Author Topic: The one cookbook challenge  (Read 5604 times)

Trudie

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The one cookbook challenge
« on: August 15, 2014, 10:27:00 AM »
I love to cook and over the years have collected a great many cookbooks that I don't use.  I've made some progress in this area, but have decided to pare down my collection.  I found this post interesting:
http://bemorewithless.com/onecookbook/

I don't think I can do with just one cookbook, but am working very hard to consolidate.  I realize that I have 2-3 "go to" cookbooks, and that I have another 6-8 that are probably "aspirational."  You know, the cookbooks you want when you FINALLY serve that huge homemade Italian feast you've always dreamed of.  Or that Italian desserts cookbook you bought in Florence.

Admittedly, some of them (like my Julia Child cookbook bought in France) are going to remain on the shelf, even if I rarely use them.  But, the average everyday cookbooks are going to get the heave-ho.

What are your go-to cookbooks?  And, how do you organize the recipes you're going to keep?

senecando

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2014, 10:34:55 AM »
Thinking for a minute about which ones we actually reference, I think the only one I've looked at more than a few times is Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat book. I don't know if I've referenced any others in the last year or so, at least in the kitchen. There are a few books that I've read good chunks of on the couch, in preparation for food projects. I'm really interested in what books people have in their kitchen that they return to again and again.

MicroRN

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2014, 10:38:23 AM »
I've cut my cookbooks down by at least half, though I still have more than I think I'll ever use.  If I had to trim down to one cookbook, I'd photocopy the 3-4 recipes that I use from individual cookbooks and stick it all in my recipe binder.  The binder is what I primarily use.  I divide it into "tried and liked" and "to try" recipes, most printed from various blogs.  Several cookbooks are more for general interest than actual use though, like my old Larousse Gastronomique.  I also have a decent collection of digital cookbooks that I pull up on my laptop as needed. 

Any single real cookbook I have would be totally useless.  I use cookbooks primarily for inspiration rather than for actual recipes. 

ETA:  I looked at the link after posting and I see that's exactly what she's suggesting.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2014, 10:40:25 AM by MicroRN »

Moonwaves

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2014, 10:52:00 AM »
I tried to do this about a year and a half ago. Decided to take it one at a time and pulled a Low-Fat Cookbook off the shelf that I hadn't used in at least seven years. But then I made the mistake of flipping through it and, you know what, my tastes and habits have changed so much in that time that I immediately saw loads of recipes that would now be really good for me. So I decided to keep it for one month and if I hadn't made anything out of it in that time, to get rid of it then. But I used it quite a bit during that month so now it's back on the shelf. There are a few I could get rid of but I do like to browse them for inspiration. Since I got interested in preserving that has added to the collection but I think I'm going to fairly quickly get rid of a lot of those books and just stick with my River Cottage Preserves and Ball Blue Book. I've stopped buying the cooking magazine that goes on sale every month and is stocked at the cash register in the supermarket, though. It "only" costs 3 but after a year or so of buying it, things tend to start repeating, so now I flick through it quickly while waiting and only buy it if there's something interesting I want to try, which is not very often.

suburbanmom

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2014, 11:00:50 AM »
This would be hard for me. I have gotten rid of most of my physical books, but I collected cookbooks for about 10 years. I have pared down my cookbook collection quite a bit, but I do love to just flip through them, even if I have never made recipes from half of them. That being said, The How to Cook Everything Cookbook by Mark Bittman is my favorite and most frequently used cookbook, if I did have to pick just one, that would be it.

Magpie

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2014, 11:03:43 AM »
I've had great success with my recipe binder.  I print out a lot of recipes I find on various blogs.  Once printed, they go in the front pocket of my binder.  Once I try the recipe, if it's a keeper, I'll 3 hole punch it and put it in the appropriate section of the binder.  If not, into the recycle bin it goes.  What I've found is that a majority of the recipes never get tried.  So, I note the date I printed the recipe.  If it's still in the pocket after 6 months, it gets recycled.

