I have a confession to make. I’ve been simultaneously pursuing two diametrically opposed sides of my personality for some time. On the one hand, there’s the compulsive dispatcher, continually searching high and low for little used or unused objects filling up space in my house. Strappy black stilettos I never wear? Begone! Ceramic bowl gathering dust in the cupboard? Skedattle! VHS video lessons of bellydancing twins? Outta here! Mind you, my no longer- or gently used- items are removed responsibly, either donated to thrift stores or given to friends in need. The point is that I like to get rid of things. As in, like, really, really, really like to get rid of things, much to the hubs’ vexation. Except for one thing. Cookbooks.
That’s where the duality comes in. Cookbooks unleash my inner hoarder. I can never have enough. I hate the idea of parting with them. The images in this post don’t even account for the massive quantity of canning, dairy, chicken and bee books upstairs in my office, all used for research, but chock full of recipes, as well. I belong to two cookbook book clubs. I have more than seems rational and yet, I pine for further acquisitions, gazing longingly at the fresh, crisp, unstained pages of all those lovely unread and un-tried specimens found at the local book store. I imagine the exquisite pleasure I’ll encounter when finally making a pilgrimage to Portland, Maine’s Rabelais Books, a store devoted entirely to books that feed the senses. Swoon.
However, my cookbook loophole exists for good reason. Back in May I talked about the benefits, to health, ecosystem, and more, of eating at home. And that’s where cookbooks, serving as today’s “Small Measure”, come in. Since my husband and I are such avid cooks (and bakers! and eaters overall!), we’re always on the prowl for new ideas. Our cookbook collection serves as the spark. Hubs uses the books as inspiration igniters (he’s too much of a renegade to follow anyone else’s recipes start to finish without tweaking them considerably), while I, the baker in the house, peruse cookbook pages for delicious, brilliant flashes of baking insight, listening for the muse to speak to me.
In so doing, we save a bundle. Today alone I’ve made cinnamon rolls, had exquisite gazpacho, consumed unctuous turkey burgers with abandon, and just pulled a loaf of zucchini & spice walnut bread out of the oven. We’ve cooked and baked with what’s in season, using the best ingredients we could procure. When you make your own food, using your own cookbooks, you can splurge on ingredients of a quality most restaurants simply can’t afford to, as they’re cooking in volumes too great to allow for the use of premium goods on a daily basis.
CLICK HERE for the rest of Ashley’s post after the jump!
If you, too, share my passion (What do we call ourselves? Culinabibliophiles? Hmm, maybe not; sounds vaguely sinister…), you should feel good about it. I do! As long as I manage the shelves wisely, and duly dispatch those books not earning their keep (it’s almost impossible for me to part with my cookbooks, but it’s happened, particularly when a previous food inclination no longer applies, such as during my dalliances with a strict raw food or macrobiotic diet), I feel my obsession is justified. Our own collection is starkly divided into cooking and baking camps. Perhaps you prefer a more aesthetic and less pragmatic approach, such as that used by Jen Jafarzadeh L’Italien of The Haystack Needle who groups her collection by spine color. I seriously coveted her West Elm metal book spine for a long while, but by the time I finally got around to being ready to purchase my own, it was discontinued. Sigh. This offering has its own jazz and appeal, though….
Preservation and care is key, as well, to cookbook longevity. That’s not to say I haven’t splashed and dribbled and drizzled over my prized possessions. I have, but that was before I picked up a handy cookbook stand. Made of alder wood, this stand allows me to cook with nary so much as a chocolate-stained finger or egg yolk-riddled hand touching my cookbook’s cherished pages.
So, what’s missing from my collection? You know I want to know. And if you’re in the neighborhood, I’ve got some stilettos I’ll trade you for your Julia Child…-ashley