[LMB] OT: cookbooks

Harimad harimad2001 at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 27 22:40:11 BST 2008

> Quoting Howard Brazee <howard at brazee.net>:
> I wonder what percentage of recipes in a multi-cookbook household get
> made?   Or what percentage of cookbooks get used for cooking (as opposed
> to being read for pleasure).

I have over 100 cookbooks, plus a binder of favorites, plus a lot more recipes on my computer.  It's hard to remember what's in each one, or which cookbook a particularly good recipe came from, or even to remember all the recipes worth remembering (or remember enough to go looking for it in the right place).  I partly address the issue by using Post-Its to mark the recipes I want to try or tried & liked.  The process is this: when I get a new cookbook I go through the whole thing.[1]  On a post-it I write the name or something descriptive about the recipe (2-4 words) and put it along the top of the book.  As a result all I need to is scan the top of cookbook to get an idea of what to cook, or what might use an ingredient I want to cook with.  After I make a recipe I either throw out the post-it if I don't like the recipe, and move the post-it to the right side of the cookbook if I do like it.[2]  

Most recipes I keep also have notes written in the margins as well.  These can be improvements for next time, or what I actually did (I can't seem to actually follow a recipe as written any more), or a simpler version of the instructions.[3]

Even with this effort, I lose a lot of recipes, at least for a while.  I make them, and like them, and maybe use them for a while, then I try something else.  Since I enjoy experimentation I'm more likely to try a new recipe than return to a known old one.  So every now and then I review the post-its to remind myself what I've made and might make in the future.  I should say, I used to review.  Now that I have small children, cooking - like so many other things - are in abeyance till my kids don't need attention during every waking moment. 

I do read cookbooks for pleasure, but it's usually as part of the above process.  The ones I reread the most are the ones with the most technique or history.  The best cookbook (as opposed to science of cooking book) for non-cooks to read is Claudia Rodin's "The Book of Jewish Food."  Just awesome, both because she focuses on Sephardic (rather than Ashkenazi) food and for the extensive history of various Jewish populations around the world.  I've given it to several noncooks, so they can enjoy the history therein.

- Harimad

PS - Quietann has a kickass challah recipe.

[1] This can take quite a while, sometimes over a year, before I get started.
[2] Or don't like a recipe but feel I can fix it, turn it into something I do like, or modify it to something else that's worth making.
[3]  I've found that most instructions are needlessly wordy; some are bad enough that it's worth my time to outline the process.  The late, lamented Barbara Tropp was particularly, er, noteworthy on this.  A five page recipe usually ends up as 1/2 page of Harimad instructions.


More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list