I don’t store my cookbooks in the kitchen.
We don’t have the counter or cabinet space to store them together. And, I like to keep like with like. So, the cookbooks have long been housed in a sideboard. This all worked well when the shelf was in the dining room. But, to make room for the piano, years ago, we moved the sideboard to the only other place in the house it would fit, beside the couch. While the music is fab, and while the books look great behind the glass, accessing the cookbooks has been difficult.
You basically have to move the couch and a whole whack of other junk to open the cabinet doors! Whatever. We make do.
Except, our twenty year old, 5’7″ couch recently developed an unsightly tear in her pleather. Not to mention, her springs no longer spring back. To replace the retiree with something that will work for more than one and a half of us [we’re a leggy brood], we’re going to have to lose the sideboard, too.
In preparation for the change, I had to relocate the cookbooks.
I moved across the country every couple of years when I was a kid. The requisite purging helped me develop a taste for a good, spiritual off-loading of unnecessary objects. I suppose you can say, I’ve been KonMari-ing before KonMari-ing was cool.
I was absolutely sure I was going to get rid of at least half of the 50+ titles on my shelf:
- Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook [In a plastic folder because I burnt the folder on the stove]
- 660 Curries, Iyer
- Farm Journal’s Best Ever Pies, Ward
- The Joy of Cooking, Rombauer
- Breaking the Vicious Cycle, Gottshall (special diet)
- How to Cook Everything, Bittman
- Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Hazan
- Dorie’s Cookies, Greenspan
- Jacques Pepin’s Kitchen: Cooking with Claudine, Pepin
- The Food of Morocco, Wolfert
- In Season, Raven
- Classic Home Cooking, Berry and Spieler
- Around My French Table, Greenspan
- Baking, From my Home to Yours, Greenspan
- Madeleines, Morse
- 101 Blender Drinks, Hausarud
- Peaches, Alexander
- Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, Child, Beck, Bertholle
- Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2, Child, Beck, Bertholle
- Baking Illustrated, Cooks Illustrated Editors
- Ready or Not, Tam, Fong
- Nom Nom Paleo, Tam, Fong
- French Provincial Cooking, David
- The New Best Recipe, Cook’s Illustrated Editors
- Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Prasad
- Grain-free Gourmet, Bager
- Sage Garden: Herb Garden Cookbook, Norris
- Best Recipes in the World, Bittman
- Food that Really Schmecks, Staebler
- Every Grain of Rice, Dunlap
- Paella, Heriaz
- Mexican Everyday, Bayless
- Everyday BBQ, Mixon, Alexander
- We Sure Can, Hood
- Star Wars Wookie Cookies, Davis
- The Geometry of Pasta, Hildebrand, Kennedy
- The Hakka Cookbook, Anusasananan
- Marmalade, Field
- The Vegetarian Bible, Paragon
- Great Tastes Vegetarian, Bay
- Veganomicon, Moscovitz, Romero
- Famous Chefs and Fabulous Recipes, Abraham
- The Perfect Scoop, Lebovitz
- Korean Cooking for Everyone, Choe, Moriyama
- Real Food Heals, Mullen
- Lost Desserts, Monoghan
- Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, Hertzberg, François
- Passionate Vegetarian, Dragonwagon
- Tartine, Pruettt, Robertson
- The Essential Appetizers Cookbook, Whitecap
- An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, Adler [Upstairs Beside the Bathtub]
- Forever Summer, Lawson [Oops! Also Upstairs Beside the Tub!]
There were certainly titles which got the boot.
The “food sensitivity”cookbooks left the building because I found out, some time ago, caffeine messes with my stomach, not food. Two books went to the resale shop because they were full of errors (a pastry-specific title whose ingredients didn’t always line up with the recipe and a vegetarian book whose soups called for chicken stock!) And, is it just me, or do most of the best vegetable-centred / alternative-protein recipes you like come from books which don’t have Vegetarian or Vegan in the main title?
Still, for the most part, as I went through my pile of cookbooks, I kept and kept on keeping.
I suppose some people might feel overwhelmed by the notion that they’ll never try every recipe, or that they’ll never get around to fixing all 660 Curries. [Though, let me tell you, if I was going to cook through a book from start to finish, Iyer’s book would be a contender!] But, for me, being surrounded by hundreds of “Bests” and “Everythings” I might never get to try or taste or set on fire just didn’t feel daunting. If anything, I felt relieved. There’s no one right decision, here. So why not choose what speaks to me at the moment? Besides, what’s the worst-case scenario once you’ve attempted a recipe? You burn the roast and have to dip it in copious amounts of mustard? You have a fabulous new cake-fail story? Yeah, that really sucks.
I suppose, too, I was in the middle of a reunion.
With the cupboard blocked off by the couch, I said that we “made do.” But, only the go-tos and favourites were easy to reach. While I’m happy with the Joy of Cooking pancake recipe, I sooo want to learn how to make the five-million step Bostock recipe from Tartine. I want to get into that Hakka book. And, I want to read about, if not yet cook, all of the Lost Recipes I can get my hands on.
Now, the cookbooks are in full view and easy to access.
The 36 [of 52] cookbooks I saved went into a shelf beside the fireplace where we used to keep our cable box, dvd player, and dvds. [The electronics got hidden behind the television, and the DVDs on a lower shelf.] Now, you can see the cookbooks from almost any spot on the main floor. I can read the spines from the spot at the table where I most often write.* And, if we can actually manage to replace the couch, I’ll be able to sit down and plan a feast.