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Friday, 21 August 2009

Sometimes a Bargain

By Mage Bailey of Day Tripper

Though I probably never need to go shopping again, you can still find me out there doing a little browsing on the weekends.

Oh, I love shopping at thrift stores. The joy of being let loose in Amvets, Salvation Army or the Cancer Society Thrift Store is incalculable. I stalk the aisles slowly and with great zest. For anything else I might want, not need, I find myself drawn to the bitter sweet joy of estate sales - especially for the cook books.

Sometimes it’s gramma herself in charge of the sale. One day, we found ourselves in a house filled with delightful Swedish prints, fabrics and dishes.

They tantalized me and charmed me. Bravely, I bought only a token dishcloth while mourning that not one cook book could be found. She had packed all her treasured recipes to take with her to her new home.

Sometimes it’s the kids running the sale. They are much more defensive of the treasures, or what they think are treasures, and they keep the family recipes for themselves. Often we run into estate sale professionals that we knew when we were in the antique business. It’s the occasion for a good chat, and a good cookbook rummage.

Today I found neighbors banded together to help an old friend and his wife who now live in a nursing home.

“Sell the house,” he told them from his bed at the home, and once they shoveled the small rooms and narrow hall clear into a giant “free” pile on the lawn, they held an estate sale.

They’d take one hundred bucks for the motor home. It was a truly faded dream unstarted for the last six months. Two dollars for the Sunbonnet Sue wall hanging, one dollar for the Windows Office 2007 with, one hopes, two uses left.

Ten for the vacuum and another ten for each turntable. There were acres of computers, old monitors, VCRs, tapes and office furniture that no one seemed to want. We didn’t either. There were more acres of household bargains mixed in with other old passions.

I found little to catch my eye in with the old, worn cookbooks still on their shelves. I grabbed and only glanced at what I hoped were the usual helpful hints written in the thirties, meals sent by friends and of favorites passed on from a mother or grandmother. They only wanted one dollar for this notebook, a lifetime collection of handwritten recipes.

When I got the books home, I washed the sticky covers and left them to dry on my kitchen counter. Hours later, I took a moment to discover what was in them.

There I found nut cake from Auntie Lawrence, date bars from Eunice and three kinds of chocolate cake mixed with love from family to family passed on into the future with hope, next to puddings and pies.

The joke was on “perpetually-on-a-diet” me. The two carefully kept recipe books had nothing in them but desserts.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Don't worry, Mage. I have a terrific recipe for SPAM and it only takes three days to make....

Were you disappointed to find only desserts in the cook books? Probably not;you are sure to find something in there that you can make with low calorie ingredients. If not, what is more fun than reading a cook book and imagining all the wonderful treats you can make? Yummmm...

I also have a fondness for old cookbooks and recipes. I occasionally like to sit back and go through my own box of recipes jammed packed with yellowed stained 3x5 index cards, many of which I’ve not made and probably never will, but cannot throw them away. It’s comforting to sometimes just think about food and the people who, over the years, were willing to share their favorites.

I used to read cookbooks voraciously, just for the sensuous pleasure--now, I'm throwing out all but a few special ones because you can find anything you want on the internet. It ain't the same, though.
Love your careful and evocative writing.

After years of making recipes from my wedding present, the Betty Crocker cook book, I threw the poor thing out when I sold my house. It was falling apart and in my rush to simplify my life I later realized that I had thrown away my favorite recipes and couldn't remember how to make them.

I now have 'The Joy of Cooking' book, but it just isn't the same.
Sad to say, I don't cook anymore.

from normally "wordy" me, I have just one (more) word: "Delightful."

I have a cookie recipe from my grandmother, born in 1876. She made the cookies with lard. I hear they were spectacular.

My mother, born in 1919, copied the recipe and substituted Crisco for the lard. They were yummy.

Me, born in 1941, made the cookies for my kids with canola oil. Really good, but a little greasy to the fingers.

My daughter was born in 1983 I wonder what she'll do to those poor cookies -- drop the fat altogether?

Oh dear Nancy..I love your notes and wish you had a blog where I could visit you.

Thank you all for your wonderful many or few word comments. Mucho appreciated. :)

Yes, I dearly love cookbooks....no lard here....or butter, darn it. I am not Julia. I still use cookbooks, lite cooking, fast cooking, minimal cooking....you would laugh at me. Now I am looking for Julia's Mastering the ARt of French cooking Volume I. I lent it and it hasn't been returned.

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