The Reluctant Blogger

Save the Cookbooks Project

12/31/11 UPDATE: I’m not going to ever finish this project, and I can live with that. Having it hanging over me has been really useful in changing the way I bring cookbooks into the house, and for that I’d call this a success. I’ve gotten much more selective about books I actually choose to own, and am utilizing the library as my pre-screen. Although I’ve added a stack of new cookbooks this year (haven’t updated the list, but highlights include the Homesick Texan Cookbook, Mozza, The Glorious Pasta of Italy, and Tartine Bread), I’ve also sent a stack on to new homes. I’m pretty much out of shelf space, so new books have to be really, really good, because it means getting creative about where they will fit, or sending another book out to make space. And I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to own books I probably will never actually cook from, if I really enjoy reading them. And I do pull out cookbooks that I don’t regularly cook from from time to time, perusing for new inspiration. Projects like these, even unfinished projects, are great motivators and useful for changing behavior if you’re the type who needs something hanging over your head to make change. Perhaps I should take on another that has something to do with cleaning the house…


I have resolved to cook from every cookbook I own in 2010.  If I don’t succeed in cooking from a cookbook, I have to get rid of it.  Of course, since I’m making the rules, I’m giving some books a pass, and as the year progresses I may extend my deadline if it’s looking very unrealistic.  However, one week into the year I’m already making progress, so for now the deadline remains December 31, 2010.  UPDATE 11/8/10:  I know I’m not going to finish before the end of the year, but I’m going to keep working on it.  This has been a good project – I’ve shed a few cookbooks in the process and added a few more, but generally have enjoyed delving into the books taking up space in my house.

The Cookbooks

I have divided my cookbooks into three categories: 1) books at risk (that is, books that don’t fall into one of my two exempt categories – these are the books I’ll most actively target for this project); 2) history cookbooks (primarily old cookbooks I’ve picked up at library booksales and garage sales, but this also includes soft cover cookbooks put together by church and other groups.  I find these books endlessly fascinating from a sociological standpoint.  I will attempt to cook from Category 2 books, but they’re a much lower priority than Category 1 books); and 3) books that get a pass for sentimental reasons (primarily books inherited from my grandma of the church group variety, or books my mom has used over the years that have found their way to my house).  This list of books will undoubtedly grow as the year progresses.

Category 1 Books: The Books at Risk

  • Ad Hoc at Home/Keller, Thomas SAVED! 7/4/2010
  • America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook/Kimball, Christopher SAVED! 1/25/10
  • Amor y Tacos/Schneider, Deborah SAVED! 12/25/11
  • Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day/Hertzberg, Jeff and Zoe Francois
  • Asian Dumplings/Nguyen, Andrea SAVED! 1/1/10
  • Baja: Cooking on the Edge/Schneider, Deborah SAVED! 12/15/11
  • Baked: New Frontiers in Baking/Lewis, Matt and Renato Poliafito SAVED! 6/5/10
  • Baking From My Home to Yours/Greenspan, Dorie SAVED! 3/14/10
  • Baking Handbook/Stewart, Martha SAVED! 4/4/10
  • Baking Illustrated/Kimball, Christopher SAVED! 2/5/10
  • Baking with Julia/Greenspan, Dorie SAVED! 12/23/10
  • Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving/Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine SAVED! 5/1/10
  • Barefoot Contessa at Home/Garten, Ina SAVED! 5/7/10
  • Blue Chair Jam Cookbook/Saunders, Rachel SAVED! Sometime in August…
  • Bobby Flay’s Grilling for Life/Flay, Bobby To a new home, 12/5/10
  • Bon Appetit Cookbook/Fairchild, Barbara
  • Border Cookbook: Authentic Home Cooking of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico/Jamison, Cheryl Alters SAVED! 1/16/10
  • Classic Cookbook/Kimball, Christopher To a new home, 12/5/10
  • Cover and Bake/Kimball, Christopher To a new home, 12/31/10
  • Easy Japanese Pickling/Ogawa, Seiko
  • Fields of Greens/Madison, Deborah
  • Giada’s Family Dinners/de Laurentiis, Giada To a new home, 12/5/10
  • Gourmet Cookbook/Reichl, Ruth SAVED! 1/3/10
  • Gourmet Today/Reichl, Ruth SAVED! 6/9/10
  • Granny’s Muffin House/Ashby, Susan
  • The Greens Cookbook/Madison, Deborah SAVED! 5/30/10
  • Into the Vietnamese Kitchen/Nguyen, Andrea SAVED! 2/12/10
  • The Italian Country Table/Rossetto Kasper, Lynne
  • Jamie’s Kitchen/Oliver, Jamie
  • Joy of Cooking (1964)/Rombauer, Irma SAVED! 1/7/10
  • Kitchen Diaries/Slater, Nigel SAVED! 2/4/10
  • Momofuku/Chang, David
  • New Basics Cookbook/Rosso, Julee and Sheila Lukins
  • New Best Recipes/Kimball, Christopher SAVED! 1/3/10
  • New Tapas/Dunlop, Fiona To a new home 5/15/10
  • Pacific Northwest Wining and Dining/Rex-Johnson, Braiden To a new home, 12/22/11
  • Pure Flavor/Beecher-Daimmler, Kurt SAVED! 2/11/11
  • River Cottage Meat Book/Fearnley-Wittingstall, Hugh
  • Salt to Taste/Canora, Marco SAVED! 11/8/10
  • Seventh Daughter/Chiang, Cecilia
  • Silver Spoon/Phaidon Press
  • Soups, Starters & Salads/Hermes House
  • Thai Street Food/Thompson, David
  • Ultimate Thai and Asian Cookbook/Hermes House SAVED! 6/5/10
  • Weber’s Real Grilling/Purviance, Jamie
  • Well-Filled Tortilla Cookbook/Wise, Victoria and Susanna Hoffman SAVED! 10/15/10
  • West Coast Cooking/Atkinson, Greg To a new home 8/5/10
  • Zuni Café Cookbook/Rodgers, Judy SAVED! 10/17/11

