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April 16, 2024

Cookbooks: Igniting Culinary Passions

Category: Culinary

Author: John McAninch, Executive Director

For numerous chefs, there exists a pivotal cookbook that served as the catalyst for their culinary journey. This single book ignited an idea, unlocking a passion for cooking they may not have realized they possessed. Cookbooks transcend mere collections of recipes; they serve as windows into cultures, histories, and personal narratives. With each page turn, a new adventure, tradition, or innovative technique unfolds.

Every recipe and cookbook, whether passed down through generations or reimagined, enriches our culinary culture at Vitalia Montrose. Exploring culinary resources nurtures and evolves our love for food and cooking.

Handwritten Italian Bread recipe card

In my collection of at least fifty books, my favorite is titled Pies Made Simple, given to me by my grandmother when I was about 12 years old.

To pique my interest, a cookbook must break down the science behind the ingredients and provide the historical context behind the dish.

My grandmother passed down her dumpling recipe to me. Every Thanksgiving, we shared moments together in the kitchen. Her dumplings embody feelings and love without measurement. Additionally, one of my favorite recipes that I developed is jalapeno and habanero wing sauce.

This recipe holds a special place among my favorite dishes.

Baked French Toast

  • (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut diagonally in 1-inch slices 
  • 8 large eggs 
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 1 ½ cups half-and-half cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 ⅓ cups brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup


  • Step 1 – Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish; arrange slices of bread on the bottom.
  • Step 2 – Beat eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Step 3 – The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Meanwhile, combine butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup together in a small saucepan, heat until bubbling.
  • Step 4 – Pour over bread and egg mixture.
  • Step 5 – Tested by All recipes Test Kitchen Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
  • Step 6 – Serve with berries and syrup.

Generational recipes or new culinary creations can spark nostalgia and inspire our cooking journey. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, we all have that one foolproof recipe. Don’t overlook the power of beloved cookbooks and their stories. Keep sharing and savoring the diverse flavors that await us.

VITALIA® Montrose in Copley, OH offers independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near Cleveland Clinic with convenient access to major shopping centers and attractions, including Mud Run Golf Course and Driving Range, Summit Mall, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Summit County Metro Park, Stan Hywet, and Hale Farm.

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