“Back of the Box Gourmet” (1991)

I still remember the day I got this book.  I received it as a reward for reading a lot of books while I was in a reading club in junior high.   The school librarian took the few of us who met the reading goal to lunch and to the local bookstore for a free book of our own choosing.  This is how much I loved cookbooks — even though I was an avid reader of fiction novels, I chose a cookbook as my reward.  I think the librarian may have been a little surprised at my selection.  I remember going to lunch because it was the first time I’d ever seen or heard of rhubarb.  We went to Sizzler and there was a make-your-own frozen yogurt machine.  It was the kind where you put in whatever fruit you wanted and it mixed it together for you.  I thought the rhubarb looked odd — like celery, and I was a bit curious, but not daring enough to try it.  (It wasn’t until about ten years later that I actually cooked with rhubarb in order to make a pie for a friend’s birthday.  For those of you who haven’t tried it, it’s pretty good — just don’t eat the leaves because they’re toxic.)

I didn’t remember if I’ve ever actually cooked out of this book before, but then I vaguely remembered making “Classic Tuna Noodle Casserole” once.  I don’t think I loved it enough to make it again.  This cookbook is comprised of recipes that are printed on the packaging of food products.  For example, the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe that is printed on the back of the bag of Nestle’s chocolate chips.  Other recipes in this book include Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie and Rice Krispies Treats.  I actually often make the Quaker Oats recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, but I didn’t realize this recipe was in this book until now.

For this blog, I made the recipe for “Good Morning Pumpkin Pancakes” which features Carnation Evaporated Milk and Libby’s canned pumpkin.  It also uses a biscuit mix which I prefer not to use for pancakes, but I keep on hand for extremely lazy Saturday mornings.  I did boost the nutritional value of the mix by adding ground flax seeds, soy flour and brewer’s yeast — which are all undetectable to the taste in small amounts.  (I got this idea from Ruth Yaron’s book, “Super Baby Food”.)  At least this recipe uses pumpkin, which is very good for you.  These pancakes were decent but in no way compared to ones made from scratch — especially not the fluffy, buttery pancakes I’ve been making from Marion Cunningham’s “The Breakfast Book”. 

Flipping through this book now, I’m thinking that these recipes are easily available on the internet and there really isn’t a need for this type of book anymore.  In 1991, the internet didn’t exist the way it does now.  If you wanted a recipe from one of these brands, you’d have to buy the actual product and hope to find the recipe listed, or maybe you’d have to send a letter via snail mail to the manufacturer and ask for the recipe. 

I’m not too impressed with this book now.  Many of the recipes use products that I don’t normally buy, like mashed potato flakes or Velveeta.  It has a cute cover — I think that’s why I chose it in the first place.  I’m sure there were much better cookbooks in the store, but I probably thought they were too complicated at my young age.  I’m considering removing this book from my collection, but nostalgia is making me think otherwise.

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Published in: on April 7, 2011 at 12:40 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Very cute story. I enjoyed reading it. I think the cookbook could be a collectible someday — because of the Internet.


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