This is the time of year when many make New Year’s resolutions, or as I prefer to do, set goals for the upcoming year. In doing so, we often recall events from years gone by, even if they do not seem to have anything to do with our lives today or plans for the future. And as you might expect, that’s been happening to me. Yes, I’ve been waxing nostalgic.
When I was in elementary and secondary school, my mother would figuratively beat me over the head about how important it was for us not to write in our textbooks. If I did, that meant she would have to pay for the book . . . and we wouldn’t even be able to keep the book. No, money was tight, and my parents certainly didn’t want to spend any of it on textbooks just because I couldn’t keep my pencils–and later, pens–off the page. Notes were to be relegated to my notebook.
Then I went to college and graduate school. There was no rental option; I had to buy all my books. And they certainly weren’t cheap; some were over $100, and that was several years ago. And while writing notes in them wasn’t common, my books were filled with the familiar yellow of one of a student’s best friends: the highlighter. Yes, I had overcome the fear of marking in my textbooks.
Fast-forward a few years (or decades). I got 2 new cookbooks the other day. While I was looking through one, I noted necessary changes in ingredient amounts for a smaller quantity RIGHT IN THE COOKBOOK. And better yet, I didn’t think twice about it. I also comment on recipes directly in cookbooks. For example, I recently wrote “Yum” next to a recipe I tried from one of Ina Garten’s cookbooks. Okay, I didn’t say I wrote Pulitzer-quality prose or poetry. But my comments mean something to me. And this kind of makes me sad. You see, they mean something to me, but I’ve no one to leave my cookbooks and recipes to. I can only hope that whatever happens to them when I no longer need them, the new owners might find my comments and notes helpful.
Yesterday I asked some of my online friends and acquaintances if they wrote in their cookbooks. Many said yes, but more said they didn’t. Many admitted their reluctance was a holdover from schooldays. Some write comments on sticky notes and attach them to the page. I use them to mark recipes I want to try but found they came off to easily for commenting purposes. If you don’t write in your cookbooks, I ask you to reconsider. When you write notes—even about changes to a recipe—in your cookbooks, you leave a bit of yourself, your thoughts, and your priorities to those who inherit your cookbooks. When they come across a recipe and your comments, they will be afforded the luxury of a memory. Oh, perhaps it won’t be entirely happy—you know, something that didn’t turn out the way it was intended—but it will be a memory of you and their time with you. And when they make a recipe you’ve tweaked, well, that’s the epitome of comfort food.
When you write in your cookbooks, you enlighten and educate. You don’t ruin it or destroy its value. No, you increase its importance to those who come after.
Have a safe and wonderful New Year. May January 1 be the beginning of a fantastic 2013 for us all.
© Copyright 2012 Ida Walker, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Enabling Cook