Grandma’s Cookbooks

I lost my Grandmother last month.   She was 82 years old and the last grandparent I had in this mortal world.  The loss is vast and deep, heavily laden with the memories of a lifetime.

Deonn Nelly Thornock was so many things, it is hard to put into words to do her any bit of justice.  She married by grandfather Ted Thornock at a very young age and dedicated her life to her family.  She was a proper little lady, kind, caring and nurturing.  I grew up hearing stories of how every winter’s morning she’d put my Mother’s clothing on the door of the hot oven to warm them before school.  She was always thinking of others, sending cards and notes for the slightest things, to let you know she cared.  I have an entire box filled with her little notes, greetings, cards, and words of love, tucked away.

She loved her yard which was always expertly groomed and filled with flowers.  She cared for that yard up until almost the very end, putting aside her pain to do what she loved most.  I sat on her porch overlooking the yard, for countless hours over my lifetime, visiting with her and my grandpa.

My grandmother could cook like no one else I know.  She made the most ordinary things taste so good they actually felt good.  Her hand-made chicken noodles were the cure for a thousand ills, her lemon petit fours were clouds of citrusy heaven on the tongue.  She and grandpa would often stop by my childhood home, their arms full of things she’d made, just because.   Her dishes always filled us with excitement.  She not only knew how to impart luscious flavor and palatable love into a dish, but she always presented things in the neatest way, wrapped in tea towels, or grandly placed on sheet pans in such a way that communicated to you very clearly that you were about to receive something special.  And of course, that you were special.

Sixteen years ago, she made all the food for my wedding.  I am entirely sure that I didn’t understand at that time what an undertaking that was.  I am in the middle of planning the food for the first wedding I am being hired to cater and it is truly one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do.  I know my grandma liked things to be perfect like I do, so I have some comprehension now about how much of herself she gave when she did that for me.  I only wish I could express that to her now.

My Grandmother loved to shop and we all knew she loved to be stocked up on things, but until she passed nobody had any idea of the stuff she actually had, neatly tucked into every corner of her tiny home and the little shed in her yard.  She didn’t have one or two of anything, if she had something, she had ten.  What’s so funny is that her tiny house was as neat as a pin.  I would have dared anyone to just try and find so much as a speck of dust in that home, it just couldn’t be done.  She just had a way of neatly packing things into every little drawer, closet, tote, and box, so that you had no idea it was actually there.

I was honored to be able to have some of her things when she passed. I got many linens-the whitest, most neatly pressed linens I’ve ever seen.  I will be using many of them as accessories in my food photography.  I also got to have about 20 different bundt pans of all shapes and sizes, a beautiful dresser, a lovely bed for my Luke, all the kitchen items I could want, and one other thing that means more to me than it could possibly to anyone, her cookbook collection.


What you see here is a small stack from the NINE boxes of cookbooks I received.   I pulled every book out of the boxes and arranged them by type so they could be stored properly and not suffer any damage.

Within some of the pages were recipes my grandmother had jotted down over the years in her unmistakable script, the papers yellowed with time.


I turns out my grandma liked cooking contests too.


Check out this picture from the inside of the cover, it’s the Pilsbury Bake-off in full swing.


I found this little gem from the 1950’s in her collection.


This beat up little book makes me so happy.  I am just really thrilled to have it, and I’ve been wondering how I could use it to honor my grandmother and all the beautiful dishes she made for the people she loved over her lifetime.  I thought that I would make some of the dishes and post them on the blog.  That’s the reason I mentioned a few posts back that I’d love to hear from you about your favorite retro recipes from the 50’s, 60’s, and 7o’s.  I can most likely find them in this book, as it has a plethora of recipes on it’s old, brittle pages.

I do have to say that food photography has come a long way since back in the day, baby.


I’m excited to share some of the recipes from this and other vintage books from Grandma’s collection in some upcoming posts.  I hope you enjoy them and that they bring back memories for you of good times and wonderful people who have passed on.

Thank you Grandma, for the cookbooks, for your influence on my life, and for being you.  Say hello to Grandpa Ted for me.



  1. I am so sorry for your loss Shauna. My last grandparent died when I was 19 and I didn’t fully appreciate them and wondered what kind of conversations I would have had with them if they were around in my 20s and 30s as I grew up.

    I remember being at a garage sale one time, and I too, look for old cookbooks. I found this handmade cookbook – it had newspaper recipes taped to the pages, and the owners notes “not good enough to make again” or “needs more salt than the recipe states.” Surely I thought that the people who were hosting the garage sale didn’t realize that it was in there – and when I brought it up to them, one of them said “it was my grandmas, but none of us cooks, it’s yours for .25 cents.” I bought it right then and there!

    • Thank you Biz, that means a lot. It doesn’t surprise me at all that you love old cookbooks, I can totally see that you would appreciate them like I do. One more reason I like you so much :)

  2. Candy Grandma, as her grandkids knew her will be missed. She is looking over you in all of your endeavors. Such a neat person to have known.

  3. You have surpassed yourself with this tribute to your grandmother. I am in awe of the beauty of your words and the images they portray. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Grandmas hold a special place in the hearts of their grandchildren. Beautiful.

  5. Love this so much, Shauna. What a tribute your cooking is to her, and such a beautiful thing to continue that legacy. Sounds like you inherited so much of your sweet, kind-hearted personality from her.

    • Thank you, Jen, that is very sweet of you to say. I can only hope to be some of the woman she was :)

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