I have 181 cookbooks on the shelves. Bought and received over the years, written by some of the great chefs and cooks of all time… Elizabeth David, Julia Child, Jacque Pepin, Julia and Jack, David Waltuck, Lidia Bastianich, Lee Bailey, the classic Time-Life international classics, James Beard, Ann Willan, Craig Claiborne, Escoffier…..and only a very small handful of ‘today’s network cooks’ and, in most cases, written before the cameras starting rolling on them.
I do love to browse and look at the pictures, but only a small number are used with any kind of frequency in the kitchen. Some of them have to go. Actually, more than half should go. And now, finally, after a few half-hearted attempts, I think I’ve found a way to sort through and thin out the herd. Every week I’ll take a book off a shelf, spend some time with it, cook something from it and make the stay/donate/sell decision.
Of course, some are untouchables that will immediately get a ‘Save’ sticker. Julia Child’s The Way to Cook tops the list. Could not do without it. It’s the perfect gift for new cooks and I have given away many copies over the years.
I’ve just pulled Bobby Flay’s first cookbook – Bold American Food – off a shelf and will start with that one. His first restaurant, Mesa Grill, recently closed, so I’m feeling a bit nostalgic.
On a final note….The last book added to the shelves was one I put together myself for a wedding shower gift. I asked friends and family of the bride and groom to send me their favorite family recipes, with pictures and stories, and put them all together. For fun, I added a poll, asking about their favorite kitchen tools, books, magazines and web sites, favorite comfort food and entertaining tips, and included a picture of each person next to their answers. I used Evernote (a free app) to organize the emails and recipes and made the book on blurb.com. Both were easy to use. The couple got a hard cover edition but I also ordered a PDF version and sent one to everyone who contributed. It was a fun project and was well received by everyone. Am looking forward to the opportunity to do another one.