I balked because it had CREAM OF TARTAR in it, and I hated tartar sauce! Our mom could NOT convince me that the two weren’t even remotely related.

    Thank goodness I got over that!

  12. The first one I remember is the Boxcar Children’s Cookbook. I bought it through one of those book “pamphlets” they send around in elementary schools. I was SO excited to get that. My favorite “recipe” was for a drink that was half orange juice and half coke.

  13. Goodness, of *course* I remember my first cookbook! As others have mentioned, it’s the BC Cookbook for Boys and Girls, and I’m even willing to date myself by confessing that I still have it — a 1957 first edition, well-thumbed and food stained!! The first recipe I attempted was the Velvet Crumb Cake with Broiled Coconut Icing (I burnt the coconut); next, I went for the Molasses Crinkles cookie, still one of my favorites; as to a savory dish, I made the meatloaf with the sliced hard-boiled egg hidden inside, which I thought was totally groovy.

    Terrific memories . . .

  14. I have video of me “cooking” at age 2. I have 3-4 cookbooks that I know I had before I started kindergarten and another 5 from before Jr high. the ones I have the most memories about are these:
    http://www.amazon.com/Minnie-Cooking-Together-book-recipes/dp/0831723483/ref=sr_1_1/104-1210642-4711945?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177799183&sr=8-1
    http://www.amazon.com/Little-House-Cookbook-Frontier-Ingalls/dp/0590453718/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-1210642-4711945?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1177799633&sr=8-1

  15. Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys and Girls; 1960s-vintage. I still have it! My mom made the “drum” layer cake — white frosting, peppermint-stick details — for, I think, my fifth birthday. I’m 48 now. I can’t believe I remember that.

  16. I also had the Alpha Bakery Children’s Cookbook. I loved that thing! I remember making quite a few of the recipes out of it and they were all quite good. I especially remember the “A is for Apple Crisp” and the “E is for Elephant Ears”. Delicious. Wish I still had a copy of that.

  17. YES! Amy must have had the same obsession with the ghost with flaming eyes cake.

    I still have my Betty Crocker Cookbook for Boys & Girls. I’m in a cooking rut right now, so maybe I should pull it out and make bunny salad or something.

  18. The Mickey Mouse and Friends Cookbook…I still own it.

  19. Long time lurker, first time poster, so hello! While I had the Alpha Bakery Cookbook, it was truly the Barbie Party cookbook that I first loved…not only were they easy recipes for me to master, but as a little girl, there’s nothing cooler than a bunch of pink and most often heart-shaped foods!

  20. I had several Ladybird cook books, which were excellent. I still remember a recipe for strawberry flummery that made you get an adult to help you with the boiling water needed for the jelly (jello). And I had a sweets and cakes Ladybird book with an excellent peppermint creams recipe.

  21. Like a number of other people, I had the Betty Crocker cookbook for B&G, although I’m a bit younger. I had it because my mom had grown up with it and thought I’d like it. I remember making the meatloaf rings and the candle salad!

  22. I remember the alpha bakery… only because M was Mud Pie! I think we still have it somewhere..

  23. I had (and still have) the Betty Crocker kids cookbook from around 1970. I remember making the heart shaped cake and the black cat cookies.

    I also have very fond memories of my mom’s Settlement House Cookbook. I have a copy myself and still occasionally dip into it for recipes

  24. I remember the boxcar children cookbook too! I learned how to make homemade pudding and I remember feeling very proud and grown-up when I heard my brother tell his College friend how good it was. But thats about the only one I remember because my dad was a professional chef and he was the one who actually taught me how to cook.

  25. Mine was the Charlie Brown Cookbook as well. It has a great french toast recipe and cartoon strips on every page. However the recipe worked best for ME using only one egg and not the stated two. Back when it first was published it only cost 60 cents!

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