I received my first cookbook from a college friend in 1947, a few months before I quit school and married Johnny Mayhew. There weren’t many books about cooking back then, but Joy of Cooking was a best seller after World War II ended, and probably many were sold to brides-to-be.

I had never had an interest in learning to cook, and my mother probably never had a desire to teach me to cook. I figured that I would learn when it was necessary. So it was kind of a shock to me the morning we returned to the Island from our honeymoon when I realized I was expected to make breakfast for my new husband. After that, his favorite comment to a new friend was, “She couldn’t boil water when I married her — but she’s learning.”

Joy of Cooking was a great help. The author, Irma Rombauer, assumed that anyone who bought her book had probably never held a ladle in her hands, and in my case, she was right. The book began with paragraphs about the differences between fats, carbohydrates and calories. The next four pages listed portions of foods from almonds and apples to zucchini and how many calories were in each item.

Did you know that one slice of zwieback contains 35 calories? Not that anyone feeds their babies zwieback anymore, but it was a staple first food to chew on for the babies of my day.

The Joy of Cooking remained a most popular first cookbook for brides for many years. First published in 1931 when I was five years old, 85 years later it is still selling in bookstores all over the country. It has been in print continuously since 1936. I wore mine out and finally bought a new edition sometime in the 1970s.

Also in the early 1970s a friend of ours, Louise Tate King, along with Jean Stewart Wexler, published a wonderful cookbook titled The Martha’s Vineyard Cookbook. Louise had taught Johnny how to smoke bluefish, and it quickly became a favorite appetizer for our company dinners. Later, in a small cookbook devoted to cooking bluefish many different ways, I learned how to make bluefish pate, which also became a great hit. For awhile I bought small cookbooks devoted to different ways to cook a single food — The Opulent Oyster, Pillsbury’s Best Chicken Cookbook, and The Toaster Oven Cookbook. In the mid-1990s on my way to Wales, I spent a night with Bideau Abbott in Oxford and she took me to a potato pub which featured endless varieties of twice-baked potatoes. They were delicious, and as soon as I got home I bought a cookbook called The Best Fifty Baked Potatoes.

Unfortunately, the ones I made never tasted as good as the ones in England. Finally, I was down to making the meals I liked more and more, and experimenting less with meals I’d never made before. I was also getting older, and when I could no longer care for Johnny he moved into Windemere. At first it was okay, but after three years of coping with all the problems of an aging house as well as an aging body, I built a Granny apartment onto my daughter’s house right around the corner from where I had lived for more than 50 years. We each had our own space and cooked our own meals.

But gradually I found cooking for myself and eating by myself were not very interesting. Deborah did my shopping for me and sometimes brought her lunch over to visit while we ate, but getting together for a family meal proved difficult. Granddaughter Lucy lives in California, but the other nine of us all live in West Tisbury, and we all have different eating habits. One is a vegan, one is a vegetarian, at least three are non-gluten, one avoids red meat, and one prefers macaroni and cheese to lobster, so our family meals have largely turned into pot luck (bring your own food).

Although I didn’t hate to cook when I was young, I was intrigued to discover a new publication called The I Hate to Cook Cookbook in the early 1960s. It was by Peg Bracken, a well-known humorist, and although the recipes were short and easy to cook, just reading her amusing comments about food and recipes could entertain me on a dull day. I kept that book on my kitchen shelf for some 40 years, and when I downsized to my newly-built apartment on Panhandle Road in 2012 after my husband died, I brought it with me. Peg Bracken died in 2007, and in 2010 her daughter Joanna Bracken republished the cookbook as a 50th anniversary edition. All the recipes and comments were intact, and now I had the time to read them.

There are two easy chicken recipes in the book — Saturday chicken and Sunday chicken. The only difference between the two is that the Sunday chicken is curried. That made it special and more appropriate for the Sunday chicken dinner we all thought so special 75 years ago. Peg Bracken’s Sunday chicken is still my favorite recipe to cook for myself.

My lifetime has been fortunate in its timing. Now that I no longer want to cook, many companies are putting out ready-made frozen dinners I can pop into my microwave and eat five minutes later — some good and some not so good. But hey, that’s how my homemade meals were — some good and some not so good.

Shirley Mayhew lives in West Tisbury.