Yes, Virginia, There Really Is A Culinary Cellar!

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I have received emails from people asking if I really have an old cellar filled with cookbooks and all other sorts of culinary delights.  The answer is yes, it’s really a cellar, not some fancy fixed-up basement with carpet and a television.  It’s just a cement cellar with crawlspaces, and it has been known to flood (way too many times!) when we have those Midwest thunderstorms.  How I wish I had a real library somewhere in the house, or at least something upstairs, but the cellar was the only place all the cookbooks would fit.  Actually, I have more upstairs, but they are contained!  The basement books are on overflowing shelves.  I will run out of room one of these days, and I don’t know what will happen when that day comes.  But even though it’s just a messy old place, it’s my haven.  I can be down there for hours just filing new recipes, searching for the cookbook or other item of interest for the blog, or laying down on the old day bed and reading.  So here is my culinary cellar in all its glory!

This is a partial look of what you will see when you come down the steps.

A small portion of the cookbooks.

                                   Another view of some of the cookbooks.

This is my pride and joy!  It’s an actual card catalogue from our local library.  They were going to trash it, since everything is computers now, so they just gave it to me! And it weighs a ton – it’s solid wood.  It was quite an experience getting it down the stairs.  We had to cut it in half, then put it back together. Every one of those drawers contains hundreds of recipes on 3-by-5 index cards, and the drawers are very long.  I could never count them all, but there are thousands and thousands of recipes.  The opposite side of the catalogue looks the same, but it is filled with cookie cutters, paper pastry holders, molds of all kinds, mini-pans, and so much more.

                                  You can see how long the drawers are and how many cards each can hold – and it’s not even pulled out the whole way!

Here’s a more close-up view.  As you can see, the drawers are labeled chicken, vegetables, beef, appetizers, etc; then everything is sub-categorized.  For example, in the drawer marked chicken, it is further divided into breasts, thighs, grilled, sauteed, whole, cornish, etc.  There are LOTS of sub-categories for every drawer.

Here’s what you couldn’t see in the first photo.  On the other side of the room are the filing cabinets, also filled with recipes.  Recipes that cannot fit on index cards are stapled together and put into the filing cabinet.

Every drawer in the filing cabinet looks like this, with different categories and sub-categories.

So that is my culinary cellar.  Also what you can’t see is two dresser drawers filled with antique glassware, dishes, utensils, and booklet upon booklet of recipes, mostly from food companies, many of them very old.  This is most of the cellar, so maybe as I add more or take more photos, I’ll come and post them again.  There is a treasure in every nook and cranny!

2 Responses to Yes, Virginia, There Really Is A Culinary Cellar!

  1. December 27, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    Ok now my family can not tell me I have to many cookbooks. This is really really over the top. I have like maybe a thousand.
    How many of your cookbooks have you cooked from?
    I am trying to make a file of just the most fabulous recipes.

  2. December 29, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    I have cooked, and continue to cook, from many in my collection. Sometimes it might be just one recipe, but one great recipe can be worth the whole book. You have a good idea to make a file of your favorites. I do the same thing, and also write in books either in the front or the back of the favorites I have tried and what page they are on. My husband still finds it fascinating that even with all my thousands of books, I can still remember which recipes are in each book. After many years of using them, it’s actually pretty easy to find a single favorite recipe!

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