December 21, 2019

The Demise of a Cookbook

This has been my favorite cookbook for as long as I can remember.

Well, maybe not my best favorite, but it certainly has been my most reached-for cookbook over the years.

It's the 1969 edition of Betty Crocker's Cookbook and was a Christmas gift from my grandmother in 1976. According to the copyright, that was the year they reprinted the '69 edition.

I've lived in eight different states over the years, and this cookbook has accompanied me with each move. Obviously, it's seen better days. The index fell out years ago. I actually lost those pages for a long time and finally found them stuck in another cookbook.

No index hasn't caused me to retire it, however, although I don't know why I still grab this one first. It's not like I've memorized page numbers. Maybe because of its sentimental value, maybe out of habit. It's odd because I don't cook this way anymore. But its recipes have become my base recipes, and I know the modifications and substitutions to make. I look at the recipe and automatically make the changes.

Several years ago, I looked for a replacement for it online. All I could find were "vintage" copies with vintage prices. There was no way I was going to spend $75+ for a replacement, so for a long time that was that.

The other day I made a stop at Goodwill to check their $1 clearance racks. I buy all of Dan's and my clothes there and have found some fantastic bargains. I found a denim skirt that fit nicely and headed to check-out to pay for it. I happened to glance at a display near the cash register and saw this...


It was a gift I didn't feel I deserved, but one for which my heart sang thanks. Funny how such a small thing can mean so much.

I'll go through the old one to transfer any notes...

... and then the new one can take its place on my cookbook shelf.

Who else has found happy bargains lately?

The Demise of a Cookbook © December 2019


  1. That's a nifty find - congrats!!
    After literally YEARS of looking, I just bought an eBay replacement for my old barn coat. Even a "used" coat was a major purchase by my standards, but it really is in "mint condition" as the seller claimed and it will probably take the rest of the Winter just to start breaking it in! I washed it and aired it, and today is the first day I will wear it when I head outside for chores. Happy Solstice, Leigh :)

  2. That is a great price for the cookbook. I have and old cookbook that was my mothers (she passed in 1977) and I refer to it often. I've gone so far as to laminate some of the pages I use most often.

  3. Hi Leigh,Great find. I bought my Betty Crocker Cookbook as a high school senior in 1981 at Sears outlet for $4.00.It's a little different cover. It's been my go to recipe book ever since. Whenever there's a cooking question around our house we always say"I wonder what Betty thinks" Merry Christmas, Nancy

  4. What a great post! And I love the pictures of your original book. I have a cookbook that is just a pamphlet that looks much like it. I, too, have two old, old Betty Crocker cookbooks that I still use the basic recipes from with changes to make them a bit more nutritious and fitting with our diet. And can you believe you found that replacement for the price you did? My husband would say Source put that in the resale shop for you. I can't tell you how many bargains I've found in both of our local resale shops. They're both non-profit and the savings for the buyers are phenomenal. This season alone I've gotten some nearly new holiday decorations to replace my old, tired ones. Fun, fun, fun!

  5. Quinn, thanks! And I can so relate about the barn coat. A good barn coat is an absolute necessity!

    Granny J, what a great idea to laminate the pages. Thanks for the idea!

    "Synchronicity shopping." Susie, I love it!

    Nan, you probably have the very next edition. It would be fun to compare the various editions to see how they've changed. I remember the cover of my mother's, which I later learned was the first edition. I believe mine is the fourth.

    Mama Pea, that's so true about thrift stores and resale shops. The keys to finding bargains is being patient and going often. Interesting that you use yours the same way I use mine!

  6. I have that 1969 book but mine is in better shape - actually great shape because I am not much of a cook. :-) But I will always keep it because it was a gift from my mother at my wedding shower, she inscribed it in her hand, and she is now gone. AND the recipes are tried and true. Not fancy. it is a good general reference.

