The thrill of the find
I love hunting. I’m not talking about animals, I’m talking about shopping. I love sifting through racks of clothes, stacks of vinyl records, or even boxes of tchotchkes for a treasure. Lately I have been on the hunt for cast iron pans. I recently realized how much I love my vintage 8” McClarys cast iron pan. I get exactly the results I’m looking for – a good sear, crispy fish skin, a bit of char on veggies. Whether I use it on the stove, or in the oven, or both. As far as cast iron is goes, this pan is light, and smooth, and perfectly seasoned. I have bought newer cast iron pans and they’re fine. They do the job. But they aren’t quite as good as my vintage McClary and they weigh quite a bit more. While I know I should exercise more, I’m not looking for that much of an arm workout when I’m cooking.
While I have found the pans I want on eBay, to me eBay lacks the “thrill of the find”. And I don’t like the whole auction thing. I’m not that patient. What I want is to go into second hand stores or flea markets and simply come across them. That’s the thrill of the find.
With that in mind, I have been scouring my local second hand stores (and cursing the fact that Goodwill is closed!). This weekend I visited three Value Village stores and a couple of independent thrift shops. Sadly, in terms of cast iron, I came up empty handed. Nothing but dented Teflon and dodgy aluminium. To console myself, I hit the cookbook section, and that’s where I found gold!
This is where I have to make a confession. My name is Amy Sellors, and I have a cookbook addiction. It has been 4 days since I last bought a cookbook.
If I am in a bookstore I head immediately for the cookbook shelf. I browse cookbooks online and then look for sales. Having no more room on bookshelves, my collection is lined up atop my kitchen cabinets. I need to stand on a stool to reach them, but I don’t care. I usually have a stack of them on my bedside table and I leave them on the coffee table to peruse like magazines.
With this addiction in mind, along with the fact that I am now a freelancer with a little less cash on hand, I have to search for bargains to feed my love of recipes. While many of my beautiful cookbooks are worth the price tag, a bargain is always appreciated.
So, back to my find.
Chocolate and Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier. Value Village Price: $2.99
Literally, I discovered Clotilde Dusoulier the day before I saw this book. I was looking at different food blogs online someone recommended Chocolate and Zucchini. I remember thinking “hmmm…chocolate and zucchini…weird name, but I like it. Sweet and savoury. Well done. ” I put a lot of thought into naming my blog because I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself in sweet or savoury. I had thought about using my two favourite foods and calling it “Duck and Plum” but that name never seemed to work. This book is small, glossy paperback was practically hidden by much larger books on the shelf. I don’t know that I would have picked up this book if I hadn’t just read about Clotilde. So, finding this book felt like a good omen.
Chocolate and Zucchini went straight to my bedside table and I am loving reading it. Clotilde’s style is easy and fresh and I would love to shop and eat in Montmartre with her.
Classic Canadian Cooking by Elizabeth Baird. Value Village Price: $1.99
I once had the pleasure of visiting Elizabeth Baird’s home for a photo shoot for Canadian Living. My friend Tammy was working there. We sat at a table and pretended to eat Raclette. Note that I said pretend. I learned a lot about food styling that day. What may look amazing in a magazine is no longer warm or edible. Her kitchen was wonderful. It was a place to gather, create, laugh, and eat. This cookbook, published in 1974, is a plain Jane. It has no glossy, colour pictures, only a few ink drawings. It is clean, clear, and concise. Ms Baird lays out the book by season and then adds menus for events (e.g. Christmas Dinner, Countryside Picnic, Summer Lunch, and Baked Peameal Bacon Supper.) She features Canadian ingredients and family favourites. There is a great preserves section. Some recipes are very straightforward and easy, and some push the boat out. I haven’t made any recipes yet from this book, but I am eager to get started.
The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook. Value Village Price: $4.99
Martha Stewart. What to say about Martha. She may have done some bad things – but she served her time. She may seem condescending at times -but lots of experts can be like that. That said, I believe she knows what she is talking about. This is my first cookbook of Martha Stewart’s. I will confess that I used to love her show when it first came out. There weren’t a lot of programs like hers (unlike today) and I found it inspiring. I have used recipes of Martha’s that I have found online and they have always turned out beautifully. Also, the first heavy stainless steel frying pan I ever bought was from the Martha Stewart Everyday line at Zellers. It’s a really good pan that I still use often. Since I came in looking for pans but wound up finding books, this one seemed like a good choice. So, I bought it.
It seems like an encyclopedia of classic American and European recipes. If I were ever going away and could only take one book, Martha’s book would be a contender because it has recipes for any and every occasion. I am eager to see where this book takes me.
100 Great Curries by Keith Floyd. Value Village Price: $1.99
Let me be frank here. I am a white girl who grew up in Oakville. When I was a kid there was not a lot of cultural diversity in Oakville. Pizza with pepperoni was considered exotic, as was Chinese food (chicken fried rice and chicken balls with the neon pink sauce). So, it will come as no surprise that I didn’t eat curry as a kid. Over the last 10-15 years I have stretched my palate and now eat food from all over the world but, I will admit that I am always a bit fearful of making some of these dishes at home. Now, with Keith Floyd’s guidance, it’s time to grab the bull by the horns and start making curry! I need to explore and experiment with spices I have never used and find my threshold for hot and spicy. This book is a challenge I look forward to.
Home Made: Summer by Yvette Van Boven. Value Village Price: $7.99
Seeing this book made my heart soar. I picked up Yvette Van Boven’s book Home Made: Winter a few months ago and I love it. I love her point of view, her ingredients, her recipes, her writing style, her pictures, everything! I grabbed it off the shelf as soon as I saw it and walked to the cash register. I didn’t even flip it open until I got to the car, where I then read it cover to cover. I asked Thom to drive. I am so excited for the weather to warm up so I can get started with this book. I know that Yvette has other books (Home Made and Home Baked). They are must haves on my cookbook shopping list.
For about $20 I was able to get 5 amazing books. While some of them I would have gladly paid full price for, some I wouldn’t have. And some I would have never known existed. And, as a cookbook addict there does come a time when I have to watch my pennies.
I am so pleased that whoever first owned these books donated them. I will re-use them well!
So, while I am still on the hunt for cast iron, I’m happy that I am finding some awesome and unexpected cookbooks along the way.