Cookbooks hold reminders and memories | Living with Gleigh

I keep moving a pile of cookbooks around on my kitchen counter. I bought a new cookbook and there is no longer space in my cookbook cupboard, so something has to go. I pulled a whole batch of small cookbooks out and shuffled through them, wondering if I’d use them again, then with a resigned sigh, I just left them on the counter.

The funny thing is, I rarely use a cookbook. My family has their favorite meals and I tend to recycle those over every few weeks, sometimes needing a recipe out of my crammed-full recipe box.

The recipe box is similar to my cookbook cupboard — it really won’t fit any more recipes. If I had everything on recipe cards, I could probably still get more in that box, but recipes come in all shapes and sizes. I tear them out of magazines, fold them and stick them in the box. I have one written many years ago on old computer paper with the tracks on the sides. I even have a sticky note with a recipe on it.

I’ve often thought I should go through them all, put them on recipe cards and toss ones I don’t use. But there are memories attached to those scrunched, food-stained bits of paper. Some have been so damaged, I’ve had to write the words back in.

My main concern of the moment is that pile of cookbooks sitting on my kitchen counter. I keep thinking I should just toss them in the Goodwill box to get them out of my kitchen. Many of them are from Pampered Chef which, a direct sales cookware and cooking utensils company, from which I believe I can find the recipes online. But there are many memories attached to some of the cookbooks and recipes. I sold Pampered Chef for a couple years when my kids were small. It gave me a little extra income and got me out of the house a couple evenings a week. So when I flip through the cookbooks, some of the recipes are those I prepared while I was demonstrating the cooking equipment.

I can remember good times during the demonstrations and some precarious times; after all we were demonstrating cooking equipment, the good the bad and the sharp. But it was those experiences which made me a confident cook. Now I will try a new recipe on company without batting an eye or should I say without cracking an egg?

Back in the day, before my children became teens, I had tea parties. And I don’t mean tea parties with crackers for treats and fake tea. I mean TEA PARTIES with spreads that would rival a tea at the Four Seasons: pecan tassies, lemon tartlets, apple bundles, orange poppy seed tea bread, chocolate chip banana bread, scones of different flavors. If I had a luncheon tea I would make sandwich rings of all sorts like cranberry turkey ring, chicken club ring and salads: dilly seafood pasta salad, chicken and grape salad.

My friend who lived in the area was my partner in tea parties with her daughter, who was like a sister to my daughters. We had teas because the kids had vacation, it was mother’s day, someone’s birthday or just because it was sunny or rainy outside. I don’t know if I got tired or if it was because my friend and her daughter moved to Chicago or if the kids outgrew it, but the teas just stopped.

I pull them out for special occasions, like two years ago when my mother turned 70. But I haven’t had one since. And there, on the kitchen counter, the cookbooks sit, reminders of my past and my children’s childhoods, when a tea party was a fun activity and my kids found me more entertaining than computers.

Every stain and stuck together page is attached to a memory; how can I get rid of those? Maybe I should just find another cookbook cupboard.

Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is currently moving things around in her kitchen to make room for all her cookbooks. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at under the Lifestyles section.

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