A good all-around cookbook is like a much loved aunt who tells great stories and always has the answer to all your cooking questions. Sites like Epicurious.com provide instant gratification when you know you want to make something specific. And having those ratings and user notes make sure you don’t waste your time and ingredients on something that winds up as a total meh.
But a cookbook tells you more. It tells you about your ingredients, about your cooking method, about variations you can make to a basic recipe. And if it’s a vintage cookbook, you don’t need ratings to tell you if a recipe is good. The binding and grease stains tell you that. If the binding falls open to a page and if there are plenty of spatters and maybe a handwritten note in the margin, you know you’ve stumbled on something tasty.
Wondering if there’s a vintage cookbook you should have in your collection? Here’s a few to start with, the vintage cookbooks the Vintage Unscripted team can’t live without.
The King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook
Author/Brinna Sands Copyright/1990 Best recipe/All-American Baking Powder Biscuits
Brinna Sands must have known she was creating the best go-to baking book ever when she was working on this, because it is so comprehensive. Basic recipes with suggestions for how to spin variations depending on our ingredients on hand. Clear directions that explain the hows and whys that inspire confidence. There’s nothing outrageous and fancy here, it’s good solid basic baking. We have loved the pages right out of the binding of our paperback version. The Baking Powder Biscuits are by far our favorite recipe, but we also love the pizza crust, muffins, cobblers, crisps, hearth breads, quiches, scones…
–Laurie, NextStage Vintage
Author/My Mom & her friends Copyright/1960s Best recipe/Frozen Fruit Salad
I’m sharing this cookbook, not for the fabulous recipes, but for the wonderful memories it brings back to me. It’s a little three ring binder filled with handwritten recipe cards that remind me of some of the dishes I grew up with. Bart was my Dad and as you can tell from the smudges on the index card, her frozen fruit salad was one of his favorites. I’m not sure what will be our complete menu will be this Christmas day but I do know the frozen fruit salad and his special gumdrop oatmeal cookies will be served. Celebrating family….that’s what the holidays mean to me.
NOTE TO SELF: A vintage recipe box full of our family favorites might be a memorable gift for our son who loves to cook.
— Linda, Selective Salvage
Author/ Ceil Dyer Copyright/1993 Best Recipe/?
While I wouldn’t call this a vintage cookbook, it certainly contains age-old recipes from the backs of bottles, cans and boxes. So many in fact that it was difficult to come up with just one to show you! Whenever we are trying to recall a recipe from the back of a package I always resort to this book. What fun!
–Dot, Attic and Barn Treasures
The Vegetarian Epicure
Author/Anna Thomas Copyright/1972 Best Recipe/?
Anna was taught to appreciate year round celebrations involving food lovingly prepared by her Polish-born family whose faith called for meatless meals as a Catholic Family. Just after we married, we bought this cookbook to give us recipes to add to the few meatless meal we did know how to prepare. She had sections on what should be in the pantry, how to entertain well and even sample menus. We are not vegetarians now but in our newly achieved retirement, we will include more meatless with style meals and share them with friends. I also love the artwork by Julie Maas.
–Mary Ellen, Aunt Hatties Attic Vintage
Los Angeles County Fair Award-Winng Recipes
Author/Various Copyright/1982 Best Recipe/Old Fashioned Lemon Bread
This book is the fourth edition of award-winning recipes compiled from the largest county fair in the world. The compiled recipes from the Los Angeles County Fair includes everything from breads, to pickles and relishes, to jams, jellies and BBQ and everything in between. A treasure trove of cooking and baking. This 1st prize winning lemon Bread recipe has been a family favorite for many years.
–Pam, Vintage Renude