My First Cookbook – sometimes the daydreams are better than the dishes


Good reading

As much as I love cooking, I think I love reading about the creation of dishes even more.

Perusing recipes is a favorite pastime, although I can’t really explain why.

I could spend hours at the kitchen table with a stack of cookbooks, newspaper food sections and cooking magazines (especially if you throw in a few cups of steaming, fragrant Earl Grey).  I’m transported to another world — a world populated by elaborate, delicious and perfectly turned-out dishes.

My preoccupation with recipes began at an early age.  When I was six- or seven-years-old, my mother ordered My First Cookbook from the Imperial Sugar Company in Texas (we lived in Texas, so I’m guessing she probably used Imperial-brand sugar and ran across the cookbook offer on their packaging).

When the paperback volume arrived, I was immediately fascinated with its descriptions of Patty’s Penuche, Candlestick Salad and Dreamwiches — sophisticated-sounding creations illustrated with colorful line drawings.

I pored over the pages, imagining myself serving these delicacies to my impressed family.  (I could just hear the “oohs” and “aahs” that would accompany a Super Salmon Bake or Circus Cookies!)

In reality, the only thing I remember making from the book is Tiny Turtle Salad – a chilled pear salad in the shape of a turtle (pear-half body, pecan feet and olive head).

Nonetheless, the recipes themselves and daydreams they inspired form some of my core childhood memories.

I recently visited the Imperial website ( and found the company still offers a range of vintage cookbooks, including My First Cookbook.  The cover is different, but the pages are identical to what I remember.  You can take a look at it here.


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