Cooking Library

I have a restrained love of cookbooks. I want to buy a cookbook every time I see one (well almost every time…you can keep your paleo cookbooks). I have notions of grandeur that I could make these delicious meals pictured and printed on those glossy pages. I’d be the “cooking” friend. My husband and family would flock to me for food because I made these amazing dishes.

But I know better. I am a recovering-picky eater. I look at recipes and see mushrooms, olives, red onions, etc. I go “nope, not eating that” and thus, not making that dish either. I’m also lazy. If a dish has more than 10 ingredients (unless we are talking spices, and spices that I have on hand or know I will use again), I won’t make it. If it calls for more than 2 or 3 pans, not gonna make it. So I restrain myself buying cookbooks, because I just plain know better.

I do, however, have two staple cookbooks in my repertoire. Bell’s Best and Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Any southern lady worth her salt has these in her library.


I grew up looking through my mom’s battered and stained copy of Bell’s Best. I’m pretty sure we only ever made cookies out of it, but I could be wrong (Mom, leave a comment about what you used your Bell’s Best for, please). I used to make the best, in my opinion, sugar tea cakes from this book. I now have my own copy and I’m still trying to figure out which tea cake recipe it was that I used.

I bought this book not long after Mr. LL and I got married. This was another one that my mom had and I knew I needed it. My mom used more recipes from this book (though I couldn’t tell you what, my mind just isn’t there this morning), but I remember it being out just as much as, if not more than, the Bell’s Best.  The version I have is not the same as my mom’s copy, but I love how everything is broken up and all the helpful tips it provides (P.S. don’t let the cover fool you, it’s more than just edible gifts…they just have a special section in this copy for those). I have bookmarked many pages in my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, but I haven’t actually made any of it yet. Someday.


5 thoughts on “Cooking Library

  1. From Bell’s Best, I cooked Dump Cake, Chicken Spaghetti, several jello salads/desserts, cakes, wedding punch –but I made that for all kinds of occasions–pies, cookies, marinated Italian Salad, tons of vegetable casseroles…and more that I can’t recall. The Betty Crocker book is great for biscuits, pie crusts, what parts of meat animals are what (illustrations), conversions, breads.


    • I did not realize that the Chicken Spaghetti came from Bell’s Best. I guess you’ve made it so many times, you just know the recipe and don’t need the book anymore. And, having just read your comment, I totally remember you using the Betty Crocker one for biscuits!


  2. I love my Better Homes and Gardens. There’s a really good baked “fried” chicken recipe that’s super easy and good. You just coat the chicken with crushed Ritz crackers and butter and it’s sooo goooooood. It also has my go-to banana bread recipe.

    I have my copy of my mom’s 80’s Betty Crocker cookbook. The peanut butter cookie recipe was used so often that that page in the book is twice as thick as the others. Three decades of Crisco and creamy Jif. She handed it down to me because she found a copy of the 50’s Betty Crocker cookbook HER mom used.

    If you haven’t tried them already, I’d suggest the Pioneer Woman cookbooks. Most of her recipes are fairly reasonable… and there’s step-by-step photos! Why don’t more cookbooks use step-by-step photos? I mean, Joy of Cooking is a class… but there’s no photos. Much less 25 for each recipe.


  3. I have an old BH&G that I love, no so much for the recipes but for information like how long to boil an egg or how to cook different veggies (how to cut, how long to cook) and for table settings and substitutions. My Bell’s Best is in several pieces. There is a chile recipe I love (has vinegar and cloves) and I’ve made a lot of the desserts over the years. It is one of those cookbooks made for people who have to fix dinner every night as opposed to gourmet cooks. If it dirties every dish I own and takes ingredients I don’t usually have in the house it isn’t going to get much use here.

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