  7. Awesome find. Merry Christmas

  8. There's nothing like a trusty cookbook! And I love that your Betty was well loved...and there's nothing like a good bargain! I found a 1964 edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking at my little local library for $1!! The librarian was laughing at me because I was shaking with excitement when I found it! We looked it up and it wasn't worth much (maybe $20). I told her that she could try to sell it on ebay if she wanted. She said that I was so excited that she couldn't do that to me!

  9. I have several "Better Homes and Gardens" cookbooks that I always reach for and look similar to your first Betty Crocker one.

  10. I think that's a fabulous find! Good for you. Merry Christmas to you and Dan. Hope the New Year is the best ever.

  11. Rats! Blogger ate my comment!

    RT, I have to confess that I'm pretty rough on cookbooks. Or maybe I should just admit to being a messy cook! :)

    Judy, thanks! Merry Christmas to you too!

    Kristin, that's a fantastic bargain! Dan and I watched Julie and Julia the other night and really enjoyed it. Since then, it's been on my mind to find my own copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I notice that the two-volume set starts at about $50.

    Ed, I found a copy of the 1968 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook when we moved into the house. Apparently, it was left here. I reach for it from time to time, but old habits seem to die hard. :)

    FFG, thanks! Hoping for a good new year for all of us.

  12. So happy for your find, Leigh. It's not just the recipes and the book, but it's the reminder of the original copy's history in your kitchen adventures. Every now and then I find something at a sale that, while doesn't fit in my life now, is a big trigger for a wealth of dusty memories to bloom again. Enjoy. And Merry Christmas. Kris

  13. Hooray on the find, and at such a great price!! I have a few cookbooks like that... a 1959 General Foods, a 1962 Better Homes & Gardens, and a couple of "church" cookbooks from the 70s and 80s. My greatest treasures, though, are the ring-binders full of recipes that my mother collected and, later, those I've collected.

  14. think you can still find it! just a different cover

  15. Fantastic find! My mom had one of the very old editions in a binder with the rings, black and white photos, and everything. I was hoping to get it when they downsized but have no idea what happened to it. She wasn't much into cooking so maybe she gave it away before that even. What's even sadder is that some of the recipes have changed. I have old index cards that I had copied my favorites to and they sometimes do not match the newer versions. Using that book is such a strong memory for me.

    I also write in my cookbooks. It sure beats trying to remember what you changed last time when some recipe came out so great.

  16. I have that exact cookbook! Take the time to put those ring binder stickies on both sides of each page for decades of use. For years I used to cut down lined notebook paper to fit and add my own recipes to the back. Yes, I too write in my cookbooks too.

  17. My tried and true cookbook is a Pillsbury Cookbook copyrighted in 1963 that Mom found in the trash when she worked in housekeeping for the library. I have duct taped the binding back on and some of the pages are stained, plus my notes added to the favorites. When I was settling my sister's estate I keep her Pillsbury Cookbook and passed it on to my daughter for her everyday cookbook. Those old cookbooks are excellent for good food with basic ingredients.

  18. Kris, well said. It's not just the item, it's the memories. :)

    Kelly, I didn't realize General Foods had a cookbook! I have the Better Homes & Gardens (1968), and I love several of my church cookbooks too. Favorite recipes seem to be scattered throughout.

    Barbara, I think it would be fun to have all the editions! From the first to current. I've thought that about Ball Blue Book too.

    Ann, thanks! Yes, the recipes change, and that's very sad, indeed. Considering how many of us are going back to simpler, more pure cooking, those older versions would probably be very helpful now.

    Notes in cookbooks rock!

    Jo, that's an excellent idea. Otherwise, this one will go the way the other one did. :o

  19. Judy, there's another one I didn't know about! That was a great save on your mom's part. I so agree that the old cookbooks are the best for good food using basic (real food) ingredients.

  20. A good find!

    I have the Betty Crocker Cooky Book. Not the original my mom had when I was a kid, but a reprint. 🙂 Still, wonderful memories.

  21. And the "new" one is loose leaf ! May you use it happily for many more years !

  22. Sandi, I've never seen the cooky book, but I'll bet it contains a lot of favorite recipes.

    Catldymac, yes, I really like that it's loose leaf. Easier to cover the pages and easier to add pages!

