Kitchen Resources: Junior League Cookbooks

Kitchen Resources: Junior League Cookbooks

We've talked a lot about good cookbooks recently. There have been cocktail books, vintage vegetarian ones, and cookbooks we've loved the covers off of. But in thinking of the books we turn to again and again, we'd be remiss not to mention a category full of un-fussy favorites — the Junior League cookbooks.

According to the Junior League, the Minneapolis chapter published the first cookbook in 1943 to raise money for its community projects. Today, there are more than 200 Junior League cookbooks in print, and while our favorites come from southern cities like Houston, Birmingham, and Memphis, there are books from every part of the US. We even stumbled upon Buen Provecho from the Junior League of Mexico City.

These are not cookbooks that you read to stretch your cooking limits. The recipes are culled from the community, having been cooked over and over in the kitchens of the members, served at neighborhood potlucks, copied countless times on index cards, and shared by word of mouth. We frequently find a recipe that we thought was our mother or grandmother's creation... only to find out it came from an old Junior League book.

Each cookbook is a microcosm of how that city eats — there are Mexican influences in Stop and Smell the Rosemary from Houston (one of the best), and in Food for Thought from Birmingham, local writers pen essays about different courses to introduce each chapter.

So, who else relies on Junior League cookbooks? Which are your favorites?

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(Images, from left: Barnes & Noble, Junior League of Baton Rouge, Junior League of Memphis)

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