I’ve just finished redesigning a web site for a cookbook, Retro Cooks: Brand Name Recipes from the 1940s to the 1970s, by Nina Notaro. 300 brand name recipes. And she had more, they just wouldn’t fit in the book.
One of the things I enjoy about designing and optimizing web sites is learning about new – to me – ventures. It’s fascinating to discover why people do what they do and how various industries work.
Nina had – as many of us did – an Easy Bake oven. She also had – as many of us didn’t – the patience to cook with that light bulb. She even developed some of her own recipes. On purpose. I developed my own recipes but it was because I’d forget to add something, like baking powder to a cake, and end up with something new and unexpected.
This is an aside but it is recipe related. My daughter started school in Canada and was in a French immersion program. We moved to Zambia when she was 8 and she had to switch to an English school. She couldn’t read English although it didn’t take her long to learn.
Before she learned she asked one day if she could bake cookies. I said sure. She baked away. Then she called me to come and look, she said the cookies were strange. They were, just like little rocks. Even the dog wouldn’t eat them.
I asked her if she had put in the butter. "Butter" she said. "No"
"What about sugar"
"So what did you put in"
"Flour, water, salt and chocolate chips"
"But the recipes calls for butter and sugar as well, didn’t you read it?"
"No, I looked at the picture"
The cookies looked exactly like the picture. And it took me about three years to realize that of course she hadn’t read the recipe, she couldn’t read English!
Back to NIna. Her parents ran a grocery store in Winnipeg and she started collecting all the recipe pamphlets that came with various products. She saved them over the years and the collection is the base for the cookbook.
Interesting woman. She had an ice cream parlour in Winnipeg for 15 years. She developed the first soft-serve in Canada that had liqueur in it. Now she writes cookbooks, Retro Cooks is her first but she has another in the works, and works as a movie and television extra.
I’m sure that everyone who loves to cook has thought of writing a cookbook. I wrote one for my family and friends for Christmas one year. Very limited edition and distribution! Not many of us actually get around to doing it.