In my years of cooking, one of the things I’ve found is that most everyone has a foundational cookbook to which they are most loyal. Some of us come from households that held Better Homes and Gardens dear, while others preferred Betty Crocker and its patterned red and white cover. Whether your mother or grandmother consulted Fannie Farmer, Southern Living or the Farm Journal cookbook, up until recently, most homes had at least one of these much-loved, comprehensive volumes in residence near the kitchen.
Me, I come from a Joy of Cooking household. I grew up with the edition of JOY that was bound in turquoise fabric and was first released sometime in the early 1960’s. It was a primary culinary reference in our house, particularly in the years before the internet made it easy to find 12 different recipes for the same cake in seconds. That book taught me to make crepes and peanut butter cookies, and one of my favorite family traditions is the yearly Christmas Eve consultation, in which we pull out my parents’ battered copy of JOY to check the turkey roasting information and plan our timing for the following day.
The copy of JOY that I was raised with was a gift from my grandma Bunny to her new daughter-in-law, soon after my parents got married. My mother was a touch insulted at first (the implication being that she was not an able cook), but rapidly came to appreciate the utility of such a gift.
Like many things that have lived and been loved for more than 40 years, it doesn’t look the way it once did. The dust jacket is long since gone. The front cover fell off sometime in the mid-ninties and was reattached with a wide strip of silver tape (this repair is reinforced every decade or so). Many of the pages have been enhanced with splashes of water or oil or gravy and don’t behave entirely like paper anymore.
In recent years, I’ve become something of a Joy of Cooking collector. I have six editions, which represent the changing food culture over the last eight and a half decades. Most often, I turn to the one that matches the copy I grew up with (happily, it was a hand-me-down from my great-Aunt Anne. It came with complete with a few of her annotations). I regularly use the recipe for Quick Banana Bread and have made the Cornbread on page 578 so many times that I could probably stir it together without ever once glancing at the page.
Recently, I’ve found myself in correspondence with Megan Scott. She and her husband (congratulations on your recent wedding, you two!), John Becker are the latest members of the Rombauer/Becker family to be working on the JOY legacy. They’ve redesigned the website and are regularly posting useful, thoughtful food writing and recipes. It’s a delight to see such a beloved institution in such capable hands.
Earlier this summer, as Megan and I exchanged emails and talked about the possibility of me contributing a guest post to their site, she offered to send me a copy of the 75th anniversary JOY. It was at that moment that I confessed my ridiculous affection for the Joy of Cooking. I asked if instead of sending me another copy to add to my stack, could we give it away to one of my readers? She said yes and did me one better by throwing in one of the 2013 Joy of Cooking desk calendars.
If you’d like a chance to win a copy of the 75th anniversary edition of the Joy of Cooking and the 2013 desk calendar, here’s what you do.
- Leave a comment on this post. Tell me which cookbook was your family’s favorite. If you have a beloved recipe, please share that too.
- Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Friday, October 5, 2012. Winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog over the weekend.
- Giveaway is open to US residents.
- One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.