Putting the Ex Wife’s Mojo onto your Plate, an exploration in Cookbooks

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Let’s talk about food! I have a food confession.

I have an abundance of cookbooks for an odd reason. When I moved in with my husband, his former wife also had an abundance of cookbooks.  No, she has not passed on, she’s still alive, and for whatever reason she left them behind. They have been sitting in my husband’s pantry for years. So here it is… BOOM! Being the foodie that that I am, I have shamelessly read through them.

This particular situation has allowed me to explore cookbooks I would not have normally explored had they not presented themselves to me. I didn’t necessarily see this as a contest. That’s just dumb. Maybe there was a little curiosity about my husband’s former diet. In a round about way I guess you could say someone’s recipe book collection does say a lot about who they are.

However, I do believe the largest chunk of creeping through her old recipe books had more to do with my curiosity with food and familiarizing myself with new recipes. Some books were non- keepers, but some turned out to be surprisingly good.  A lot of my inner dialogue went something like this…”Now here’s one! I would have never thought to make that, but hey…let’s give it a try.”  So needless to say I’ve adopted a few of the ex’s recipe books into my collection.

Now here’s the part of this story that gets all voodoo, strange, weird, and superstitious.  This has to do with magic. They say if you want to cast a spell you need something from the other person, a lock of hair or something. So does cooking recipes from the former spouse’s collection and serving them to your family put her mojo in the house? This is a question I have honestly asked myself.

Anyway, I am going to list my top fave recipe books from my collection, and yes, a few of the former spouse’s books made the cut. So here they are, in no particular order. Let’s start with this one:

The Household Searchlight Recipe Book


Why would you leave this one behind? This gets even more interesting when you open the pages.


I’m not even being sarcastic here. This book is a gem. First of all, I love historical fiction and historical non-fiction. I love reading about meals from days of old. This book is a gold mine of material for a potential author. Since so much dialogue happens around feasting, the table, or roasting animals over the spit  how could one even begin to provide sensory detail if they did not know how to describe what people ate, their cooking techniques, or the herbs they used?

Here’s another one from the former collection:


Okay it’s the Madison County Cookbook. Need I say more? I was so fascinated with this cookbook I’ve got little post it notes all over the inside.

My favorite thing about this book? It has an amazing herb section. Seriously. If you want to know how to grow them, store them, put them in spreads or vinegars this is a great resource. Also, I had NO IDEA you could make your own sweet and condensed milk. This book also has a list of meats and vegetables and recommended herbs for each. I’m not talking one or two herbs suggestions here. Each item has at least a dozen recommended herbs to choose from.

The Essential Mormon Cookbook


This one also belonged to the former lady of the house. I call this one my Mormon heritage cookbook. Now, I’ve tried to move away from it, but sometimes I just need to reach for my staple home foods. If I ever just want funeral potatoes, raspberry pretzel salad, banana bread, or carrot cake I come here first.

Favorite Family Recipes

This by far, is one of my most used cookbooks. My mother in law gave it to me because she felt it did not quite fit her needs with the type of recipes she was wanting.


See that chocolate malt cake in the bottom left corner? Yeah, it’s delicious, but I made one that did not look a thing like it.


Be forewarned, the chocolate malt cake recipe will make a ridiculous amount of batter and a ridiculous amount of ganache (as you can see I overdid it with the ganache here). Seriously, you could make a layered cake AND some cupcakes. This book also has a no fry fried ice cream with a raspberry sauce to die for. (It has a little orange juice in it). This book will suit your Cafe Rio needs, and I use their Wingers knock-off sauce recipe for game days. Hint: When they tell you to let the sauce cool before putting it on your chicken tenders that is no joke. Sticky goodness, but also delicious.

Southern Living Homestyle Cookbook

I found this book at a second hand store and It is my favorite cookbook. Seriously, forget the hummingbird cake on the cover. This isn’t just a desert cookbook. This an encyclopedia for putting the South in your mouth. They have an interesting chapter called A World of Flavors and if you want to learn how to cook with liquor, this book is for you.


Quick Vegetarian Meals

Just so you don’t all  think I am completely unhealthy. Here is another gem I found at the second hand store. Sadly, the chapters that impressed me most were the bread, and salad dressing recipes. If you are in need of a good bread recipe that goes beyond wheat flour, this book is a great find.


Gluten Free Baking

Now, I will let you in on a secret. I have had to make a shift from Gluten. When I first became aware of this I had an absolute freak out. I went to check out gluten free books at the bookstore and they were all so off the grid paleo and keto that it knocked me for a loop. This was a good book to help me transition into gluten free. Thank you Betty Crocker. I’ve not used this book a whole lot, but flipping through it provided me with much needed comfort because all my favorite goodies were still in there.


The Gluten Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods

Finally, I will mention this other Bette. Bette Hagman. She is my hero. She was doing gluten free when gluten free was hardly accessible. Her trail blazing efforts give me the utmost respect. She ‘s got flour blends, Xanthum gums, and the whole thing figured out. It’s like she has done all the work for you, and paved the way for everyone else. If you want to do gluten free the pioneering way on Bette’s level this book is for you. This is your “from scratch” gluten free cookbook. This was also another reminder that I did not have to compromise comfort foods to go gluten free.


Well that’s it for today. I have healthier food recipes on Pinterest. To be honest, my most favorite cookbook is a hodgepodge of everything I have thrown into a binder that has got notes scribbled all over the inside of it. The pages are an absolute wreck and some may even be sticky. That is the very best kind of recipe book. Perhaps I will do an exploration of this later So the lesson here is don’t discount a recipe by its root of origin. You just never know.





















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