Sometimes paper books become firm friends on our life’s journey. What’s your most treasured old book?
“A series of books, dilapidated and faded, sit bundled together. Most of the bindings are separating from the yellowed pages, but each is at home in its battered state. Their wrinkled pages and discolored skin tell not of old age, but of a good life. These books, unlike so many others, were not just read, but revisited, loved, and experienced.” ~Kelseyleigh Reber
Have you got a bundle of old books you’ve been carrying with you for a few decades? If not a bundle then one special book that you have revisited over and over across the years? Mine is the 1971 edition of the New York Times Natural Foods Cookbook.
Have you seen it?
It has a gorgeous Eden-like garden on the front. A young woman is cooking at a stove that sits amongst lush overgrowth. There’s vegetables and sunflowers, and a lion peering out from an aloe plant.
When I bought that book in the 1970s I looked just like that young woman. I had the hair, the mini skirt, the waist and the fascination with cooking natural. When I look at her now it reminds me of how the years have flown and how far I have come on my life’s journey.
Since turning 50 I’ve let a lot of possessions go in my quest for the simple life, but I could never part with this book. I am hooked on it in the nicest possible way. Maybe that’s understandable. In the 70s I cooked countless delish meals for a vegetarian husband, one baby, a toddler and four meat eating teenage stepsons. Not to mention myself!
As time went on it seemed as if the passing years slipped themselves in between the pages because now when I open it memories bounce all around me. Oh and in there with those memories are stains of course – big old sploshes of curry powder and paprika, cinnamon and mixed spice. I love those sploshes. They feel like a painting my life did.
Every page of this book I bought brand new is now yellowed with age. When I lay it down the book falls open at apple crumble – a favourite with everyone back then! No doubt about it, this book was my escape from the stress and exhaustion of those times – to exotic faraway New York, and the mysteries of sourdough bread, cranberries, navy beans and tahini.
Fast forward to 2015 and yes, so much has changed. My focus is on just me now. I’m cooking differently and from different ingredients in my post-menopausal years – mostly plant-based – but essentially my love affair with real food continues unabated. I’ve cooked so many meals over my life that really I don’t need recipe books anymore, but I still keep it handy.
Just looking at it feeds my spirit and there’s loads of creative inspiration in there. Over the years this book that taught me how to cook as a young woman got itself all tangled up with my life’s journey and I couldn’t untangle it now, even if I wanted to. It’s coming the rest of the way with me!
2 cups cooked lentils, slightly mashed
1 cup cooked oatmeal or cooked brown rice
1/4 cup soy grits
1/2 cup vegetable or meat broth
1/4 teaspoon tarragon
1 medium-size onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped nuts
1 egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. In a bowl, combine the lentils and oatmeal. Soak the soy grits in the broth 5 minutes. Add to lentil mixture.
3. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Turn into a loaf pan that has been oiled and then dusted with wheatgerm. Bake 45 to 60 minutes.
Yield: Six to eight servings
I’d love to hear about the books you’re still carrying with you from the 60s and 70s. What did they mean to you back then? What do they mean to you now? Those are loaded questions I know, but, as I discovered through writing this post, well worth reflecting on.