Part of Faye’s Cookbook Collection

My latest book, HALLEY, awarded 2015 Jefferson Cup Honor for Historical Fiction, awarded the Moonbeam Silver Medal for Young Adult Fiction, and awarded the 2016 Frank Yerby Award for Fiction. Available at: NewSouth Books: and Amazon.

When I first married I could cook two menu items: Kraft Spaghetti Dinner in a Box (with hamburger meat added for company) and Kraft Mac and Cheese in a Box (with store brand weiners on the side for company).  Later, I added redneck soup (mix one can of Campbell’’s Cream of Mushroom Soup with one can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup and heat) to my repertoire.  I served with peanut butter sandwiches, store brand. My husband always carried Tums in his pocket.  They didn’t make store brand in THEM, and he needed the best money could buy.

When we had our first son, I was so swept away by motherhood that I decided to learn to cook from scratch.  My mother-in-law, a prize winning cook, was glad to share her recipes.  No doubt she’d been longing to for years!  I collected recipes from the local extension office and bought every recipe collection put out by churches, schools, and Junior Leagues.  Over the years I learned enough southern recipes to put out a decent meal, but I would never have given Julia Child or Martha Stewart—or my mother-in-law—any competition.  Time passed. By 1990, when our second son left for college, I was tired of the same old, same old.  So I took cooking classes with big plans of venturing out into cuisine.  I took classes in Mediterranean, then French, then Italian cooking, followed by several classes at William Sonoma.  Of course I bought cookbooks during and after each class. My cookbook collection outgrew its allotted shelf, sprawled into a small bookcase, and then a second larger one.

My kitchen equipment grew to include a Cuisinart, a fancy ice cream maker, an electric grill, Two waffle makers, a blender, a bread machine, a salad spinner and TWO electric pressure pots. I even bought a sour dough starter and began the never ending process of feeding it and making our own whole wheat bread.  After we each put on about ten pounds, I slowed down a little on the bread-making. But the starter is still in the fridge, demanding to be fed on a regular basis.

The main thing I learned is: cooking is hard work.  Especially when it means changing the way you’ve done everything for the last 30 years, and—more important—the results are sometimes inedible.  My husband stocked up on Tums again, but he rarely complained, since he fully believed that this was leading to glorious food somewhere down the road.

Boy, was he wrong!  I’ve finally admitted that I simply don’t want to cook anymore. Both my son’s wives are wonderful cooks.  Why can’t we move next door to one of them and then drop in at mealtime? A good plan, but neither of my daughters in law have picked up on my hints. Until they do, I’m in a fallback mode.  I cook huge one-dish meals (stew, soup, casseroles) two or three times a week.  I freeze enough to make several other meals through the week.  Ten minutes in the microwave, then add a fruit or salad, and we’ve got a meal.

Anybody want to buy a nearly-new cookbook collection? And if someone wants to steal a sourdough starter, it’s on the top shelf of the refrigerator, right behind the triple washed arugula.   Take the organic sweet miso and the tofu too.

As for me, maybe I should check and see if Kraft still makes those dinners in a box.  Tums anyone?

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