Remember when the Pink Cooler Traveled 5,000 Miles? I wrote about it in an early Downsizing post. It wasn’t an item I was particularly attached to but it had a little story that felt worthy of a post. My Alaska cookbooks fall into that same niche. I don’t particularly have an attachment to these cookbooks. Certainly not the way I do to other cookbooks I’ve had to downsize so I’m not sure why I felt this post should only feature the Alaska cookbooks and not all of the cookbooks I’ve downsized. This is especially true when you consider I only ever cooked a single item out of any of them. Halibut Stew. Still, there is something I find a little sad about getting rid of them.
To give context to the story, I have to go back about 20 years. As a super organized, list maker, you will not be surprised to also learn that I enthusiastically participate in the annual tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. You may, however, be surprised to learn that like so many others, I’m generally a NYR Fail by February. I can’t even count how many years “floss daily” made the list, knowing full well that fail was likely less than 10 days away. Still, every January I’m full of hope as I write it down once again.
One notable exception is a resolution I made back in 1995. Or maybe 1996. It was simple. I wanted out of my habit of eating fast and convenient. This meant getting away from dishes I made by pouring a box of something in a pan and adding water. Or pulling something from the freezer and reheating. This meant eating less often by pulling into a fast food drive-thru.
But I needed to ease into it. I wasn’t about to go all Julia Child or anything. So the resolution was to try one new recipe a week. Simple. Doable. From there, my love of cooking blossomed. Some weeks I’d try three or four new recipes. That resolution made it to my annual January list for 15 years. And it was my one true long-term successful NYR.
So what does any of this have to do with my Alaska cookbooks story? Well, maybe nothing. But I wanted to share the background with how enthralled I was with cookbooks and cooking to give context to my crazy behavior (and even crazier results) when it came to acquiring my Alaska cookbooks.
I work at a mid-sized nonprofit in Anchorage, and have for nearly 15 years. One of our breast cancer education funders has an annual luncheon with a silent auction. In fact, I referenced the same lunch two weeks ago in the Finance post as I donated my blue Blenko glass vases to the silent auction. It is my habit to budget a certain amount of money to spend at the lunch as gratitude for their incredible generosity to my organization.
Let me paint a picture. Imagine long lines of silent auction tables, hundreds of women wearing pink and good cheer all around. Pink balloons. Pink beads. Don’t forget the pink feather boas. Pink everything, everywhere. While many people socialize and many of my co-workers volunteer to sell raffle tickets during the event, I am on a mission. I have a single focus. The silent auction. I find items I want and continue to circle back to keeping adding my name to the bottom of the list so I can be sure I win the item.
One year, the auction had a bundle of a dozen Alaska cookbooks that I just had to have. The good news was that they had three of the exact same bundle. They spread the three bundles as far apart as possible and with so many people in attendance, it took me about ten minutes to make the rounds at the auction. I’d had past experiences of thinking I won an item only to have someone pink lady swoop in just before the pink cowbell rang out closing the auction.
Determined to walk away with those cookbooks, my strategy was to bid on each bundle as I passed. Certainly, all three couldn’t become a victim of the pink lady last minute swoop.
Cut to the chase. After the luncheon, I went to the checkout desk to see if my strategy paid off. Good news: it did. Bad news: I won all three bundles. Yep, I was the proud owner of three dozen Alaska cookbooks. Or, rather, I was the proud owner of three each of the same twelve cookbooks. I wasn’t sure if I should feel happy or sad as I handed over my credit card.
My enthusiasm for cooking started to wane about the same time my attention turned to writing a novel which transitioned to Supersizing my LIFE. It’s probably not a coincidence as all three take a tremendous amount of time and energy and planning. Only so many hours in a day, in a week.
The Alaska cookbooks represented only 10% of all my cookbooks and yet I still grieve them. Maybe it’s as simple as them being Alaska specific and I’m also giving up Alaska.
Do you have regional cookbooks? If yes, do you turn to them more often than general ones? Oh yeah, in case you are wondering what I did with the extra cookbooks. A co-worker bought one set. I divided up another set and, six months later, friends and family received them as holiday gifts.