The cookbooks that I actually use are my Better Homes & Garden cookbook and Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook (the author has a great blog too).  There are others with sentimental value that I will keep.  But, I am not adding to the collection and have made it known to my mother and MIL that I do not want any more cookbooks (as in, DO NOT give me any more church fundraiser cookbooks).  My library has a wonderful selection when I feel the need to browse for ideas.

kyanamerinas

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2014, 11:06:36 AM »
i love my recipe books. i do use most of the ones i bought, though not the ones other people have bought me which i feel bad about giving away.

my go to books are:
hugh fearnley w...'s veg book
mary berry's complete cookbook
hairy bikers mum knows best

i also have a curry book which i'm hoping to get more use out of when i live with my bf as i find currys a faff on my own and an austrian cookbook which i don't use enough but is lovely.

i do have a recipe binder and love collecting hand written recipes from people but should be more organised with.

lcg377

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2014, 01:53:22 PM »
I never realized until reading this thread, but the cookbook I use most often is The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum! lol

This is followed by the Mark Bittman "everything" cookbook. Except mine falls open to the brownie recipe. . .

minimustache1985

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2014, 02:33:44 PM »
I think I need to make a recipe binder and use that.  I constantly end up googling recipes I've made 20X to double check a quantity of something or what temperature for the oven, or I'll have a recipe I know I like and made a year ago and then can't find it again.  No time like the present!

yddeyma

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2014, 07:27:29 PM »
So....my favorite cook book is actually not a cook book.  It's a three ring binder with 4x6 photo sleeves that have recipes written on index cards.  I got it at one of my bridal showers and it is by far my most used wedding gift (and, now that I think on, probably one of the few that has survived the entire 10 years!).  Each person at my shower wrote down their favorite recipe (or two) and put it in the book.  I've slowly added to it over the years. 

Oh wait, I lied a bit.  i do have a Joy of Cooking inherited from my dad.  So between that, the internet and recipes I occasionally get from friends I've got everything I need.

kyanamerinas

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2014, 12:53:12 AM »
The one cookbook I can't live without is "Meals Without Meat" by Simon and Alison Holst. I suspect it's long out of print (published 1990) but I highly recommend a copy to anyone, regardless of whether you're a meat eater or not. We use at least one recipe a week from that cookbook and I estimate over the years I've cooked nearly half of the recipes in it. All of them are so yummy. Best of all, it's written in ways that encourage you to adapt and play with the recipes, and some of the recipes encourage you to use up the odds and sods of old vegies in the fridge or leftovers from a previous meal. I can't rave about this cookbook enough.

sounds really good!

i should've elaborated on mine.
The Mary Berry has tonnes in from meals to snacks to breads to cakes. Most of it's very good, especially the cakes but i have found one or two duff recipes and one or two eh-so-so recipes.
The hairy bikers is brilliant. no silly long lists of ridiculous ingredients, no overly fancy what-not just good, reliable recipes for reasonable priced, super tasty food. yet to find a bad recipe in there.
The veg book by hfw is a little more fancy, quite a few of the recipes need ingredients i can't get from the local shop and there are basically no dishes i really know so its good for experimenting and finding new things but definitely one i turn to when i fancy trying something really new and different. recipes i've had so far have all been solid with several which have definitely made our re-do list (to fancy/unusual/expensive for the regulars list).

Roses

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2014, 03:19:41 AM »
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook - Deb Perlman:  Everything is so good and every recipe works really well.  She's an amazing recipe writer.  Nothing is overly complicated and yet everything turns out amazing.

The Real Food Cookbook - Nina Plank:  Not such a good recipe writer but excellent, simple dishes made with 'real food'.  I love her philosophy.

These are both fairly new books.  I used to have a big cookbook collection that I mostly gave away since I was always going online for recipes (America's Test Kitchen is awesome).  But since I acquired the two books above I find myself going back to them over and over.  I've now made more than half the recipes in SK and a couple of Plank's recipes have gone into very regular rotation at my house.

My pick for honorable mentions:

Ottolenghi's 'Plenty' & 'Jerusalem' - Somewhat fussy recipes with hard to find and sometimes expensive ingredients but great for a special occasion.  Everything I've made has been delicious and he's introduced me to new flavors and spices that I didn't use before and now love.



