In my fake day job, I’m a Project Manager and Process Designer. I love structure and a good plan. This spills over into how I run my blog (see, I’m ‘running’ rather than ‘writing’ my blog – it’s like a big project). In case you haven’t noticed, I blog twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays. ne post is a review, the other a recipe or adventure I’ve been on. I like to organise, write posts with common themes and curate collections such as my Pinterest boards. I also like other people who are organised so I’ve joined the monthly Sweet Adventures Blog Hop and now, I’ve decided to join another challenge: Random Recipes. I’m a joiner too.
The Random Recipes Challenge is set by Dominic at Belleau Kitchen. In the past he’s challenged people to cook the last recipe in a book, make a recipe from your first ever cookbook and donate cookbooks to charity after making a recipe one last time. I’m lucky this month, as Dom’s #18 challenge is relatively simple and self-indulgent. It’s called ‘Something A Little Different’ and is about the cookbooks we have on our bookshelves.
My cookbooks are stored in Ikea Billy shelves in my dining room. Two of the shelves are devoted to ‘cookbooks proper’. I have used my excellent project management skills to store them in height order with the same author grouped together. As you can see, Nigella Lawson features – I can not deny her no fuss take on cooking. How can you resist her slatternly approach combined with her delicious use of the mother tongue? Other books I go back to time and again are Madhur Jaffrey, Joanne Harris (of ‘Chocolat’ fame), Feast Bazaar by Barry Vera and all of Charmaine Solomon’s books. I have lots of books I enjoy dipping into and reading but rarely cook from. I read many for inspiration, such as the delightfully named ‘Wog Food – An Oral History With Recipes’ by John Newton. Like many food friends, I could make three meals a day from my books and still never get through them all. I’ve slowed right down on the purchasing and am concentrating on getting to know better the books I already have.
On another shelf, I have all of my ‘food literature’. These are the biographies (Mrs Beeton et al), autobiographies (Nigel Slater’s ‘Toast’ is a favourite), collections, essays and observations about food (Michael Boddy’s Good Food, Ian ‘Herbie’ Hemphill’s Spice Travels and more). The final shelf includes food magazines that I rarely visit nowadays but can’t bare to part with. I have the first 24 editions of Donna Hay Magazine. The styling is wonderful and has influenced a generation of food writers and photographers.
Finally, I have two cane baskets perched in between. One contains recipes torn out of magazines, newspapers and printed from online. Of course, who needs to buy new cookbooks when you have the internet? I’ve noticed that I am doing more and more of my research online and cooking from recipes I read on blogs. I cleaned this basket out only last weekend so it looks very spick and span at the moment. In the bottom of the basket is a copy of Larousse Gastronomique that I bought at the Lifeline Book Sale for only a few dollars. I keep it in the basket as it’s the only place that I can store it (no room in those shelves!). The other basket contains my ‘food memorabilia’. Cards and menus from restaurants I’ve visited, wrappers from Tortas I enjoyed in Spain and from an orange purchased at the Lawrence of Arabia Supermarket in Jordan, coasters and sandwich bags and lots more.
Squeezed alongside this basket are hand me downs from a different era such as the Robert Carrier tome ‘Gourmet Dishes of the World’ and Graham Kerr’s Cookbook (both 1967 – a great year!).
So that’s my cookbook collection. And that’s another project, I mean challenge, done and dusted!