Appliance cookbooks

 recipe booklets

Every new appliance, large and small, comes with an instruction manual and recipe booklet. In times gone by, even trade groups got in on the act, with gas and electric associations publishing small volumes to promote their particular fuel supply. The trend continues today, with recipe booklets packaged along with ranges, toaster ovens, blenders and ice cream makers. You might think that in the internet age this practice would come to a screeching halt,  but that doesn't seem to be happening.

Flipping through a few vintage booklets, it's easy to see that the quality and type of recipes have changed over time. The booklet promoting "Gold Star" ranges - those ranges that received approval from the American Gas Association - offered instructions on how to make bacon and a recipe for "Quick Welsh Rabbit" that instructed the cook to "Combine 1 can condensed tomato soup and 1 jar quick-melting cheese in a covered sauce pan." This is not a promising start, nor was the offered variation to include a can of drained tuna, with suggestions to serve the product over corn chips. Although there is no date on the booklet, judging by the photographs and artwork, it was probably distributed in the mid-1960s.

Fast forward to 2010, and the recipe booklet for a Cuisinart toaster oven featured recipes like Moroccan Spiced Baked Chicken that included no canned soup but did call for fresh shallots. Baking recipes ranged from pâte brisée (complete with proper diacritical marks) to Caramel Walnut Tart with Raspberry and Chocolate. And the booklet was printed in both Spanish and English.

While there have been obvious refinements in these recipe booklets, they are still probably destined for the recycling bin in most households. Even though I have saved each tiny recipe booklet that has come with an appliance (in the case of  wall ovens, duly passing them along with the appliance when we moved), I haven't used one. I've just never trusted the recipes developed in these small volumes. It makes me feel a little sorry for the test kitchen staff at the appliance manufacturer. Do they know that most people are going to pitch the tiny booklet into the trash?

Perhaps I'm being a snob and am missing out on spectacular dishes because of my condescension. Have you ever cooked from the instruction manual and if so, what were your thoughts about the recipes you tried? Are there hidden gems waiting to be discovered?

12 Comments

  • Jenny  on  10/20/2016 at 7:44 PM

    I am a snob. I think I throw all those away.

  • lgroom  on  10/20/2016 at 7:46 PM

    My mom just passed away a few weeks ago and she saved everything. I've found (and kept!!!) bean pot cookbooks, pressure cooker books, microwave oven books .... you name it. Some good stuff too.

  • Cubangirl  on  10/20/2016 at 8:28 PM

    The first electric frying pan I owned had a recipe for pot roast that is still my favorite today (got it in 1968). I've tweaked it some, but still prefer my pot roast cooked this way because the caramelized veggies are the best. I used to make all my cakes from the Sunbeam mixmaster booklet and many of my current pc recipes came from the old cooker booklets. Not so much with newer appliances with the notable exception of the KitchenAid Spiralizer cookbook (found on the KitchenAid site).

  • EmmaJaneDay  on  10/20/2016 at 8:42 PM

    The books that came with my Vacola (preserving machine) and my breadmachine are indispensable!

  • Analyze  on  10/20/2016 at 9:04 PM

    The only recipe from the booklets I've tried was from my proofer box, and I was really surprised that the yogurt didn't set up. I figured they were really good recipes since a proofer box isn't still really a popular item and making yogurt in them was something they advertised. Perhaps it was a fluke or I made a mistake. But, what a fun article to read and subject to think about!

  • Christine  on  10/20/2016 at 10:04 PM

    I haven't made anything from any of my booklets yet, but more because I forget about them than anything else. I bet if I indexed them, I'd actually use them!

  • anightowl  on  10/21/2016 at 12:08 AM

    Until recently, I seldom used mine, but things changed a few months ago. When I got my Instant Pot I scanned through the recipe booklet, and found a recipe that sounded good (the IP arrived before the cookbook I ordered, and I wanted to try my new toy). I made the Kālua pork the first night, and another night I made the Coconut chicken curry. It seemed a shame to lose track of those good recipes, so I decided to index them as personal recipes. After looking through my other appliance cookbooks I saw I might be missing out on some good stuff. Between indexing other cookbooks I have been working through all of my appliance manufacturer cookbooklets and tiny ISBN-less recipe booklets I have collected, as personal recipes. I am done with the Instant pot and Zojirushi breadmaker booklets, and next up is my ice cream maker booklet. I have recipe bookmarks so I can filter to recipes for a particular appliance, and Include the recipe booklet name, and page number in the "source" field when indexing the recipes.

  • Christine  on  10/21/2016 at 2:36 PM

    anightowl -- Just so you know, you can member-index a ISBN-less book or booklet (rather than as personal recipes) if you would like. If other members have the same one, it could be very useful for the community. I'll quote Jane from the forum to give you some more info: "If a member wants to index a book without an ISBN number we are happy to add the data manually. We just don't have the resources to add every pre-ISBN cookbook to the EYB Library. To get a book added that you want to index, email us at info@eatyourbooks.com the book title, sub-title, author, publisher, country and date of publication, format, and # of pages. (Or as much of that info that is available for a booklet) A scan or photo of the cover would also be helpful."

  • anightowl  on  10/21/2016 at 7:08 PM

    Christine, That's good to know. I have a 168 page paperback cookbook published in 2006 that is ISBN-less. I will index that one for everyone to access, because there are bound to be at least a few others on EYB that have it. I'm not sure how useful it would be to others for me to do the appliance ones. I would be happy to do them for public consumption if you think it would be helpful.

  • jrogers  on  10/23/2016 at 7:26 AM

    The best rock cake recipe came from a Kenwood mixer cookbook that came with my mothers mixer back in the 60s. The recipe has been passed on to me and only yesterday my son asked for it as he wanted to make them at university. There were lots of other great cake recipes in it as well. Maybe we don't use these booklets as much now as we are spoilt for choice with all the great cookbooks that are around.

  • RogerP  on  10/24/2016 at 12:40 AM

    Helping my French mother-in-law clear out an attic over the summer, I was really excited to find a 1970s book of 300 recipes for a Seb pressure cooker. It's mostly classic French dishes adapted to the pressure cooker, with more recipes for game and offal than you'd find in current English language books. Results so far have been good.

  • Christine  on  10/25/2016 at 11:38 AM

    anightowl -- I'm going to member-index a couple of my own booklets when I get a chance and maybe it will give us an idea if anyone else adds them to their bookshelves.

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