On my never-ending quest to find quick and easy dinner recipes, my first step is usually to google the combination of ingredients I have on hand and see what comes up, whereas my mom and grandma tend to open up the cabinet and start pulling old cookbooks off the shelves. For me, opening up an old cookbook is reserved for when my family is making a classic recipe for a special occasion. Recently, I took some time to read the old cookbooks that my parents have held on to since before their wedding. These books are the classics of the 1980s and while still useful, brought some humor back into the kitchen for a bit. 

The Silver Palate

Arielle Gordon

The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Shiela Lukins with Sarah Leah Chase. 414 pages. Copyright 1984, 1985 and original price $11.95. 

This book was the must have cookbook in the mid 1980s. It has a recipe for literally everything and the margins are full of tips and tricks for everything from buying ingredients for a soup to throwing a party for 24 people. 

I can definitely see why The Silver Palate was such an influential book when it was first released but it has not aged well into today's world. For example, a party planning suggestion to decorate mailed invitations with "stickers from the local five and dime" seems so out of place in a cookbook. I rely on them for recipes, and not wedding shower planning tips as well, bit in those dark ages without Google, you had to get those ideas from somewhere other than Pintrest. 

Additionally, it occasionally feels like I'm reading a document from my grandparents generation when recipes like "Christmas Goose" take up a whole page. I would never dream of making such a dish to serve to guests but it's fun to see what the popular food trends were 30 years ago. 

365 Ways to Cook Chicken 

Arielle Gordon

365 Ways to Cook Chicken: Simply the Best Chicken Recipes You'll Find Anywhere by Cheryl Sedaker. 224 pages. Copyright 1986 and original price UNKNOWN. 

365 Ways to Cook Chicken was so popular that Sedaker quickly published a follow up, 365 More Ways to Cook Chicken. This book has a chicken recipe for literally any occasion, and then some. My parents have peeling sticky notes on pages for "Chicken Marsala with Mushrooms," "Easy Asparagus Chicken," and "Cornflake-Fried Chicken Breasts" were a childhood staple. 

My absolute favorite section in this cookbook is the 14 page chapter dedicated to "Chicken and Fruit." It especially favors various combinations of chicken and apples with oranges and tangerines thrown in as well. I am also skeptical of "Banana Coconut Chicken" which sound like flavors more likely to be found in a dessert, but I'm all for creativity. I prefer to roast chicken with a variety of vegetables but I am sure that it will also be out of style soon enough. 

60-Minute Gourmet

Arielle Gordon

60-Minute Gourmet: Gourmet Recipes and Menus that Reach Absolute Perfection in a Matter of Minutes by Pierre Franey with an introduction by Craig Claiborne. 339 pages. Copyright 1979 and original price $7.95. 

Pierre Franey had a long running column "The 60 Minute Gourmet" in The New York Times for most of the 1970s and this popular book was followed up by his 1981 cookbook More 60-Minute Gourmet. The books are able to give readers complete recipes for traditionally complicated dishes with ingredients such as shellfish and veal. Each recipe comes with a several paragraph introduction to the recipe and includes any tricks that Franey has to offer. 

Additionally, these recipes are written with quite a bit of sass. The titles are written in French or Italian at the top with the English translation in parentheses below. In his attempt to bring fancy dishes into everyone's kitchen, I feel a bit scolded. It's like he thinks you need to know the proper name for the recipe but of course, you don't, so he'll take the liberty of dumbing it down for you. Even though I don't plan to make "Escapalopes de Veau Viennoise (Breaded Veal with lemon and caper garnish)" any time soon, the book is worth a fun read anyway. 

As much as I make fun of these "old" cookbooks, the truth is that they are the classics of their time, and even if they are not the most practical for my weekly meal prep, they are totally worth keeping around. The entertainment value is enjoyable when a rainy day has you out of inspiration. For all we know, these recipes will be back in style in just a few years.