Food & Drink

Reader Favorite Cookbooks along the Grand Strand

By Joan Leotta

For The Sun News

Sharon Bridges stands with her favorite cookbook “Treasured Recipes from St. George Island.”
Sharon Bridges stands with her favorite cookbook “Treasured Recipes from St. George Island.”

A few weeks ago, I shared the titles of my five favorite cookbooks with The Sun News readers. I also asked you to respond by sharing the name of your favorites and a bit of information on why that cookbook or cookbooks rank among your most love. The answers were wide-ranging and a lot of fun!

Several people noted as favorites, some of America’s classic cookbooks—Joy of Cooking, Fannie Farmer Cookbook (originally known as the Fannie Farmer Boston Cooking School Cookbook) and Better Homes and Garden. Others listed family recipe collections, books found on vacation or at an event or books gifted to them at various times.

Many of the cookbooks listed as favorites are out of print.(bad news!) However, the good news if you do want to add one of these reader favorites to your own collection, is that I was able to locate them online in used form. I used, but there are many online sites for purchasing used books.

Only two men responded, Dale Smith of Calabash, N.C., and my husband. Dale Smith enjoys cooking and has two favorite recipe books in his collection. The first is a compilation of his mother’s recipes, a book he recently discovered among her effects. He notes that when he is not making something from his mother’s repertoire, “It seems like I use Joy of Cooking more often than any other.”

My husband, Joe Leotta, who took up cooking in retirement, reads a lot of cooking magazines, watches cooking shows and has his own stock of cookbooks separate from mine. He says that the one of his books he has used the most and likes best is Ciao Sicily by Johnny Carrabba and Damien Mandola.

Among the women who replied, some of those who responded admitted that they don’t really like to cook, although a favorite cookbook does seem to inspire kitchen creativity. Phyllis Beal, a Myrtle Beach resident who hails from New England, cites the Fannie Farmer Cookbook as her fave. The newest editions of this classic, around since 1896, came out in the 1990s as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham and Fannie Farmer Cookbook Corporation, Beal notes, “My copy was given to me by an executive at Little Brown (where she worked at the time) when I first married, and I don’t like to cook!”

Laura Moot Baur also discovered her favorite when she first married. Baur says, “Mine (favorite) is the Betty Crocker, Bridal Edition. It has a list of emergency substitutions for when you are out of a key ingredient and every recipe I’ve ever needed.”

Two contributors discovered their favorites through special events/vacations. Faye Hobbie Graham, a Myrtle Beach resident and busy realtor shares, “My favorite cookbook is Tea Time at the Masters. It has recipes by the golfers’ wives from the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta Ga. I love it, but I do have others (cookbooks) that I love lots as well.”

Myrtle Beach’s Sharon Bridges says, “I found ‘Treasured Recipes from St. George Island,’ a collection of favorites by hundreds of contributors published by St. George Island First Responders, while vacationing in Panama City, Fla., in the early 1990s. From shrimp and green noodles to broccoli cornbread, this has been my go-to cookbook for over 25 years.”

Local radio station personality, Diane DeVaughn Stokes admitted to a having once owned cookbook collection that numbered more than 75 books. She recently divested herself of many of those by gifting most of them to the Chapin Memorial Library in Myrtle Beach. (As a recovering cookbook collector myself, I have a lot of sympathy for her addiction.) Stokes says, “I kept 20 of them because some were given to me by guest chefs who appeared with me on TV and others because I use them frequently. My all time favorite is the red checkered Better Homes and Garden Cookbook given to me by my parents as a house warming present back in the early seventies. It is filled with great easy recipes and photos, cuts of meat and how to prepare them, how to substitute ingredients, proper measuring suggestions- it is just the best!

“But the section I use most is the table setting section. Every time I have guests over for dinner, I pull out this cookbook for creative ideas, and to remind me if the knife blade faces in or out! And if you saw it, with its many soiled fingerprints, you would know it has been the most used in my collection.”

The Lewis Family of Carolina Shores has two ardent cooks in the household, Vicki Lewis and second daughter, Lydia, teenager. Vicki, a busy mom of four who home schools says that two books tie for the position of favorite from among those on her shelves. Her choices are The All New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (by the editors at Southern Living) and The Fix It and Forget It Cookbook, Feasting with your Slow Cooker by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good. Lydia Lewis is an avid cook with a specialty that is reflected in her choice. Her favorite is 500 Chocolate Delights by Lauren Floodgate, a gift from one of her sisters. Why is this one her favorite? Lydia replies, “I like it because I love to make desserts and this book is all about chocolate which is the perfect dessert!”

So, when considering a gift for a cookbook lover or a new purchase for your own kitchen bookshelf, check out these Grand Strand favorites. I know I will.