Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cookbooks, Magazines, and the 'Net (Oh My)

I remember reading a post on The Kitchn a few months ago that bewailed a problem facing gourmets who live in small spaces: what to do with cookbooks and cooking magazines amassed over years of recipe-gathering?  On the one hand, you've only got so much shelf space, but, on the other, you never know when you might need that article on making fresh pasta from scratch.  (Really.  You never know.)

I lugged my cooking magazines and my cookbooks from the States over to England, where they're now on their second flat.  The cookbooks get a place of honor in my bookcase; the magazines have been steadily piling up on a chair for months.  I so rarely use any of them properly - in fact, their best purpose is usually one of inspiration rather than instruction.  To be honest, even though they have loyally followed me across an ocean, I repeatedly betray them with Epicurious and The Kitchn and the host of wonderful amateur cooking blogs out there on the interwebs.

Dana on The Kitchn explained in her post that she decided to get rid of all her cooking magazines.  "So there it was," she writes, "the combination of dust, weight, dwindling quality, internet access, and environmental impact all came together and I decided to call it off."  She culled her collection, putting aside her romantic attachment to ink on paper.  One day, I told myself, reading and nodding sadly, I will be as strong as Dana.  One day, I will be ruthless, and my chair will again be free for sitting.

Well, dear readers, that day has come - sort of.  The cookbooks are still on their shelf in all their hardback glory, but I have hacked my magazines to pieces.  Armed with nail scissors and a glue stick, I cut out all of the recipes that interested me and pasted them into a fresh new Moleskine.  (Yes, I thought about ordering them primarily by season and then by course, but realized that being so unbearably type-A would only lead to self-flagellation when I counted an asparagus dish as a side and not a starter or something.)

Anyway, the point is this: a lovely notebook, stuffed with recipes from all over the publishing world, is now sitting happily on a shelf next to my dogeared Bittman.  I don't know when I'll next open either - dinner tonight hails from Smitten Kitchen - but I feel like I've been terribly productive, and I feel that I have, in a funny way, respected the forgotten magazines more by singling out their best offerings than I had been by neglecting them altogether.


  1. I brought my cook books over from the US, too! In addition to others. I'm one of the rare people who still enjoys the feeling of an actual book in her hands. I get a lot of recipes online these days, too. My favorite is because real people post their family recipes and others comment. I've gotten some great ideas from there! Plus it's easy to print out and add to your notebook! :-) Happy cooking!

  2. I'm somewhere in the middle...I still have a couple of magazines and still buy a few, but, I rip out the recipes I love and put them in a binder in a plastic sleeve. Just before I expatted, I put all the recipes in order (starters, soups etc.) and now that binder sits on the shelf with my cookbooks. I'd been putting that task off for YEARS, it was only the expat move that forced my hand! :)


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