I am an Armchair Cook. I read cookbooks like novels. Sometimes I even cook from them.
Armchair Cooks walk among us, probably more than you’re aware. But they may live, love and work with people who believe there is such a thing as too many books. Or, perhaps they haven’t quite mastered the guilt they feel over the fact that they’d rather read about what to cook for dinner than actually make that dinner. So that’s why you might not know who they are.
The Armchair Cook is a place where those like me can come together and step into the light.
And we need to do that, because publishers really don’t see us, either. Today books by celebrity chefs crowd the shelves at what few book stores remain. Wrapped in slick covers and full of glossy, colored photos, they’re all but silencing the voices of the cooks who nourished us in the days before social media platforms were a prerequisite to publishing and dinner didn’t come from a drive-up window or the freezer section at the grocery store.
I have some favorite celebrity chef cookbooks, too. But the real treasures in my collection are the ones produced by churches, schools and community organizations. They’re stuffed with recipes for welcome-to-the-neighborhood casseroles, main dishes served at luncheons in the church basement, and a smorgasbord of salads and side dishes found at family picnics and potlucks.
Typical of an Armchair Cook’s collection, some pages are spattered with tomato sauce, splashed with drops of vanilla and wine, and smudged with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Others remain in pristine condition, because I’d rather just read them.
In either case, I’d like to introduce you to them, because I love them all.