One of my projects since arriving at the Parks Library has been to conduct a survey of the Iowa Cook Book Collection. It consists of approximately 2,000 items, from local churches, family recipe books, pamphlets made to promote local companies and even some transcripts from radio cooking shows.

The process has been simple: to get a random sampling of the collection I count ten items on the shelf, pull the 10th item, answer a series of questions involving the condition of the item, then count ten more.  So far a little over 100 items have been surveyed, most of which are generally in stable condition.

Ames Women's Club Cook Book

As I have gone through the collection I have noticed several characteristics that could be considered unique to cook books. First, most of them have fallen victim to some kind of spill or splatter whether on the cover or within the pages; this seems natural given the conditions in which recipe books are used.  Second, many of them have annotations including changes to recipes, approval or disapproval of the recipe or  blank pages filled with additional recipes. And third, many of the books  have additional recipes slotted between the pages, taped to the front, or even pinned to the pages.

Country Cook Book

Country Cook Book with additional recipe pinned to the cover

With at least two boxes of pamphlets to go I am sure to find more interesting quirks associated with cook books and how their use effects the types of damage they are subject to. In the meantime, I leave you with a recipe for Chocolate Scotcheroos, a quick and yummy treat that I am told is native to Iowa or maybe the Midwest; being from Texas I had never heard of these until my arrival.

Chocolate Scotcheroos

1 cup sugar                         6 cups Rice Krispies

1 cup light syrup               1 6oz bag chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter        1 6oz bag butterscotch chips

Combine sugar and syrup in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture boils, stir often. Remove from heat, mix in peanut butter. Add cereal and stir until coated. Pat into buttered pan. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips in a double boiler. Stir until blended and spread over cereal mixture. Enjoy!

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