Saturday, May 17, 2008

Is the Cookbook Dead?

Are you a cookbook lover? Or do you find the cookbook obsolete with any recipe at our fingertips on the internet? I love my cookbooks for quality recipes, reliable instruction, and the experience of paging through a collection of photos and recipes time and again. With cookbooks, you can stumble across a tantilizing recipe in a way that the internet doesn't seem to match. And I find that cookbooks offer new surprises as my tastes and interests change. All of a sudden, I'll be smitten with the idea of coconut milk curries, and look at that, an old cookbook has plenty of such recipes that I didn't even notice because I was focused on pasta the first time through.

Kittee got me thinking about cookbooks recently when she inquired on the PPK forum about favorites that are lesser known. I don't think I have many uncommon cookbooks, but I do have old favorites that I want to re-visit and explore with a new eye. I seem to be drawn to restaurant cookbooks such as Threadgill's, Horizons Cookbook, and The Grit. Another favorite theme is Entertaining (Vegetarian Appetizers, Entertaining for a Veggie Planet, and The Art of the Cocktail Party , for example). And then there's my miscellaneous category of quirky books, including Cooking Like a Goddess and Biker Billy's Freeway-a-Fire (yes, Biker Billy is a vegetarian).

As if that's not enough to keep me busy, I can't refrain from test driving cookbooks from the library too. Currently these include The Improvisational Cook, Enemy of the Steak, French Vegetarian Cooking, Techniques of Healthy Cooking by the CIA, and Vegan Vittles.

What's your latest cookbook purchase? Or do you have an old favorite that you want to peruse again? Perhaps you think cookbooks are for luddites and frequent an online site for your new recipe fix. Leave a comment to weigh in or share a favorite book.


  1. Every single cookbook in my small collection is a gift- and I do cherish them for the reasons you mention here.
    But I don't buy cookbooks myself, because blogs keep me supplied with an endless bounty of recipes, and because I can always borrow cookbooks from the library. Usually, I find that every cookbook will yield only 1-2 "keeper" recipes.

  2. I think the internet is often overwhelming when I'm trying to find a recipe. Mostly I stick to food blogs and cookbooks when I am making something. I completely lust after cookbooks but only own a few. I like Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (haven't bought the vegetarian version yet) because it covers so much. I also love really old cookbooks when I'm trying to make something simple and classically american- my Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook from 1955 never requires a can of cream of mushroom soup.

  3. Nupur, it's true that blogs alone would keep me busy for quite a while with new recipes to try. And I'm finding new blogs that I like each week!

    Junipie, I also like Bittman's blog on NY Times online. If you don't know it, here's the link:
    Nice to hear from another new STL food blogger!

  4. I generally like to create my own recipes!

    I haven't had too much luck with vegan cookbooks so far. The internet has been wonderful. I own Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance, the baked goods are wonderful, but haven't enjoyed many of the main dishes I tried (I do LOVE the mushroom gravy though).

    However, Rick Bayless writes amazing, very non-vegan Mexican cookbooks, I have fun veganizing and getting inspiration for my own creations from him too.

  5. i love to create my own recipes, make a few from cookbooks, and tweak/adapt ones online and get inspired from other vegan blogs! i guess i get recipes from everywhere! :)

    the latest cookbook i've purchased: the new farm vegetarian cookbook. i love it!

  6. Jennifer, I have a Bayless book too that I love. Gorgeous photos.

    Jessy, Isn't the New Farm cookbook fun?

  7. I love my cookbooks! The last one I bought was a first edition "Moosewood Cookbook". I use them for inspiration when making my own recipes.

  8. Hi Chris, there's lots of good inspiration in the Moosewood books. I look forward to your future creations!

  9. I love cookbooks so much that I am teaching a series of classes at Kitchen Conservatory called "Cookin' the Books" that will feature a particular cookbook each class. They start in September. I'll let the St.L. blogger group know the exact dates as soon as they are scheduled!

    And, thanks for the comment on the corn & chorizo tart. The original Cooking Light recipe actually featured Soyrizo! I've linked that that in my post.

    Sounding My Barbaric Gulp!

  10. Hi Kelly! Your job sounds so cool. Definitely let us know about the classes! And I had no idea that the original recipe would have used soyrizo.Have a good holiday - full of cooking up good stuff to eat.

  11. I'm a cookbook addict! I generally only buy vegan cookbooks, but I got the Joy of Cooking for the 2007 holidays and find that it's a great resource w/ tons of veganizable recipes. I'd say I own somewhere between 30-50 cookbooks w/ 97% of them being vegan (that's just a guess and I haven't updated my blog's library side bar in a while). I just borrowed the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook from the library and flipped through it at lunch today. I find that's a great way to test-drive cookbooks, but our library system doesn't always have all the new cookbooks right away (case in point, we don't have Jae Steele's new book yet).


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