Finding the cookbooks

I think that it has happened every time we have moved. There will be something that we cannot find after the move that eventually shows up in an unexpected place. Susan once used one story of a missing item as part of a children’s story. In that case, her parents had helped us with some of our packing. When we arrived at our new home, she couldn’t find the wind chimes that we had enjoyed so much on the patio of our previous home. It is easy to live without wind chimes, so we just kept expecting them to show up, but we just couldn’t find them. I looked through a few remaining unpacked boxes with no success. Then one day, months later, we were getting out our food dryer to preserve some apples and there, inside the food dryer, were the wind chimes. We laughed about it at the time. Who looks inside a food dryer except when using it? We had looked at the outside of the food dryer many times. We just expected that it would be empty.

Yesterday, as I was loading boxes from our garage into our pickup to take them to our son’s farm, where they will be stored for a month or so as we make our move to a new home, I saw a box. It was a study cardboard box with a fitted lid. The box was not marked with any hint of its contents, but it was familiar to me. On the outside of the box was printed, “Enderes Tool Company, Albert Lea, Minnesota.” I know Enderes Tools. My father was an Enderes dealer for many years. The company manufactures forged steel tools such as punches and chisels. The box was very well built because the chisels and punches it contained were heavy. On the box was a label with the address of my father’s business - a business that has been closed for 40 years.

I thought that the box contained memorabilia from my mother and father. I have several such boxes. They contain treasures that I don’t want to get rid of, but for which I have no everyday use. This particular box, I think, contained some of my mother’s items when she moved to our home near the end of her life. It is also possible that I picked up the box and filled it with items from the shop at our family’s river property years ago when we were cleaning and I was taking some items to my home.

At any rate, I pulled off the top and the box contained cookbooks. We’ve been looking for those cookbooks for a year! I’d seen the box nearly every time I went to the garage to look for the cookbooks, but I never thought to look for cook books in that box. I thought for sure they would be in a box of kitchen items. It seemed possible that we might have also put them in a box with other books, but unpacking books and putting them on the shelves is one of the early tasks in a move for us.

These weren’t just any cook books. We had a few of our usual cookbooks. The Joy of Cooking has been on our shelf for all of our marriage and it has been used a lot. You can tell which recipes are our favorites by the stains on the pages. These, however, were the spiral bound and plastic bound cookbooks, often not professionally bound, cookbooks that were sold to raise funds for church women’s fellowships, Eastern Star groups, and other non profits. We’ve collected these over the years and have learned that they are filled with trusted recipes because we know the people who contributed their recipes to those books. There are recipes in those books, like Alta’s Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies, that you won’t find on the Internet.

Fortunately for us, Susan has two sisters, and she isn’t afraid to call one of them for a recipe when needed.

So now the missing cookbooks have been found - just as we are starting to pack for another move. I wrote “cookbooks” on the outside of the box with a black marker. I wrote it 5 times on five faces of the box. Only the bottom has escaped the label.

I think that the cookbook business may have taken an upturn during the pandemic. At least a lot of my friends have been doing more cooking at home. I don’t know, however, how much of an impact the Internet has had on cookbook sales. I am not tempted to buy cookbooks in book stores, because I know I’ll only use a couple of recipes from a cookbook and I can find similar recipes on the Internet.

One of the cookbook stories that I love was told to me by Millard Fuller, one of the founders of Habitat for Humanity. He often told the story of being a self-made millionaire and reading the story of the rich young man in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus advised the rich young man to “go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and come follow me.” Millard did just what the parable advised. He and Linda sold their possessions, gave away the proceeds and moved to Koinonia Farms to live in intentional Christian community. The part of the story that is less well-known is that Millard became a millionaire while still a college student by forming a business that published church cookbooks. He used mimeograph machines and hand-biding systems and employed other college students to collate and bind cookbooks filled with recipes collected by church members. The members then sold their books at bazaars and bake sales to raise funds for their churches. Millard made a profit off of each book produced and sold. Before long he had stepped up to an offset press and a metal comb binding machine. Low overhead, plus inexpensive part-time labor was a formula for success. Being comfortable around church people while being a good salesman was an added bonus.

So the cookbooks have been located, which leaves at least one question” “What will go missing in the year to come?”

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