A cookbook is not a place you would expect to find a "true confession" but I've one to make here. And before I meet "THE GREAT Dutch Oven Cook in the Sky", I had better seek penance for a few other sins that have been pending for a few years, but don't look for any more here other than this one. Anyway...when I started writing my first book back in 1995, a search of my bookshelves would have turned up but one cookbook. That first cookbook in my collection is a fifty page mimeographed cookbook entitled, The Lookout Cookbook, Region One, published by the US Forest Service. My copy says it was issued June 1, 1938. To this day I use recipes from this book that have not been altered, spindled, or mutilated in any way. By now you've probably figured it out without any more clues, I've turned into a "cookbook junkie." After starting this paragraph I conducted an informal census in our library. Including the two I've written, I'm now up to at least one hundred twenty three. I say "at least" 'cause I'm sure there are a handful of others stashed around here that I just can't lay my paws on right now! So now you know one of my "darker secrets"!
Perhaps I don't fit the classic definition of a "junkie," because I don't resort to criminal activities to support my "habit" nor do I hallucinate euphorically when I get a fix! Nonetheless, no matter where you might find me, from an airport gift shop to a shopping mall, you'll find me in the cookbook section wherever books are sold. My addiction began like a lot of other junkies...out of curiosity! Being new to the literary world, I merely wanted to know what others had done before me. After the publication of my first cookbook, well-meaning friends and relatives began to give me cookbooks as gifts. Little did they realize they were unwittingly contributing to the delinquency of a game warden/camp cook!
At some point in time, I began to approach the point of no return. By the time I started this cookbook, I was out of control! For example, while on a fishing trip/business trip to Alaska this summer, I bought so many cookbooks we had to ship them home via United Parcel Service, as I didn't have enough room in my luggage. Pen summed it up best after we were home when she said, "you spent more on cookbooks than fishing tackle!" She hasn't yet mentioned the "R" word, (recovery), but it's my guess if she ever hears of a support group for cookbook junkies, she'll be signing me up.
Prior to 1995, all the recipes that I used could be found underneath a size 7 1/8 felt cowboy hat. What recipes I used were memorized or thrown together with what I had at hand never, to be duplicated again. Sometimes, that was a good thing. But the deeper I got into writing my first book, the more serious I became about my cooking. I guess that because I graduated from the old school that taught, "If you're going to talk the talk, you must first walk the walk," I felt compelled to make sure that what I put down in black and white fit inside the ballpark.
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