Almost anyone who enjoys cooking and trying new recipes begins to accumulate cookbooks. These may be luxurious hardcover ones with colored pictures, softcover with spiral bindings, regional cookbooks, family cookbooks, or recipes clipped from newspapers and magazines then pasted into a scrapbook.

One person's collecting may be hit and miss. Another looks for cookbooks about specific types of recipes (desserts, main dishes, appetizers), those with dishes from different countries, compiled by regional groups, made by famous chefs, or with recipes from manufacturers of food products.

Value Varies

Some cookbooks have monetary value because they're old or rare or a first edition by a well-known cook. Others have sentimental value because they're associated with one's childhood or family members.

Those which are valuable in terms of money must be in mint or undamaged condition. Usually they're put on a shelf and kept away from cooking spills. Those having memories associated with them often have no monetary value, but bring to mind days of cooking with Grandmother, Mom, or other family members. They may have spills on the pages, be worn around the binding, even have portions falling out.

Categories For Collecting

Eventually you may have so many cookbooks that you don't have room to store or display them and cannot possibly use them all. You may have to decide upon a few categories for your collecting.

These can be broken down in various ways....by author, region, country, food manufacturer, specific appliance, specific ingredient, organization, etc.

Two books which I've found very informative for my collecting and the history of recipes and cookbooks are:

*"America's Collectible Cookbooks", The History, The Politics, The Recipes by Mary Anna DuSablon.

*A Guide to Collecting Cookbooks and Advertising Cookbooks," by Colonel Bob Allen.

Where Do You Find Cookbooks?

Often our collecting starts with cookbooks given us as children learning to cook, a college student sharing an apartment with roommates, someone with their first job and apartment, or newlyweds. Then we may develop an interest in a specific type of cooking and begin searching for cookbooks about it.

Perhaps we're given Grandma's cookbooks when she moves to a smaller place or Mom or Dad's when you get a place of your own. Then the collecting bug hits.

Where do we find them?

Bookstores, antiques shope, garage sales, flea markets, auctions, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores, gift stores, book fairs, and library sales are all good places to search.

A Recipe for Your Collection

SWISS STEAK - Put 2 slices bread into blender and blend until fine. Combine this with 1 pound lean ground beef. Add 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg, 1 minced onion, 1 teaspoon parsley flakes. Mix well.

Make patties of desired size and brown in skillet; drain of fat. Mix together 1 can mushroom soup and 1/2 can water. Pour over meat and simmer in skillet 1/2 hour. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

(c)2002

(Mary Emma Allen has been writing cooking columns for 30 years and compiled a family cookbook, in which this recipe appears. She also is writing "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles: http://homepage.fcgnetworks.net/jetent/mea; e-mail: [email protected])