Cookbooks are like cars — there are the reliable workhorses that have won the family’s affection with their dependable performance, and there are the flashy new models that can say more about someone’s aspirations than about the life they actually lead.

Of course, cookbooks are much easier to acquire and maintain, especially at this weekend’s Friends of the Rosenberg Library annual Used Book Sale.

“This may be our best year ever for cookbooks,” said Friends of the Library President Cheryl Jenkines.

“There are at least 300 to 400 cookbooks in the sale — and just an amazing variety.”

Book sale chair Margaret Doran concurred.

“We have everything from the super-serious to the sublimely silly,” she said. “There’s also a lot of everything in between, including regional, vintage, Texas and ethnic.”

Among her “silly” selections are cookbooks compiled by David Letterman’s mother and Dawn Wells, the actress who played Mary Ann on “Gilligan’s Island.”

While “Gilligan” fans are the prime audience for Wells’ cookbook, which is laced with anecdotes, TV trivia and cast photos, Wells herself had a wide repertoire of recipes learned from her mother and grandmother, adding a foundation of mid-American dishes to the tropical fare that her character cooked on the show.

The cookbook section of the sale won’t be the only one drawing television fans.

“We have a superfan’s collection of ‘Days of Our Lives’ memorabilia, including albums, a jacket and autographed photos of cast members,” Doran said.

The memorabilia will be displayed in the “Treasures” niche of the book sale, along with rare and collectible books, antiques and Texana.

Those treasures are an exception to the sale’s bargain-basement prices, which make most of the cookbooks available for a fraction of their retail price.

“Most of the cookbooks are marked somewhere between $1 and $4, with some exceptions for the really notable ones,” Doran said.

The exceptions include cooking bibles such as Madeleine Kamman’s “The New Making of a Cook: The Art, Techniques and Science of Good Cooking” and “The Essential New York Times Cookbook.”

Coveted titles such as these are likely to be snapped up at the book sale’s preview from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday open that is open only to Friends of Rosenberg Library members.

Memberships can be purchased at the door for admission to the preview sale.

Both the memberships and the book sale benefit Rosenberg Library and its wide range of programs for children and adults, including summer reading programs and the citywide series of reading events comprising Galveston Reads.

“The membership dues go for programming, and all proceeds from the book sale are given to the library for the purchase of circulating materials such as books, CDs and DVDs,” Doran said.

Houston’s Murder By The Book bookstore donated a portion of their inventory to the Friends, including signed first editions. General fiction also is a strong area, with volunteers refreshing the tables of books throughout the day.

“Our base price is $1 and up for hardbacks and paperbacks,” Doran said. “There truly is something for everyone.”

At a glance

WHAT: Friends of the Rosenberg Library annual Used Book Sale

WHEN: Preview — 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; general public sale — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy St., in Galveston

COST: Books start at $1

Banana and Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1⁄2 cup milk
  • 1⁄4 butter, melted
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed (about one cup)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 standard muffin cups or line them with paper.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Stir in the sugar and 1⁄2 cup of the chocolate chips. Make a well in the center.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, melted butter and mashed banana. Add all at once to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened (the batter should be lumpy.)

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them two-thirds full. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips.

Bake until golden brown and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center of muffin comes out clean, 15-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool in pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm, or transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes 12.

(SOURCE: Recipe from “The Muffin Book,” edited by Janine Flew)

Mrs. Howell’s Favorite Coconut Custard Pie


  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 21⁄2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the eggs slightly and add the sugar and salt. Add milk and vanilla.

Strain the custard through a fine sieve. Add the coconut and, pour the filling into the pie shell. Sprinkle generously with nutmeg.

Bake at 425 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a silver knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

(SOURCE: Recipe from “Mary Ann’s Gilligan’s Island Cookbook,” by Dawn Wells)

Fidelini Alla Arrabbiata


  • 1 pound fidelini, capellini or linguine
  • 1 pound Italian sweet sausage, removed from casings
  • 1⁄4 cup Italian extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 28 to 56 ounces canned imported Italian tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 cup red wine
  • Seasoned salt and a generous amount of fresh black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more if desired
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
  • Generous pinch dried oregano (optional)
  • 1 10-oz. package frozen artichokes, cooked and drained

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan and cook garlic until almost golden. Add sausage meat in small chunks; brown. Add the tomatoes, wine, salt, both peppers and sugar.

Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Add the capers, parsley, basil, oregano and artichokes and simmer 5 more minutes.

Serve over al dente pasta, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the side, if desired.

(SOURCE: Recipe from “Tony’s: The Cookbook,” by George Fuermann and Tony Vallone)


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