the Senior Cat asked me. He was looking at a pile of books. I had told him I planned to pass them on to the local charity shop.
"No. They're cookbooks and coffee table type books."
"Oh. How did we get those?"
Good question. My mother collected them. She liked cook books. She rarely made anything from them. The only times I remember her reading a recipe and then following it exactly was when she made cake. She didn't make cake very often.
It was different with other recipes. She would look at them and, if she had the ingredients to hand, "more or less" do it. If she didn't then she would substitute something she thought would work.
Most of the time we ate the standard "meat and three veg" or "stew" type meals that everyone else around us ate. It wasn't interesting but, in remote country areas, it was what was available.
Once back in the city where there were "interesting" and new to her vegetables like capsicum/bell peppers and courgettes/zucchini she would occasionally try them. Middle Cat had met her future husband by then and his mother cooked traditional Cypriot food and she would encourage my mother to try the simpler dishes.
My mother's downfall was the local newsagent. It stocked - still stocks - the "Women's Weekly Cookbooks". (This is the Downunder version - not the English version.) Waiting for the Senior Cat to get a newspaper or look at a woodwork magazine my mother would pick up a cook book. She would read. That recipe sounded good. Yes, she probably had the ingredients. She would, having for the first time in her life a little disposable income, buy the book and bring it home. Sometimes she would actually try the recipe. Middle Cat and I would look at the recipe too - and suggest that no, you can't substitute "x" for "y". It would turn the dish into something entirely different. It would be done anyway and we would duly eat the result. Somehow it never mattered. The food could always be eaten. Sometimes the "experiment" would be as good as - or even better - than the original recipe.
But I don't need the recipe books. I realised I hadn't opened most of them since she died sixteen years ago. There is no point in keeping them. I don't read them the way she read them. I most certainly don't use them. Other people will buy them and read them. They may even try a recipe from them.
If I want a recipe I will look on the internet.