Cooking, Arizona style…

The State of Arizona Research Library’s Arizona Collection offers numerous paths into Arizona’s story, but like any journey, it’s probably best to plan a meal before you go.

The Collection can help with that, too!

Waiting in the stacks around 641.5, cookbooks focused on Arizona offer not just recipes but history too, putting us back where we started, though in a fashion far more flavorful.


People write cookbooks to make money or raise funds, and most of the ones in the collection are no different. Tastes & Treasures: A Storytelling Cookbook of Historic Arizonas proceeds support the Arizona Historical Museum at Papago Park.  Arizona — hot & cold : Arizona Extension Homemakers Council Cookbook is a comb-bound, fundraising cookbook by a publisher that printed such in the late 1970s. Al and Mildred Fischer’s Citrus Recipes: A Collection of Favorites from the Citrus Belt, published in 1980, boosts one of Arizona’s five Cs.

 Arizona Highways showcased food and history in 1988 with their Heritage Cookbook by Louise DeWald. The library has copies n the Arizona Collection and  in State Publications.

Further into history is Arizona Territorial Cookbook: The Food and Lifestyles of a Frontier by Melissa Ruffner Weiner, which note the sources come from early cookbooks, early newspapers, personal diaries, letters, and menus of the time.  Scholey Beans were served at Scholey and Stephans Saloon in Tombstone as part of the free lunch and “Feeds at least a dozen hungry men.”

cookbooks tumbleweeds

The Rough Rock Demonstration School’s Navajo Curriculum Center printed a cookbook in 1986 with recipe titles and food names in both English and Navajo. Of particular interests to locavores is the 21-page-section on “Edible Wild Plants And Their Preparation,” which includes tumbleweeds. “And tumbleweed greens are good to eat, but they must be picked and eaten when the first shoots are only 2 to 3 inches tall. If the plants are any larger, they will have developed spines.”

Politics stirs the pot both figuratively and literally here as well: The DeConcini Family Cookbook by Ora Webster DeConcini showcases recipes from 1882 to 1982, when her son Dennis was running for his second term in the U.S. Senate. The 53-page pamphlet was paid for by the Senator Dennis DeConcini Reelection Committee and looks like a small campaign pamphlet. It offers a brief autobiographical sketch of the author’s family, and family recipes, usually with a story attached.

The First National Solar Cook-off cookbook by Pat Wing harnessed solar power even back in 1981. The Cook-Off was held September 19 of that year, proclaimed “Solar Cooking Day” by Governor Bruce Babbitt, at Phoenix Civic Center Plaza.

Some of these cookbooks are available on our Reading Arizona platform.

If the collection has a second copy of a cookbook, it may be available via interlibrary loan at your local library.