Take Out a Good Cookbook


Harford County Public Library hosts virtual events on Betty Crocker and Maryland cookbooks

Harford County Public Library will host two virtual events in February that focus on cookbooks, to celebrate this year’s foodie Winter Reading Program theme–“Take Out a Good Book.”

“Betty Crocker and the Cookbook that Changed How America Cooks” on Wednesday, February 10, from 7 to 8 p.m. focuses on how “Betty Crocker,” founded by a flour company in 1921, became the most famous and trusted advisor to American cooks.

When this fictional character’s “Picture Cook Book” hit shelves in 1950, sales rivaled that of “The Bible.” To date, it has sold more than 75 million copies. Historian Leslie Goddard, Ph.D., will look at how Betty Crocker was invented, why the cookbook has endured, and what makes the idea of Betty Crocker so iconic.

“Maryland Cooking: Cookbooks and Recipes from Maryland’s Past” takes place on Wednesday, February 17, from 3 to 4 p.m.Julie Saylor from Enoch Pratt’s Central Library will help participants savor Maryland’s culinary past. Whether searching for that elusive recipe or just interested in local history, this program is for you.

Saylor will explore the Pratt’s “Maryland Department” cookbook collection in historical and cultural context and search for early examples of favorite Maryland recipes. She’ll also delve into blogs about the history of cooking, digital collections of historic cookbooks and other useful online resources. 

The programs are free of charge, but advanced registration is requested by visiting https://www.hcplonline.org/virtualprograms.php. Both events will be presented virtually on Zoom. A valid email address is needed at registration. Once registered, participants will receive a confirmation email with the link and a unique password to the event. Participants will also receive a reminder email one hour before the start.  

“Those who enjoy reading cookbooks know how insightful they can be,” said Mary Hastler, CEO of Harford County Public Library. “I look forward to discovering more at each of these events. Betty Crocker’s cookbook is such a staple in so many homes, and Maryland cookbooks hold a certain allure to native Marylanders and transplants alike. These two virtual programs are great ways to learn something new and to participate in the library’s ‘Take Out Menu’ of activities through the Winter Reading Program.”

Those who complete any combination of the “Take Out Menu” activities (which include participating in the library’s virtual programs, contactless services, Take & Makes, social media, a virtual 5K, eBooks/eMovies/eMagazines and more) will be entered to win one of 20 library swag bags. Winners will be selected randomly from all “Take Out Menu” participants the week of March 8.

For 75 years, Harford County Public Library has provided its communities with access to ideas that inform, entertain and inspire. Last year the library interacted with its residents more than 6.3 million times – borrowing free materials, visiting branches and the website, attending classes and events. In 2020, Harford County Public Library received the Graphic Design USA Indesign Award. For more information, visit HCPLonline.org.

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