Many books come into our home during any given week and among them are a beautiful variety of cookbooks. One of them at the end of last year, was newly published but based on hand lettering and original images completed in 1945.

Leave Me Alone with the Recipes: The Life, Art and Cookbook of Cipe Pineles (Bloomsbury, 2017) is the title of a homemade book of recipes written and illustrated by Cipe (pronounced “C. P.”) Pineles. It was a keepsake of her connection to the Jewish food of her childhood and now thanks to co-editors Sarah Rich and Wendy MacNaughton and the wonders of colour reproduction, we readers can enjoy the charming drawings and delectable recipes of Pineles who was the first female art director at Condé Nast.

Sarah Rich begins the book with the story of finding Cipe Pinleles’s sketchbook propped open in a glass case at the California International Antiquarian Book Fair in San Francisco. She received a text from Wendy MacNaughton who was already at the fair to say she had found something “mind-blowing.”

When the two met at the book fair, they marvelled over the handwritten recipes for brisket and stuffed cabbage rolls, kasha and kugel. The original drawings were of sprays of parsley, piles of beans, collections of metal cookware and wooden utensils. There was a nostalgic but contemporary look to them and the drawings looked a lot like illustrator and graphic journalist Wendy MacNaughton’s own work.

MacNaughton’s essay in the book is “In Defense of Food Illustration” in which she praises food illustration because it is “deeply personal, sensual, accessible” in ways that other mediums such as photography, are not.

Four women purchased the original cookbook which as MacNaughton says, reveals “Cipe’s love of food, history, and art”[that] comes through in every drawn recipe, on every page.” Rich, MacNaughton, Maria Popova who writes about what she reads on Brain Pickings and Debbie Millman, a designer, author and educator, are now owners of the original book of recipes.

Popova and Millman have also contributed essays to the book and there are other contributors as well including those who knew Pineles. Mimi Sheraton, for instance, joined the editorial staff at Seventeen magazine in 1949 where Pineles was art director. Sheraton was born about twenty years after Pineles, also to a Jewish family. Both families settled in Brooklyn.

Each of the contributing authors adds to the story of Cipe Pineles who emigrated to the United States from Europe at the age of eight. She married two graphic designers (at different times of course!), Will Burtin and Bill Golden, who enjoyed recognition during their lifetimes yet “her own influence was relatively unsung,” as Sarah Rich points out.

Pineles was the designer behind numerous popular magazines including Mademoiselle, Glamour, Vanity Fair and Vogue. Pineles taught editorial design at Parsons in New York for nearly two decades, Maria Popova says.

Those who are designers and readers who have an appreciation for good design will marvel at this book. And what about the recipes themselves? While enjoying the charming illustrations, you can also follow a recipe for Kalacha (meatloaf) or Bulbenick (baked potato pan cake).

The latter section of the book, by Sarah Rich, is entitled “Cipe’s Recipes Revisited” in which Sarah Rich has attempted to “update what’s no longer feasible or appropriate to our culinary moment” while preserving the intention and integrity of the original recipes.

The original recipes would have been handed down or recited to Pineles by her mother and wouldn’t have had every step in the process included. In Sarah Rich’s version, steps rather than assumptions are there as well as a list of ingredients “perhaps a bit more accessible to the modern cook.”

Leave Me Alone with the Recipes is a visual delight, a wonderful celebration of Jewish family recipes and a tribute to the life, art and cooking of art and media pioneer Cipe Pineles.