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How Do You Manage Your Cookbook Collection

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello All,

 

I’m curious to know how others manage their cookbook collections. I’ve recently pared my own to those I really want to keep, but still find what’s remaining to be overwhelming. As a bibliophile in general, cookbooks are especially tempting, and I’m guilty of buying books not only for utility but because I liked previous books by the author; in vanity because a book was “pretty” or fashionable; as a reference more than a cookbook; or because it seemed like a book I’d get a lot of use from, as well as inheriting many from family and friends.

 

Even having gotten rid of several dozen books, mostly required reading for school, I don’t know if I’d be able to try each recipe that I would like if I used one a day for 4 or 5 years! And of course there’s the problem of wanting to acquire yet more.

 

Do you use most of the books you have? Do you use most of the recipes in those books? Or is your collection mostly for the pleasure of collecting? Do you plan on using a new recipe each week or month, or do you just remember one day “Oh yes, I bought a new one three months ago, maybe I should try one of those recipes….”

 

Thanks for Sharing

 

post #2 of 7

As I go through my cookbooks I mark them up. I highlight recipes I want to try, I write notes about ingredient swaps or inclusions or changes.  I often write the name and page number in the front of the book as well for fastest reference. I also write in indexes if they don't include a reference I want where I want it. They're my books, they need to be as useful to me as possible.

 

Books I borrow I create a scratch sheet for noting page numbers for copying out content I want to keep. This gets computerized or transcribed into a notebook for recipes. This notebook, I hand number the pages. I reserved the last 10% for a table of contents (TOC) and note every recipe I enter into the notebook in the TOC as well.

 

Computer recipes are all plain text files. It's the easiest to search through and find.

 

Organizing books and files. I tend to go ethnically/topically with some groups for series. So Italian, Chinese and so on. Barbecue, desserts, soups and such for topics. General Cookbooks. On the computer, it's the same. Further, on the computer I break out folders under the ethnicity/topic into major ingredient or region, then ingredient. On the computer, I don't really have a general cookbooks category though.

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 7

I typically keep my collection pretty lean. Over time I have found there are a handful of books that I go back to and those are the ones I keep. I do have one collection that I use but it is also more for pleasure and that is my collection of Greek cookbooks. I really try to keep my collection to less than 50 and it seems pretty manageable. More and more though I hear of friends who are saying they love their kindles because they keep the book clutter down at home. It sounds appealing.

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #4 of 7

I saved up and bought a house with 2 more bedrooms than I needed and turned those into reading rooms!

 

As long as I keep them neat the Mrs. leaves me alone.

 

He He sorry for the lack of help but I love books and love cookbooks even more.   It also helps when you can write a good portion of them off on your taxes as a 'professional' expense.  smile.gif

 

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Wow Phatch, you sound really organized – did it take you long to get there? Considering how long I’ve been using cookbooks, it’s only occurred to me in the last 8 months or so that it’s OK to write in them. But I also love books and was raised with an almost reverence for them, and so writing in a book still seems somewhat sacrilegious – I just use pencil incase the book does goes to someone else, and they can erase it.

 

I like how much you cross reference and catalogue, I’m tempted to do the same myself. I also keep a list on the computer, one for recipes I want to try, another for my own recipes which I hope to write in a journal as well.

 

I’m glad too to know that it’s not so odd to have a cookbook collection – it’s like any other collection I’m sure. My husband and I are planning our dream/retirement home, and one of the first things on the list was a real library, with shelves covering all the walls – I like lots of books too!

 

I’ve thought about an e-reader as well, and I’m glad to hear some positive comments about it. I’ve taken an intermediate step by switching from hard copy to electronic subscriptions for the few cooking magazines I like, and then I just save a copy of any desired recipes to my computer. I felt I was drowning in too many magazines and too many books, so that was any easy place to cut back. But I really enjoy the feeling of a book in hand, and I can read a book far longer than a computer screen, so it may be a while before I fully switch over.

 

My frustration with my collection has come from two places – inheritances and trying to add to my collection. Many of my aunts and uncles, even though they may have children, are passing on their kitchen and cookbook items to me since I enjoy them so much. And I do of course and much appreciate their generosity, but I can only house so many books! So I’ve made a mad project of going through every book recipe by recipe and if there are enough that I want to try, I keep the book for a while, noting it in my list. If I only want to try one or two, I copy them down and pass the book on.

 

Too I’ve been toying with the idea of my own ‘family cookbook’ – writing down my own recipes, and referencing printed ones in one place for my family, but that’s another subject I think. This desire is more from trying to add new books – I don’t find new cookbooks as interesting and feel perhaps I can address my own needs in a cookbook better than an outside source. Thus the need to catalogue all the books I already own....

 

I appreciate you sharing and hope others will too.

post #6 of 7

You might consider a home database on your computer. There was a time I toyed with this in Excel and Access. That was a lot of work.

 

This article is a bit outdated, but is a place to start. http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Home-Library-Database

 

With the rise of smartphones and tablets that can do bar code scanning, i would think something more up to date is available to capture your books more easily. Scan the barcodes and then automatically import book info from Amazon or similar. Google turns up some software that's similar, but I have no recommendation. 

 

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dionhardy.bookshelf&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwyLDEsImNvbS5kaW9uaGFyZHkuYm9va3NoZWxmIl0. if you have an android device

 

 

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #7 of 7

One more smartphone/tablet trick I picked up from RPMcMurphy here on Cheftalk.

 

Take a picture of a recipe if your phone/tablet/camera has enough megapixels. Great for when you're browsing in book store or library, a magazine at the Dentist's office or wherever.  You can then keep it as a pic or convert it to text (OCR) or transcribe it by hand or keyboard at your convenience.  OCR isn't fool proof so expect to make some corrections. 3 megapixels won't take a full page image that you can reliably read (depends on font size), 5 does pretty well. More is better.

 

Plenty of freebie Android OCR available too. https://play.google.com/store/search?q=OCR&c=apps

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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