“There’s more where that came from!”
The Christmas tag inscription puzzled — and entertained — my family and I for days the week leading up the Dec. 25. Both enthusiastically upbeat and slightly ominous, my grandmother’s note on her gift to me — a half-dozen vintage cookbooks she’d accumulated over an Air-Force-wife career that dropped her in as many cities — referred to her vast collection of cookbooks, the rest taking up space along one neat wall in her basement. She was cleaning out and passing down, she said, and she knew I, at least, would still appreciate 40-year-old Southern Living tomes, if more for their narrative than their jello mold recipes.
She was, of course, right.
I own upwards of four dozen cookbooks. I cook recipes regularly from about six of them. The rest I keep because they make for better reading than the latest fiction chart topper. (The Junior League of Chattanooga’s Seasoned to Taste anecdote about the white meat chicken incident? That’s a short story waiting to happen.) I have cookbooks from my home church, where I grew up, and my grandmother’s church, where my parents had me christened. I have cookbooks of bloggers I love and places I’ve worked, books given to celebrate my first apartment or bless our marriage.
So, I want them out. Easy to use. Frequent reminders of life and stories. But I also want them to blend in with my kitchen decor. Because as happy as my cookbook collection makes me, if the OCD bells are ringing in my head, ain’t nobody gonna be happy.
Kraft paper to the rescue. It’s cheap, plentiful and blessedly neutral. I bought a huge roll off eBay many years ago and it’s still going strong. I used it to cover the books in my home office, and covered all my cookbooks, then placed them in three different places in the kitchen, based on type.
This bamboo cookbook stand is both functional and serves as counter decor when not actually in use. Right now, I have the 1969 edition of The Charlotte Cookbook (via the Junior League of Charlotte, N.C.) out — it has the most gorgeous illustrations of members’ homes in the front. And in case you wondered, the Cheese and Onion Pie “is a nice change from pizza.” 🙂
I grabbed this iron basket from a craft store during a half-off sale several years ago, and it’s perfect for holding my Junior League and Southern Living cookbooks. I used a Sharpie Pen to write the book’s title on the spine (I’m a bit obsessed with them. It’s a Sharpie! It’s a pen!) The mini initial cutting board was a Christmas gift, and I tied it on with my Papertrey Ink ribbon that I’m still in love with (yes, the same stuff I used in Owen’s first nursery).
In the cabinet above, since the doors are semi-transparent, I was going more for appearance than functionality in terms of dishes storage. (I will never be a fan of the open shelving craze, sorry. Not only would I completely stress over whether things were straight or matched, but seriously, who wants to do that much dusting??) I found every piece of white china or dishware I had, then arranged them with some faux grapes I’ve carried with me since my senior year of college, and more of my Kraft-paper-covered cookbooks — the ones that I still use frequently or hold the most sentimental value. The rest live with my books elsewhere in the house.
I found this quote from The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee, and it pretty much is my childhood in someone else’s body: “I think that my love of cooking grew out of my love of reading about cooking. When I was a kid, we had a bookcase in the kitchen filled with cookbooks. I would eat all my meals reading about meals I could have been having.”