Category 2 Books: The “History” Books

  • American Cookery/Beard, James (1972)
  • Better Homes and Gardens Home Canning Cook Book (1973)
  • Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (1962)
  • Campbell’s Cooking with Soup (1972)
  • The Cooking of China/Foods of the World
  • The Cooking of Germany/Foods of the World
  • The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire/Foods of the World
  • Diet for a Small Planet/Moore Lappe, Frances
  • Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook (1959)
  • Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant Seafood Cookbook (1977)
  • It’s Greek to Me (St. Spyridon Philoptochos Society, Clarksburg, WV)
  • Just for Two: A Handbook of Cookery for the Small Household (1942)
  • Keeping the Harvest: Home Storage of Vegetables & Fruits (1976)
  • L.L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook/Cameron, Angus with Judith Jones
  • Latin American Cooking/Foods of the World
  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking v. 2/Child, Julia (1970)
  • Okra and More!
  • Our Little Cookbook (U.S.S. Little DD803 Survivors Reunion)
  • Pacific and Southeast Asian Cooking/Foods of the World
  • A Quintet of Cuisines/Foods of the World
  • Recipes & Remembrances (Cooksville United Methodist Church)
  • Recipes for a Small Planet/Buchman Ewald, Ellen
  • Russian Cooking/Foods of the World
  • Simply Classic/Junior League of Seattle
  • Town & Country Creative Breads
  • Women of the Highlands Parish and Their Friends Present Cookbook (1976)

Category 3 Books: The Books I’ll Never Part With

  • Canadian Living Cookbook/Ferguson, Carol (The first cookbook I ever read cover to cover.  I was probably 10, and spent hours with this book from there on out. My mom gave it to me for Christmas this year.)
  • Edible Wild Foods and Wild Game Cookbook/Friends of Deep Portage (A cookbook of the softcover variety, inherited from my grandma, but also very interesting.)
  • Frugal Gourmet Celebrates Christmas/Smith, Jeff (Most of my mom’s Christmas recipes come from this one – the recipes she now knows by heart and make an appearance year after year.  It showed up under the tree at my house a few years ago.)
  • Laurel’s Kitchen/Robertson, Laurel (One of the two books my mom used regularly before she married my dad and started incorporating meat into her diet again.  Many of these recipes showed up in my lunchbox as a kid, to the horror of my lunchtime friends.)
  • Mason Memorial Congregational UCC 80th Anniversary Cookbook/Remer, MN 1993 (Some of my grandma’s recipes show up in this one, from a church in a neighboring town.)
  • St. Paul’s Catholic Church Pot-Lucker’s Guide/Hackensack, MN (Some of my grandma’s recipes are in this one, too – from the Catholic church in town.)
  • UCC Women’s Fellowship Recipes from Our Hearts/Hackensack, MN 2000 (The last cookbook my grandma’s church put out while she was still alive.)
  • Vegetarian Epicure/Thomas, Anna (The other of the two books my mom used regularly while she was vegetarian, and continued to use after marrying and having kids, though with less frequency.)
  • Women’s Fellowship of Union Congregational Church/Hackensack, MN 1989 (A cookbook put out by my grandma and her church friends.)
  • Women’s Fellowship of Union Congregational Church/Hackensack, MN 1982 (The first cookbook my grandma and her church friends put out – at least, the first one she had.)
  • Cooking of Gremany/Foods of the World

6 Comments so far
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Fantastic new year’s resolution!

Comment by vegbooks

[…] Save the Cookbooks Project […]

Pingback by Saving the cookbooks « The Reluctant Blogger

Love this project – some good recipes in pure flavor and baking with julia! I hope they make it.

Comment by Sustainable Eats

[…] Save the Cookbooks Project […]

Pingback by Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup, Gourmet, November 2009 « The Reluctant Blogger

[…] Save the Cookbooks Project […]

Pingback by Dark Days Challenge Week 1: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes « The Reluctant Blogger

[…] Save the Cookbooks Project […]

Pingback by A Year of Dinners: January « The Reluctant Blogger

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