I received new cookbooks, old cookbooks, used cookbooks and pamphlets that I know must have had a special place in someones collection. Several had been on my want list for some time (I think my Amazon wish list of cookbooks is about fourteen pages long).
But my favorite this year, which came from my Aunt and Uncle in Oregon, wasn't a true cookbook...it was an envelope which had some Nut Tree recipes inside which brought back a ton of memories of my childhood.
Now unless you had to drive Hwy 80 between San Francisco and Sacramento years ago, or lived near Davis, California, you probably have no idea what Nut Tree is or actually was. Started in 1921 as a roadside fruit stand, the Nut Tree became a must stop on the way to and from my Grandmas. It had a restaurant, bakery, a gift shop, toy shop, giant wooden animals to play on and a little train that you could line up to take rides around the area.
Now as a kid, it was always fun to stop at the Nut tree for cookies, riding the train and climbing on the animals. But it was the restaurant that always made me feel special. With my Grandma living in Davis, if we wanted a "grown up meal" (mostly lunch for us as kids but there were some dinners) you got dressed up and went to the Nut Tree Restaurant. Supposedly the restaurant was one of the first places to serve "California Cuisine" which to me back then meant lots of wonderful fresh fruit and vegetable plates. Standing in line on the ramp I was always full of anticipation at dining with the adults and it was always a special treat to be able to eat there.
Unfortunately Nut Tree as I knew it, closed down in 1996. There is currently a "Nut Tree Plaza" where the old place stood, which is nothing like the original...it's now full of chain retail shops and restaurants that have none of the charm of the old Nut Tree.
I love the fact that this simple envelope of recipes (16 all together) could bring back so many wonderful memories, not only of time spent with family and friends as a kid, but of wonderful meals and food (anyone remember the pink chocolate covered strawberries they used to sell?).
I plan on getting out these little recipe cards this summer and making myself a giant Nut Tree meal. In the meantime, I think the plethora of cookbooks I received over the holidays will keep me knee deep in new recipes to try!