With Thanksgiving right around the corner on Nov. 28, this seems like a wonderful opportunity to celebrate one of the best known guides for cooking information out there, the joy of cooking! Who doesn’t love a well-cooked family meal with turkey, pumpkin pie, and (my personal favorite) sweet potato casserole? Whether or not you like cooking, it can be a great deal of work to prepare that meal. Luckily, there are many cookbooks boasting traditional and modern recipes to help overcome that hurdle.

“The Joy of Cooking” is always a good option. It celebrates its 88th publication anniversary on Nov. 30. According to Bon Appétit’s article, “The Obsessive Sport of Shopping for a Vintage ‘Joy of Cooking” by Genevieve Walker, it had a bittersweet start with Irma Rombauer in 1931. She was mourning her husband’s suicide and made the cookbook to cope with her grief and make a living.

In “The Delectable History of Cookbooks,” published by How Stuff Works, Melanie McManus described how cookbooks have changed for centuries and reveal information about the eras in which they were written. Many ancient cookbooks were designed for agricultural communities, with instructions like heating water to be a little warmer than cow’s milk. Others focused on expensive and extravagant meals royalty could use to show their power. More modern cookbooks often feature health trends and fast recipes, reflecting the busy schedules and health-conscious attitudes of many everyday people today.

“The Joy of Cooking” was originally written during the Great Depression and largely designed for housewives who were struggling financially. That book continues to adapt to modern cooking trends and desires; the most recent edition was published on Nov. 11 of this year.

“The Joy of Cooking” is not unlike another famous cooking icon, who was “born” in the 1920s – Betty Crocker. Ms. Crocker has informed and counseled many people on how to cook for decades. She has always had a sympathetic and nurturing approach that connected with her audience, and she evolved to meet the needs of different generations. Betty Crocker is an invented persona. She was invented by the Washburn-Crosby Company as Tori Avey notes in her article for PBS, “Who Was Betty Crocker.”

Visit this library and you’ll find we have an edition of “The Joy of Cooking” (with the new edition coming available soon) as well as a number of books by Betty Crocker. We have numerous other popular cookbooks including a number of Barefoot Contessa books, Pioneer Woman, and an edition of Everyday Italian.

Stop by anytime for a tasty read to suit your cooking needs and desires!

Taylor Evans is an Adult Services Librarian at the Montrose Regional Library.

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