  23. I got my copy about 1973. It is my go to for the 'basic' recipe book. It is in pretty battered condition, also. lol Just used it for banana bread yesterday. And I also use their recipe for the base and then modify to my tastes (and pantry.) I might have to do a goodwill/thrift store shopping trip. :)

  24. I have my mom's old Betty Crocker cookbook. I haven't used it in years because I tend to use Pinterest to find recipes these days, and my husband is an incurable cookbook collector - he's got literally thousands. His prize besides hundreds of church, community, and organization cookbooks is a complete set of America's Test Kitchen hardbound cookbooks.

    My mom's hand-me-down is a 1961 version. I was born in 1959. Her book was so worn and patched and had so many added handwritten, typed and newspaper clipping pages it was about twice as wide at the open side of the book than at the 3-ring side. Mom covered the exterior with contact paper several times to try to keep it together. Many of the divider tabs are so worn they are illegible. The really sad thing is that my mom passed of dementia/Alzheimer's, and she opted to change the order of the sectins and pages and dispose of the index at some point before we moved her to assisted living. I'd just packed it with the few items I wanted from her house before holding an estate sale, but other than observing it seemed thinner than I remembered I didn't look at it until about 4 years ago when I needed a Christmas cookie recipe. (I'm the household cook and rarely use recipes, my Dan is the household baker and recipes are a must for him as with many bakers) Anyway, I carefully closed mom's book and put it back on the shelf. Maybe someday I'll look for a new one and move over the special and extra recipes.

    As for your question about bargains, probably 90% of everything non-food that Dan and I buy comes from thrift stores, estate, garage sales or auctions. Our local Goodwill stores have 20% off o Wed for seniors, Thurs for Veterans, and 50% off for color of the week, so we frequently get things 70% off. I can't remember the last time any of my clothing with the exception of underware wasn't from a thrift, garage, estate... purchase.

    We collect a ridiculous number of things here. I love finding kitchen implements and Pyrex, antique furniture - antiques in general. I collect horse art, stained glass, crockery and baskets.Dan collects dragons and ANYTHING related to music, both media and the equipment to operate it. Last count Dan had over 17,000 vinyl albumns, 15,000+ CDs, 3,000+ DVDs, 500+ computer games.

    My most recent amazing finds have all been antique/vintage furniture. In Oct I got a bedroom set (bed, bureau, highboy, and armoire) in immaculate condition for only $125.00. It's waterfall deco style which I collect. I'm up to those, 3 other highboys, a cedar wardrobe, 2 vanities, and 2 desks. I also recently got a gorgeous 180-year-old bureau which was very carefully made into a bathroom vanity. The original wood top came with it, but it also has an amazing beautiful marble top too. It came from an old mansion in Atlanta, GA, which is weird because I bought it here in Northern MI. I only paid $35.00 for that. I won't even list the antique dining tables and chairs I have. LOL


  25. Helen, I once read about a family who temporarily hired a cook while the mother of the family was in the hospital. They were amazed when, meal after meal, she served their favorite dishes. When they asked her about it she said she looked through the cookbooks and cooked recipes from the pages with the most spills and stains on them. :)

    Shelley, your home must look like a museum! That's a lot of fantastic finds. And it sounds like your mom's old cookbook was well used and well loved. Thanks for the interesting comment!

  26. That is the happiest"t! I can deeply relate. I'm hoping for similar luck in locating a copy of "More with Less" by Doris Janzen Longacre. I've waited entirely too long to purchase a used copy and now the prices are crazy! My copy is in a similar condition.

  27. Leigh, there is truly nothing better than finding something which you did totally not expect at the used book store. How many happy trails I have ended up down that started with the unexpected book (at a bargain price!) that I picked up.

  28. Kismet!!! :) What a happy lucky find! I never find deals when I'm actually looking for them, it's only when I happen upon them! :)

  29. Debby, thank you! It's amazing how prices for used books can sometimes skyrocket. It was that way when I first looked online for a replacement for my Betty Crocker. Now, though, I see much more reasonable prices. Hopefully, it will be the same for you.

