March 2, 2011

Repeat Offenders (in Cookbooks)

I have 85 cookbooks. I love cookbooks. I am obsessed with cookbooks. I keep a pile of them by my bed because I read them before I go to bed at night. It’s my little bit of solice at the end of the day. I flip through the pages (of which I’ve already read dozens of times), and I mentally compile a list of what I want to make next. The thing about cookbooks is that they never seem to get old to me. What I’m hungry for on any given day or what looks good to me on any given day changes, so they constantly spark new inspiration.

I have out-grown my current cookbook bookshelf. I have been trying to come up with a clever new storage idea, preferably one that showcases them. Hiding them away in a basement or closet is not an option. But, we have limited space in our 1920s bungalow. I’ll have to keep thinking on this…

Last weekend (because I got bored one afternoon), I decided to pull all of the cookbooks off the bookshelf that I have yet to make anything from. Frightening.

So, at this point, many would make a promise to themselves to not buy anymore cookbooks until they had made at least one thing from all of the cookbooks they already have. Not me. I like to think of myself as more of a realist than that. First of all, I would never stick to it. And more importantly, the sheer thought of it is depressing.

So, instead, I looked through them all and flagged some things that I would like to make in each one. And took mental note of why I would guess I haven’t made anything from them. Maybe—just maybe—it will influence future purchases.

There were for sure themes that emerged. The themes break down like this:

NEW: Too new to really even count. (And this bucket doesn’t really exist anymore because I just made my first recipe from Dorie’s book: Potato Leek Soup!)

Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

INTIMIDATING: For some reason, these books intimidate me on the surface, but after further exploration into them, I am confident that I really can cook from them. I mean, come on. Well, except for Novelli’s book, which uses grams. You know how I feel about grams.

Everyday Novelli by Jean-Christophe Novelli
Urban Italian by Andrew Carmellini
A Table at the Tarn by Orlando Murrin
Lidia’s Italy by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
Platter of Figs by David Tanis

NO PICTURES: Why bother to produce a cookbook without pictures? I don’t get this. I mean, if I have books like Baked and Barefoot Contessa Parties! with beautiful glossy pictures that give me promise of what my dish could look like, why would I spend a whole lot of time on books without pictures? Sounds very 2 year old of me, I’m sure, but I’m right about this. It really doesn’t make much sense. I should try, I suppose, because currently I’m missing out on some surely delicious food from Alice Waters.

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters
New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser

INTIMIDATING / NO PICTURES: Under normal circumstances, the combination of both of these would guarantee that I’d never cook from this book, but it’s a classic, and I have to. And I will. I just haven’t in the 3 years I’ve had the book. But I will. I think. I have to.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

OLD: I bought / inherited these books used. I don’t like used things. I’m pretty sure the Gourmet one will make it to my donate pile by the end of the week. But my mom made the sugar cookies out of the Martha Stewart Entertaining book for Thanksgiving when I was a kid. Have to keep this one. (BTW, Martha’s styling has come a long way…)

Gourmet’s Best Desserts by Gourmet
Entertaining by Martha Stewart

IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE: I don’t speak fluent French, nor do I understand fluent French. But if you saw how beautifully styled the cupcakes are in this book, you’d buy it too.

Cupcakes by Janet Smith

SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME: I bought this one last summer when I went to visit my parents in Lancaster shortly after they moved. I’m not sure what got into me. I’ve always been fascinated by the Amish, but I don’t aspire to making things like Greens n’ Fruit Salad or Stuffed Pig Stomach.

Fresh from the Central Market Cookbook

NOT SURE: This one puzzles me. Recipes look delicious. Not too hard. Has pictures. Should try soon.

Molto Gusto by Mario Batali

THEY WERE ON SALE: And last, this by far is the category that seems to be the biggest repeat offender. I must stop buying cookbooks just because they are on sale. Would reco you do the same.

Takeaway by Les Huynh
Gingerbread by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn
Bride Groom Entertaining by Williams-Sonoma
San Francisco by Williams-Sonoma
Rome by Williams-Sonoma
Artisanal Cocktails by Scott Beattie


  1. Ok, but I'd love to see you style the Stuffed Pig Stomach in a photo!

  2. you make me hungry, too many good things, my problem is: what am I going to be prepared to eat at your mom when she comes to France