Cookbook Stackup - Lee Clayton Roper

Lee Clayton Roper, a local Denver author, was the subject of my Friday Flashback yesterday where I featured her two cookbooks A Well-Seasoned Kitchen: Classic Recipes for Contemporary Living and Fresh Tastes From a Well-Seasoned Kitchen.

Lee is the Ina Garten of the Mile High City. She writes recipes that are wonderful for entertaining but not over the top or too complex. Elegant, fuss-free and gorgeous food is her trademark. Her website A Well-Seasoned Kitchen is reflective of the style and type of recipes her books share. 

Lee was gracious enough to answer a few questions about her personal cookbook collection along with providing some fun photographs. 

What was the first cookbook in your collection?

I started collecting cookbooks very young. I was around 7 years old when my mother gave me my first cookbook, "A Child's Christmas Cookbook" by Betty Chancellor and published by the Denver Art Museum (1964). I had forgotten all about this cookbook, until I was sorting through my mom's cookbook collection after she passed away, and I found it! Instantly, a ton of memories came rushing back - of my mom teaching me how to follow a recipe, how to measure ingredients, how to adjust ingredients to increase/decrease the number of servings, how to "cream" together butter and sugar, etc. In fact, there are notes on the Krisp Kringle cookie recipe in both my and my mom's handwriting, where we adjusted the measurements.

How many cookbooks do you own? 

Over 700. When we remodeled our kitchen and dining room, we put in tons of shelving, but I still have overflow in the basement. And, every year I weed out around a dozen and give them to the Denver Public Library. But more than that number are added in a year, so it continues to grow.

Which are your favorite authors and why?

My favorite cookbook authors share a similar palate to mine, with similar style in terms of recipes that are not overly complicated to prepare, reliable (e.g.., correctly organized and tested), flavorful, utilize predominantly fresh ingredients, with resulting dishes that are delicious and beautiful on the plate. Besides my own, I would say my regular go-to cookbooks are by these authors: Ina GartenGina HomolkaDiane Morgan and Diane Rossen Worthington

My favorite resource book is "Julia Child: The Way to Cook". Great tips and techniques.

Favorite book that you would never part with and/or is there a particular book that is sentimental to you?

The one mentioned above (A Child's Christmas Cookbook), because it was my first cookbook. Also, "Graland Gourmet" is a sentimental favorite because my mom was one of the editors. I don't really use it much, but I love to look through it.

Another fun book in my collection was given to me by my husband Robert - "Eat, Drink and be Merry in Maryland." In October 1941 it was given - and signed - to "the Duke and Duchess of Windsor" by the author Frederick Stieff and the (then) mayor of Baltimore. It was later auctioned off at Sothebys in 1997 and somehow found its way to a used bookstore in Denver!

Are there plans for another cookbook?

Who knows! I am currently focusing on promoting my existing books, especially the second one, Fresh Tastes. I continue developing new recipes and posting them on my website

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