    TB, it's such a treat, isn't it? I don't browse the book shelves of thrift stores often enough. I should, because I have found some really good books.

  30. Rain, the ones I'm not looking for are always the most fun! But being patient and diligent for finds is rewarding as well. :)

  31. Well deserved!

    I love the notation on the PB cookie recipe. Lol
    Especially meaningful as my late Father in law gave me a Joy of Cooking as a Christmas gift the first Christmas Geoffrey and I were married.

  32. Goatldi! We liked Joy's PB cookies better than Betty's. :) Joy of Cooking is the second cookbook I reach for. That's another one in which they changed the recipes over the editions. The older editions have instructions on things like preparing small game. I understand the newer editions no longer contain the information. I really need to tape the front cover back on mine!

    1. Too funny my version 1970 or so lost its front cover too and has been taped for years. Perhaps they should have done a recall lol

  33. How cool! I have a later copy, with some classics I use. Congrats!

  34. Great find!!! We are in Florida for the holiday, and have been to several estate sales. I did purchase a wooden box full of what looked like junk...paid 5 dollars...found 5 beautiful old hand saws at the bottom of the box. I love old used things, and even if I do nothing more than hang them on a wall in the barn.... I love them none the less. Merry Christmas to you and Dan and your furry kids!

  35. Goatldi, I had to go see which edition I have - it's the 1980. And I realized that not only is the front cover missing, but so is the back cover and spine! I'd better do something before I start losing pages!

    Nancy, thanks! Funny how we all have our fav classic recipes.

    Wyomingheart, Florida is absolutely the best place for estate sales and thrift stores. They have the best stuff! Those hand saws are a real treasure. Tools, especially, are all keepers. :)

  36. What fun! I love cookbooks and have tons to choose from. My go to is a paperback Betty Crocker that my Nana gave me when I went off to college (she got it from a bank for opening an account) As a special edition, it has a few recipes that aren't in other editions. When it started to show its age, I started hunting for a replacement, and finding one took years! I also spent a long, long time finding "Beard on Bread", which is another treasured find.

    I actually really learned to cook the summer after my freshman year in college. I was home for the summer, and my parents decided I had to cook dinner 1 night a week. Mom had the entire Time-Life countries set, and I'd pick a country and go to town. Russia was my favorite, and I learned to make Chicken Kiev from scratch.

    I try to avoid Goodwill (hate their corporate policies of not paying their workers full wages simply because they are handicapped), but there are plenty of other thrift stores where I live, and I've gotten plenty of good buys over the years.

  37. Susan, persistence pays off! How fun your Nana got a cookbook for opening a bank account. I'm sure that would "offend" people nowadays, lol.

    Cultural cuisine theme meals are a wonderful way to learn to cook. That's how my son learned in junior high school. He did a 4-H cooking project and then developed and cooked meals from a variety of countries. It was a great way to work geography into our homeschooling. Plus we picked up some now-favorite recipes.

    I don't care for Goodwill either because I found out zero percent of donations to to the needy. So shame on me for shopping there (???) They're the only one in town that has a dollar rack; the others price their items on par with WalMart. I can't bring myself to pay new prices on used clothing.

  38. nice find. I have the Better Homes & Garden cookbook...and my MIL's copy. I have added in several recipes. I guess my best thrifting story would actually be my daughter's. She has been picking up used Disney dolls and restoring them... but she keeps them. So now she has a huge collection.

    Oh wait, I bought a Cinderella dress. Paid about $8 for it and have used it in 3 or 4 shows so far. It has more than paid for itself.

  39. Renee, your comment reminded me of when my own daughter was little. One year I bought a bunch of formal dresses from a thrift store, put them in a big box, and gave them to her for her birthday. She and her friends played with those dresses often. Of course, that's when they were just a couple of dollars each! LOL

  40. Hooray! That was a lovely surprise!


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