Fi(re) on the Farm

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2014, 05:40:32 AM »
I've got 2 shelves of cookbooks in my kitchen and periodically sort through them. I donate the ones I don't have a use for to the library book sale. I keep a few for sentimental reasons but most are ones that I use pretty regularly. It's time for another purge! 
The ones that always stay are Mastering the Art of French Cooking, l and all, the Betty Crocker cookbook, all my canning and preserving books, the king Arthur baking book and three slow cooker books.

I've got a binder with family recipes and ones I've gotten from friends.

I tend to use the internet for inspiration and then make up the recipe as I go along.

aj_yooper

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2014, 06:25:36 AM »
My wife loves her cookbooks and could never part with any of them, a tall bookcase collection!  I'm developing a love of cooking myself and am finding my wife's binder of faves is the way to go.  Graze everywhere but bookmark the ones that work well for you. 

Rural

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2014, 08:00:04 AM »
I own three or four cookbooks, but the only one I've used in the last year is the Fannie Farmer cookbook, which covers pretty much everything.  It lives on top of my microwave and a reference it when I need to remember proportion for yeast or baking powder or whatever else.


More than any cookbook, though, I use myold-school  box of recipe cards. Many of the things in there I made up. I have a TVP cookbook which would probably qualify for my keeper shelf, only I've transferred tons of its recipes to my recipe card file.


Most of the time, I just don't cook from recipes.


Edited to remove mystery code from text.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 05:39:42 PM by Rural »

Moonwaves

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2014, 08:10:01 AM »
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook - Deb Perlman:  Everything is so good and every recipe works really well.  She's an amazing recipe writer.  Nothing is overly complicated and yet everything turns out amazing.

The Real Food Cookbook - Nina Plank:  Not such a good recipe writer but excellent, simple dishes made with 'real food'.  I love her philosophy.

These are both fairly new books.  I used to have a big cookbook collection that I mostly gave away since I was always going online for recipes (America's Test Kitchen is awesome).  But since I acquired the two books above I find myself going back to them over and over.  I've now made more than half the recipes in SK and a couple of Plank's recipes have gone into very regular rotation at my house.

My pick for honorable mentions:

Ottolenghi's 'Plenty' & 'Jerusalem' - Somewhat fussy recipes with hard to find and sometimes expensive ingredients but great for a special occasion.  Everything I've made has been delicious and he's introduced me to new flavors and spices that I didn't use before and now love.
Edited to add: I had typed a reply to this but it seems to have gotten lost when I was getting timeout errors. Sigh. Too lazy to think of it all again now. Plenty is great though.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 09:17:16 AM by Moonwaves »

horsepoor

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2014, 08:29:40 AM »

Ottolenghi's 'Plenty' & 'Jerusalem' - Somewhat fussy recipes with hard to find and sometimes expensive ingredients but great for a special occasion.  Everything I've made has been delicious and he's introduced me to new flavors and spices that I didn't use before and now love.

These are two of my favorites.  I've gotten lots of good ideas for using my garden produce from these books, and just mod the recipes if they're too fussy or require things I don't have/can't get.

As a "one stop shop" I highly recommend The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon.  It is a huge book full of great recipes.  We're not vegetarian, but I have lots of recipes bookmarked in there. 

I love my cookbooks, but honestly, I tend to go to Pinterest or start googling when I need a recipe. I've got over 400 recipes pinned, and one advantage is being able to meal plan by perusing the pins and copying them to a hidden board that I can quickly glance at throughout the week to know what's on the menu (haven't done this since winter, but it works really well when I do).

swick

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2014, 09:26:06 AM »
I laughed when I saw the title of this thread and knew immediately I couldn't do it. I thought I was doing good having just purged about 1/2 of my cookbooks and I'm not finished yet, but I still have a couple hundred. My goal is to get it down to around 50-ish.

I read cookbooks to relax, most of mine are some sort of combination between history and cooking or travel and cooking or specialty books I have collected over the years. They are not so much about the specific recipes as a source of inspiration, since I rarely use actual recipes and if I do, I never follow them exactly.

