I am pruning my collection of cookbooks and cooking magazines. I had over 10 years of Martha Stewart magazines, plus Bon Apetit, Cooks Illustrated and piles of cookbooks I haven’t opened in years. Why do I keep buying them? What good are all those stacks? With so many recipes online, on blogs and food sites—it is hard to justify such a large collection of cookbooks. YES I love to turn the page. And ogle. But it all takes up so much space and I love to simplify, to prune what I don’t need or use.
Perhaps it is my recent use of Pinterest that has compelled me to diminish my stacks. Pinterest is a great place to file recipes-to-try, perhaps the most sensible solution to date. I love to file by photos: tried and tested recipes as well as need-to-try recipes. It is a perfect place to ‘file’ favorite cocktails, uses for mason jars and DIY homesteading (how to make cheese, bitters, preserves).
I simply don’t need large piles of books, or stacks of magazines gathering dust. I would rather have a few choice books, consolidated Pinterest boards and specific learning goals. So I am getting rid of magazines, and decidedly focusing on 1 cookbook at a time. If I focus on one book, I can delve into Catalan or Moroccan cuisine, learn to ferment sausage and make my own cheese. Right now I am cooking out of Plenty. I didn’t choose it to learn a new cuisine or cooking methodologies—but the recipes still expand my repertoire.* I especially love Plenty’s focus on singular vegetables.
Plenty has already pushed my relationship with eggplant to new heights: pricked and blackened so you can scoop out the flesh, a key ingredient in sublime croquettes, with its unending affection for cilantro and stand-in as a creamy addition to lentils. And that is just eggplant. I have fried leeks and paired it with pickled red peppers, made garlic pie and ventured to make vermicelli (not a noodle I normally reach for). I probably won’t make every recipe in the book, but maybe over half…
If you were to choose one cookbook to learn from, which one would you choose and why?
*I bought the book and was not solicited to review it—I went weak in the knees when I saw the cover and couldn’t help myself.