Thoughts on Marion Cunningham & the Fannie Farmer Cookbook

** Please be warned, this is a sentimental post **

As a wedding present, my great-gramma Roxie gave me the Fannie Farmer cookbook as revised by Marion Cunningham. The inscription page reads, “to the home cooks of America, young and old.” At the time, I had no clear idea of what a “home cook” was. Cooking was something you most certainly did at home, but I had no idea how much the phrase would start to grow into my personal identity over the past 6 years.

I was by most people’s account a young bride at the age of 20, and home cooking for me, up to that point, had consisted of little more than spaghetti with pre-made sauce and salads topped with “ramen popcorn” (ie: broken up, dried ramen – a culinary delight). Seasonal vegetables were the vegetables in my father’s summer garden and little more than that.

This book was an awakening to me about what I could do on my own in a kitchen with just a few ingredients and a little time. The recipes are rarely overly complex, don’t call for a plethora of fancy/foreign ingredients and, at its core, reminds me of time spent at home with my grandmother and my aunties at Gramma Roxie’s when I was young and my sole responsibility was taking the ends off the green beans. Those memories stay with me, to this day, as the feeling of my family dinners.

Simply put, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook didn’t intimidate me the way that cookbooks had up until that point. I spent a lot of time just reading the pages and trying to find new things that I could try my hand at, and it made me enjoy my time in the kitchen more. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook was my gateway drug, if you will, into a steadily building addiction that has been a true joy to me ever since.

I’ve always loved the inscription my Great Grandmother wrote in my (now very well-worn) copy of the Fannie Farmer cookbook, and her name was the inspiration for this blog.

Fall 2006

Dear Great-grand daughter Amanda,

As you begin your life as a young wife I wanted you to have a good cookbook that teaches the basics and way beyond. This Fannie Farmer cookbook is regarded as on of the best. It teaches cooking terms; it explains techniques, seasonings, kitchen equipment, the how-to of entertaining, and menu planning too.

I hope you enjoy referring to it for many years to come. God bless you as you prepare lovely meals in your kitchen.

Sincerely,

Great grandmother Roxie B.

I was sincerely upset to hear of the passing of Marion Cunningham, a stranger who didn’t really feel like a stranger. In her honor, this week, I will be making some new dishes from my old favorite. Over dinner tonight, I will lift my glass to the home cooks of America, young and old.

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