Most of the time I foodgawk and save any recipes I want to try in my plan to eat library. Still though, it doesn't replace my cookbooks.

I did want to add: Thanks for the link OP - I have been going through the archive of that site and there are some really good gems in there!
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 09:33:30 AM by swick »

kyanamerinas

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2014, 11:47:37 AM »
erm.... i think this thread is having the opposite effect to that intended. i now want to go out and buy all the books everyone is recommending!!

iris lily

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2014, 12:01:27 PM »
I haven't done much original (read "new") cooking in the past few years. I also do not like to read cookbooks although I know many people do. So I'm probably not in the same league as you. But still I'll reply.

If you just like cookbooks, like reading them, your local library will have scads of them. I love using the library's collection, they have to store and dust the books while I can just borrow them and be rid of them when I want to.

My one single cookbook that I would have, and in fact I just looked at it this morning, is The Joy of Cooking. See, I don't have a computer on our first floor or in the kitchen, so I don't have web access.

All of the cookbooks I've accumulated over the past ten years (not many, really) have been gifts, with one exception: one on Indian cuisine and cooking. When I retire I'll go through that one and make more recipes, I LOVE Indian food.

My approach to new recipes when I am in that mode is to have eaten it somewhere else, like in a restaurant or at a potluck dinner. Then I look it up on the web and try it. I don't find cookbooks inspirational, generally, although I do occasionally check them out form the library. At the moment I've got a library ocokbook that has recipes from local chefs in well known local restaurants.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2014, 12:12:25 PM by iris lily »

iris lily

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2014, 12:06:07 PM »
Well, I didn't consider our recipe binder to be a cookbook. That is the #1 source we use most often. DH bakes a lot and it started with recipes form his mother. I now keep recipes in it, ones that I use often. Every so often I cull "my" recipes (never his!) if it's something I haven't made for a long long time, or if it is aspirational, you know something I want to make but never have made it.

Zikoris

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2014, 06:04:42 PM »
I have a cookie cookbook, muffin cookbook, and bread cookbook that I use constantly. I have one that has an excellent brownie recipe and the rest is crap - I could probably just rip that page out and be rid of the rest. Come to think of it, a lot of my cookbooks fit that bill - 1-3 good recipes. Something to think about.

kite

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2014, 06:03:21 AM »
I have a cookie cookbook, muffin cookbook, and bread cookbook that I use constantly. I have one that has an excellent brownie recipe and the rest is crap - I could probably just rip that page out and be rid of the rest. Come to think of it, a lot of my cookbooks fit that bill - 1-3 good recipes. Something to think about.
I've done this quite a bit.
I took a Fly Lady challenge a few years back to get rid of 1 cookbook.   Wound up paring my collection by half, and I'm now limiting myself to 2 small shelves in the pantry.   I should try to get down to one shelf.....

tmac

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Re: The one cookbook challenge
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2014, 06:27:10 AM »
I got rid of most of my cookbooks before we moved earlier this year. I'm left with:

The Joy of Cooking: It's my second copy. A go-to for basic recipes and instruction, and inspiration. My daughter likes to read cookbooks, so I often have to ask her to fetch it from her room when I need it.

America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook, or something like that. This is a new one and it's great. Great recipes, and lots of good technique and ingredient discussion.

A small binder full of family recipes. We only use 4 or 5 of the recipes, but because my mom compiled it and everyone contributed, it's worth hanging on to.

Winston-Sonoma: Bread. It's one of those thin books from the series. Lots of good recipes for making day-to-day bread. Sandwich bread, English muffins, cornbread, etc.

Claire's Italian Feast. A local-ish restaurant well-known for it's vegetarian food. I use it less for direct recipes and more for inspiration.

Alton Brown, I'm Just Here for the Food. Not a cookbook per se, but a food science and technique book mostly about cooking meat, with some recipes included.

Other than that, I have a clipboard that I use to hold printed Internet recipes and I get a lot of food books (recipes, nutrition, food politics, etc.) from the library.

If I REALLY wanted to pare down to just one, I'd keep the family binder and just Google the rest. But since they take up about one foot of shelf space (which is about a tenth of what I used to have), I think I'm good. :)