Thursday, March 3, 2011

My 2010 Cookbook Spreadsheet and Cookbook Recommendations

Perhaps some of you will remember from last year (January 26, 2010 blog) that I keep a spreadsheet of all my cookbooks and write the date next to the title every time I use one of them. At the end of the year, I can analyze which books I’ve used and what type of cooking I’ve done the most. All of this is really quite fascinating to me but perhaps you are not as engaged as I am. After all it’s what I’m eating, not what you’re eating. Bear with me.

Over the course of 2010, out of a total of 543 cookbooks, I used 86 of them, 32 for the first time. I prepared 218 recipes from these 86 cookbooks, 14 from magazines, newspapers, cooking classes, or the internet, 86 from my blog, and 36 of my own devising, coming to a total of 354 recipes.

This information tells me that I am still quite wed to cookbooks in the paper form, ones that I can crack open, check the index, scribble notes and paste photos. I’ve begun to use Epicurious and Big Oven apps on my IPad, sending myself emails of interesting recipes, but those numbers are still really small. The 86 from my blog are those recipes I am getting ready to post and need to photograph, as well as those I just love and “keep” using again and again.

I cooked 43 recipes from West Coast and West Coast Wine Country cookbooks, 34 from cookbooks featuring European or English food, 28 from the Healthy or Vegetarian cookbooks, and 21 from the Quick cookbook category.

I used FARMfood a whopping 18 times. This is a beautifully designed book, published by Indiana University Press. Daniel Orr is a Hoosier (from Indiana); I’m a Buckeye (from Ohio). So at our roots, he and I are neighbors—and I feel that every time I use his cookbook. He ventured away to see the world and to learn to cook but has now returned to Bloomington, Indiana and has opened a restaurant, FARMbloomington, which supports local farmers and ranchers by buying their produce. His recipes are really good.

I used The Illustrated Quick Cook and Martha Stewart Living’s Everyday Food: Great Food Fast a combined 15 times. I love spending time in the kitchen, as most of you know, so speed is not my highest priority. But I also realize that it is for many of you and I’ve been trying to find great quick recipes that are tasty and fun. Both of these cookbooks meet that criteria. There are also lots of good photos.

Aloha Days Hula Nights came in at 12 times. This Junior League cookbook from Honolulu is truly marvelous. I took it with me to Hawaii over New Year’s 2010 and used it a bunch at the beginning of the year. There is nothing slick about it. Just good recipes, well tested, and delicious.

Without Reservations came in at 10 times. I took Joey Altman’s cooking class at the Ranch in 2009, bought his book with few expectations and found it to be totally admirable.

I would highly recommend any of these five. I would love to know if any of you has tried them and what you think of them.

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