One item you can often see for sale at garage sales is cookbooks. Boxes of them sometimes, all types and sizes-the trendiest titles, cookbooks put out by clubs and churches, even family cookbooks that I especially wonder how someone can sell.
Now, I understand all too well that cookbooks are one of those things that seem to take on a life of their own and almost multiply before one's eyes. So sometimes it's just time to cull out the collection. That's one reason they show up at garage sales and auctions. I've done that more than once.
After three decades of marriage, I have some favorite cookbooks on my shelf, of course. You can tell the ones I use a lot because generally the covers are tired, dirty, and faded. Several of my old faithfuls don't even have a cover any longer. And that's before you even open the book and find the pages that are tattered, creased, spilled on, and likely have a few of my notes written beside the recipe. That's where you'll find our favorite recipes.
One theory on cookbooks in our technical age is that lots of cooks don't use them anymore. There are many, many cooking Web sites online, and they all have recipes, of course, so you can find pretty much any recipe you want there. When you start looking, you can do a search to use a specific ingredient you have or something you want to use. You can sort by a specific technique or equipment you have, like your slow cooker. You can look for a recipe that has only five ingredients or that uses a specific spice. And on and on.
So you really don't need cookbooks or even recipe cards. A few Christmases back when our 20-something son was home and making a special dish for us, my laptop was open on the kitchen counter so he could use the recipe he got online. It worked fine, even though all I could think of was what happened if he spilled something.
The use of online cooking sites could just be why folks are selling their cookbooks at garage sales. Yet how can such a Web site ever give you the recommendation for a recipe that comes from just seeing the name of who contributed it to a church cookbook, for instance? I have my grandma's church cookbook published the year I was born, and seeing her notes in the margins of some of the recipes always makes me smile. As do the recipes clipped from newspapers (now yellowed) that she tucked inside the pages of the cookbook. My mom has handwritten me numerous recipes, and I appreciate them, too.
You just don't get that with the slick, colorful recipes found online or from the laptop sitting on the counter as you cook.