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Cookbook Keepers: Page 12

Cookbook buys seldom travel. Two fates await a cookbook.
It reposes on a collector's shelf, or it becomes part of an estate and handed down to next-of-kin.



Teaser: Where else could you find a recipe for stuffed cabbage rolls created by the mother of Barbara Walters?

The ultimate Keeper give-away...a freeby cookbook still finding favor in a million Central Ohio homes... a value note: They're collectibles...


In 1975 Realtor Harley E. Rouda had the grand idea for thanking his clients by giving away his recipe collection in the format of a paperback cookbook. That was more than a million copies ago.

Today they are treasured Keepers in Ohio and far reaches of the nation. How do we know? E-Bay and Amazon.com put a price on available copies. Individual copies are in the $10 range; one collection of all 18 was marketed for $1,200. Periodically copies show up in used book stores.

The 50th anniversary for HER Realtors was in 2006. Over the years Rouda published (after doing in-office testing) recipes from people who bought homes through his firm, also from presidents and senators to famed personalities. Barbara Walters submitted her mother's recipe for stuffed cabbage rolls. It calls for lean ground chuck, chili sauce and grape jelly. One year (Rouda never bothered with year dates) he published recipes submitted by the 1980 Dallas Cowboy cheer leaders in the same copy with names such as Arthur Ashe, Richard Petty, Mickey Mantle, Arnold Palmer...his home town's famed names, Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, Ohio State University's football All American and 1954 Heisman trophy winner.

A big attraction in such publications are recipes judged winners in various competitions. Over the decades in every state, country folk enter their jellies, cakes, cookies and pies in state fair competitions. Ohio's State Fair has long been a lure for home cooks with their best. Rouda made room for Ohio Blue Ribbon 1977 and 1979 winners in the pies and tarts category. If ever this collection is reprinted, here's a vote for Elsie Hack's husband's favorite blackberry pie. (*)

When, and if, Harley Rouda produces a new cookbook reflecting his best, this reviewer will offer again, his recipe mix for the Grumpy Gourmet's Hobo Stew. There's a best seller...er, a fantastic freeby.

(*) Good reasons for HER Realtors to publish an updated compendium of content in these cookbooks: Elsie Hack's blackberry pie and her 1987 (mentioned, but not published herein) apple pie recipe. The latter brought her a record prize for such, $2,000. In one year of judging, Ms. Hack's blackberry pie won first place in two county fairs.

-- Doral Chenoweth










Teaser: Two cookbook entities, eons apart, come together when caretaker's HER collection meshes with dear May's boxes and boxes...

May Denton at 95 departed this world with her good life, times and memories in boxes...


Roswell, NM

May Denton collected cookbooks. Boxes of cookbooks. Emphasis on the boxes. When she passed away at age 95, those boxes were well traveled. At the age of 12 she was groomed to be an art critic. She worked for a woman cleaning and cooking in her home. That triggered her passion for food. Then came marriage, career detours, maybe a war or two with the economy changing her routing. Always, however, she cooked. Along the way she cooked for another family and started a small business in her spare hours. She made a little money selling her roast beef sandwiches with sides of beans and mashed potatoes. He tab: One dollar.


As an adult in every day life her conversation patterns were peppered with cooking terms. A major part of her life was spent cooking or managing an industrial-sized corporate kitchen. But all along cookbooks came her way. Besides hardbacks she kept all the small booklets of recipes put out by some food or equipment outfit. She boxed them right along with the Keepers. Apparently she did not give them away, or loan them to friends. Neither did she display them on shelves, partly because she moved back and forth across the nation.

May Denton fits the exacting description of a cookbook Keeper. In her fading years her collection remained in those boxes. In those final years, she talked food with family and friends. With her, when she passed on, was her beloved caregiver. Both had serious interests when it came to cookbooks. Her caretaker, equally a good cook, accepted the boxed books from the estate with an unspoken promise to tend them with love.

Promises kept. They are now being cataloged by Margaret Yerkes, herself a Keeper, a serious Keeper of HER Cookbooks.



Keeper Margaret Yerkes...
A cookbook blogger recently wrote that HER cookbooks are not used for cooking, saying their value factor is for collecting. Wrong. Margaret Yerkes, private chef, events planner, personal shopper, cookbook collector, accountant, not only collects HER cookbooks, she uses them almost daily. Her favorite recipe: Pineapple Upside-Down cake. Page 107, Cookbook 4. Credit Karl Berg.


Keeper Yerkes' call: The printed recipe calls for a "large oven-proof frying pan." Today she reverts to the era of serious home cooking, baking in this case, and uses an aging and well-cured iron skillet. Her advice: If you find iron skillets being sold at flea markets, buy the stack. "They're expensive, but worth their weight in silver dollars..." she adds.

Ms. Yerkes: Here's why HER should do a "best of" update.


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