All the books were thick with bright colored pictures and lots of professionally photographed food. I told her that wasn't what I had in mind exactly. I want the old kind that are a little dingy. She said oh, those, they're in the garage and she invited me in to look. I walked away with two good prep book cookbooks for a dollar.
I bought another book called Cooking From Scratch Overseas because the forward told the story of following her husband overseas for work and finding no electric oven and only a two burner propane stove for cooking. It looked like a page turner. It has a section titled Cooking during a Revolution. Can't wait to get into it, because their are several pages that are stained from dripping.
That is a good sign. When a recipe appears on two pages and requires turning the page to follow the directions, the staine pages mean that recipe or, better, that book was used and was good enough to use more than once. A pristine cookbook, no matter how old it is, is an unused cookbook. If the recipes were too hard to follow or the book too clumsy to stand on the counter, it stayed on the shelf and that makes it pretty useless. This book in the photo right , I would pass up. It has sticky pages, but, it is falling apart and most of the staining is foxing from water or humidity damage. There are no written notes on the pages but there are clippings from magazines. It was a filing cabinet, not a real cookbook.
I can look for a few recipes I am familiar with and tell if the book is at least a valid collection of genuine recipes. I know my biscuit recipe inside out, since my sister and I did our demonstration for 4H at the county fair. I know I don't like Scottish shortbread cookies, because they turn out like sand if it's not done right, but I know the recipe that works and if I check that one, I can tell if the author actually made them or just added in the recipe to fill the pages.
Get yourself a new/old cookbook and see how it was done when food was fresh, not wrapped in plastic and cooked over wood or gas. It will change your thinking. Oh, and I also bought the biggest hulking NERF machine gun with three 18 dart cartridges, but THAT is another story!