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[icon] Has the internet made the cookbook obsolete? - Patti
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Subject:Has the internet made the cookbook obsolete?
Time:09:38 am
I spent a lot of time yesterday cleaning, organizing, and purging the loft. Most of it focused around two logical areas-- books and wardrobe. I did about four loads of laundry, sorted through clothes, and packed up a bunch of stuff to give to charity. I also organized and shelved a lot of books, and took a big box over to the El Cerrito book recycling place to give away. (Thanks to whoever recommended that place a while ago... it's wonderful.)

In between all my puttering and cleaning yesterday, I did some cooking. In particular, I made two dishes that required me to find and use recipes. In the first case, I googled until I found the recipe I wanted. In the second, I googled and browsed recipes, but wound up going to CooksIllustrated.com (for which I have a subscription) and using theirs.

Some of the books that I organized yesterday were cookbooks. While I'm sure my collection is relatively small compared to that of my friends, I have a couple of shelves of cookbooks that I've acquired over the years. I think I've opened a grand total of about five of them over the last year-- Joy of Cooking, the Betty Crocker cookbook, a Chinese cookbook that I'm particularly fond of, and... well, I'm sure I've used a couple more, but I wouldn't swear to it. If I'm looking for a specific recipe, the web seems like a much more useful tool than a collection of books that might or might not have what I want.

Cookbooks seem to me to fall into two categories-- utilities, and works of art. I open the Betty Crocker cookbook when I want to find a pancake recipe, and the French Laundry cookbook when I want to bask in the joy of exquisitely-prepared culinary delights. There's still plenty of room in the world for works-of-art cookbooks, of course, but what about utilitarian ones? For me, they're still useful for staple recipes, but if I want to make a specific dish, I'm much better off searching the web and picking from there.

In fact, that's it. I'm going to get rid of half my cookbooks today. El Cerrito here I come.

Edit: That was easy. It took me all of about two minutes to sort out the keepers and the goers. Mickdog, the Zuni Cafe cookbook was on my keeper list too.

Edit^2: Wow, getting rid of cookbooks feels really transgressive.
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mickdog
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-10-07 05:33 pm (UTC)
"I open the Betty Crocker cookbook when I want to find a pancake recipe"

Heh. I just opened my Good Housekeeping cookbook for this very thing this morning. I have about 30 cookbooks, I use 3 regularly, maybe 3 more not so regularly, and I have a couple of those cookbooks as art or literature (Judy Roger's Zuni Cafe Cookbook, Jaques Peppin's Art of Cooking) that I'm not getting rid of. The rest could probably go.

But they probably won't until space becomes more of a consideration....
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elfs
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-10-07 06:31 pm (UTC)
I guess it depends on where you keep the cookbook. Most of my cookbooks sit on a shelf out of sight; the family's cookbook is a three-ring binder with photocopies and net-based printouts. That contains "the usual stuff" we eat every day: the pancake and waffle recipies, the three pages from a 1999 Cooking Light on the hows and whys of pasta sauces, the baker's ratios notes for different kinds of routine bread: French, Italian, and Peasant, the photocopy from a 1959 BH&G cookbook on tuna noodle casserole.
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bldrnrpdx
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-10-07 07:23 pm (UTC)
I had several dozen cookbooks before I moved. Some I collected out of habit, I'm quite willing to admit. But it was painful parting with many of the others I gave away. Some of them I either received from or found while shopping with my mom (both the purchasing of and purging of said cookbooks happened pre-tumor), so I've got positive associations with them. Some I collected because they're just so silly. I have a bunch of corporate cookbooks too. One of my favorites is a cookbook for housewives learning how to use their brand-new in-home personal-use electric refrigerator for the first time. Another grouping is cookbooks my grandmother used as texts either when she was in college or when she was teaching home-ec classes.
I use maybe 4 or 5 over and over, and I do go to the web for a lot of things. It was still painful to purge the cookbook shelf. As it is, I have several shelves of cookbooks still, and I haven't figured out where or how to really store the corporate pamphelets and booklets just yet.
I love cookbooks as a source of food and people history, as a source of community (we just went through Doomed Rabbit with some friends last night), as a reference for teaching skills, and a source of fun (either the cooking or the humor in the book itself).
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courtneydisney
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-10-07 09:35 pm (UTC)
The only cookbooks I've ever owned was the standard one (red checked cover) everyone has, and a Disney kids cookbook, cause...well, it's disney.

I've never actually used either of them - when I want a recipe, I look it up online, and have a file saved of my favorites. My laptop is now my cookbook - much easier to enlarge the font for reading, and my keyboard condom and screen protector prevent any drips from ruining my baby.

Tangent: my youngest sister lives on the organic apple farm that the original French Laundry owners now run - she gets to use their huge, completely decked out kitchen every day. I am exquisitely jealous.
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slfisher
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-10-08 03:09 am (UTC)
I have a bookcase in the kitchen for cookbooks. I also refer to only a few, and I am more likely to google recipe ingredient, but I do like having them, plus, you know, the world might end and I won't have electricity or google.
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freelikebeer
Subject:America's Test Kitchen
Link:(Link)
Time:2007-10-08 01:01 pm (UTC)
We got the ATK cookbook for Xmas and have been giving it to everyone we know. Consistently good and consistently interesting takes on the standard dishes. I don't know how reliably I would be able to identify good recipes (combination of ingredients and instructions) on the internet. Other than that, if I want to get fancy, I look something up and use it as a baseline and my wife just grabs stuff and starts whipping it up.
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[icon] Has the internet made the cookbook obsolete? - Patti
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